Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/andrea-stewart-cousins 2018-06-19T02:42:46+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Democratic Unity and the ‘Value’ of Primaries 2018-06-18T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-18T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7745:andrea-stewart-cousins-on-democratic-unity-and-the-value-of-primaries Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/andrea-stewart-cousins-sk-gg2.jpg" alt="andrea stewart cousins sk gg2" width="600" height="314" /></p> <p>Andrea Stewart-Cousins at the state party convention (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>While policies to prevent and punish sexual harassment were being decided in Albany during state budget negotiations earlier this year, four men led the closed-door talks: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and the leader of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference Jeff Klein. Even as female aides had some level of participation, there was a great deal of scrutiny of the absence of Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the Democratic minority in state Senate, especially given that Cuomo’s office had indicated she would be included.</p> <p>“You would’ve thought you would’ve been able to get in a room and at least let her say something,” Stewart-Cousins said of her own situation during a recent episode of the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> from Gotham Gazette and City Limits. “Never happened.”</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins called it a feature of “an institution that has institutionalized a lot of stuff,” and said that “breaking those norms are really, really difficult things to do.”</p> <p>But breaking established ways of doing things is something of a pattern for Stewart-Cousins, who is both the first woman and the first African-American woman to be elected as the state Senate minority leader. Now, after post-budget reconciliation between the mainline Democrats she leads and Klein’s IDC, Stewart-Cousins is also in position to become the first woman and woman of color to be the majority leader of the Senate, depending on the results of the fall elections. They are elections she is becoming increasingly involved with, she indicated on the podcast, connecting the upcoming attempts to flip seats from Republican to Democrat as part of a “blue wave” sweeping the nation.</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins’ frame for viewing the elections and potential Democratic majority in the Senate, and thus the Legislature given the party’s stranglehold on the Assembly, is the recent Senate reunification, pushing her, it seems, to be more forgiving, take the long-view, and look ahead, not back.</p> <p>Exclusion<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/28/nyregion/albany-sex-harassment-stewart-cousins.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> from the anti-sexual harassment talks</a> – and the state budget discussions in general – may be a thorny issue, but not one that poses a major point of contention between Stewart-Cousins and her colleagues.</p> <p>“It goes back to the basic tenet: a house divided against itself can’t stand,” Stewart-Cousins said in response to a question of her possible frustrations with elements of the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/nyregion/new-york-state-senate-democrats.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">unity deal that was struck among her, Klein and Cuomo in April</a>, and whether she trusts Klein. “How are we gonna do this?...I’m not gonna be sitting there having people somehow undermine the efforts that we have to be a team. That’s always been the case.”</p> <p>There are still challenges to the notion of a unified Democratic front: each of the eight former members of the IDC is facing a primary challenge, and while the Democratic establishment has agreed to mutual support, a number of grassroots groups and a handful of elected officials are backing the challengers.</p> <p>On the podcast, Stewart-Cousins emphasized that she has endorsed all incumbent Democratic senators, including those who were formerly part of the IDC, “so that people are very, very clear where I stand,” she said in response to a question of whether or not she would tell fellow party members to drop their support for the challengers. “I think that in and of itself sends a message.”</p> <p>While she did not call primaries a bad thing, Stewart-Cousins further emphasized the importance of moving past former divisions in order for the party to function. “I think that’s over,” she said of the Senate Democratic division, “and it’s up to me...to give the kind of support and respect that I should be giving as the leader and as a colleague, and I believe that we set that tone,” she said. “There’s nobody coming in feeling less than, unworthy. There’s no recriminations.”</p> <p>In response to a question of whether Cuomo – who has long been criticized for encouraging or at least tolerating the IDC’s existence – could have brokered such a unity deal earlier on, and thus possibly prevented the handicapped progress on key issues for the Democratic Party, Stewart-Cousins said, “Like I always say, he did make it happen....I don’t think he was terribly concerned about the situation because as far as we he was concerned, maybe it was manageable. I think it’s gotten to the point where it was looking unmanageable because of all the different factors, so he asserted himself.”</p> <p>If the Democrats are able to obtain majority control of the state Senate in November, a policy agenda including action on immigration, climate change, voting and elections, campaign financing, reproductive rights, and more may move. Stewart-Cousins referenced pieces like the Child Victims Act and the Dream Act stagnating in the currently Republican-controlled state Senate. Additionally, Republican senators recently blocked Democrats’ attempts to see voting on the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Care Act – two pieces of legislation that would, respectively, enshrine in New York law the same reproductive rights under the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling and mandate accessibility to birth control medication – when Democrats attempted to push them through late last month.</p> <p>“There’s so many things that we could do in addition to, obviously, the things that we’re bringing up today,” Stewart-Cousins said.</p> <p>For their part, Senate Republicans often seek to ‘warn’ New Yorkers of what full Democratic control of state government could bring. “The New York City politicians who think it will be easy to flip the State Senate and impose their radical agenda on the people of New York should take heed,” said Senate spokesperson Scott Reif, in an April statement. “Our Majority represents the checks and balances, and the real accountability that hardworking taxpayers need and deserve. &nbsp;Without us it’s one party rule, higher taxes, runaway spending and New Yorkers will be less safe.”</p> <p>Democrats first need to contend with reconciling the different wings within their own party, a division apparent in the challengers to former IDC members and to Cuomo. Stewart-Cousins has unique perspective, representing Senate District 35, an area that includes towns like Yonkers, White Plains, and Scarsdale, with a wide variety of Democrats and plenty of Republicans and party unaffiliated voters.</p> <p>Asked which wing of the party she identifies with, Stewart-Cousins deemphasized the ostensible differences in her party. “I’ve been able to, I think, gain a perspective that a lot of people don’t have as it relates to governing,” she said, referring to her unique position as the first Democratic leader representing a district outside New York City in a hundred years. “Everybody pretty much wants the same thing. It’s not different. It’s how you deliver these things or how you’re able to characterize these things or how you react is really where the differences lie.”</p> <p>On the question of primaries, like that Governor Cuomo is facing, Stewart-Cousins took a different approach from some others, like Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “I certainly have no problem with the fact that there’s a primary going on,” she said, responding to a question of whether or not the gubernatorial candidacy of challenger Cynthia Nixon is emblematic of the Democratic Party being a ‘house divided.’ “The conversations about the vision for New York and who should lead it are valuable,” she added.</p> <p>For now, at least, Stewart-Cousins maintains a face of smiling unity toward Klein, who serves as her deputy, and the rest of the Democratic Party.</p> <p>Asked if there’s a chance that party members pull another IDC-esque ploy in the coming years, Stewart-Cousins said, “The environment has changed and that’s why I think this unity works, because we’ve been to the other side. We know what that looks like, and I don’t know if anybody needs or wants to go back there again.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Listen: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins</a>]</p> <p>

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by Chelsey Sanchez, Gotham Gazette
@chelseynsanchez  @GothamGazette

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/andrea-stewart-cousins-sk-gg2.jpg" alt="andrea stewart cousins sk gg2" width="600" height="314" /></p> <p>Andrea Stewart-Cousins at the state party convention (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>While policies to prevent and punish sexual harassment were being decided in Albany during state budget negotiations earlier this year, four men led the closed-door talks: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and the leader of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference Jeff Klein. Even as female aides had some level of participation, there was a great deal of scrutiny of the absence of Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the Democratic minority in state Senate, especially given that Cuomo’s office had indicated she would be included.</p> <p>“You would’ve thought you would’ve been able to get in a room and at least let her say something,” Stewart-Cousins said of her own situation during a recent episode of the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> from Gotham Gazette and City Limits. “Never happened.”</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins called it a feature of “an institution that has institutionalized a lot of stuff,” and said that “breaking those norms are really, really difficult things to do.”</p> <p>But breaking established ways of doing things is something of a pattern for Stewart-Cousins, who is both the first woman and the first African-American woman to be elected as the state Senate minority leader. Now, after post-budget reconciliation between the mainline Democrats she leads and Klein’s IDC, Stewart-Cousins is also in position to become the first woman and woman of color to be the majority leader of the Senate, depending on the results of the fall elections. They are elections she is becoming increasingly involved with, she indicated on the podcast, connecting the upcoming attempts to flip seats from Republican to Democrat as part of a “blue wave” sweeping the nation.</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins’ frame for viewing the elections and potential Democratic majority in the Senate, and thus the Legislature given the party’s stranglehold on the Assembly, is the recent Senate reunification, pushing her, it seems, to be more forgiving, take the long-view, and look ahead, not back.</p> <p>Exclusion<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/28/nyregion/albany-sex-harassment-stewart-cousins.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> from the anti-sexual harassment talks</a> – and the state budget discussions in general – may be a thorny issue, but not one that poses a major point of contention between Stewart-Cousins and her colleagues.</p> <p>“It goes back to the basic tenet: a house divided against itself can’t stand,” Stewart-Cousins said in response to a question of her possible frustrations with elements of the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/nyregion/new-york-state-senate-democrats.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">unity deal that was struck among her, Klein and Cuomo in April</a>, and whether she trusts Klein. “How are we gonna do this?...I’m not gonna be sitting there having people somehow undermine the efforts that we have to be a team. That’s always been the case.”</p> <p>There are still challenges to the notion of a unified Democratic front: each of the eight former members of the IDC is facing a primary challenge, and while the Democratic establishment has agreed to mutual support, a number of grassroots groups and a handful of elected officials are backing the challengers.</p> <p>On the podcast, Stewart-Cousins emphasized that she has endorsed all incumbent Democratic senators, including those who were formerly part of the IDC, “so that people are very, very clear where I stand,” she said in response to a question of whether or not she would tell fellow party members to drop their support for the challengers. “I think that in and of itself sends a message.”</p> <p>While she did not call primaries a bad thing, Stewart-Cousins further emphasized the importance of moving past former divisions in order for the party to function. “I think that’s over,” she said of the Senate Democratic division, “and it’s up to me...to give the kind of support and respect that I should be giving as the leader and as a colleague, and I believe that we set that tone,” she said. “There’s nobody coming in feeling less than, unworthy. There’s no recriminations.”</p> <p>In response to a question of whether Cuomo – who has long been criticized for encouraging or at least tolerating the IDC’s existence – could have brokered such a unity deal earlier on, and thus possibly prevented the handicapped progress on key issues for the Democratic Party, Stewart-Cousins said, “Like I always say, he did make it happen....I don’t think he was terribly concerned about the situation because as far as we he was concerned, maybe it was manageable. I think it’s gotten to the point where it was looking unmanageable because of all the different factors, so he asserted himself.”</p> <p>If the Democrats are able to obtain majority control of the state Senate in November, a policy agenda including action on immigration, climate change, voting and elections, campaign financing, reproductive rights, and more may move. Stewart-Cousins referenced pieces like the Child Victims Act and the Dream Act stagnating in the currently Republican-controlled state Senate. Additionally, Republican senators recently blocked Democrats’ attempts to see voting on the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Care Act – two pieces of legislation that would, respectively, enshrine in New York law the same reproductive rights under the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling and mandate accessibility to birth control medication – when Democrats attempted to push them through late last month.</p> <p>“There’s so many things that we could do in addition to, obviously, the things that we’re bringing up today,” Stewart-Cousins said.</p> <p>For their part, Senate Republicans often seek to ‘warn’ New Yorkers of what full Democratic control of state government could bring. “The New York City politicians who think it will be easy to flip the State Senate and impose their radical agenda on the people of New York should take heed,” said Senate spokesperson Scott Reif, in an April statement. “Our Majority represents the checks and balances, and the real accountability that hardworking taxpayers need and deserve. &nbsp;Without us it’s one party rule, higher taxes, runaway spending and New Yorkers will be less safe.”</p> <p>Democrats first need to contend with reconciling the different wings within their own party, a division apparent in the challengers to former IDC members and to Cuomo. Stewart-Cousins has unique perspective, representing Senate District 35, an area that includes towns like Yonkers, White Plains, and Scarsdale, with a wide variety of Democrats and plenty of Republicans and party unaffiliated voters.</p> <p>Asked which wing of the party she identifies with, Stewart-Cousins deemphasized the ostensible differences in her party. “I’ve been able to, I think, gain a perspective that a lot of people don’t have as it relates to governing,” she said, referring to her unique position as the first Democratic leader representing a district outside New York City in a hundred years. “Everybody pretty much wants the same thing. It’s not different. It’s how you deliver these things or how you’re able to characterize these things or how you react is really where the differences lie.”</p> <p>On the question of primaries, like that Governor Cuomo is facing, Stewart-Cousins took a different approach from some others, like Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “I certainly have no problem with the fact that there’s a primary going on,” she said, responding to a question of whether or not the gubernatorial candidacy of challenger Cynthia Nixon is emblematic of the Democratic Party being a ‘house divided.’ “The conversations about the vision for New York and who should lead it are valuable,” she added.</p> <p>For now, at least, Stewart-Cousins maintains a face of smiling unity toward Klein, who serves as her deputy, and the rest of the Democratic Party.</p> <p>Asked if there’s a chance that party members pull another IDC-esque ploy in the coming years, Stewart-Cousins said, “The environment has changed and that’s why I think this unity works, because we’ve been to the other side. We know what that looks like, and I don’t know if anybody needs or wants to go back there again.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Listen: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins</a>]</p> <p>

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by Chelsey Sanchez, Gotham Gazette
@chelseynsanchez  @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Max & Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins 2018-06-01T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-01T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7707:max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 1, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/andrea-stewart-cousins-mxm-podcast.jpg" alt="andrea stewart cousins " width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, but has high hopes that come January, after this fall's elections, she will be the first woman and first woman of color to lead a house of the New York State Legislature.</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins joined the podcast to discuss recent controversy at the state Capitol; the reasons she believes that Democratic control of the Senate would benefit New Yorkers; the Democratic "unity" deal brokered among her conference, the Independent Democratic Conference, and Governor Andrew Cuomo; and much more.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>, and this week's guest Andrea Stewart-Cousins <a href="https://twitter.com/AndreaSCousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@AndreaSCousins</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/452297505&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 1, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/andrea-stewart-cousins-mxm-podcast.jpg" alt="andrea stewart cousins " width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, but has high hopes that come January, after this fall's elections, she will be the first woman and first woman of color to lead a house of the New York State Legislature.</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins joined the podcast to discuss recent controversy at the state Capitol; the reasons she believes that Democratic control of the Senate would benefit New Yorkers; the Democratic "unity" deal brokered among her conference, the Independent Democratic Conference, and Governor Andrew Cuomo; and much more.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>, and this week's guest Andrea Stewart-Cousins <a href="https://twitter.com/AndreaSCousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@AndreaSCousins</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/452297505&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Democratic Establishment Embraces Cuomo as Pragmatic Progressive 2018-05-24T04:00:00+00:00 2018-05-24T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7691:democratic-establishment-embraces-cuomo-as-pragmatic-progressive Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cuomo_and_ticket_at_convention.jpg" alt="cuomo and ticket at convention" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>James, Cuomo, Hochul, DiNapoli (photo: @andrewcuomo)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo emerged triumphant and emboldened from the State Democratic Party’s nominating convention on Long Island, with the party’s designation in hand and embraced by top national Democrats and elected party representatives from across the state. The governor basked in the support of centrist establishment figures like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden, while they and much of the rest of the convention sought to frame Cuomo as a progressive standard bearer who represents the values of a Democratic Party that continues to move leftward. <br /> <br />Cuomo and others framed the two-term incumbent as a progressive who gets things done, a trailblazer who doesn’t just talk, but has real accomplishments and is actually a unifying figure for the party -- though he is again being challenged from his left in this year’s primary as discontent from the progressive wing has reached a fever pitch. That fever was not particularly evident at the state party convention, however.</p> <p>“We are about to embark on the most consequential campaign in our lifetime,” Cuomo declared in his acceptance speech on Thursday, framing his reelection amid Democratic efforts to retake the state Senate and U.S. House, with several swing districts in New York. “We are at a political crossroads and our decisions and actions are going to define the soul of this state and the soul of this nation.”</p> <p>Cuomo’s coronation comes at a time when progressives are incensed with his centrism and triangulation with Republicans, and are pushing to elect a “true blue” Democrat to the governorship, personified in this case by Cynthia Nixon. But Cuomo’s supporters have warned of the dangers of liberal absolutism, as Democrats seek to retain what control they have over state and federal branches of government while also unseating Republicans in an age of Trumpism. The stakes are high for both parties, and some question whether Democratic infighting does any good while Republicans control the presidency, both houses of Congress, and many state legislatures (New York’s is split, with one house controlled by each party).</p> <p>The Democratic State Committee had already concluded its nominations on Wednesday, leaving party members free to glad-hand and pat each other on the back as they sang the praises of Cuomo and other top party officials. Cuomo won the party designation with 95 percent of the state committee vote, a resounding victory over upstart challenger Nixon, who did appear at the convention as her campaign launched a blistering effort to paint Cuomo as in bed with Republicans. She continued to criticize him as a fake Democrat whose governing style smacks of expediency rather than sincerity.</p> <p>The party also designated as its official nominees incumbents Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for another term each, and selected New York City Public Advocate Letitia James as the designated candidate for attorney general to replace Eric Schneiderman, who recently resigned after facing allegations of physical abuse by four women. Hochul is facing a primary challenge from New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, while James is facing Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout and Leecia Eve, a former Cuomo and Clinton aide, in the primary.</p> <p>Given how the state committee voted, Nixon, Williams, Teachout, and Eve will all have to collect petition signatures to get on the primary ballot. Nixon and Williams have the backing of the liberal Working Families Party, but may eschew its ballot line for the general election if they are unsuccessful in the Democratic primary. The WFP has said it wants to give its attorney general ballot line to either James or Teachout, depending on who wins the Democratic primary.</p> <p>Though there was much party business and some controversy, the convention went mostly smoothly for Cuomo, who was the unequivocal star.</p> <p>While Cuomo has indeed governed from the center, he was held up as a paragon of pragmatic progressivism at the convention, in line with the image he has sought to craft for himself in recent months, if not years. Before he spoke to the convention, Cuomo was lauded on Wednesday by Clinton and on Thursday by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and by Biden, who has a long-standing friendship with Cuomo, as a leader who has ushered in transformative change and created a model of governance that Democrats across the nation should envy, and emulate.</p> <p>Marriage equality? Cuomo made it happen in New York and helped launch the nation on the path to full realization. Gun control? Cuomo moved quickly after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre to ban the military-type assault weapons that have been used in many school and other mass shootings since. College tuition? Cuomo made it free for many middle-class students. A $15 minimum wage? Cuomo put a program in place. Paid family leave? Again, Cuomo.</p> <p>In a lofty and lengthy address, filled with anecdotal life lessons, Biden waxed eloquent about the values of the Democratic Party, of American cultural exceptionalism, of the middle class American dream, as he inveighed against the Republican Party’s “phony populism” and “fake nationalism” that threaten to undermine them all. He spoke of his deeply personal ties to the Cuomo family, and of his and the governor’s shared interest in muscle cars (both of them own vintage Corvettes, he noted).</p> <p>He proudly touted Cuomo’s record. “Andrew Cuomo has never backed away from his progressive principles, not one single time,” he said to applause.</p> <p>Perez, occasionally peppering his speech with Spanish, said Cuomo and his running mate Hochul were “charter members of the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party.”</p> <p>“What I’ve grown to love about Andrew Cuomo is he understands that governance isn’t about speechifying,” Perez said. “It’s about making a real difference in people’s lives,” he said. “New Yorkers don’t want rhetoric, they want results. That’s what Andrew Cuomo has delivered.”</p> <p>To an audience filled with many union workers, Perez hailed Cuomo’s support of labor unions and the state’s immense success in creating jobs under his tenure. And he drew a contrast between the governor and “this other New Yorker in Washington that’s giving a bad name to New York values,” though he stopped short of saying the name Trump.</p> <p>State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, commended the governor for managing to pass ambitious policies despite Republican control of the state Senate. “When you have a quarterback that’s a winning quarterback on a winning team, there’s no reason to change,” he said in his endorsement of the governor. And Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic minority leader, credited him with reuniting the fractured Senate Democratic conference, setting her up to eventually become the state’s first woman and woman of color to lead a legislative house if the party wins additional Senate seats in the elections this fall. “We can do this and we will make history by finally putting a woman in the room,” she declared.</p> <p>All those Democrats, and the governor himself, put Cuomo on a large pedestal, as a leader who could forge a new path for the Democratic Party and whose administration was an exemplar for other states. The State Democratic Party, as is the case with its national counterpart, is counting on a blue wave that has been building across the nation since Trump’s election. Cuomo has trained his attention, and the state party’s resources, at flipping the state Senate and replacing Congressional Republicans with Democrats.</p> <p>Cuomo welcomed the responsibility, insisting that the nation has its eyes turned to New York. “Our challenge is twofold. First, we must continue to move our state forward as the progressive capital of America because that’s what we are,” he said. “And at the same time, we must overcome the current national extreme conservative movement that is threatening this nation.”</p> <p>Although he claimed he never appreciated his father’s self-proclaimed title of “pragmatic progressive,” Andrew Cuomo made no effort to distance himself from its definition: “We deliver practical progress for people in need,” he said.</p> <p>Taking an expansive look at the Democratic Party, Cuomo said working- and middle-class voters had abandoned the party out of despair in 2016, and that the party must return to its roots. “No more platitudes, no more posturing, no more delay, no more incompetence, no more hypotheticals, no more hyperbole,” he said. “They want action. They want results and they want actions and results now. They don’t want pontification from an ivory tower.”</p> <p>Cuomo's criticism of the Democratic Party and assertion that it had lost the election to Trump struck some as awkward, even insulting, given that Clinton -- the party's 2016 presidential nominee -- had praised and endorsed him the day before.</p> <p>The convention also marked how far Cuomo has shifted in the last two years under the Trump presidency and, significantly, in the last few weeks under a deluge of criticism from a left-leaning progressive wing galvanized by Nixon’s candidacy.</p> <p>For a time after Trump’s election, Cuomo refused to say “Trump” even as he criticized the federal government or “Washington.” In his speech on Thursday, he said the president’s name 18 times. “Today the Albany Republicans all carry the Trump doctrine,” he said. “They all drank the Trump, Ryan, McConnell Kool-Aid and their radical assault is draconian and all-encompassing...They think America was great when women were subordinate and when minorities were disenfranchised, and when the big private market corporations ruled the land and when labor was voiceless. That’s the America they want to take us back to. And we are not going back, ever.”</p> <p>Cuomo did little to tamp down the rumors that he is considering a presidential run ahead of the 2020 election, something that his opponents from the left and the right have criticized him for.</p> <p>Marc Molinaro, the gubernatorial candidate to Cuomo’s right as the Republican nominee, did not escape Cuomo’s scathing critiques either. “The Republicans in this state put on the top of their ticket a Trump mini-me. He's anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-gun safety, anti-immigration, anti-education equity, and pro-Trump's New York tax increase. All he is is a banner carrier for the extreme conservative movement,” Cuomo said, incorrectly characterizing some stances by Molinaro, who has opposed the federal tax reform and has said he did not vote for Trump for president.</p> <p>But Cuomo did name Molinaro or Nixon, whose campaign sent out “fact check” emails as the governor spoke, contrasting his rhetoric with his record as they framed it. Notably, Cuomo pledged in his speech to “start a new movement of education funding equity” to ensure that public schools receive the resources they need to provide a sound education to all students. It’s a cause that Nixon has championed for nearly 20 years, largely placing blame for insufficient education funding on the governor, who has repeatedly shifted the way he talks about education funding.</p> <p>"The Governor's attempt to reset his campaign this week failed," said Nixon campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt in a statement on Thursday. “His highly choreographed convention inflamed old divisions, and provided a series of bizarre, tone-deaf moments. Simply put, the Governor did little to push back on the growing realization among New Yorkers that he has more much in common with his wealthy Republican donors than Democrats.”</p> <p>For Democratic State Committee members, Cuomo had successfully grasped the title of progressive. Several members, enthused about a strong and diverse statewide ticket, seemed almost offended that anyone would challenge their champion.</p> <p>“I think we put together a great ticket, I like the diversity of it,” said Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who holds the dual role of state Assemblymember and Democratic State committee member from Assembly District 141. “I think it’s important that the ticket looks more like the electorate,” she said, in apparent reference to the fact that James is an African-American woman, whom Cuomo has backed for the attorney general position, as well as Hochul’s presence on the ticket.</p> <p>“I do take some exception to people always questioning what has happened when most of the progressive things we’ve done in the state have not been done in the rest of the country,” she added.</p> <p>Andre Waldron, a committee member from Nassau County, said Cuomo’s speech was a “home run” and that the convention was “phenomenal.”</p> <p>“I think this time we’ve come out even more inclusive, having all groups represented,” said Louis Goldstein, who said he has been a state committee member from the Bronx since 1970. “I love the fact that we have a female, who happens to be black, as our candidate for attorney general. I think we’re moving in the correct direction.”</p> <p>As with others, Goldstein expressed reservations about Nixon’s candidacy. “She’s a good actress. I compare her as being our quote-unquote Trump, as far as no government experience, she really does not know how to politically get things done,” he said.</p> <p>Mary Gault, a Dutchess County committee member, said the party has a “wonderful team” on the ticket. “Andrew Cuomo, I believe, he did so much good for this state over his eight years. Kathy Hochul...she’s terrific too. And of course, I’ve got a New York pension, [and] Tom DiNapoli, he watches out for us.”</p> <p>Gault said she didn’t give Nixon consideration, though her own county committee is very progressive. “The way she speaks, perfect! I would vote for her in a minute,” she said, “but she doesn’t have the skill set and she doesn’t tell us how she’s going to do it. She’s not a viable candidate, but her platform is perfect.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cuomo_and_ticket_at_convention.jpg" alt="cuomo and ticket at convention" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>James, Cuomo, Hochul, DiNapoli (photo: @andrewcuomo)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo emerged triumphant and emboldened from the State Democratic Party’s nominating convention on Long Island, with the party’s designation in hand and embraced by top national Democrats and elected party representatives from across the state. The governor basked in the support of centrist establishment figures like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden, while they and much of the rest of the convention sought to frame Cuomo as a progressive standard bearer who represents the values of a Democratic Party that continues to move leftward. <br /> <br />Cuomo and others framed the two-term incumbent as a progressive who gets things done, a trailblazer who doesn’t just talk, but has real accomplishments and is actually a unifying figure for the party -- though he is again being challenged from his left in this year’s primary as discontent from the progressive wing has reached a fever pitch. That fever was not particularly evident at the state party convention, however.</p> <p>“We are about to embark on the most consequential campaign in our lifetime,” Cuomo declared in his acceptance speech on Thursday, framing his reelection amid Democratic efforts to retake the state Senate and U.S. House, with several swing districts in New York. “We are at a political crossroads and our decisions and actions are going to define the soul of this state and the soul of this nation.”</p> <p>Cuomo’s coronation comes at a time when progressives are incensed with his centrism and triangulation with Republicans, and are pushing to elect a “true blue” Democrat to the governorship, personified in this case by Cynthia Nixon. But Cuomo’s supporters have warned of the dangers of liberal absolutism, as Democrats seek to retain what control they have over state and federal branches of government while also unseating Republicans in an age of Trumpism. The stakes are high for both parties, and some question whether Democratic infighting does any good while Republicans control the presidency, both houses of Congress, and many state legislatures (New York’s is split, with one house controlled by each party).</p> <p>The Democratic State Committee had already concluded its nominations on Wednesday, leaving party members free to glad-hand and pat each other on the back as they sang the praises of Cuomo and other top party officials. Cuomo won the party designation with 95 percent of the state committee vote, a resounding victory over upstart challenger Nixon, who did appear at the convention as her campaign launched a blistering effort to paint Cuomo as in bed with Republicans. She continued to criticize him as a fake Democrat whose governing style smacks of expediency rather than sincerity.</p> <p>The party also designated as its official nominees incumbents Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for another term each, and selected New York City Public Advocate Letitia James as the designated candidate for attorney general to replace Eric Schneiderman, who recently resigned after facing allegations of physical abuse by four women. Hochul is facing a primary challenge from New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, while James is facing Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout and Leecia Eve, a former Cuomo and Clinton aide, in the primary.</p> <p>Given how the state committee voted, Nixon, Williams, Teachout, and Eve will all have to collect petition signatures to get on the primary ballot. Nixon and Williams have the backing of the liberal Working Families Party, but may eschew its ballot line for the general election if they are unsuccessful in the Democratic primary. The WFP has said it wants to give its attorney general ballot line to either James or Teachout, depending on who wins the Democratic primary.</p> <p>Though there was much party business and some controversy, the convention went mostly smoothly for Cuomo, who was the unequivocal star.</p> <p>While Cuomo has indeed governed from the center, he was held up as a paragon of pragmatic progressivism at the convention, in line with the image he has sought to craft for himself in recent months, if not years. Before he spoke to the convention, Cuomo was lauded on Wednesday by Clinton and on Thursday by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and by Biden, who has a long-standing friendship with Cuomo, as a leader who has ushered in transformative change and created a model of governance that Democrats across the nation should envy, and emulate.</p> <p>Marriage equality? Cuomo made it happen in New York and helped launch the nation on the path to full realization. Gun control? Cuomo moved quickly after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre to ban the military-type assault weapons that have been used in many school and other mass shootings since. College tuition? Cuomo made it free for many middle-class students. A $15 minimum wage? Cuomo put a program in place. Paid family leave? Again, Cuomo.</p> <p>In a lofty and lengthy address, filled with anecdotal life lessons, Biden waxed eloquent about the values of the Democratic Party, of American cultural exceptionalism, of the middle class American dream, as he inveighed against the Republican Party’s “phony populism” and “fake nationalism” that threaten to undermine them all. He spoke of his deeply personal ties to the Cuomo family, and of his and the governor’s shared interest in muscle cars (both of them own vintage Corvettes, he noted).</p> <p>He proudly touted Cuomo’s record. “Andrew Cuomo has never backed away from his progressive principles, not one single time,” he said to applause.</p> <p>Perez, occasionally peppering his speech with Spanish, said Cuomo and his running mate Hochul were “charter members of the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party.”</p> <p>“What I’ve grown to love about Andrew Cuomo is he understands that governance isn’t about speechifying,” Perez said. “It’s about making a real difference in people’s lives,” he said. “New Yorkers don’t want rhetoric, they want results. That’s what Andrew Cuomo has delivered.”</p> <p>To an audience filled with many union workers, Perez hailed Cuomo’s support of labor unions and the state’s immense success in creating jobs under his tenure. And he drew a contrast between the governor and “this other New Yorker in Washington that’s giving a bad name to New York values,” though he stopped short of saying the name Trump.</p> <p>State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, commended the governor for managing to pass ambitious policies despite Republican control of the state Senate. “When you have a quarterback that’s a winning quarterback on a winning team, there’s no reason to change,” he said in his endorsement of the governor. And Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic minority leader, credited him with reuniting the fractured Senate Democratic conference, setting her up to eventually become the state’s first woman and woman of color to lead a legislative house if the party wins additional Senate seats in the elections this fall. “We can do this and we will make history by finally putting a woman in the room,” she declared.</p> <p>All those Democrats, and the governor himself, put Cuomo on a large pedestal, as a leader who could forge a new path for the Democratic Party and whose administration was an exemplar for other states. The State Democratic Party, as is the case with its national counterpart, is counting on a blue wave that has been building across the nation since Trump’s election. Cuomo has trained his attention, and the state party’s resources, at flipping the state Senate and replacing Congressional Republicans with Democrats.</p> <p>Cuomo welcomed the responsibility, insisting that the nation has its eyes turned to New York. “Our challenge is twofold. First, we must continue to move our state forward as the progressive capital of America because that’s what we are,” he said. “And at the same time, we must overcome the current national extreme conservative movement that is threatening this nation.”</p> <p>Although he claimed he never appreciated his father’s self-proclaimed title of “pragmatic progressive,” Andrew Cuomo made no effort to distance himself from its definition: “We deliver practical progress for people in need,” he said.</p> <p>Taking an expansive look at the Democratic Party, Cuomo said working- and middle-class voters had abandoned the party out of despair in 2016, and that the party must return to its roots. “No more platitudes, no more posturing, no more delay, no more incompetence, no more hypotheticals, no more hyperbole,” he said. “They want action. They want results and they want actions and results now. They don’t want pontification from an ivory tower.”</p> <p>Cuomo's criticism of the Democratic Party and assertion that it had lost the election to Trump struck some as awkward, even insulting, given that Clinton -- the party's 2016 presidential nominee -- had praised and endorsed him the day before.</p> <p>The convention also marked how far Cuomo has shifted in the last two years under the Trump presidency and, significantly, in the last few weeks under a deluge of criticism from a left-leaning progressive wing galvanized by Nixon’s candidacy.</p> <p>For a time after Trump’s election, Cuomo refused to say “Trump” even as he criticized the federal government or “Washington.” In his speech on Thursday, he said the president’s name 18 times. “Today the Albany Republicans all carry the Trump doctrine,” he said. “They all drank the Trump, Ryan, McConnell Kool-Aid and their radical assault is draconian and all-encompassing...They think America was great when women were subordinate and when minorities were disenfranchised, and when the big private market corporations ruled the land and when labor was voiceless. That’s the America they want to take us back to. And we are not going back, ever.”</p> <p>Cuomo did little to tamp down the rumors that he is considering a presidential run ahead of the 2020 election, something that his opponents from the left and the right have criticized him for.</p> <p>Marc Molinaro, the gubernatorial candidate to Cuomo’s right as the Republican nominee, did not escape Cuomo’s scathing critiques either. “The Republicans in this state put on the top of their ticket a Trump mini-me. He's anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-gun safety, anti-immigration, anti-education equity, and pro-Trump's New York tax increase. All he is is a banner carrier for the extreme conservative movement,” Cuomo said, incorrectly characterizing some stances by Molinaro, who has opposed the federal tax reform and has said he did not vote for Trump for president.</p> <p>But Cuomo did name Molinaro or Nixon, whose campaign sent out “fact check” emails as the governor spoke, contrasting his rhetoric with his record as they framed it. Notably, Cuomo pledged in his speech to “start a new movement of education funding equity” to ensure that public schools receive the resources they need to provide a sound education to all students. It’s a cause that Nixon has championed for nearly 20 years, largely placing blame for insufficient education funding on the governor, who has repeatedly shifted the way he talks about education funding.</p> <p>"The Governor's attempt to reset his campaign this week failed," said Nixon campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt in a statement on Thursday. “His highly choreographed convention inflamed old divisions, and provided a series of bizarre, tone-deaf moments. Simply put, the Governor did little to push back on the growing realization among New Yorkers that he has more much in common with his wealthy Republican donors than Democrats.”</p> <p>For Democratic State Committee members, Cuomo had successfully grasped the title of progressive. Several members, enthused about a strong and diverse statewide ticket, seemed almost offended that anyone would challenge their champion.</p> <p>“I think we put together a great ticket, I like the diversity of it,” said Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who holds the dual role of state Assemblymember and Democratic State committee member from Assembly District 141. “I think it’s important that the ticket looks more like the electorate,” she said, in apparent reference to the fact that James is an African-American woman, whom Cuomo has backed for the attorney general position, as well as Hochul’s presence on the ticket.</p> <p>“I do take some exception to people always questioning what has happened when most of the progressive things we’ve done in the state have not been done in the rest of the country,” she added.</p> <p>Andre Waldron, a committee member from Nassau County, said Cuomo’s speech was a “home run” and that the convention was “phenomenal.”</p> <p>“I think this time we’ve come out even more inclusive, having all groups represented,” said Louis Goldstein, who said he has been a state committee member from the Bronx since 1970. “I love the fact that we have a female, who happens to be black, as our candidate for attorney general. I think we’re moving in the correct direction.”</p> <p>As with others, Goldstein expressed reservations about Nixon’s candidacy. “She’s a good actress. I compare her as being our quote-unquote Trump, as far as no government experience, she really does not know how to politically get things done,” he said.</p> <p>Mary Gault, a Dutchess County committee member, said the party has a “wonderful team” on the ticket. “Andrew Cuomo, I believe, he did so much good for this state over his eight years. Kathy Hochul...she’s terrific too. And of course, I’ve got a New York pension, [and] Tom DiNapoli, he watches out for us.”</p> <p>Gault said she didn’t give Nixon consideration, though her own county committee is very progressive. “The way she speaks, perfect! I would vote for her in a minute,” she said, “but she doesn’t have the skill set and she doesn’t tell us how she’s going to do it. She’s not a viable candidate, but her platform is perfect.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
The Women In ‘The Room’ 2018-03-05T05:00:00+00:00 2018-03-05T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7518:the-women-in-the-room Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/25090679785_60aee29d23_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo Stewart-Cousins" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo and Sen. Stewart-Cousins (photo:&nbsp;Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>What would New York State’s budget look like if women were in charge? That is this year’s $168-billion question.</p> <p>For decades, the final details and compromises in New York’s annual budget have been decided by the so-called “three men in the room,” or the leaders of the two legislative houses and the governor, but with workplace sexual harassment at the forefront this year, it seems that at least one woman will be included in parts of the closed-door talks.</p> <p>The “three men” -- in recent years four men: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Independent Democratic Conference Leader Senator Jeff Klein, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie -- is a term <a href="https://governmentreform.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/three-men-in-a-room-and-albany-where-did-the-phrase-come-from/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">first attributed</a> to Albany’s budget process in a 1988 Newsday article and later popularized by former state lawmaker Seymour Lachman, who wrote a book called “Three Men in a Room.” The phrase has become synonymous with Albany’s culture of secrecy and backroom dealings, but it also implicates the gender imbalance that has long plagued the center of power in New York.</p> <p>Now, amid a national reckoning around sexual misconduct, an effort is being made to elevate female voices <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7286-amid-larger-moment-will-albany-face-another-sexual-misconduct-reckoning" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in state government</a> as the executive and legislative branches scramble to come up with an acceptable policy response. In addition to workplace protections, Cuomo’s extensive <a href="https://www.budget.ny.gov/pubs/archive/fy19/exec/fy19artVIIs/WAArticleVII.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">women’s rights agenda</a> includes codification of Roe v. Wade abortion protections, legislation combating revenge porn, and a mandate that free feminine hygiene products to be provided in public school restrooms.</p> <p>Facing <a href="https://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/readers/2015/03/16/let-stewart-cousins-join-budget-talks/24842609/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pressure</a> from advocates, editorial boards, and others to include female representation during final negotiations of a new budget -- which is expected to include a statewide anti-harassment policy for government officials -- Cuomo recently announced that the only female legislative conference leader, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, will for the first time play a role in deciding the legislation that goes into the final budget documents.</p> <p>“Leader Stewart-Cousins will be included in negotiations on the ‎sexual-harassment bill, as well as a wide range of other issues being dealt with in this year’s budget,” a Cuomo spokesperson <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-female-legislator-will-join-all-male-group-developing-sex-harassment-policy-1518744022" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told the Wall Street Journal</a>.</p> <p>Notably, the negotiations will occur as Klein is being investigated for allegedly forcing a kiss with an aide in 2015.</p> <p>While it is not clear what that range of other issues will cover, Stewart-Cousins -- who has long demanded inclusion in budget talks, to no avail -- said at a press conference on the Child Victims Act (CVA), that she will use the opportunity to fight for other bills put forward by her conference that have long stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.</p> <p>“When I’m in the room, you can be sure that I will be advocating for this, and other things that our conference is carrying and pushing forward,” Stewart-Cousins said of CVA, adding that by representing the 21-member conference (in the 63-seat chamber), she brings with her “the voices of half of New York.”</p> <p>The Child’s Victims Act, which has been in limbo for 10 years, lifts New York’s statute of limitations to match that of other states, making it easier for victims of child sexual abuse to bring charges against their abusers. Other big ticket items on the table this year -- many of them carried by members of the Democratic conference -- include gun control, early voting, a state tax overhaul, and criminal justice reforms.</p> <p>How Stewart-Cousins’ presence in “the room,” typically the governor’s office on the second floor of the state Capitol, shapes the final budget bills, or whether more women-centered legislation and other bills carried by her conference will rise to the top, remains to be seen. While her involvement in leaders’ meetings is a notable start, as one of five powerbrokers in “the room,” there will still be a lopsided ratio considering New York’s female-heavy electorate, according to Dina Refki, executive director of the Center for Women in Government &amp; Civil Society at Albany University.</p> <p>“Research tells us that when women are outnumbered, their voices tend to be silenced,” said Refki. “Of course, Andrea Stewart-Cousins is a strong legislator, and it’s a good thing to have, but if we are looking at research, we tend to believe that women need to be represented in sufficient numbers to have a meaningful impact on the process.”</p> <p>Government reformers note that the power in the room is already tilted in favor of the executive, due to the 2004 Silver v. Pataki Court of Appeals decision, which bars the Legislature from making changes to any part of an appropriations bill, short of rejecting the entire bill. The main leverage the legislative leaders have during talks is the ability to delay the budget, which is bound to draw criticism of Albany’s dysfunction from the public and editorial boards, according to former Assemblymember-turned-professor Richard Brodsky.</p> <p>“You cannot govern a state in perpetuity based upon a tyrannical executive power -- and that’s what we have. If you want to reform government, adjust the balance of power,” said Brodsky.</p> <p>Tyrannical power or not, having the governor’s ear during those final hours is valuable and if political science studies are any indicator, Stewart-Cousins’ involvement may help tip the scales in favor of better legislative outcomes for women. There is a large body of data indicating that female representation in government leads to the passage of more legislation on issues of concern to women -- whether protections for women’s health, workplace equity, or paid family leave, for example -- but only when there is a “critical mass” of female representation. Political scientists disagree on the exact tipping point, pegging it at 15, 20, 25, or 30 percent.</p> <p>While the final decision-makers in Albany have historically all been male, there are often women in the room in a supportive or advisory capacity, and numerous female lawmakers who lead legislative committees are heavily involved in budgetary proceedings. At every stage there is an opportunity to women influence the content and the shape of the budget, according to Refki.</p> <p>“Women are not monolithic. They don’t all think the same, or act in the same way, but by virtue of their socialization as women, they tend to see women-centered issues as priorities,” she said. “The presence of women at each juncture in the process at least brings a voice that could influence what takes shape at the end.”</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/38739897775_c2486d2a69_z_1.jpg" alt="Melissa DeRosa Cuomo aide" width="300" height="200" style="margin-right: 12px; float: left;" />Melissa DeRosa, now Cuomo’s top aide as secretary to the governor, has long been involved in budget conversations, including in her previous role as Cuomo’s chief of staff. DeRosa and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul both chair Cuomo’s newly-created Council on Women and Girls, which helped develop his women’s agenda this year, a spokesperson from Cuomo’s office said.</p> <p>Hochul, while not directly involved in budget negotiations, aids the process by promoting key pieces of the governor's budget agenda around the state. When interviewed about Hochul’s reelection campaign last month, her chief of staff told Gotham Gazette that she is “focused on ensuring an on-time budget.”</p> <p>Cuomo has brought a number of women into his inner circle in the past year, including re-hiring former federal prosecutor Linda Lacewell, now as his chief of staff, and Cathy Calhoun as his director of state operations. Lacewell replaced DeRosa (pictured), who was promoted to Cuomo’s top advisory position last year, becoming the first woman to hold the position.</p> <p>Legislative leaders also have top female aides. Often accompanying Heastie during budget dealings are Louann Ciccone, secretary of program and counsel, and Kathleen O’Keefe, his legislative counsel. To help create policy responses to sexual harassment issues, Heastie has composed a work group of 15 lawmakers, 10 of them female.</p> <p>“Sexual harassment must be confronted head-on,” said Heastie in a statement. “I look forward to the recommendations of this workgroup so that we can develop a statewide legislative solution to this very serious problem.”</p> <p>Klein, whose Independent Democratic Conference forms a ruling coalition with the Senate Republicans, also has a female chief of staff, Dana Carotenuto Rico, who typically joins him in “the room.” Other times, IDC members who have expertise in a particular subject are called in, an IDC spokesperson said. For example, in 2017, Senator Diane Savino and Senator Jesse Hamilton were invited into the governor’s chamber to discuss details of legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility.</p> <p>Additionally, women play a role at many turns in budgetary proceedings leading up to the final negotiations. The Legislature’s joint budget hearings, which take place in February, are now headed by female lawmakers, and when one-house agendas are released, female staffers from legislative and executive offices participate in subsequent meetings on various budgetary categories called “tables.”</p> <p>Two women now hold the Legislature’s most powerful committee chair posts: Senate Finance Chair Kathy Young, an upstate Republican, and Assembly Ways and Means Chair Helene Weinstein, a Brooklyn Democrat. The two women, along with IDC’s Senator Savino, of Staten Island, is vice chair of the Senate finance committee, must attend all of legislative budget hearings, which sometimes run late into the night. These hearings help inform one-house budget proposals, conference discussions, and larger budget negotiations, according to those with knowledge of the budget process.</p> <p>Scott Reif, a spokesperson for Flanagan, said that Young is extensively involved in negotiations on the state budget and that other female staff members advise the leader on key issues related to the budget, like sexual harassment, criminal justice, and education. Reif did not indicate that any of the women are in the negotiating room when the final budget bills are decided.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/25090679785_60aee29d23_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo Stewart-Cousins" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo and Sen. Stewart-Cousins (photo:&nbsp;Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>What would New York State’s budget look like if women were in charge? That is this year’s $168-billion question.</p> <p>For decades, the final details and compromises in New York’s annual budget have been decided by the so-called “three men in the room,” or the leaders of the two legislative houses and the governor, but with workplace sexual harassment at the forefront this year, it seems that at least one woman will be included in parts of the closed-door talks.</p> <p>The “three men” -- in recent years four men: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Independent Democratic Conference Leader Senator Jeff Klein, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie -- is a term <a href="https://governmentreform.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/three-men-in-a-room-and-albany-where-did-the-phrase-come-from/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">first attributed</a> to Albany’s budget process in a 1988 Newsday article and later popularized by former state lawmaker Seymour Lachman, who wrote a book called “Three Men in a Room.” The phrase has become synonymous with Albany’s culture of secrecy and backroom dealings, but it also implicates the gender imbalance that has long plagued the center of power in New York.</p> <p>Now, amid a national reckoning around sexual misconduct, an effort is being made to elevate female voices <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7286-amid-larger-moment-will-albany-face-another-sexual-misconduct-reckoning" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in state government</a> as the executive and legislative branches scramble to come up with an acceptable policy response. In addition to workplace protections, Cuomo’s extensive <a href="https://www.budget.ny.gov/pubs/archive/fy19/exec/fy19artVIIs/WAArticleVII.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">women’s rights agenda</a> includes codification of Roe v. Wade abortion protections, legislation combating revenge porn, and a mandate that free feminine hygiene products to be provided in public school restrooms.</p> <p>Facing <a href="https://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/readers/2015/03/16/let-stewart-cousins-join-budget-talks/24842609/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pressure</a> from advocates, editorial boards, and others to include female representation during final negotiations of a new budget -- which is expected to include a statewide anti-harassment policy for government officials -- Cuomo recently announced that the only female legislative conference leader, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, will for the first time play a role in deciding the legislation that goes into the final budget documents.</p> <p>“Leader Stewart-Cousins will be included in negotiations on the ‎sexual-harassment bill, as well as a wide range of other issues being dealt with in this year’s budget,” a Cuomo spokesperson <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-female-legislator-will-join-all-male-group-developing-sex-harassment-policy-1518744022" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told the Wall Street Journal</a>.</p> <p>Notably, the negotiations will occur as Klein is being investigated for allegedly forcing a kiss with an aide in 2015.</p> <p>While it is not clear what that range of other issues will cover, Stewart-Cousins -- who has long demanded inclusion in budget talks, to no avail -- said at a press conference on the Child Victims Act (CVA), that she will use the opportunity to fight for other bills put forward by her conference that have long stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.</p> <p>“When I’m in the room, you can be sure that I will be advocating for this, and other things that our conference is carrying and pushing forward,” Stewart-Cousins said of CVA, adding that by representing the 21-member conference (in the 63-seat chamber), she brings with her “the voices of half of New York.”</p> <p>The Child’s Victims Act, which has been in limbo for 10 years, lifts New York’s statute of limitations to match that of other states, making it easier for victims of child sexual abuse to bring charges against their abusers. Other big ticket items on the table this year -- many of them carried by members of the Democratic conference -- include gun control, early voting, a state tax overhaul, and criminal justice reforms.</p> <p>How Stewart-Cousins’ presence in “the room,” typically the governor’s office on the second floor of the state Capitol, shapes the final budget bills, or whether more women-centered legislation and other bills carried by her conference will rise to the top, remains to be seen. While her involvement in leaders’ meetings is a notable start, as one of five powerbrokers in “the room,” there will still be a lopsided ratio considering New York’s female-heavy electorate, according to Dina Refki, executive director of the Center for Women in Government &amp; Civil Society at Albany University.</p> <p>“Research tells us that when women are outnumbered, their voices tend to be silenced,” said Refki. “Of course, Andrea Stewart-Cousins is a strong legislator, and it’s a good thing to have, but if we are looking at research, we tend to believe that women need to be represented in sufficient numbers to have a meaningful impact on the process.”</p> <p>Government reformers note that the power in the room is already tilted in favor of the executive, due to the 2004 Silver v. Pataki Court of Appeals decision, which bars the Legislature from making changes to any part of an appropriations bill, short of rejecting the entire bill. The main leverage the legislative leaders have during talks is the ability to delay the budget, which is bound to draw criticism of Albany’s dysfunction from the public and editorial boards, according to former Assemblymember-turned-professor Richard Brodsky.</p> <p>“You cannot govern a state in perpetuity based upon a tyrannical executive power -- and that’s what we have. If you want to reform government, adjust the balance of power,” said Brodsky.</p> <p>Tyrannical power or not, having the governor’s ear during those final hours is valuable and if political science studies are any indicator, Stewart-Cousins’ involvement may help tip the scales in favor of better legislative outcomes for women. There is a large body of data indicating that female representation in government leads to the passage of more legislation on issues of concern to women -- whether protections for women’s health, workplace equity, or paid family leave, for example -- but only when there is a “critical mass” of female representation. Political scientists disagree on the exact tipping point, pegging it at 15, 20, 25, or 30 percent.</p> <p>While the final decision-makers in Albany have historically all been male, there are often women in the room in a supportive or advisory capacity, and numerous female lawmakers who lead legislative committees are heavily involved in budgetary proceedings. At every stage there is an opportunity to women influence the content and the shape of the budget, according to Refki.</p> <p>“Women are not monolithic. They don’t all think the same, or act in the same way, but by virtue of their socialization as women, they tend to see women-centered issues as priorities,” she said. “The presence of women at each juncture in the process at least brings a voice that could influence what takes shape at the end.”</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/38739897775_c2486d2a69_z_1.jpg" alt="Melissa DeRosa Cuomo aide" width="300" height="200" style="margin-right: 12px; float: left;" />Melissa DeRosa, now Cuomo’s top aide as secretary to the governor, has long been involved in budget conversations, including in her previous role as Cuomo’s chief of staff. DeRosa and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul both chair Cuomo’s newly-created Council on Women and Girls, which helped develop his women’s agenda this year, a spokesperson from Cuomo’s office said.</p> <p>Hochul, while not directly involved in budget negotiations, aids the process by promoting key pieces of the governor's budget agenda around the state. When interviewed about Hochul’s reelection campaign last month, her chief of staff told Gotham Gazette that she is “focused on ensuring an on-time budget.”</p> <p>Cuomo has brought a number of women into his inner circle in the past year, including re-hiring former federal prosecutor Linda Lacewell, now as his chief of staff, and Cathy Calhoun as his director of state operations. Lacewell replaced DeRosa (pictured), who was promoted to Cuomo’s top advisory position last year, becoming the first woman to hold the position.</p> <p>Legislative leaders also have top female aides. Often accompanying Heastie during budget dealings are Louann Ciccone, secretary of program and counsel, and Kathleen O’Keefe, his legislative counsel. To help create policy responses to sexual harassment issues, Heastie has composed a work group of 15 lawmakers, 10 of them female.</p> <p>“Sexual harassment must be confronted head-on,” said Heastie in a statement. “I look forward to the recommendations of this workgroup so that we can develop a statewide legislative solution to this very serious problem.”</p> <p>Klein, whose Independent Democratic Conference forms a ruling coalition with the Senate Republicans, also has a female chief of staff, Dana Carotenuto Rico, who typically joins him in “the room.” Other times, IDC members who have expertise in a particular subject are called in, an IDC spokesperson said. For example, in 2017, Senator Diane Savino and Senator Jesse Hamilton were invited into the governor’s chamber to discuss details of legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility.</p> <p>Additionally, women play a role at many turns in budgetary proceedings leading up to the final negotiations. The Legislature’s joint budget hearings, which take place in February, are now headed by female lawmakers, and when one-house agendas are released, female staffers from legislative and executive offices participate in subsequent meetings on various budgetary categories called “tables.”</p> <p>Two women now hold the Legislature’s most powerful committee chair posts: Senate Finance Chair Kathy Young, an upstate Republican, and Assembly Ways and Means Chair Helene Weinstein, a Brooklyn Democrat. The two women, along with IDC’s Senator Savino, of Staten Island, is vice chair of the Senate finance committee, must attend all of legislative budget hearings, which sometimes run late into the night. These hearings help inform one-house budget proposals, conference discussions, and larger budget negotiations, according to those with knowledge of the budget process.</p> <p>Scott Reif, a spokesperson for Flanagan, said that Young is extensively involved in negotiations on the state budget and that other female staff members advise the leader on key issues related to the budget, like sexual harassment, criminal justice, and education. Reif did not indicate that any of the women are in the negotiating room when the final budget bills are decided.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Troubles Ahead as 2018 Legislative Session Kicks Off in Albany 2018-01-09T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-09T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7415:troubles-ahead-as-2018-legislative-session-kicks-off-in-albany Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/39477610441_c073913d76_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo legislative leaders Albany" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders (photo:&nbsp;Darren McGee/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Since the 2018 session began last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have outlined their agendas for the year, and addressed or hinted at some of the significant challenges facing state lawmakers.</p> <p>In particular, threats from the federal government were acknowledged by Cuomo during his state of the State address and in remarks from legislative leaders in the Assembly and Senate, from the potentially harmful environmental policy of President Donald Trump’s administration to the new federal tax code -- passed by the Republican Congress and signed by the Republican president in December -- which is expected to disportionately burden New York taxpayers. Cuomo has said New York will sue, while his team is also exploring an overhaul of the state tax code to blunt the impact of the federal reforms.</p> <p>The governor and the Legislature must also sort out <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7370-state-faces-budget-deficit-ahead-of-possible-gut-punch-from-washington" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the state’s larger-than-usual budget deficit</a>, with a new spending plan due by the April 1 start to the new fiscal year, and while tackling the expiration of federal funding to various programs in healthcare and beyond.<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7244-amid-health-care-funding-feud-cuomo-explores-special-session"><br /></a></p> <p>Conflicts, some of them repetitious from past years, are clearly brewing over taxes, MTA funding and an expected congestion pricing proposal by Cuomo, reforming child abuse laws, voting reform, women’s reproductive rights, and more.</p> <p>Also looming are the trials of several close former aides and donors to Cuomo and the retrials of two former legislative leaders, Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver, both of whom were removed from the Legislature in 2015 following their initial convictions, which were later overturned due to a new Supreme Court ruling. Nevertheless, government ethics and campaign finance reform <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7403-cuomo-s-2018-state-of-the-state-reform-agenda-largely-repeats-past-proposals" target="_blank" rel="noopener">got barely a mention in the governor’s address</a> and in opening day remarks by legislative leaders.</p> <p>At the Assembly’s opening day on Monday, before outlining his legislative agenda, Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, offered an overview of the conference’s past legislative accomplishments, such as passing paid family leave and raising the age of criminal responsibility, and then dove into his concerns over “radical policies” coming from Washington.</p> <p>“We must push back wherever necessary to protect the interests of our citizens,” said Heastie. “Among other things, Congress just enacted a law to scale back the deductibility of state and local taxes—a provision of law that predates the federal income tax itself. This shift will increase New Yorkers’ already sizeable contributions to the federal treasury while increasing our cost of living and disrupting our housing market—all to finance huge giveaways to the rich and to large corporations.”</p> <p>Heastie cited affordable healthcare and childcare, domestic violence and sexual harassment, environmental protections, and gun control, including the banning of bump stocks, as issues on the top of his majority conference’s legislative agenda.</p> <p>Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, a Republican representing Canandaigua and Geneva Counties in the Finger Lakes region who has announced he is running for governor this year, spent his initial floor time calling on his colleagues to put politics aside and face the crises in front of them. Essentially outlining his platform for the gubernatorial race, Kolb painted a bleak picture of New York State, which he noted could not be blamed on the federal government, highlighting New York City’s crumbling subways, Upstate New York’s chronic outmigration and poor job growth, as well as lack of movement on ethics reform in Albany as evidence that government was failing the voters of the state.</p> <p>A poignant moment unfolded when Kolb expressed condolences to Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, whose daughter Lauren <a href="https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/08/30/lauren-morelle-cancer-death-facebook/617865001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">died last year</a> following a battle with breast cancer, and praised his commitment to the job in the face of those challenges.</p> <p>Meanwhile, looming over the State Senate’s opening day, which took place on Wednesday, January 3, was the news that there may be a Democratic reunification deal in place, provided that two vacated Senate seats remain Democratic through upcoming but not-yet-called special elections, granting the party the requisite 32 votes to pass legislation.</p> <p>Currently, eight Democratic senators known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) form a ruling coalition with the Republican conference and nominal Democrat Simcha Felder, of Brooklyn, a Democrat who conferences with the GOP to form a majority even without the IDC.</p> <p>During his opening comments on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, expressed pride in his conference and his colleagues across the aisle, noting that collectively they had served in the Senate for 593 years.</p> <p>“I am not going to apologize. I am going to speak proudly of this institution and the fact that we all are engaged in public service, because last time I checked, I don’t have to canvas all 62 members to know that we’re not doing this for the money,” he said, seemingly referring to Cuomo’s call in his annual address for a ban on outside income.</p> <p>Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester Democrat, urged the governor to call a special election to fill the two vacant Senate seats “as soon as possible.” Cuomo had the discretion to call for special elections to fill a total of 11 vacant legislative seats, with nine in the Assembly, as early as January 1, but he has declined, indicating he does not want the Senate seats filled before a budget deal is reached. An election would take place 70 days after Cuomo makes the call.</p> <p>IDC Leader Jeffrey Klein of the Bronx also rattled off his conference’s legislative priorities, including voting reform measures, universal pre-kindergarten expansion, a student loan forgiveness proposal, improvements to the subway system and a method to pay for them, and a completely state-funded Child Health Plus program.</p> <p>On Monday, Stewart-Cousins spoke from the Senate floor wearing black in solidarity with all women, echoing the statement made by Oprah Winfrey and others at the Golden Globes a day prior, and vowed that her conference is committed to battling workplace sexual harassment, which she said “every woman in the Senate has experienced.”</p> <p>Outlining her conference’s priorities, she highlighted legislation to tip workers’ rights, voting reforms, women’s health policies, healthcare, tightened gun laws, MTA investments, and more.</p> <p>On Tuesday, Senate Republicans elaborated on their “affordability agenda,” making clear that their vision does not include higher taxes of any sort, including the additional payroll tax floated by Cuomo as a possible way to compensate for the reduction of the state and local tax deduction from federal taxes that is part of the new tax code. Rather, the Republican conference is pushing their usual message of controlled spending, including a cap on annual state spending growth, plus a slew of bills to slash income, property, energy, and retirement taxes.</p> <p>Presiding over a press conference to outline the agenda, Flanagan did not provide information about how the state, which is facing immense budgetary challenges, would pay for the additional tax breaks and cut the press conference short as reporters asked repeated questions about curbing discretionary spending in members’ districts. Flanagan defended the practice, which he was being asked about because of the news Tuesday morning that Democratic Assemblymember Pamela Harris had been indicted on public corruption charges.</p> <p>Another point of conflict was apparent at the Senate’s opening last week, when Timothy Cardinal Dolan, New York’s archdiocese, offered a prayer to launch the session. Advocates for the passage of the Child Victims Act, hopeful for movement on the bill that makes it easier for victims of childhood sex abuse to file charges, criticized Flanagan and IDC Leader Jeffrey Klein for inviting Dolan to give the benediction.</p> <p>Critics said Dolan, who leads the Catholic Conference, which has spent millions on lobbying to prevent the passage of the Child Victims Act, should not have been invited when the bill is such a hot item of debate.</p> <p>"Majority Leader Flanagan has refused to meet with victims and buried the Child Victims Act in the rules committee for years," stated Gary A. Greenberg, founder of Fighting for Children PAC. "The is a new low to rub salt in our wounds and invite the person who has stopped victims of child sexual abuse from receiving justice in New York. Flanagan has refused to meet with victims and I have turned down another meeting with his staff."</p> <p><strong>New Members and Vacant Seats</strong><br />If Cuomo does not call a special election soon, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7399-cuomo-criticized-for-failing-to-call-special-election-january-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">nearly 1.8 million New Yorkers will be without representation</a> during budget negotiations, according to calculations from the New York Public Interest Group.</p> <p>The Assembly has welcomed two new members from the city, Daniel Rosenthal, of the 27th Assembly District in Queens, and Al Taylor, who replaced former Assembly Ways and Means chair Denny Farrell in Upper Manhattan’s 71st District, both of whom were selected by local Democratic party leadership. Rosenthal, a former aide to City Council Member Rory Lancman, is the youngest sitting member of the state Assembly at age 26. Taylor is a pastor and community organizer who served as chief of staff to his predecessor, Farrell, who retired last year.</p> <p>In the Senate, former Assembly member turned Senator Brian Kavanagh, of lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, took Daniel Squadron’s former seat in the Democratic conference. Kavanagh was the party-leader-picked successor to Squadron, who resigned abruptly last fall, citing disillusionment with his ability to affect change in the Senate and a new opportunity to go national. Kavanagh led a press conference on Tuesday calling on the governor to include funding for early voting in his executive budget proposal, due out next week.</p> <p>Klein, in his remarks, also briefly addressed Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda of the Bronx as a “senator in waiting.” Sepulveda has announced his candidacy for the vacated seat of now-City Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr.</p> <p>Heastie also announced a shuffle of leadership positions. Replacing Farrell at the helm of the Ways and Means committee is Brooklyn Assemblymember Helene Weinstein, marking a first for the Assembly, as no woman has previously held the post that runs budget proceedings.</p> <p><strong>Corruption Trials Loom</strong><br />Hanging over this session will be the upcoming trials of former State Senator George Maziarz, which begins in February, as well as those of the former Cuomo aides and associates -- including his former top aide Joe Percoco and former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President and CEO Alain Kaloyeros -- and those of Skelos and Silver. Good government groups gathered at the capital this week to highlight this climate, attempting to put pressure on legislative leaders and Cuomo to move forward legislation <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7405-reform-groups-launch-restore-public-trust-campaign" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on clean contracting, LLC loophole closure, outside income limits, and other reforms</a>.</p> <p>On Tuesday morning the news of Assemblymember Harris’ multi-count indictment broke, putting added focus on government ethics and other reforms. Harris, who represents Bay Ridge and Coney Island, <a href="https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/brooklyn-assemblywoman-indicted-multiple-fraud-schemes-and-obstructing-justice" target="_blank" rel="noopener">was indicted</a> on fraud charges for allegedly diverting City Council funds designated for the non-profit she ran before taking office and for fraudulently obtaining Hurricane Sandy relief funds for her home, as well as witness tampering. Legislative leaders reacted to the news with surprise and disappointment but downplayed the need for reforms.</p> <p>Flanagan expressed surprise as he learned of the news from reporters, during the press conference on the Senate Republicans’ agenda. “I’m actually very disheartened to hear that. But it is an indication that our laws are actually working. We have more disclosure, more transparency, more limitations of what people can do in the Legislature,” said Flanagan, adding that her indictment is “bad for everyone, because it paints the Legislature with a broad brush.”</p> <p>Heastie, when cornered by reporters outside his chamber, also shrugged off the need for additional ethics guidelines. “I don’t want to get so much into it, because I haven’t read the indictment, but there are certain things you can and cannot do in this life. I’m not sure how another ethics reform makes this better or worse.”</p> <p>In contrast, Democratic Senator Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, released a statement calling for “crucial ethics reform in Albany” after learning of Harris’ indictment.</p> <p>“Today’s indictment is the latest chapter in a sordid book about the need for crucial ethics reform in Albany,” said Kaminsky. “In particular, the legislature needs to immediately focus on the outside income of legislators, as demonstrated by this latest case. We can’t let Albany shrug this one off — we must prioritize those reforms and others to restore voters' trust and confidence in the government.”</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/39477610441_c073913d76_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo legislative leaders Albany" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders (photo:&nbsp;Darren McGee/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Since the 2018 session began last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have outlined their agendas for the year, and addressed or hinted at some of the significant challenges facing state lawmakers.</p> <p>In particular, threats from the federal government were acknowledged by Cuomo during his state of the State address and in remarks from legislative leaders in the Assembly and Senate, from the potentially harmful environmental policy of President Donald Trump’s administration to the new federal tax code -- passed by the Republican Congress and signed by the Republican president in December -- which is expected to disportionately burden New York taxpayers. Cuomo has said New York will sue, while his team is also exploring an overhaul of the state tax code to blunt the impact of the federal reforms.</p> <p>The governor and the Legislature must also sort out <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7370-state-faces-budget-deficit-ahead-of-possible-gut-punch-from-washington" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the state’s larger-than-usual budget deficit</a>, with a new spending plan due by the April 1 start to the new fiscal year, and while tackling the expiration of federal funding to various programs in healthcare and beyond.<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7244-amid-health-care-funding-feud-cuomo-explores-special-session"><br /></a></p> <p>Conflicts, some of them repetitious from past years, are clearly brewing over taxes, MTA funding and an expected congestion pricing proposal by Cuomo, reforming child abuse laws, voting reform, women’s reproductive rights, and more.</p> <p>Also looming are the trials of several close former aides and donors to Cuomo and the retrials of two former legislative leaders, Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver, both of whom were removed from the Legislature in 2015 following their initial convictions, which were later overturned due to a new Supreme Court ruling. Nevertheless, government ethics and campaign finance reform <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7403-cuomo-s-2018-state-of-the-state-reform-agenda-largely-repeats-past-proposals" target="_blank" rel="noopener">got barely a mention in the governor’s address</a> and in opening day remarks by legislative leaders.</p> <p>At the Assembly’s opening day on Monday, before outlining his legislative agenda, Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, offered an overview of the conference’s past legislative accomplishments, such as passing paid family leave and raising the age of criminal responsibility, and then dove into his concerns over “radical policies” coming from Washington.</p> <p>“We must push back wherever necessary to protect the interests of our citizens,” said Heastie. “Among other things, Congress just enacted a law to scale back the deductibility of state and local taxes—a provision of law that predates the federal income tax itself. This shift will increase New Yorkers’ already sizeable contributions to the federal treasury while increasing our cost of living and disrupting our housing market—all to finance huge giveaways to the rich and to large corporations.”</p> <p>Heastie cited affordable healthcare and childcare, domestic violence and sexual harassment, environmental protections, and gun control, including the banning of bump stocks, as issues on the top of his majority conference’s legislative agenda.</p> <p>Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, a Republican representing Canandaigua and Geneva Counties in the Finger Lakes region who has announced he is running for governor this year, spent his initial floor time calling on his colleagues to put politics aside and face the crises in front of them. Essentially outlining his platform for the gubernatorial race, Kolb painted a bleak picture of New York State, which he noted could not be blamed on the federal government, highlighting New York City’s crumbling subways, Upstate New York’s chronic outmigration and poor job growth, as well as lack of movement on ethics reform in Albany as evidence that government was failing the voters of the state.</p> <p>A poignant moment unfolded when Kolb expressed condolences to Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, whose daughter Lauren <a href="https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/08/30/lauren-morelle-cancer-death-facebook/617865001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">died last year</a> following a battle with breast cancer, and praised his commitment to the job in the face of those challenges.</p> <p>Meanwhile, looming over the State Senate’s opening day, which took place on Wednesday, January 3, was the news that there may be a Democratic reunification deal in place, provided that two vacated Senate seats remain Democratic through upcoming but not-yet-called special elections, granting the party the requisite 32 votes to pass legislation.</p> <p>Currently, eight Democratic senators known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) form a ruling coalition with the Republican conference and nominal Democrat Simcha Felder, of Brooklyn, a Democrat who conferences with the GOP to form a majority even without the IDC.</p> <p>During his opening comments on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, expressed pride in his conference and his colleagues across the aisle, noting that collectively they had served in the Senate for 593 years.</p> <p>“I am not going to apologize. I am going to speak proudly of this institution and the fact that we all are engaged in public service, because last time I checked, I don’t have to canvas all 62 members to know that we’re not doing this for the money,” he said, seemingly referring to Cuomo’s call in his annual address for a ban on outside income.</p> <p>Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester Democrat, urged the governor to call a special election to fill the two vacant Senate seats “as soon as possible.” Cuomo had the discretion to call for special elections to fill a total of 11 vacant legislative seats, with nine in the Assembly, as early as January 1, but he has declined, indicating he does not want the Senate seats filled before a budget deal is reached. An election would take place 70 days after Cuomo makes the call.</p> <p>IDC Leader Jeffrey Klein of the Bronx also rattled off his conference’s legislative priorities, including voting reform measures, universal pre-kindergarten expansion, a student loan forgiveness proposal, improvements to the subway system and a method to pay for them, and a completely state-funded Child Health Plus program.</p> <p>On Monday, Stewart-Cousins spoke from the Senate floor wearing black in solidarity with all women, echoing the statement made by Oprah Winfrey and others at the Golden Globes a day prior, and vowed that her conference is committed to battling workplace sexual harassment, which she said “every woman in the Senate has experienced.”</p> <p>Outlining her conference’s priorities, she highlighted legislation to tip workers’ rights, voting reforms, women’s health policies, healthcare, tightened gun laws, MTA investments, and more.</p> <p>On Tuesday, Senate Republicans elaborated on their “affordability agenda,” making clear that their vision does not include higher taxes of any sort, including the additional payroll tax floated by Cuomo as a possible way to compensate for the reduction of the state and local tax deduction from federal taxes that is part of the new tax code. Rather, the Republican conference is pushing their usual message of controlled spending, including a cap on annual state spending growth, plus a slew of bills to slash income, property, energy, and retirement taxes.</p> <p>Presiding over a press conference to outline the agenda, Flanagan did not provide information about how the state, which is facing immense budgetary challenges, would pay for the additional tax breaks and cut the press conference short as reporters asked repeated questions about curbing discretionary spending in members’ districts. Flanagan defended the practice, which he was being asked about because of the news Tuesday morning that Democratic Assemblymember Pamela Harris had been indicted on public corruption charges.</p> <p>Another point of conflict was apparent at the Senate’s opening last week, when Timothy Cardinal Dolan, New York’s archdiocese, offered a prayer to launch the session. Advocates for the passage of the Child Victims Act, hopeful for movement on the bill that makes it easier for victims of childhood sex abuse to file charges, criticized Flanagan and IDC Leader Jeffrey Klein for inviting Dolan to give the benediction.</p> <p>Critics said Dolan, who leads the Catholic Conference, which has spent millions on lobbying to prevent the passage of the Child Victims Act, should not have been invited when the bill is such a hot item of debate.</p> <p>"Majority Leader Flanagan has refused to meet with victims and buried the Child Victims Act in the rules committee for years," stated Gary A. Greenberg, founder of Fighting for Children PAC. "The is a new low to rub salt in our wounds and invite the person who has stopped victims of child sexual abuse from receiving justice in New York. Flanagan has refused to meet with victims and I have turned down another meeting with his staff."</p> <p><strong>New Members and Vacant Seats</strong><br />If Cuomo does not call a special election soon, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7399-cuomo-criticized-for-failing-to-call-special-election-january-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">nearly 1.8 million New Yorkers will be without representation</a> during budget negotiations, according to calculations from the New York Public Interest Group.</p> <p>The Assembly has welcomed two new members from the city, Daniel Rosenthal, of the 27th Assembly District in Queens, and Al Taylor, who replaced former Assembly Ways and Means chair Denny Farrell in Upper Manhattan’s 71st District, both of whom were selected by local Democratic party leadership. Rosenthal, a former aide to City Council Member Rory Lancman, is the youngest sitting member of the state Assembly at age 26. Taylor is a pastor and community organizer who served as chief of staff to his predecessor, Farrell, who retired last year.</p> <p>In the Senate, former Assembly member turned Senator Brian Kavanagh, of lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, took Daniel Squadron’s former seat in the Democratic conference. Kavanagh was the party-leader-picked successor to Squadron, who resigned abruptly last fall, citing disillusionment with his ability to affect change in the Senate and a new opportunity to go national. Kavanagh led a press conference on Tuesday calling on the governor to include funding for early voting in his executive budget proposal, due out next week.</p> <p>Klein, in his remarks, also briefly addressed Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda of the Bronx as a “senator in waiting.” Sepulveda has announced his candidacy for the vacated seat of now-City Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr.</p> <p>Heastie also announced a shuffle of leadership positions. Replacing Farrell at the helm of the Ways and Means committee is Brooklyn Assemblymember Helene Weinstein, marking a first for the Assembly, as no woman has previously held the post that runs budget proceedings.</p> <p><strong>Corruption Trials Loom</strong><br />Hanging over this session will be the upcoming trials of former State Senator George Maziarz, which begins in February, as well as those of the former Cuomo aides and associates -- including his former top aide Joe Percoco and former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President and CEO Alain Kaloyeros -- and those of Skelos and Silver. Good government groups gathered at the capital this week to highlight this climate, attempting to put pressure on legislative leaders and Cuomo to move forward legislation <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7405-reform-groups-launch-restore-public-trust-campaign" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on clean contracting, LLC loophole closure, outside income limits, and other reforms</a>.</p> <p>On Tuesday morning the news of Assemblymember Harris’ multi-count indictment broke, putting added focus on government ethics and other reforms. Harris, who represents Bay Ridge and Coney Island, <a href="https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/brooklyn-assemblywoman-indicted-multiple-fraud-schemes-and-obstructing-justice" target="_blank" rel="noopener">was indicted</a> on fraud charges for allegedly diverting City Council funds designated for the non-profit she ran before taking office and for fraudulently obtaining Hurricane Sandy relief funds for her home, as well as witness tampering. Legislative leaders reacted to the news with surprise and disappointment but downplayed the need for reforms.</p> <p>Flanagan expressed surprise as he learned of the news from reporters, during the press conference on the Senate Republicans’ agenda. “I’m actually very disheartened to hear that. But it is an indication that our laws are actually working. We have more disclosure, more transparency, more limitations of what people can do in the Legislature,” said Flanagan, adding that her indictment is “bad for everyone, because it paints the Legislature with a broad brush.”</p> <p>Heastie, when cornered by reporters outside his chamber, also shrugged off the need for additional ethics guidelines. “I don’t want to get so much into it, because I haven’t read the indictment, but there are certain things you can and cannot do in this life. I’m not sure how another ethics reform makes this better or worse.”</p> <p>In contrast, Democratic Senator Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, released a statement calling for “crucial ethics reform in Albany” after learning of Harris’ indictment.</p> <p>“Today’s indictment is the latest chapter in a sordid book about the need for crucial ethics reform in Albany,” said Kaminsky. “In particular, the legislature needs to immediately focus on the outside income of legislators, as demonstrated by this latest case. We can’t let Albany shrug this one off — we must prioritize those reforms and others to restore voters' trust and confidence in the government.”</p> <p>

***
by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Previewing Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State 2017-12-28T05:00:00+00:00 2017-12-28T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7391:previewing-cuomo-s-2018-state-of-the-state Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/39171789402_5071ab0b41_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo State of the State Long Island" width="600" height="428" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to deliver his 2018 State of the State address on Wednesday in Albany, at which he will outline his policy agenda for the year, his eighth as governor. A Democrat who plans to seek a third term later in the year, Cuomo has been rolling out planks of his State of the State agenda in the weeks leading up to the speech.</p> <p>As of Wednesday morning, Cuomo had officially announced 22 pieces of the agenda, each in a separate press release from his office, some in conjunction with public events. They range from statewide proposals like environmental protections to more local topics, like fighting the MS-13 gang on Long Island, and also include promises to take away gun rights from domestic abusers, criminalize “revenge porn” and “sextortion,” invest further in his program to revitalize local downtown areas, and reevaluate the lower minimum wage allowed for workers who regularly receive tips. Most of the 22 planks have several parts that at times cover a lot of ground.</p> <p>These announcements have come as Cuomo has been working to preempt, then react to recently-passed federal tax reform legislation that is opposed by New Yorkers across the political spectrum. While he’s put forth his initial 2018 agenda items, Cuomo has also been working to mitigate the effects of the tax reforms, which will likely force many New Yorkers to pay higher overall taxes, with measures such as allowing property tax prepayments.</p> <p>Along with what he’s announced so far, there are a number of topics the governor is expected to address either through his State of the State speech or the policy book that typically accompanies it. That policy agenda, in combination with his executive budget proposal, also due in January, forms the initial blueprint for bargaining with the Legislature.</p> <p>Cuomo's 18th plank came on Tuesday morning and deals with combating sexual harassment in workplaces, including throughout state government. Cuomo had indicated the would unveil comprehensive sexual misconduct legislation that strengthens harassment and discrimination laws in all industries, a response to the ongoing national reckoning, which has touched high-profile Cuomo donors Harvey Weinstein and Mario Batali as well as a now-former member of Cuomo’s administration, Sam Hoyt.</p> <p>The governor recently made waves when he defensively responded to a reporter who asked him what he was going to do to root out sexual misconduct in state government. Speaking with a group of journalists, Cuomo told the female reporter who asked the question that singling out state government did a “disservice to women” because there are problems across industries and sectors. Cuomo vowed to deal with the issue holistically and said to look for plans during the State of the State. The governor’s response drew widespread criticism and he made efforts to clarify his intent while he also called to apologize to the reporter, Karen DeWitt of upstate public radio.</p> <p>According to SUNY New Paltz political scientist Gerald Benjamin, Cuomo must further address the new tax code, signed into law by Republican President Donald Trump just before Christmas, while he also seeks attention for his other plans.</p> <p>“The run-up to the State of the State is being overpowered by the debate over the federal tax changes. So, it’s taking the headlines and the governor is directly involved, when he’s using terms like ‘traitor’ to describe people,” said Benjamin. “The purpose of the early release of these items, one proposal at a time, is to control and direct the news flow. It’s a classic practice that has gone on over decades in New York.”</p> <p>Cuomo recently told CNN hosts that even as he considers a legal challenge to the federal tax overhaul, “We're going to propose a restructuring of our tax code.”</p> <p>“I'm not even sure what they did is legal or constitutional and that's something we're looking at now,” Cuomo added, referring to federal lawmakers. He said that the ways in which the reforms targeted heavily Democratic states like New York and California that have higher state and local taxes could be grounds for legal action.</p> <p>Another piece of his agenda that Cuomo has already announced is his “<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7384-cuomo-unveils-democracy-agenda-of-ad-transparency-election-security-and-voting-reforms" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democracy Project</a>,” which includes several measures to make online political advertisements more transparent; secure elections from cyberattacks, and improve New Yorkers’ access to the ballot box through measures like early voting.</p> <p>The governor has not yet released any proposals around government ethics or campaign finance reform, which are annual topics of controversy in Albany. When Cuomo announced the Democracy Project, Gotham Gazette inquired whether New Yorkers should expect campaign finance and government ethics reform proposals from the governor. A spokesperson <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7384-cuomo-unveils-democracy-agenda-of-ad-transparency-election-security-and-voting-reforms" target="_blank" rel="noopener">did not give an indication</a> either way, but said the governor is committed to seeing his election reforms pass.</p> <p>Cuomo has proposed such measures every year he has been governor, with some measures and half-measures passing on several occasions. But they have not stemmed the tide of corruption in state government. The spotlight will again be on Cuomo to make headway this year as several of his close associates are facing trial in early 2018 for their roles in <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7353-with-phase-one-going-on-trial-cuomo-s-buffalo-investment-moves-ahead-with-changes-and-broken-reform-promises" target="_blank" rel="noopener">an alleged bid-rigging scheme tied to Cuomo’s signature economic development programs</a>.</p> <p>“There may be a degree of uncertainty in this session because of the monumental scope and character of recent events, but the ethics question is going to be very important,” said Benjamin.</p> <p>Voting, government ethics, and campaign finance reforms are among many of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6710-all-of-governor-cuomo-s-2017-state-of-the-state-proposals" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo’s 2017 policy proposals</a> that did not materialize last year, either due to resistance from the Legislature, a lack of more aggressive lobbying by the governor, or other challenges.</p> <p>While it was not part of his agenda last year, Cuomo has indicated that a congestion pricing plan for the New York City region will be part of his 2018 agenda, and he empaneled a commission to make recommendations that are due soon. The governor may release the details of his proposal as part of his State of the State, with the goals of reducing congestion on city streets, especially in Manhattan, and funding MTA repairs, but he may also wait for later in the year. There are host of other issues Cuomo may look to address, including major areas like affordable housing, education, and health care.</p> <p>Ahead of Cuomo’s 2018 address, Gotham Gazette asked legislative leaders for what they would like to see on the governor’s agenda. Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins -- who is in talks with Cuomo and members of the Independent Democratic Conference about a potential reunification deal if Democrats can secure a numerical majority in 2018 -- noted that New York faces a difficult economic reality due to actions taken by Trump and Republican lawmakers in Washington, D.C.</p> <p>“We must find more ways to protect taxpayers and create good jobs, ensure access to quality, affordable healthcare for all New Yorkers, protect women's rights, ensure our education system receives the resources it deserves, repair and fully fund our decaying infrastructure and MTA, and stand up for vulnerable communities under attack by the Trump Administration,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, and Senate Democrats will push for action to be taken immediately.”</p> <p>Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who was the first Republican to announce that he is running for governor in 2018, took aim at Cuomo.</p> <p>“The priority in 2018 must be on setting an agenda that helps New Yorkers, rather than setting an agenda that helps presidential ambitions,” said Kolb, referring to Cuomo’s apparent interest in a 2020 presidential campaign. “We have an affordability problem that’s driving residents and businesses to other states. The growing infrastructure crisis is making everyday life more difficult for millions of New Yorkers. Endless unfunded mandates from Albany continue to drive up local property tax burdens. Billions in taxpayer dollars are spent on job-creation programs, with little return on investment. Government accountability and transparency have been ignored for too long. These are the priorities of the Assembly Minority Conference and I hope the governor and our legislative colleagues agree that they demand our immediate attention.”</p> <p>Spokespeople for Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did not return requests for comment. While an IDC spokesperson did not return a request for comment, the IDC did unveil on Thursday its 2018 state budget agenda -- a spending plan for next fiscal year is due by its April 1 start.</p> <p>Among other things, the breakaway group of eight Democratic senators led by Sen. Jeff Klein of the Bronx is calling for early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, dedicating a portion of New York City sales taxes toward MTA repairs, tax relief for many New Yorkers, and protecting health insurance for children from poor families.</p> <p>In a statement accompanying release of the agenda, Klein said that the “budget addresses issues...we can advance to improve participation in our elections, enhance our children’s education, protect our workers, upgrade our infrastructure, and help our immigrant communities. As one state we must unite around passing a budget that achieves these goals that transcend party lines.”</p> <p>As for Gov. Cuomo, he is returning this year to the typical State of the State address in Albany after he gave six smaller addresses around the state last year, finishing in Albany, which had been a break from tradition.</p> <p>A running list of Cuomo’s 2018 proposals unveiled so far:</p> <p>1. Removing firearms from domestic abusers - the legislation would build on existing restriction on gun ownership which currently only bars gun ownership from individuals convicted of a felony domestic abuse, not those convicted of a misdemeanor. <br />2. Protect the environment, protect the Hudson River - Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will take immediate action to sue the federal government if the Environmental Protection Agency deems the Hudson River PCB dredging complete. <br />3. Round three of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative - Invest $100 Million in 10 Economic Development Regions and build upon first two rounds of downtown revitalization awards.<br />4. Cutting off the recruitment pipeline to eradicate MS-13 - A five-point plan to improve access to social programs, like after-school education and job training for at-risk youth. Additional support for unaccompanied minors and bolstered law enforcement in gang hotspots. <br />5. Examine eliminating the minimum wage tip credit to strengthen economic justice in New York State - Cuomo will direct the Commissioner of Labor to hold hearings to evaluate eliminating tip credit. <br />6. Continue to reduce the local property tax burden by making the state’s county shared services panels permanent - state funding for local government performance aid will now be conditioned on shared services panels.<br />7. Major investment to accelerate improvement at Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant - Invest $20 million to launch phase one of treatment plant overhaul to protect water quality. Commit $500,000 to accelerate studies of outfall, facility upgrades required by consent order issued by DEC.<br />8. New York will take legal action to halt a rail operator's plan to store thousands of railcars indefinitely in the Adirondack Park.<br />9. Fossil fuel divestment - Calling on New York State Common Retirement Fund to cease all new investment in entities with significant fossil fuel-related activities and develop a decarbonization plan for divesting from fossil fuels. <br />10. Bringing the New York Islanders home with a world-class sports and entertainment destination at Belmont Park - Internationally recognized destination will feature 18,000-seat arena, 435,000-square-foot retail and dining village, and new hotel.<br />11, Ending sextortion - sextortion and non-consensual pornography will be criminalized under state law and require registration as a sex offender and be punishable by jail time<br />12. Protecting New York’s Lakes from harmful algal blooms - a $65M investment to combat algal blooms that threaten recreational use of lakes and drinking water <br />13. Democracy Agenda - Protect integrity of New York Elections, require transparency for digital ads, and enact voting reforms.<br />14. Fast track state-of-the-art containment and treatment of U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman contamination plume - Cites new analysis indicating it will be possible to fully contain and treat four-mile-long, two-mile-wide plume in Oyster Bay, Long Island.<br />15. Ensure students don’t go hungry - a five-point plan to combat hunger for students in kindergarten through college including requiring breakfast after the bell in schools, creating more pathways to healthy eating in schools, and ending practices that shame students who cannot afford school lunch.<br />16.&nbsp;Take further action to fight the burden of student loan debt. Planks include appointing a Student Loan Ombudsman; requiring colleges to provide simple 'truth in lending' facts for students; and increasing consumer protection standards throughout the student loan industry.<br />17. Invest $34 million to modernize and expand Stewart International Airport in Orange County. Cuomo proposes the Port Authority approve the investment, which would increase access to the Mid-Hudson Valley via construction of a permanent U.S. Customs and Border Protection federal inspection station, which would allow for both domestic and international flights. Cuomo is also proposing modernization efforts for the airport.<br />18. Combat sexual harassment in the workplace. "Cuomo will propose legislation to prevent public dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims against individuals, void forced arbitration policies in employee contracts, and mandate that any companies that do business with the state disclose the number of sexual harassment adjudications and nondisclosure agreements they have executed."<br />19.&nbsp;Strengthen workforce development. The governor is proposing "a comprehensive workforce development program to ensure all New Yorkers have access to training to meet growing workforce needs and continue to move New York's economy forward. The new Office of Workforce Development will implement a multi-pronged plan to strategically target local workforce needs in emerging industries across the state and help workers and businesses succeed in the 21st century economy."<br />20.&nbsp;"Combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and growing the clean energy economy. By further strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and welcoming new state members, New York will continue its progress in slashing emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants. In addition, unprecedented commitments announced today to advance clean energy technologies, including offshore wind, solar, energy storage and energy efficiency, will spur market development and create jobs across the state."<br />21. Taking steps to revitalize Red Hook.&nbsp;"[C]alling on the Port Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to study potential options for relocating and improving maritime activities and enhancing transportation access to Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood."<br />22.&nbsp;Overhaul the state's criminal justice system. "This comprehensive package - the most progressive set of reforms in the nation -- will guarantee fairness for the accused by reshaping New York's antiquated bail system, ensuring access to a speedy trial, improving the disclosure of evidence in the discovery process, transforming asset forfeiture procedures and implementing new initiatives to help individuals transition from incarceration to their communities."</p> <p>***<br />By Rachel Silberstein and Ben Max</p> <p>

***
by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this article will be updated as the governor's office releases more proposals ahead of his speech.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/39171789402_5071ab0b41_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo State of the State Long Island" width="600" height="428" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to deliver his 2018 State of the State address on Wednesday in Albany, at which he will outline his policy agenda for the year, his eighth as governor. A Democrat who plans to seek a third term later in the year, Cuomo has been rolling out planks of his State of the State agenda in the weeks leading up to the speech.</p> <p>As of Wednesday morning, Cuomo had officially announced 22 pieces of the agenda, each in a separate press release from his office, some in conjunction with public events. They range from statewide proposals like environmental protections to more local topics, like fighting the MS-13 gang on Long Island, and also include promises to take away gun rights from domestic abusers, criminalize “revenge porn” and “sextortion,” invest further in his program to revitalize local downtown areas, and reevaluate the lower minimum wage allowed for workers who regularly receive tips. Most of the 22 planks have several parts that at times cover a lot of ground.</p> <p>These announcements have come as Cuomo has been working to preempt, then react to recently-passed federal tax reform legislation that is opposed by New Yorkers across the political spectrum. While he’s put forth his initial 2018 agenda items, Cuomo has also been working to mitigate the effects of the tax reforms, which will likely force many New Yorkers to pay higher overall taxes, with measures such as allowing property tax prepayments.</p> <p>Along with what he’s announced so far, there are a number of topics the governor is expected to address either through his State of the State speech or the policy book that typically accompanies it. That policy agenda, in combination with his executive budget proposal, also due in January, forms the initial blueprint for bargaining with the Legislature.</p> <p>Cuomo's 18th plank came on Tuesday morning and deals with combating sexual harassment in workplaces, including throughout state government. Cuomo had indicated the would unveil comprehensive sexual misconduct legislation that strengthens harassment and discrimination laws in all industries, a response to the ongoing national reckoning, which has touched high-profile Cuomo donors Harvey Weinstein and Mario Batali as well as a now-former member of Cuomo’s administration, Sam Hoyt.</p> <p>The governor recently made waves when he defensively responded to a reporter who asked him what he was going to do to root out sexual misconduct in state government. Speaking with a group of journalists, Cuomo told the female reporter who asked the question that singling out state government did a “disservice to women” because there are problems across industries and sectors. Cuomo vowed to deal with the issue holistically and said to look for plans during the State of the State. The governor’s response drew widespread criticism and he made efforts to clarify his intent while he also called to apologize to the reporter, Karen DeWitt of upstate public radio.</p> <p>According to SUNY New Paltz political scientist Gerald Benjamin, Cuomo must further address the new tax code, signed into law by Republican President Donald Trump just before Christmas, while he also seeks attention for his other plans.</p> <p>“The run-up to the State of the State is being overpowered by the debate over the federal tax changes. So, it’s taking the headlines and the governor is directly involved, when he’s using terms like ‘traitor’ to describe people,” said Benjamin. “The purpose of the early release of these items, one proposal at a time, is to control and direct the news flow. It’s a classic practice that has gone on over decades in New York.”</p> <p>Cuomo recently told CNN hosts that even as he considers a legal challenge to the federal tax overhaul, “We're going to propose a restructuring of our tax code.”</p> <p>“I'm not even sure what they did is legal or constitutional and that's something we're looking at now,” Cuomo added, referring to federal lawmakers. He said that the ways in which the reforms targeted heavily Democratic states like New York and California that have higher state and local taxes could be grounds for legal action.</p> <p>Another piece of his agenda that Cuomo has already announced is his “<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7384-cuomo-unveils-democracy-agenda-of-ad-transparency-election-security-and-voting-reforms" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democracy Project</a>,” which includes several measures to make online political advertisements more transparent; secure elections from cyberattacks, and improve New Yorkers’ access to the ballot box through measures like early voting.</p> <p>The governor has not yet released any proposals around government ethics or campaign finance reform, which are annual topics of controversy in Albany. When Cuomo announced the Democracy Project, Gotham Gazette inquired whether New Yorkers should expect campaign finance and government ethics reform proposals from the governor. A spokesperson <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7384-cuomo-unveils-democracy-agenda-of-ad-transparency-election-security-and-voting-reforms" target="_blank" rel="noopener">did not give an indication</a> either way, but said the governor is committed to seeing his election reforms pass.</p> <p>Cuomo has proposed such measures every year he has been governor, with some measures and half-measures passing on several occasions. But they have not stemmed the tide of corruption in state government. The spotlight will again be on Cuomo to make headway this year as several of his close associates are facing trial in early 2018 for their roles in <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7353-with-phase-one-going-on-trial-cuomo-s-buffalo-investment-moves-ahead-with-changes-and-broken-reform-promises" target="_blank" rel="noopener">an alleged bid-rigging scheme tied to Cuomo’s signature economic development programs</a>.</p> <p>“There may be a degree of uncertainty in this session because of the monumental scope and character of recent events, but the ethics question is going to be very important,” said Benjamin.</p> <p>Voting, government ethics, and campaign finance reforms are among many of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6710-all-of-governor-cuomo-s-2017-state-of-the-state-proposals" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo’s 2017 policy proposals</a> that did not materialize last year, either due to resistance from the Legislature, a lack of more aggressive lobbying by the governor, or other challenges.</p> <p>While it was not part of his agenda last year, Cuomo has indicated that a congestion pricing plan for the New York City region will be part of his 2018 agenda, and he empaneled a commission to make recommendations that are due soon. The governor may release the details of his proposal as part of his State of the State, with the goals of reducing congestion on city streets, especially in Manhattan, and funding MTA repairs, but he may also wait for later in the year. There are host of other issues Cuomo may look to address, including major areas like affordable housing, education, and health care.</p> <p>Ahead of Cuomo’s 2018 address, Gotham Gazette asked legislative leaders for what they would like to see on the governor’s agenda. Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins -- who is in talks with Cuomo and members of the Independent Democratic Conference about a potential reunification deal if Democrats can secure a numerical majority in 2018 -- noted that New York faces a difficult economic reality due to actions taken by Trump and Republican lawmakers in Washington, D.C.</p> <p>“We must find more ways to protect taxpayers and create good jobs, ensure access to quality, affordable healthcare for all New Yorkers, protect women's rights, ensure our education system receives the resources it deserves, repair and fully fund our decaying infrastructure and MTA, and stand up for vulnerable communities under attack by the Trump Administration,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, and Senate Democrats will push for action to be taken immediately.”</p> <p>Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who was the first Republican to announce that he is running for governor in 2018, took aim at Cuomo.</p> <p>“The priority in 2018 must be on setting an agenda that helps New Yorkers, rather than setting an agenda that helps presidential ambitions,” said Kolb, referring to Cuomo’s apparent interest in a 2020 presidential campaign. “We have an affordability problem that’s driving residents and businesses to other states. The growing infrastructure crisis is making everyday life more difficult for millions of New Yorkers. Endless unfunded mandates from Albany continue to drive up local property tax burdens. Billions in taxpayer dollars are spent on job-creation programs, with little return on investment. Government accountability and transparency have been ignored for too long. These are the priorities of the Assembly Minority Conference and I hope the governor and our legislative colleagues agree that they demand our immediate attention.”</p> <p>Spokespeople for Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did not return requests for comment. While an IDC spokesperson did not return a request for comment, the IDC did unveil on Thursday its 2018 state budget agenda -- a spending plan for next fiscal year is due by its April 1 start.</p> <p>Among other things, the breakaway group of eight Democratic senators led by Sen. Jeff Klein of the Bronx is calling for early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, dedicating a portion of New York City sales taxes toward MTA repairs, tax relief for many New Yorkers, and protecting health insurance for children from poor families.</p> <p>In a statement accompanying release of the agenda, Klein said that the “budget addresses issues...we can advance to improve participation in our elections, enhance our children’s education, protect our workers, upgrade our infrastructure, and help our immigrant communities. As one state we must unite around passing a budget that achieves these goals that transcend party lines.”</p> <p>As for Gov. Cuomo, he is returning this year to the typical State of the State address in Albany after he gave six smaller addresses around the state last year, finishing in Albany, which had been a break from tradition.</p> <p>A running list of Cuomo’s 2018 proposals unveiled so far:</p> <p>1. Removing firearms from domestic abusers - the legislation would build on existing restriction on gun ownership which currently only bars gun ownership from individuals convicted of a felony domestic abuse, not those convicted of a misdemeanor. <br />2. Protect the environment, protect the Hudson River - Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will take immediate action to sue the federal government if the Environmental Protection Agency deems the Hudson River PCB dredging complete. <br />3. Round three of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative - Invest $100 Million in 10 Economic Development Regions and build upon first two rounds of downtown revitalization awards.<br />4. Cutting off the recruitment pipeline to eradicate MS-13 - A five-point plan to improve access to social programs, like after-school education and job training for at-risk youth. Additional support for unaccompanied minors and bolstered law enforcement in gang hotspots. <br />5. Examine eliminating the minimum wage tip credit to strengthen economic justice in New York State - Cuomo will direct the Commissioner of Labor to hold hearings to evaluate eliminating tip credit. <br />6. Continue to reduce the local property tax burden by making the state’s county shared services panels permanent - state funding for local government performance aid will now be conditioned on shared services panels.<br />7. Major investment to accelerate improvement at Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant - Invest $20 million to launch phase one of treatment plant overhaul to protect water quality. Commit $500,000 to accelerate studies of outfall, facility upgrades required by consent order issued by DEC.<br />8. New York will take legal action to halt a rail operator's plan to store thousands of railcars indefinitely in the Adirondack Park.<br />9. Fossil fuel divestment - Calling on New York State Common Retirement Fund to cease all new investment in entities with significant fossil fuel-related activities and develop a decarbonization plan for divesting from fossil fuels. <br />10. Bringing the New York Islanders home with a world-class sports and entertainment destination at Belmont Park - Internationally recognized destination will feature 18,000-seat arena, 435,000-square-foot retail and dining village, and new hotel.<br />11, Ending sextortion - sextortion and non-consensual pornography will be criminalized under state law and require registration as a sex offender and be punishable by jail time<br />12. Protecting New York’s Lakes from harmful algal blooms - a $65M investment to combat algal blooms that threaten recreational use of lakes and drinking water <br />13. Democracy Agenda - Protect integrity of New York Elections, require transparency for digital ads, and enact voting reforms.<br />14. Fast track state-of-the-art containment and treatment of U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman contamination plume - Cites new analysis indicating it will be possible to fully contain and treat four-mile-long, two-mile-wide plume in Oyster Bay, Long Island.<br />15. Ensure students don’t go hungry - a five-point plan to combat hunger for students in kindergarten through college including requiring breakfast after the bell in schools, creating more pathways to healthy eating in schools, and ending practices that shame students who cannot afford school lunch.<br />16.&nbsp;Take further action to fight the burden of student loan debt. Planks include appointing a Student Loan Ombudsman; requiring colleges to provide simple 'truth in lending' facts for students; and increasing consumer protection standards throughout the student loan industry.<br />17. Invest $34 million to modernize and expand Stewart International Airport in Orange County. Cuomo proposes the Port Authority approve the investment, which would increase access to the Mid-Hudson Valley via construction of a permanent U.S. Customs and Border Protection federal inspection station, which would allow for both domestic and international flights. Cuomo is also proposing modernization efforts for the airport.<br />18. Combat sexual harassment in the workplace. "Cuomo will propose legislation to prevent public dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims against individuals, void forced arbitration policies in employee contracts, and mandate that any companies that do business with the state disclose the number of sexual harassment adjudications and nondisclosure agreements they have executed."<br />19.&nbsp;Strengthen workforce development. The governor is proposing "a comprehensive workforce development program to ensure all New Yorkers have access to training to meet growing workforce needs and continue to move New York's economy forward. The new Office of Workforce Development will implement a multi-pronged plan to strategically target local workforce needs in emerging industries across the state and help workers and businesses succeed in the 21st century economy."<br />20.&nbsp;"Combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and growing the clean energy economy. By further strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and welcoming new state members, New York will continue its progress in slashing emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants. In addition, unprecedented commitments announced today to advance clean energy technologies, including offshore wind, solar, energy storage and energy efficiency, will spur market development and create jobs across the state."<br />21. Taking steps to revitalize Red Hook.&nbsp;"[C]alling on the Port Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to study potential options for relocating and improving maritime activities and enhancing transportation access to Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood."<br />22.&nbsp;Overhaul the state's criminal justice system. "This comprehensive package - the most progressive set of reforms in the nation -- will guarantee fairness for the accused by reshaping New York's antiquated bail system, ensuring access to a speedy trial, improving the disclosure of evidence in the discovery process, transforming asset forfeiture procedures and implementing new initiatives to help individuals transition from incarceration to their communities."</p> <p>***<br />By Rachel Silberstein and Ben Max</p> <p>

***
by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this article will be updated as the governor's office releases more proposals ahead of his speech.</p>
Amid Larger Moment, Will Albany Face Another Sexual Misconduct Reckoning? 2017-10-31T04:00:00+00:00 2017-10-31T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7286:amid-larger-moment-will-albany-face-another-sexual-misconduct-reckoning Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/7030332993_98be0d5262_z_1.jpg" alt="Cuomo Sheldon Silver Skelos Albany" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo, Sheldon Silver &amp; Dean Skelos in 2012 (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As allegations of sexual harassment and assault against disgraced movie producer and major Democratic political donor Harvey Weinstein piled up earlier this month, women around the world took to social media to share stories of abusive behavior using the hashtag <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MeToo?src=hash" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">#MeToo</a>.</p> <p>The light being shone on the predatory behavior of Weinstein and many others resonated at statehouses across the United States, from California to Rhode Island, where women in politics have been speaking out about sexual misconduct they experienced first-hand or witnessed, with victims including legislators, young staffers and interns, lobbyists, and others.</p> <p>In New York’s capital, the response has been more muted, in part because the Legislature is not currently in session, but also because Albany was recently forced to face its own mishandling of sexual misconduct scandals. As recently as 2014, the aftermath of a debacle around sexual harassment by Assemblymember Vito Lopez, which led to his forced resignation from the Assembly, produced a number of significant reforms to how harassment, misconduct, and discriminatory behavior are addressed in the state Assembly.</p> <p>Now, three years later and amid a national reckoning with issues related to sexual misconduct, women in state government who spoke to Gotham Gazette noted an improvement in the Albany culture since these reforms, but say that sexist attitudes and behavior continue to plague New York state government.</p> <p>While several female legislators were hesitant to speak on the record about their own experiences with sexual harassment, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa spoke frankly about her own experiences with sexism in the political sphere at a recent forum organized by Berkeley College in Manhattan. She described one incident, a decade ago, when on a conference call, it was announced that she would take the lead on a project. A man on the line, who is now a national leader in progressive politics, according to DeRosa, joked, “She can take the lead right up to my hotel room,” apparently unaware that DeRosa was on the line.</p> <p>“These instances have stuck with me, but I'm not kidding myself and neither should you — many women have and still do experience far worse every day, and it's not just actresses you're reading about in the news this week,” she said, according to <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/transcript-secretary-governor-melissa-derosa-delivers-keynote-address-women-media-courage-own" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a transcript</a> distributed by the governor’s office.</p> <p>Calling for “societal course correction,” DeRosa encouraged young women in all industries to speak out.</p> <p>The statement was a powerful one coming from DeRosa, who at 34 became the youngest person and first woman to be named Secretary to the Governor, the top aide to the state’s most powerful government official, when she was appointed to the post by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Days after DeRosa’s remarks, a former top official in Cuomo’s administration came forward with allegations that her former boss sexually harassed staffers, saying she was inspired by DeRosa’s remarks, <a href="http://nypost.com/2017/10/23/top-cuomo-official-claims-former-boss-sexually-harassed-employees/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to The New York Post</a>.</p> <p>Patricia Gunning, who had recently resigned as the special prosecutor/inspector general of the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, told The Post that she faced retaliatory violence for calling out her boss for his behavior.</p> <p>“My hope is that this conversation will be the beginning of a new era in [how] these issues are addressed by employers,” Gunning told The Post.</p> <p>On Monday, <a href="http://buffalonews.com/2017/10/30/cuomo-ally-sam-hoyt-leaves-state-post-for-private-sector/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">it was revealed</a> that&nbsp;<span style="font-weight: 400;">Sam Hoyt, a former assemblyman and Cuomo ally who ran Buffalo area projects for the state's Empire State Development Corporation, had abruptly resigned to take a job in the private sector. By Tuesday afternoon, Hoyt, who was disciplined by the Assembly<span style="font-weight: 400;">&nbsp;in 2009 for an affair with 19-year-old intern, <a href="http://buffalonews.com/2017/10/31/state-employee-says-hoyt-paid-her-50000-to-conceal-relationship/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">was accused</a> by a former state employee of pressuring her into a romantic relationship. She told The Buffalo News that she was paid $50,000 for her silence.</span> </span></p> <p><span>In <a href="https://twitter.com/NickReisman/status/925443753200021505" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a statement</a>,&nbsp;<span>Cuomo spokesperson Dani Lever acknowledged that allegations of misconduct had emerged against Hoyt and that an investigation was underway.</span></span></p> <p>"All state employees must act with integrity and respect," the statement read. "When the complainant made these allegations, they were immediately refered to the&nbsp; <span style="font-weight: 400;">Governor's Office of Employee Relations (GOER)&nbsp;</span>for an investigation."</p> <p>After GOER determined there were grounds for further review, the matter was referred to the Inspector General's Office, and later, the&nbsp;<span style="font-weight: 400;">Joint Commission of Public Ethics (JCOPE), according to the statement. Hoyt maintains that the relationship was consentual, according to The Buffalo News.</span></p> <p>But while to this point there has not been a new public outcry at the New York Legislature, female lawmakers say that the Weinstein scandal and its fallout have struck a chord and sparked private conversations about their early experiences in Albany and how they can best aid young female staff aides and legislators.</p> <p>One such conversation occurred at <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/comm/?id=85" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a retreat</a> for the Women’s Legislative Caucus in Saratoga two weeks ago, where women shared uncomfortable incidents they had experienced early in their careers and discussed how they could better unify when scandals occur, according to Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Buffalo area lawmaker who chairs the Women’s Caucus. One thing agreed upon, Peoples-Stokes said, was that the Assembly’s sexual harassment enforcement could be enhanced by a mentorship program for incoming members and their aides.</p> <p>“We wanted to see if there is anything we can do in addition to ensure that we never need to have these experiences again,” said Peoples-Stokes. “It is something that we decided we are going to do as women of the Legislature, and you know, when women decide to do something, we get it done.”</p> <p>While the Assembly reforms appear to have improved the culture in the 150-seat chamber, Albany’s sexual harassment problem has not disappeared. The Senate and the Assembly <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/11/legislature-spends-271k-on-sexual-harassment-cases/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">have spent</a> hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two years on outside counsel to investigate sexual harassment complaints. The Assembly’s ethics committee -- which exists solely to enforce policy on sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation -- <a href="https://twitter.com/RachelSilby/status/917812909106978816" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convened a meeting</a> in executive session on October 12 and is expected to meet again on November 2. The matter at hand is not clear.<br /> <br />Currently reported to be under investigation by JCOPE and the Erie County District Attorney’s office is Senator Marc Panepinto, a Democrat from Buffalo, who announced he would not seek reelection last year <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/03/17/state-senator-faces-ethics-probe-amid-lurid-sexual-harassment-allegations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">amid rumors</a> of sexual harassment. Also last year, the Senate paid out $121,000 for two contracts with Kraus &amp; Zuchlewski LLP “for legal counsel related to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission matters and investigation of sexual harassment claims.”</p> <p>Assembly members who spoke with Gotham Gazette acknowledged the body’s embarrassing history of dismissing sexual misconduct claims internally, which has led to a slew of unflattering headlines in 2012 and 2013, but noted that <span style="font-weight: 400;">an influx of female legislators to the Assembly in recent years has also helped to reshape the culture</span>. At the Senate, such scandals and its culture of protecting those in power has not drawn the same scrutiny.</p> <p>Last week, New York’s chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW) made an effort to further jumpstart the conversation, calling on women and men who currently or previously work(ed) in government in Albany and throughout the state to speak out about their personal experiences with sexual harassment or assault while on the job, citing the Legislature’s history of quashing sexual harassment complaints.<br /> <br />“Government sets the standard and the policies and the laws that all other industries are asked to uphold,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women - New York, said in a statement. “Given that Albany is a place where lawmakers have abused their power and sexual harassment has gone unchecked in the past, we felt it was important to give women in politics a platform to speak up.”</p> <p>The women’s advocacy organization has <a href="http://nownys.org/whistleblower-hotline-for-sexual-harassment-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">announced</a> the creation of a new, dedicated hotline for individuals in government to report their experiences (people can call 518-362-7857 or submit a story online at <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/nownys.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">nownys.org</a>).</p> <p>In an interview with Gotham Gazette, Ossorio said the goal is to build on the momentum of the #MeToo movement. The hotline will provide independent counsel and resources to victims while also assessing how effective recent policies have been, she said.</p> <p>“We immediately thought about the culture that has existed in Albany and we wanted to be able to empower women who work in politics, particularly young women and interns who head to their internships idealistic and wanting to be part of American government and are disillusioned by it,” she said. “We really want to know to what degree the environment of sexual harassment has been uprooted.”</p> <p>The personal stories tumbling out of statehouses around the nation are eerily familiar to anyone who has closely watched New York state government in recent years. In California, women leaders in government have formed a campaign called “We Said Enough,” sharing stories about how they have endured groping, inappropriate comments about their bodies and abilities, and insults and jokes that diminish them professionally. In some cases, “men have made promises, or threats, about our jobs in exchange for our compliance, or our silence. They have leveraged their power and positions to treat us however they would like,” wrote the group <a href="https://www.wesaidenough.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">on a website</a> created for women to submit their stories.</p> <p>An open letter circulated by members of the Illinois Legislature drew a direct comparison between the Weinstein scandal and the coercive situations in which women in government find themselves and had drawn 130 signatures by Tuesday afternoon, <a href="https://t.co/zZUEBcBYR7" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the AP reported</a>.</p> <p>"Every industry has its own version of the casting couch," reads the letter. "Ask any woman who has lobbied the halls of the Capitol, staffed Council Chambers, or slogged through brutal hours on the campaign trail. Misogyny is alive and well in this industry."</p> <p>Albany, which has historically been referred to as the New York’s own “sin city,” is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/16/nyregion/albany-faces-its-sex-problem-and-nobody-s-snickering.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">no stranger to such scandals</a>. Repeatedly, a series of particularly egregious complaints of sexual harassment or rape has led the Legislature to a watershed moment of sorts, producing much-needed reform in how accusers are treated and how their complaints are handled.</p> <p>A major turning point for the Assembly occurred <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/16/nyregion/albany-faces-its-sex-problem-and-nobody-s-snickering.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in 2004</a>, when, roiling from a series of rape accusations against Assemblymember Adam Clayton Powell IV and Michael Boxley, chief counsel to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, its leadership decided to bar members of the Legislature from fraternizing with interns.</p> <p>In the state Senate, a somewhat similar soul-searching happened, but at the time many of its members were strongly opposed to the idea of an intern-fraternization ban.</p> <p>In comparison to the 150-seat Assembly, sex scandals in the 63-seat Senate have unfolded more discreetly -- hinted at through <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/11/legislature-spends-271k-on-sexual-harassment-cases/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">money spent on lawyers</a> or a senator or a top aide <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/09/flanagan-hires/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">leaving the job</a> abruptly amid rumors -- and as a result the body’s leadership has not been forced to publicly reckon with its record in the same way, according to Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat who was instrumental in compelling the Senate to implement a mandatory sexual harassment training program.</p> <p>A decade ago, Krueger said she was privy to two incidents involving interns who were molested by older male senators. One incident occurred in a packed elevator and Krueger famously threatened to kick the senator if he touched an intern again. The other time she learned of a sexual assault claim when she found a young staffer crying outside a senator’s office at the Capitol.</p> <p>After the second incident, Krueger, who is known for her bluntness on the topic, said she urged then-Senate Leader Joe Bruno, a Republican from the Capital Region, to create mandatory sexual harassment training for all senators. When she threatened to hold a press conference naming and shaming the offending senators, Bruno, who later stepped down from the leadership role amid his own public corruption scandal, responded he would hold a competing press conference naming Democratic senators.</p> <p>The way Krueger tells it, she said, “I didn't tell you [what] party this senator is in. I don't give a damn what party they are. We can do a joint press conference, and we all can name names. I don't give a [expletive].” To which Bruno responded, “OK, OK, we'll do mandatory sexual harassment training,” Krueger <a href="http://www.timesunion.com/womenatwork/article/Liz-Krueger-Q-A-on-women-in-politics-9186948.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">told The Albany Times Union</a>.</p> <p>The training became mandatory for senators and staff members and the regulations were clearly stated in a written document.</p> <p>It was not the last time Krueger took her colleagues in the Legislature <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/4246-a-culture-of-sexual-harassment-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">to task</a> over crimes against women. In June 2003, when Boxley was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/12/nyregion/aide-to-silver-is-arrested-in-rape-case.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">led out of the Capitol in handcuffs</a>, having been accused of rape for the second time, Krueger said she had a very public confrontation with Assemblymember Lopez, who a decade later would be toppled by his own slew of sexual harassment scandals. They were scheduled, coincidentally, to hold a joint press conference in front of the Legislative Correspondents Association office. According to Krueger, the Assembly member fumed, “How dare they come over here and arrest our counsel in our house?”</p> <p>“I said ‘excuse me, he was tried with rape,’ pause, ‘for the second time,’ pause,” Krueger recalled to Gotham Gazette, “‘It seems to me that if you have anything to say publicly about this, it's let justice be fair and swift. Otherwise, I think you should keep your mouth shut.'”</p> <p>Lopez’s Assembly colleagues later told her that she had made an enemy for life. “I said, ‘Good. Some enemies are worth having,’” said Krueger of the former Brooklyn Democratic boss, who lost a City Council race in 2013 and died in November 2015.</p> <p>Still, Krueger acknowledges that the current sexual harassment policy in the Senate does not encourage women to come forward. “I’d like to believe the written policies the Senate came up with and mandatory training might have helped in some small way,” she told Gotham Gazette last week.</p> <p>In 2014, following <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/4246-a-culture-of-sexual-harassment-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a series of sexual misconduct scandals</a> involving Lopez, Assemblymember Micah Kellner, and Assemblymember Dennis Gabryszak, the Assembly officially changed its policy on sexual harassment, which had last been updated in 2009. In the past, sexual harassment complainants would typically report the incidents to the speaker’s office or the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), but it was up to the discretion of the speaker’s counsel whether to investigate the complaints.</p> <p>When it was revealed that Speaker Silver did not follow protocol and report misconduct allegations by two staff members against Assemblymember Lopez to the ethics body, instead cutting a secret $103,000 settlement with the women, Silver publically apologized for the lapse and announced that the Assembly would review its practices.</p> <p>To help restructure the chamber’s sexual harassment policy, the Assembly’s ethics committee enlisted CUNY Law School Professor <a href="http://www.law.cuny.edu/faculty/directory/rossein.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Merrick Rossein</a>, an attorney, law professor, and expert in discrimination litigation. Through interviews with women in the Assembly, Rossein made a series of recommendations to the bipartisan legislative task force that was convened to address deficiencies in the Assembly’s policy.</p> <p>“There are a number of things in this policy that I’m very proud of that I’d like to see in every sexual harassment policy, including the private sector,” said Rossein,&nbsp;<span style="font-weight: 400;">who has since been retained by the Assembly as an outside counsel to investigate complaints against members,</span> in an interview with Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Recommendations made by Rossein include the appointment of an outside investigator to look into complaints; a guarantee of confidentiality for accusers; severe consequences for an employer that retaliates against a complainant; and more. Most importantly, a lawmaker accused of harassment is barred from talking to the accuser until a designated time. Additionally, lawmakers were made mandatory reporters, required to inform the ethics committee about sexual misconduct if they see it or hear about it -- a component women say <a href="http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-sexual-harassment-state-legislatures.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">has had a dramatic impact on the culture in Albany</a>. A hotline has been set up for people to submit tips.</p> <p>The Assembly policy outlines two types of harassment, hostile work environment harassment — which is directed at somebody based on their sex, would be considered offensive by a reasonable person, and is severe or pervasive enough to interfere with one’s work environment — and quid-pro-quo harassment, the type described by victims of Weinstein, in which professional opportunities are offered in exchange for sexual favors.</p> <p>In response to the barrage of corruption and sexual harassment scandals over the last decade, the Legislature has also dramatically revamped the way it approaches its ethics and sexual harassment training, according to Assemblymember Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Nassau County and former chair of the Assembly’s ethics committee. Not only are class sizes smaller, according to Lavine, but they have gone from obligatory and dry, to dynamic, thought-provoking, and interactive.</p> <p>“We have gone from the days when it was almost an obligation to provide -- or what seemed to be at the time -- ethics training that was done in large groups of people,” said Lavine in a January interview with Gotham Gazette. “And while it was content-specific and good, it was not nearly so effective as the modern approach, which is to work with smaller groups of individuals in an interactive environment.”</p> <p>Still, there is undoubtedly more work to be done to rectify inequities for women and in Albany. It likely doesn’t help that those at the top of Albany’s power chain are all men. Many have pushed for Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester County legislator who has led Senate Democrats since 2012 and is the first woman or person of color to lead a legislative conference, to be included at the negotiating table during budget and other high-level talks. Currently, the state’s $150 billion-plus budget is largely hammered out by four men: Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senator Jeff Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), which forms a ruling coalition with the Republican conference. Democrats hope that the 2018 state-level elections and an agreement with the IDC will lead to Stewart-Cousins becoming the leader of a new Senate majority.</p> <p>Having more women in the Legislature would go a long way towards creating a safer space for female employees at all levels of government, according to Stewart-Cousins.</p> <p>“The most disturbing thing is that almost every woman has a story regarding harassment or worse,” said Stewart-Cousins, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “This is true in every walk of life and unfortunately true in government. Only by confronting sexism and gender bias head-on will we be able to truly create a culture which respects everyone equally. We need to support women and pro-women candidates for office and energize pro-women New Yorkers to get out and vote.”</p> <p>An increase in the number of women in Albany has helped reshape the culture from an old boys' club, in which women were largely relegated to secretarial positions, to a more egalitarian environment, where women are not only elected to office, but have risen to acquire key chair positions in both houses and led the passage of women-friendly legislation.</p> <p>Assemblymember Nily Rozic, who became the youngest woman in the state Legislature and the first woman ever to represent Queens’ 25th District when she was elected in 2012, said she has watched the culture transform since she began her tenure in Albany as an aide to Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh.</p> <p>“It’s certainly gotten better since I was a legislative staffer, but we have a long way to go. The underlying change that’s happening is that more women are getting elected to the Legislature and that really positively affects our work place,” said Rozic.</p> <p>Aside from the most serious cases of sexual assault and rape, it’s often sexual comments and diminishing jokes -- such as the one described by DeRosa -- or an extra-long hug that makes the state Legislature a treacherous place for young women.</p> <p>Alexis Grenell, a political strategist and commentator on feminist issues, said the comment described by DeRosa is a quintessential example of how women are verbally undermined in the workplace.</p> <p>“The harassment that Melissa described is fundamentally dehumanizing,” said Grenell. “There is nothing benign about it. It’s meant to take away her worth as a thinking, contributing person in a professional environment and renders her the sum total of her physicality and sex appeal. That is dehumanizing. It’s not why she’s on the call.”</p> <p>Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, in an interview with Gotham Gazette, recalled her first years as a legislative staffer in Washington, D.C. and as chief of staff to Assemblymember Ron Kim, of Queens. She said that when she first arrived in Albany, Kim warned her not to get into elevators with “the wrong people.” Later, she learned that she had been named on a “hot or not” list that had been circulating among male staffers at the Legislature.</p> <p>“People would stop me in the hallway and say ‘you are just so exotic,’ but you know I’m not going to report them for it,” said Niou, who was elected to Silver’s old Assembly seat in 2016. “It’s just an ignorant and not very thoughtful comment.”</p> <p>These types of incidents collectively create a hostile environment that women internalize and come to see as normal, she said.</p> <p>“Over time, I’ve built this protective shell, like ‘oh these things are just going to bounce right off of me,’ but these things happen every day,” said Niou. “Somebody insists a kiss on the cheek -- like forces it -- but everyone kisses on the cheek, all over Albany people do the kiss-kiss thing.”</p> <p>The cheek kiss, which is often reserved for women in political settings, falls into a bit of a grey area, but many women in government have observed the greeting often provides an opportunity for hands to roam. The Assembly’s newest sexual harassment policy warns that touching -- including brushing against the body, squeezing, hugging, massaging or patting -- may fall under the category of sexual harassment, but that has not ended the practice.</p> <p>Grenell, who frequently holds press conferences at the Capitol, said to bypass the double kiss, she initiates a handshake by extending her arm as far away from her body as possible.</p> <p>A similar strategy is deployed by one Pennsylvania lawmaker, who at a recent women-led panel in the state, explained how she avoids the cheek kiss -- by placing one hand on her colleague’s shoulder, and the other outstretched for a handshake, according to <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/weinstein-sexual-harassment-harrisburg-capitol-lawmakers-sexual-favors-20171027.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an account</a> by a journalist covering the Harrisburg Capitol in the Philadelphia Inquirer.</p> <p>Albany veterans say they have grown accustomed to awkward and demeaning daily experiences.</p> <p>"I've been saying for the last 15 years: Every week, I drive three hours north and 30 years back in history in regards to how we treat women," said Senator Krueger, of Manhattan.</p> <p>With women across all industries, including government, empowered by the Weinstein blowup and its ripples to speak out about their experiences, Krueger said she would not be surprised if it led to another watershed moment in Albany.</p> <p>“I would suspect in the New York State Legislature, like so many other places -- where you have men in powerful positions and young women who might not have a lot of worldly experience, who think these are very important men,” she said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if more stories come out.”</p> <p><em>Update: The story has been updated with allegations about former EDC official Sam Hoyt that emerged Tuesday afternoon.</em></p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/7030332993_98be0d5262_z_1.jpg" alt="Cuomo Sheldon Silver Skelos Albany" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo, Sheldon Silver &amp; Dean Skelos in 2012 (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As allegations of sexual harassment and assault against disgraced movie producer and major Democratic political donor Harvey Weinstein piled up earlier this month, women around the world took to social media to share stories of abusive behavior using the hashtag <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MeToo?src=hash" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">#MeToo</a>.</p> <p>The light being shone on the predatory behavior of Weinstein and many others resonated at statehouses across the United States, from California to Rhode Island, where women in politics have been speaking out about sexual misconduct they experienced first-hand or witnessed, with victims including legislators, young staffers and interns, lobbyists, and others.</p> <p>In New York’s capital, the response has been more muted, in part because the Legislature is not currently in session, but also because Albany was recently forced to face its own mishandling of sexual misconduct scandals. As recently as 2014, the aftermath of a debacle around sexual harassment by Assemblymember Vito Lopez, which led to his forced resignation from the Assembly, produced a number of significant reforms to how harassment, misconduct, and discriminatory behavior are addressed in the state Assembly.</p> <p>Now, three years later and amid a national reckoning with issues related to sexual misconduct, women in state government who spoke to Gotham Gazette noted an improvement in the Albany culture since these reforms, but say that sexist attitudes and behavior continue to plague New York state government.</p> <p>While several female legislators were hesitant to speak on the record about their own experiences with sexual harassment, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa spoke frankly about her own experiences with sexism in the political sphere at a recent forum organized by Berkeley College in Manhattan. She described one incident, a decade ago, when on a conference call, it was announced that she would take the lead on a project. A man on the line, who is now a national leader in progressive politics, according to DeRosa, joked, “She can take the lead right up to my hotel room,” apparently unaware that DeRosa was on the line.</p> <p>“These instances have stuck with me, but I'm not kidding myself and neither should you — many women have and still do experience far worse every day, and it's not just actresses you're reading about in the news this week,” she said, according to <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/transcript-secretary-governor-melissa-derosa-delivers-keynote-address-women-media-courage-own" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a transcript</a> distributed by the governor’s office.</p> <p>Calling for “societal course correction,” DeRosa encouraged young women in all industries to speak out.</p> <p>The statement was a powerful one coming from DeRosa, who at 34 became the youngest person and first woman to be named Secretary to the Governor, the top aide to the state’s most powerful government official, when she was appointed to the post by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Days after DeRosa’s remarks, a former top official in Cuomo’s administration came forward with allegations that her former boss sexually harassed staffers, saying she was inspired by DeRosa’s remarks, <a href="http://nypost.com/2017/10/23/top-cuomo-official-claims-former-boss-sexually-harassed-employees/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to The New York Post</a>.</p> <p>Patricia Gunning, who had recently resigned as the special prosecutor/inspector general of the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, told The Post that she faced retaliatory violence for calling out her boss for his behavior.</p> <p>“My hope is that this conversation will be the beginning of a new era in [how] these issues are addressed by employers,” Gunning told The Post.</p> <p>On Monday, <a href="http://buffalonews.com/2017/10/30/cuomo-ally-sam-hoyt-leaves-state-post-for-private-sector/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">it was revealed</a> that&nbsp;<span style="font-weight: 400;">Sam Hoyt, a former assemblyman and Cuomo ally who ran Buffalo area projects for the state's Empire State Development Corporation, had abruptly resigned to take a job in the private sector. By Tuesday afternoon, Hoyt, who was disciplined by the Assembly<span style="font-weight: 400;">&nbsp;in 2009 for an affair with 19-year-old intern, <a href="http://buffalonews.com/2017/10/31/state-employee-says-hoyt-paid-her-50000-to-conceal-relationship/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">was accused</a> by a former state employee of pressuring her into a romantic relationship. She told The Buffalo News that she was paid $50,000 for her silence.</span> </span></p> <p><span>In <a href="https://twitter.com/NickReisman/status/925443753200021505" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a statement</a>,&nbsp;<span>Cuomo spokesperson Dani Lever acknowledged that allegations of misconduct had emerged against Hoyt and that an investigation was underway.</span></span></p> <p>"All state employees must act with integrity and respect," the statement read. "When the complainant made these allegations, they were immediately refered to the&nbsp; <span style="font-weight: 400;">Governor's Office of Employee Relations (GOER)&nbsp;</span>for an investigation."</p> <p>After GOER determined there were grounds for further review, the matter was referred to the Inspector General's Office, and later, the&nbsp;<span style="font-weight: 400;">Joint Commission of Public Ethics (JCOPE), according to the statement. Hoyt maintains that the relationship was consentual, according to The Buffalo News.</span></p> <p>But while to this point there has not been a new public outcry at the New York Legislature, female lawmakers say that the Weinstein scandal and its fallout have struck a chord and sparked private conversations about their early experiences in Albany and how they can best aid young female staff aides and legislators.</p> <p>One such conversation occurred at <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/comm/?id=85" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a retreat</a> for the Women’s Legislative Caucus in Saratoga two weeks ago, where women shared uncomfortable incidents they had experienced early in their careers and discussed how they could better unify when scandals occur, according to Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Buffalo area lawmaker who chairs the Women’s Caucus. One thing agreed upon, Peoples-Stokes said, was that the Assembly’s sexual harassment enforcement could be enhanced by a mentorship program for incoming members and their aides.</p> <p>“We wanted to see if there is anything we can do in addition to ensure that we never need to have these experiences again,” said Peoples-Stokes. “It is something that we decided we are going to do as women of the Legislature, and you know, when women decide to do something, we get it done.”</p> <p>While the Assembly reforms appear to have improved the culture in the 150-seat chamber, Albany’s sexual harassment problem has not disappeared. The Senate and the Assembly <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/11/legislature-spends-271k-on-sexual-harassment-cases/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">have spent</a> hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two years on outside counsel to investigate sexual harassment complaints. The Assembly’s ethics committee -- which exists solely to enforce policy on sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation -- <a href="https://twitter.com/RachelSilby/status/917812909106978816" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convened a meeting</a> in executive session on October 12 and is expected to meet again on November 2. The matter at hand is not clear.<br /> <br />Currently reported to be under investigation by JCOPE and the Erie County District Attorney’s office is Senator Marc Panepinto, a Democrat from Buffalo, who announced he would not seek reelection last year <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/03/17/state-senator-faces-ethics-probe-amid-lurid-sexual-harassment-allegations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">amid rumors</a> of sexual harassment. Also last year, the Senate paid out $121,000 for two contracts with Kraus &amp; Zuchlewski LLP “for legal counsel related to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission matters and investigation of sexual harassment claims.”</p> <p>Assembly members who spoke with Gotham Gazette acknowledged the body’s embarrassing history of dismissing sexual misconduct claims internally, which has led to a slew of unflattering headlines in 2012 and 2013, but noted that <span style="font-weight: 400;">an influx of female legislators to the Assembly in recent years has also helped to reshape the culture</span>. At the Senate, such scandals and its culture of protecting those in power has not drawn the same scrutiny.</p> <p>Last week, New York’s chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW) made an effort to further jumpstart the conversation, calling on women and men who currently or previously work(ed) in government in Albany and throughout the state to speak out about their personal experiences with sexual harassment or assault while on the job, citing the Legislature’s history of quashing sexual harassment complaints.<br /> <br />“Government sets the standard and the policies and the laws that all other industries are asked to uphold,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women - New York, said in a statement. “Given that Albany is a place where lawmakers have abused their power and sexual harassment has gone unchecked in the past, we felt it was important to give women in politics a platform to speak up.”</p> <p>The women’s advocacy organization has <a href="http://nownys.org/whistleblower-hotline-for-sexual-harassment-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">announced</a> the creation of a new, dedicated hotline for individuals in government to report their experiences (people can call 518-362-7857 or submit a story online at <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/nownys.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">nownys.org</a>).</p> <p>In an interview with Gotham Gazette, Ossorio said the goal is to build on the momentum of the #MeToo movement. The hotline will provide independent counsel and resources to victims while also assessing how effective recent policies have been, she said.</p> <p>“We immediately thought about the culture that has existed in Albany and we wanted to be able to empower women who work in politics, particularly young women and interns who head to their internships idealistic and wanting to be part of American government and are disillusioned by it,” she said. “We really want to know to what degree the environment of sexual harassment has been uprooted.”</p> <p>The personal stories tumbling out of statehouses around the nation are eerily familiar to anyone who has closely watched New York state government in recent years. In California, women leaders in government have formed a campaign called “We Said Enough,” sharing stories about how they have endured groping, inappropriate comments about their bodies and abilities, and insults and jokes that diminish them professionally. In some cases, “men have made promises, or threats, about our jobs in exchange for our compliance, or our silence. They have leveraged their power and positions to treat us however they would like,” wrote the group <a href="https://www.wesaidenough.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">on a website</a> created for women to submit their stories.</p> <p>An open letter circulated by members of the Illinois Legislature drew a direct comparison between the Weinstein scandal and the coercive situations in which women in government find themselves and had drawn 130 signatures by Tuesday afternoon, <a href="https://t.co/zZUEBcBYR7" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the AP reported</a>.</p> <p>"Every industry has its own version of the casting couch," reads the letter. "Ask any woman who has lobbied the halls of the Capitol, staffed Council Chambers, or slogged through brutal hours on the campaign trail. Misogyny is alive and well in this industry."</p> <p>Albany, which has historically been referred to as the New York’s own “sin city,” is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/16/nyregion/albany-faces-its-sex-problem-and-nobody-s-snickering.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">no stranger to such scandals</a>. Repeatedly, a series of particularly egregious complaints of sexual harassment or rape has led the Legislature to a watershed moment of sorts, producing much-needed reform in how accusers are treated and how their complaints are handled.</p> <p>A major turning point for the Assembly occurred <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/16/nyregion/albany-faces-its-sex-problem-and-nobody-s-snickering.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in 2004</a>, when, roiling from a series of rape accusations against Assemblymember Adam Clayton Powell IV and Michael Boxley, chief counsel to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, its leadership decided to bar members of the Legislature from fraternizing with interns.</p> <p>In the state Senate, a somewhat similar soul-searching happened, but at the time many of its members were strongly opposed to the idea of an intern-fraternization ban.</p> <p>In comparison to the 150-seat Assembly, sex scandals in the 63-seat Senate have unfolded more discreetly -- hinted at through <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/11/legislature-spends-271k-on-sexual-harassment-cases/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">money spent on lawyers</a> or a senator or a top aide <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/09/flanagan-hires/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">leaving the job</a> abruptly amid rumors -- and as a result the body’s leadership has not been forced to publicly reckon with its record in the same way, according to Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat who was instrumental in compelling the Senate to implement a mandatory sexual harassment training program.</p> <p>A decade ago, Krueger said she was privy to two incidents involving interns who were molested by older male senators. One incident occurred in a packed elevator and Krueger famously threatened to kick the senator if he touched an intern again. The other time she learned of a sexual assault claim when she found a young staffer crying outside a senator’s office at the Capitol.</p> <p>After the second incident, Krueger, who is known for her bluntness on the topic, said she urged then-Senate Leader Joe Bruno, a Republican from the Capital Region, to create mandatory sexual harassment training for all senators. When she threatened to hold a press conference naming and shaming the offending senators, Bruno, who later stepped down from the leadership role amid his own public corruption scandal, responded he would hold a competing press conference naming Democratic senators.</p> <p>The way Krueger tells it, she said, “I didn't tell you [what] party this senator is in. I don't give a damn what party they are. We can do a joint press conference, and we all can name names. I don't give a [expletive].” To which Bruno responded, “OK, OK, we'll do mandatory sexual harassment training,” Krueger <a href="http://www.timesunion.com/womenatwork/article/Liz-Krueger-Q-A-on-women-in-politics-9186948.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">told The Albany Times Union</a>.</p> <p>The training became mandatory for senators and staff members and the regulations were clearly stated in a written document.</p> <p>It was not the last time Krueger took her colleagues in the Legislature <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/4246-a-culture-of-sexual-harassment-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">to task</a> over crimes against women. In June 2003, when Boxley was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/12/nyregion/aide-to-silver-is-arrested-in-rape-case.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">led out of the Capitol in handcuffs</a>, having been accused of rape for the second time, Krueger said she had a very public confrontation with Assemblymember Lopez, who a decade later would be toppled by his own slew of sexual harassment scandals. They were scheduled, coincidentally, to hold a joint press conference in front of the Legislative Correspondents Association office. According to Krueger, the Assembly member fumed, “How dare they come over here and arrest our counsel in our house?”</p> <p>“I said ‘excuse me, he was tried with rape,’ pause, ‘for the second time,’ pause,” Krueger recalled to Gotham Gazette, “‘It seems to me that if you have anything to say publicly about this, it's let justice be fair and swift. Otherwise, I think you should keep your mouth shut.'”</p> <p>Lopez’s Assembly colleagues later told her that she had made an enemy for life. “I said, ‘Good. Some enemies are worth having,’” said Krueger of the former Brooklyn Democratic boss, who lost a City Council race in 2013 and died in November 2015.</p> <p>Still, Krueger acknowledges that the current sexual harassment policy in the Senate does not encourage women to come forward. “I’d like to believe the written policies the Senate came up with and mandatory training might have helped in some small way,” she told Gotham Gazette last week.</p> <p>In 2014, following <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/4246-a-culture-of-sexual-harassment-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a series of sexual misconduct scandals</a> involving Lopez, Assemblymember Micah Kellner, and Assemblymember Dennis Gabryszak, the Assembly officially changed its policy on sexual harassment, which had last been updated in 2009. In the past, sexual harassment complainants would typically report the incidents to the speaker’s office or the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), but it was up to the discretion of the speaker’s counsel whether to investigate the complaints.</p> <p>When it was revealed that Speaker Silver did not follow protocol and report misconduct allegations by two staff members against Assemblymember Lopez to the ethics body, instead cutting a secret $103,000 settlement with the women, Silver publically apologized for the lapse and announced that the Assembly would review its practices.</p> <p>To help restructure the chamber’s sexual harassment policy, the Assembly’s ethics committee enlisted CUNY Law School Professor <a href="http://www.law.cuny.edu/faculty/directory/rossein.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Merrick Rossein</a>, an attorney, law professor, and expert in discrimination litigation. Through interviews with women in the Assembly, Rossein made a series of recommendations to the bipartisan legislative task force that was convened to address deficiencies in the Assembly’s policy.</p> <p>“There are a number of things in this policy that I’m very proud of that I’d like to see in every sexual harassment policy, including the private sector,” said Rossein,&nbsp;<span style="font-weight: 400;">who has since been retained by the Assembly as an outside counsel to investigate complaints against members,</span> in an interview with Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Recommendations made by Rossein include the appointment of an outside investigator to look into complaints; a guarantee of confidentiality for accusers; severe consequences for an employer that retaliates against a complainant; and more. Most importantly, a lawmaker accused of harassment is barred from talking to the accuser until a designated time. Additionally, lawmakers were made mandatory reporters, required to inform the ethics committee about sexual misconduct if they see it or hear about it -- a component women say <a href="http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-sexual-harassment-state-legislatures.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">has had a dramatic impact on the culture in Albany</a>. A hotline has been set up for people to submit tips.</p> <p>The Assembly policy outlines two types of harassment, hostile work environment harassment — which is directed at somebody based on their sex, would be considered offensive by a reasonable person, and is severe or pervasive enough to interfere with one’s work environment — and quid-pro-quo harassment, the type described by victims of Weinstein, in which professional opportunities are offered in exchange for sexual favors.</p> <p>In response to the barrage of corruption and sexual harassment scandals over the last decade, the Legislature has also dramatically revamped the way it approaches its ethics and sexual harassment training, according to Assemblymember Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Nassau County and former chair of the Assembly’s ethics committee. Not only are class sizes smaller, according to Lavine, but they have gone from obligatory and dry, to dynamic, thought-provoking, and interactive.</p> <p>“We have gone from the days when it was almost an obligation to provide -- or what seemed to be at the time -- ethics training that was done in large groups of people,” said Lavine in a January interview with Gotham Gazette. “And while it was content-specific and good, it was not nearly so effective as the modern approach, which is to work with smaller groups of individuals in an interactive environment.”</p> <p>Still, there is undoubtedly more work to be done to rectify inequities for women and in Albany. It likely doesn’t help that those at the top of Albany’s power chain are all men. Many have pushed for Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester County legislator who has led Senate Democrats since 2012 and is the first woman or person of color to lead a legislative conference, to be included at the negotiating table during budget and other high-level talks. Currently, the state’s $150 billion-plus budget is largely hammered out by four men: Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senator Jeff Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), which forms a ruling coalition with the Republican conference. Democrats hope that the 2018 state-level elections and an agreement with the IDC will lead to Stewart-Cousins becoming the leader of a new Senate majority.</p> <p>Having more women in the Legislature would go a long way towards creating a safer space for female employees at all levels of government, according to Stewart-Cousins.</p> <p>“The most disturbing thing is that almost every woman has a story regarding harassment or worse,” said Stewart-Cousins, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “This is true in every walk of life and unfortunately true in government. Only by confronting sexism and gender bias head-on will we be able to truly create a culture which respects everyone equally. We need to support women and pro-women candidates for office and energize pro-women New Yorkers to get out and vote.”</p> <p>An increase in the number of women in Albany has helped reshape the culture from an old boys' club, in which women were largely relegated to secretarial positions, to a more egalitarian environment, where women are not only elected to office, but have risen to acquire key chair positions in both houses and led the passage of women-friendly legislation.</p> <p>Assemblymember Nily Rozic, who became the youngest woman in the state Legislature and the first woman ever to represent Queens’ 25th District when she was elected in 2012, said she has watched the culture transform since she began her tenure in Albany as an aide to Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh.</p> <p>“It’s certainly gotten better since I was a legislative staffer, but we have a long way to go. The underlying change that’s happening is that more women are getting elected to the Legislature and that really positively affects our work place,” said Rozic.</p> <p>Aside from the most serious cases of sexual assault and rape, it’s often sexual comments and diminishing jokes -- such as the one described by DeRosa -- or an extra-long hug that makes the state Legislature a treacherous place for young women.</p> <p>Alexis Grenell, a political strategist and commentator on feminist issues, said the comment described by DeRosa is a quintessential example of how women are verbally undermined in the workplace.</p> <p>“The harassment that Melissa described is fundamentally dehumanizing,” said Grenell. “There is nothing benign about it. It’s meant to take away her worth as a thinking, contributing person in a professional environment and renders her the sum total of her physicality and sex appeal. That is dehumanizing. It’s not why she’s on the call.”</p> <p>Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, in an interview with Gotham Gazette, recalled her first years as a legislative staffer in Washington, D.C. and as chief of staff to Assemblymember Ron Kim, of Queens. She said that when she first arrived in Albany, Kim warned her not to get into elevators with “the wrong people.” Later, she learned that she had been named on a “hot or not” list that had been circulating among male staffers at the Legislature.</p> <p>“People would stop me in the hallway and say ‘you are just so exotic,’ but you know I’m not going to report them for it,” said Niou, who was elected to Silver’s old Assembly seat in 2016. “It’s just an ignorant and not very thoughtful comment.”</p> <p>These types of incidents collectively create a hostile environment that women internalize and come to see as normal, she said.</p> <p>“Over time, I’ve built this protective shell, like ‘oh these things are just going to bounce right off of me,’ but these things happen every day,” said Niou. “Somebody insists a kiss on the cheek -- like forces it -- but everyone kisses on the cheek, all over Albany people do the kiss-kiss thing.”</p> <p>The cheek kiss, which is often reserved for women in political settings, falls into a bit of a grey area, but many women in government have observed the greeting often provides an opportunity for hands to roam. The Assembly’s newest sexual harassment policy warns that touching -- including brushing against the body, squeezing, hugging, massaging or patting -- may fall under the category of sexual harassment, but that has not ended the practice.</p> <p>Grenell, who frequently holds press conferences at the Capitol, said to bypass the double kiss, she initiates a handshake by extending her arm as far away from her body as possible.</p> <p>A similar strategy is deployed by one Pennsylvania lawmaker, who at a recent women-led panel in the state, explained how she avoids the cheek kiss -- by placing one hand on her colleague’s shoulder, and the other outstretched for a handshake, according to <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/weinstein-sexual-harassment-harrisburg-capitol-lawmakers-sexual-favors-20171027.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an account</a> by a journalist covering the Harrisburg Capitol in the Philadelphia Inquirer.</p> <p>Albany veterans say they have grown accustomed to awkward and demeaning daily experiences.</p> <p>"I've been saying for the last 15 years: Every week, I drive three hours north and 30 years back in history in regards to how we treat women," said Senator Krueger, of Manhattan.</p> <p>With women across all industries, including government, empowered by the Weinstein blowup and its ripples to speak out about their experiences, Krueger said she would not be surprised if it led to another watershed moment in Albany.</p> <p>“I would suspect in the New York State Legislature, like so many other places -- where you have men in powerful positions and young women who might not have a lot of worldly experience, who think these are very important men,” she said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if more stories come out.”</p> <p><em>Update: The story has been updated with allegations about former EDC official Sam Hoyt that emerged Tuesday afternoon.</em></p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Mayoral Control Extended in Special Session with Usual Albany Process 2017-06-29T04:00:00+00:00 2017-06-29T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7042:mayoral-control-extended-in-special-session-with-usual-albany-process Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/35486744541_357b0411fe_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo special session" width="600" height="405" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo on Thursday (photo: Philip Kamrass/Governor’s Office)</p> <hr /> <p>To prevent the impending lapse of mayoral control over New York City schools, the state Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo passed a two-year extension Thursday as part of a larger omnibus bill, which included a pension enhancement for certain uniformed workers, special recognition for former Governor Mario Cuomo, and several benefits for upstate areas.</p> <p>A special session was called Wednesday by Gov. Cuomo specifically to address mayoral leadership over city schools, which was set to expire June 30, and a small number of other matters, but the ensuing discussion produced a more sprawling legislation package, according to Cuomo. The final deal included a three-year extension of local taxes, $55 million in Lake Ontario flood relief funding, and the renaming of the new Tappan Zee Bridge after the governor’s late father.</p> <p>According to Cuomo, who held a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Capitol to celebrate what was accomplished, he and legislative leaders arrived at a compromise centered on extending mayoral control ahead of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7037-how-the-mayoral-control-special-session-works" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">his calling the special session</a>. Once legislators returned to the capital, the negotiations were opened up more broadly, and a larger tentative deal was reached at around 8:30 p.m Wednesday night. That agreement followed a day of meetings behind closed doors, during which rank-and-file lawmakers, journalists, and the larger public were largely left on the sidelines. The Assembly voted to pass the omnibus bill <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2017/06/28/state-lawmakers-settle-on-bill-renewing-mayoral-control-tax-extenders-113137?mc_cid=b88135fdf7&amp;mc_eid=7ede0c8078" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at around 1 a.m. on Thursday</a>, while the Senate passed the bill after some internal rankling at around 2 .p.m.</p> <p>The opaque nature of the discussions, as well as the expense of keeping lawmakers in Albany at a cost of more than $30,000 -- though not all lawmakers take per diems and estimates vary -- drew criticism from lawmakers across party lines, including Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, who along with her fellow Senate Democrats urged their colleagues on the GOP side to move the bill along Thursday. </p> <p>“Another day and another example of dysfunction in the Senate,” Stewart Cousins said at a press conference outside the Senate GOP conference room. “The GOP/IDC inability to finish this session is an embarrassment. We need to stop wasting taxpayers’ money and do our jobs. The Senate Democrats are ready to vote for this package of legislation immediately. Let's go to the floor.”</p> <p>Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who was adamant during the legislative session that the lifting of the charter school cap in New York City not be included in the final bill, commended the governor and his colleagues in the Legislature for passing a comprehensive bill that would prevent disruption in the management of city schools.</p> <p>“I am proud of the efforts of Assembly members on both sides of the aisle who worked extremely hard to craft a consensus on the many pressing issues our state faces,” said Heastie, who got his way on the charter school cap, in a statement. “Working with Governor Cuomo, our successes include a two-year extension of mayoral control of New York City schools, giving our educational system stability and allowing our school children to thrive.</p> <p>During his press conference in the Capitol’s Red Room, Cuomo ceremoniously signed the mayoral control portion of the legislative package and said he had anticipated the special session would only address mayoral control and legislation enhancing pension benefits for certain city police officers and firefighters, known as the “three-quarters bill.” However, several Senate Republicans from Upstate saw the bill as too New York City-centric.</p> <p>“The agreement was to come back and do mayoral control and the three-quarters bill. When we came back, the Assembly was fine with it,” Cuomo told reporters. “My understanding is, in the conference, the Senate said ‘We also want to do the sales tax extenders. And by the way, it’s not just the sales tax extenders,’ they said, ‘We also want do something on Vernon Downs’...That is what we were trying to avoid. Once you start to expand the wish list, it gets much, much harder to get to an agreement.”</p> <p>Offering a reason for the delay in legislative voting, Cuomo also celebrated how much got done in the end.</p> <p>The final bill offers a tax bailout to Vernon Downs, an Upstate racetrack, in order to prevent its closure and retain 300 well-paying jobs in the region; provides for critical transportation needs in Westchester County; and includes passage of a proposed constitutional amendment to aid communities in the Adirondack Mountains with infrastructure projects. In addition to the renaming of the Tappan Zee, the Legislature voted to rename Riverbank State Park in Manhattan in honor of retiring Assemblymember Denny Farrell, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1974.</p> <p>Flanagan also touted the package, saying in a Thursday statement saying that the omnibus bill "resolves a number of outstanding state issues" after "Senate Republicans were able to put together a more comprehensive package that meets the needs of taxpayers, students, and families throughout our entire state." Flanagan also indicated that there were provisions related to protecting charter schools, something Mayor de Blasio stated would be announced in the coming days as administrative, not legislative, matters.</p> <p>There was no legislative action regarding the MTA, which Cuomo had declared was in a state of emergency on Thursday morning at an event in New York City. At that event Cuomo did pledge an additional $1 billion to the MTA in next year’s budget.</p> <p>As had become evident when the budget was passed in April and through the end of the legislative session last week, no government ethics or election reforms made it through Albany this year. Two other top priorities of Mayor de Blasio’s -- design-build authority and additional speed cameras for school zones -- were also left on the chopping block.</p> <p>Still, at his own news conference on Thursday afternoon, de Blasio said he was very pleased with the outcome, especially on mayoral control. The mayor expressed relief that with the first two-year extension of his term, he would not need an Albany vote next year to keep control of the school system. What the mayor does need, however, is the approval of voters this fall when he seeks reelection.</p> <p>

***
by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>with reporting by Ben Max</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/35486744541_357b0411fe_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo special session" width="600" height="405" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo on Thursday (photo: Philip Kamrass/Governor’s Office)</p> <hr /> <p>To prevent the impending lapse of mayoral control over New York City schools, the state Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo passed a two-year extension Thursday as part of a larger omnibus bill, which included a pension enhancement for certain uniformed workers, special recognition for former Governor Mario Cuomo, and several benefits for upstate areas.</p> <p>A special session was called Wednesday by Gov. Cuomo specifically to address mayoral leadership over city schools, which was set to expire June 30, and a small number of other matters, but the ensuing discussion produced a more sprawling legislation package, according to Cuomo. The final deal included a three-year extension of local taxes, $55 million in Lake Ontario flood relief funding, and the renaming of the new Tappan Zee Bridge after the governor’s late father.</p> <p>According to Cuomo, who held a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Capitol to celebrate what was accomplished, he and legislative leaders arrived at a compromise centered on extending mayoral control ahead of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7037-how-the-mayoral-control-special-session-works" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">his calling the special session</a>. Once legislators returned to the capital, the negotiations were opened up more broadly, and a larger tentative deal was reached at around 8:30 p.m Wednesday night. That agreement followed a day of meetings behind closed doors, during which rank-and-file lawmakers, journalists, and the larger public were largely left on the sidelines. The Assembly voted to pass the omnibus bill <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2017/06/28/state-lawmakers-settle-on-bill-renewing-mayoral-control-tax-extenders-113137?mc_cid=b88135fdf7&amp;mc_eid=7ede0c8078" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at around 1 a.m. on Thursday</a>, while the Senate passed the bill after some internal rankling at around 2 .p.m.</p> <p>The opaque nature of the discussions, as well as the expense of keeping lawmakers in Albany at a cost of more than $30,000 -- though not all lawmakers take per diems and estimates vary -- drew criticism from lawmakers across party lines, including Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, who along with her fellow Senate Democrats urged their colleagues on the GOP side to move the bill along Thursday. </p> <p>“Another day and another example of dysfunction in the Senate,” Stewart Cousins said at a press conference outside the Senate GOP conference room. “The GOP/IDC inability to finish this session is an embarrassment. We need to stop wasting taxpayers’ money and do our jobs. The Senate Democrats are ready to vote for this package of legislation immediately. Let's go to the floor.”</p> <p>Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who was adamant during the legislative session that the lifting of the charter school cap in New York City not be included in the final bill, commended the governor and his colleagues in the Legislature for passing a comprehensive bill that would prevent disruption in the management of city schools.</p> <p>“I am proud of the efforts of Assembly members on both sides of the aisle who worked extremely hard to craft a consensus on the many pressing issues our state faces,” said Heastie, who got his way on the charter school cap, in a statement. “Working with Governor Cuomo, our successes include a two-year extension of mayoral control of New York City schools, giving our educational system stability and allowing our school children to thrive.</p> <p>During his press conference in the Capitol’s Red Room, Cuomo ceremoniously signed the mayoral control portion of the legislative package and said he had anticipated the special session would only address mayoral control and legislation enhancing pension benefits for certain city police officers and firefighters, known as the “three-quarters bill.” However, several Senate Republicans from Upstate saw the bill as too New York City-centric.</p> <p>“The agreement was to come back and do mayoral control and the three-quarters bill. When we came back, the Assembly was fine with it,” Cuomo told reporters. “My understanding is, in the conference, the Senate said ‘We also want to do the sales tax extenders. And by the way, it’s not just the sales tax extenders,’ they said, ‘We also want do something on Vernon Downs’...That is what we were trying to avoid. Once you start to expand the wish list, it gets much, much harder to get to an agreement.”</p> <p>Offering a reason for the delay in legislative voting, Cuomo also celebrated how much got done in the end.</p> <p>The final bill offers a tax bailout to Vernon Downs, an Upstate racetrack, in order to prevent its closure and retain 300 well-paying jobs in the region; provides for critical transportation needs in Westchester County; and includes passage of a proposed constitutional amendment to aid communities in the Adirondack Mountains with infrastructure projects. In addition to the renaming of the Tappan Zee, the Legislature voted to rename Riverbank State Park in Manhattan in honor of retiring Assemblymember Denny Farrell, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1974.</p> <p>Flanagan also touted the package, saying in a Thursday statement saying that the omnibus bill "resolves a number of outstanding state issues" after "Senate Republicans were able to put together a more comprehensive package that meets the needs of taxpayers, students, and families throughout our entire state." Flanagan also indicated that there were provisions related to protecting charter schools, something Mayor de Blasio stated would be announced in the coming days as administrative, not legislative, matters.</p> <p>There was no legislative action regarding the MTA, which Cuomo had declared was in a state of emergency on Thursday morning at an event in New York City. At that event Cuomo did pledge an additional $1 billion to the MTA in next year’s budget.</p> <p>As had become evident when the budget was passed in April and through the end of the legislative session last week, no government ethics or election reforms made it through Albany this year. Two other top priorities of Mayor de Blasio’s -- design-build authority and additional speed cameras for school zones -- were also left on the chopping block.</p> <p>Still, at his own news conference on Thursday afternoon, de Blasio said he was very pleased with the outcome, especially on mayoral control. The mayor expressed relief that with the first two-year extension of his term, he would not need an Albany vote next year to keep control of the school system. What the mayor does need, however, is the approval of voters this fall when he seeks reelection.</p> <p>

***
by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>with reporting by Ben Max</p>
Max & Murphy on Politics - Podcast 2017-06-25T04:00:00+00:00 2017-06-25T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/podcasts/max-murphy-on-politics Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy of City Limits, left, and Ben Max of Gotham Gazette, right</p> <hr /> <p>Max &amp; Murphy on Politics is a podcast hosted by Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Jarrett Murphy of City Limits. It began in 2016 focused on housing policy and politics when those issues were front and center to city and state politics and government, but it has expanded since. Now, in 2017, we are focused on the city election cycle, heading toward the September primary and November general elections. Find episodes through the links below, or find Max &amp; Murphy wherever you get your podcasts: iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, etc.</p> <p>Our election coverage began with an overview and preview episode June 1. Then we started to talk with mayoral candidates, with Democrat Bob Gangi on June 12 and Republican Paul Massey June 19. We're following those with Democrat Sal Albanese June 26 and we'll continue from there, also featuring episodes with other political figures and candidates for other offices. Have feedback? Find us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>.</p> <table style="width: 600px;" cellspacing="3" cellpadding="3"> <tbody><!-- --> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7737-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-kathy-hochul" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/kathy-hochul-400.jpg" alt="Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7737-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-kathy-hochul" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul</a>&nbsp;— June 14, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7712-max-murphy-podcast-criminal-justice-reform-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/fortune-society-reps-for-400.jpg" alt="fortune society reps for 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7712-max-murphy-podcast-criminal-justice-reform-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Criminal Justice Reform in New York</a>&nbsp;— June 5, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/andrea-s-c-pod-400px.jpg" alt="Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins</a>&nbsp;— June 1, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7692-max-murphy-podcast-state-party-conventions-nominations" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="placeholder" width="400" height="180" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7692-max-murphy-podcast-state-party-conventions-nominations" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State Party Conventions &amp; Nominations</a>&nbsp;— May 25, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/pod-steph-miner-400-163.jpg" alt="pod steph miner 400 163" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Stephanie Miner</a>&nbsp;— May 15, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7659-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-joe-borelli" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/joe-borelli-podcast-map-400.jpg" alt="joe borelli podcast map 400" width="400" height="315" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7659-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-joe-borelli" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City Council Member Joe Borelli</a>&nbsp;— May 7, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7648-max-murphy-podcast-brooklyn-borough-president-eric-adams" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/eric-adams-m-m-pod-400px.jpg" alt="eric adams m m pod 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7648-max-murphy-podcast-brooklyn-borough-president-eric-adams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams</a>&nbsp;— May 1, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7632-max-murphy-podcast-political-purity-tests-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/m-m-stanley-fritz-citizen-action-400px.jpg" alt="Stanley fritz citizen action 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7632-max-murphy-podcast-political-purity-tests-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Political Purity Tests in New York</a>&nbsp;— April 25, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7617-max-murphy-podcast-reforming-special-elections-more-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/susan-lerner-cc-ny-400px.jpg" alt="susan lerner cc ny 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7617-max-murphy-podcast-reforming-special-elections-more-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reforming Special Elections &amp; More in Albany</a>&nbsp;— April 17, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7597-max-murphy-suing-nycha" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/suing-nycha-400.jpg" alt="suing nycha 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7597-max-murphy-suing-nycha" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Suing NYCHA</a>&nbsp;— April 10, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7583-max-murphy-podcast-molinaro-launches-campaign-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/marc-molinaro400px.jpg" alt="Marc Molinaro Launches Campaign for Governor" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7583-max-murphy-podcast-molinaro-launches-campaign-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Molinaro Launches Campaign for Governor</a>&nbsp;— April 2, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7568-max-murphy-podcast-chirlane-mccray" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/ch-mccray-400px.jpg" alt="Chirlane McCray" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7568-max-murphy-podcast-chirlane-mccray" target="_blank" rel="noopener">First Lady Chirlane McCray</a>&nbsp;— March 26, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7548-max-murphy-podcast-michelle-de-la-uz" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/michelle-de-la-uz-400.jpg" alt="michelle de la uz 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7548-max-murphy-podcast-michelle-de-la-uz" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City Planning Commissioner Michelle de la Uz</a>&nbsp;— March 19, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7536-max-murphy-podcast-a-journalist-runs-for-state-senate" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/ross-barkan-senate400.jpg" alt="ross barkan senate" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7536-max-murphy-podcast-a-journalist-runs-for-state-senate" target="_blank">A Journalist Runs for State Senate</a>&nbsp;— March 13, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7517-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-s-progress-fighting-homelessness" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/bdb-homelessness-400.jpg" alt="De Blasio's Progress Fighting Homelessness" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7517-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-s-progress-fighting-homelessness" target="_blank" rel="noopener">De Blasio's Progress Fighting Homelessness</a>&nbsp;— March 5, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7494-max-murphy-podcast-idc-challengers-robert-jackson-jessica-ramos" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/ramos-jackson-podcast.jpg" alt="ramos jackson podcast" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7494-max-murphy-podcast-idc-challengers-robert-jackson-jessica-ramos" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IDC Challengers Robert Jackson &amp; Jessica Ramos</a>&nbsp;— February 26, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7490-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-candidate-jumaane-williams" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/jumanne-williams-pod-400.jpg" alt="Jumaane Williams" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7490-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-candidate-jumaane-williams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jumaane Williams</a>&nbsp;— February 23, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7478-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-de-blasio-s-state-of-the-city-address" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/feb14-podcast.jpg" alt="feb14 podcast" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7478-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-de-blasio-s-state-of-the-city-address" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Analyzing De Blasio's State of the City Address</a>&nbsp;— February 14, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7462-max-murphy-podcast-deconstructing-de-blasio-s-visit-to-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/3kall-pod-400.jpg" alt="Deconstructing De Blasio's Visit to Albany" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7462-max-murphy-podcast-deconstructing-de-blasio-s-visit-to-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Deconstructing De Blasio's Visit to Albany</a>&nbsp;— January 30, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7448-max-murphy-podcast-education-in-de-blasio-s-second-term" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/bdb-mayor-hearing-400px.jpg" alt="bdb mayor hearing 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7448-max-murphy-podcast-education-in-de-blasio-s-second-term" target="_blank" rel="noopener">De Blasio's 2nd Term Focus on Education</a>&nbsp;— January 30, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7433-max-murphy-podcast-congestion-pricing-with-alex-matthiessen-of-move-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/alex-matthiessen-move-ny-400.jpg" alt="alex matthiessen move ny 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7433-max-murphy-podcast-congestion-pricing-with-alex-matthiessen-of-move-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Congestion Pricing with Alex Matthiessen of Move New York</a>&nbsp;— January 22, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7426-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-ritchie-torres-on-the-new-council-his-new-role" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/ritchie-torres-400px.jpg" alt="ritchie torres 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7426-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-ritchie-torres-on-the-new-council-his-new-role" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City Council Member Ritchie Torres on The New Council &amp; His New Role</a>&nbsp;— January 17, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7413-max-murphy-podcast-new-city-council-members-justin-brannan-carlina-rivera" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/rivera-brannan-400x167.jpg" alt="rivera brannan 400x167" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7413-max-murphy-podcast-new-city-council-members-justin-brannan-carlina-rivera" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New City Council Members Justin Brannan &amp; Carlina Rivera</a>&nbsp;— January 10, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7400-max-murphy-big-political-news-to-start-2018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bdb400px.jpg" alt="bdb400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7400-max-murphy-big-political-news-to-start-2018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Big Political News to Start 2018</a>&nbsp;— January 3, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/melissa-mark-viverito-alatriste-podium400.jpg" alt="melissa mark viverito alatriste podium400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito</a>&nbsp;— December 15, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7363-max-murphy-podcast-eric-koch-former-city-council-communications-director" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/eric-koch-400.jpg" alt="eric koch 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7363-max-murphy-podcast-eric-koch-former-city-council-communications-director" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Eric Koch, former City Council communications director</a>&nbsp;— December 15, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7355-max-murphy-podcast-nycha-ceo-shola-olatoye" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/shola-olayote-400.jpg" alt="Shola Olayote" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7355-max-murphy-podcast-nycha-ceo-shola-olatoye" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye</a>&nbsp;— December 7, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7348-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-elizabeth-crowley" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/liz-crowley-podcast-400.jpg" alt="liz crowley podcast 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7348-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-elizabeth-crowley" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley</a>&nbsp;— December 5, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7337-max-murphy-podcast-previewing-de-blasio-s-second-term" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bill_de_blasio_2nd_term_400px.jpg" alt="bill de blasio 2nd term 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7337-max-murphy-podcast-previewing-de-blasio-s-second-term" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Previewing de Blasio's 2nd term</a>&nbsp;— November 27, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7308-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-election-results" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bdb-voting-sign-in-400.jpg" alt="bdb voting sign in 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7308-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-election-results" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Analyzing the 2017 Election Results</a>&nbsp;— November 9, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7301-max-murphy-podcast-10-things-to-think-about-on-election-day" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/mayor-bdb-400.jpg" alt="mayor bdb 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7301-max-murphy-podcast-10-things-to-think-about-on-election-day" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Things to Think About on Election Day</a>&nbsp;— November 7, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7292-max-murphy-podcast-resetting-the-mayoral-race-after-the-final-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/mayoral-candidates-400.jpg" alt="mayoral candidates 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7292-max-murphy-podcast-resetting-the-mayoral-race-after-the-final-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Resetting the Mayoral Race after the Final Debate</a>&nbsp;— November 3, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7269-max-murphy-podcast-akeem-browder-aaron-commey-mike-tolkin-are-running-for-mayor" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/3-mayors-stream.jpg" alt="3 mayors stream" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7269-max-murphy-podcast-akeem-browder-aaron-commey-mike-tolkin-are-running-for-mayor" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Akeem Browder, Aaron Commey &amp; Mike Tolkin are Running for Mayor</a>&nbsp;— October 23, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7259-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-the-public-advocate-comptroller-debates" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/brigid-at-debate-nyc-votesstream.jpg" alt="brigid at debate nyc votesstream" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7259-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-the-public-advocate-comptroller-debates" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Analyzing the Public Advocate &amp; Comptroller Debates</a>&nbsp;— October 19, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7243-max-murphy-analyzing-the-first-general-election-mayoral-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/debate-stage400.jpg" alt="debate stage400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7243-max-murphy-analyzing-the-first-general-election-mayoral-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Analyzing the First General Election Mayoral Debate</a>&nbsp;— October 11, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7229-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-letitia-james" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/tish-james400.jpg" alt="tish james400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7229-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-letitia-james" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Public Advocate Letitia James</a>&nbsp;— October 2, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7219-max-murphy-podcast-comptroller-candidate-michel-faulkner" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/michel-faulkner400.jpg" alt="Michel faulkner" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7219-max-murphy-podcast-comptroller-candidate-michel-faulkner" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Comptroller candidate Michel Faulkner</a>&nbsp;— September 29, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7201-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-candidate-jc-polanco" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/jcpolanco-400.jpg" alt="jcpolanco 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7201-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-candidate-jc-polanco" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Public Advocate Candidate JC Polanco</a>&nbsp;— September 18, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7186-max-murphy-podcast-a-candidates-final-hours-of-a-campaign" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/gifford-miller-city-council-400px.jpg" alt="gifford miller city council 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7186-max-murphy-podcast-a-candidates-final-hours-of-a-campaign" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gifford Miller, former Speaker of the City Council and mayoral candidate</a>&nbsp;— September 11, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7173-max-murphy-podcast-previewing-primary-day" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/brigid-bergin-and-ben-max400px.jpg" alt="brigid bergin and ben max400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7173-max-murphy-podcast-previewing-primary-day" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Brigid Bergin of WNYC radio</a>&nbsp;— September 5, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7164-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-author-joseph-viteritti" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/cover-vitteri-stream2.jpg" alt="Joseph Viteritti" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7164-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-author-joseph-viteritti" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">De Blasio Author Joseph Viteritti</a>&nbsp;— August 30, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7158-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-candidate-david-eisenbach" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/public-adv-candidate-david-eisenbach400px.jpg" alt="Public advocate Candidate David Eisenbach" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7158-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-candidate-david-eisenbach" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Public advocate Candidate David Eisenbach</a>&nbsp;— August 28, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7135-max-murphy-podcast-azi-paybarah" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/azi-paybarah-tv-400px167px.jpg" alt="azi paybarah tv 400px167px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7135-max-murphy-podcast-azi-paybarah" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Azi Paybarah</a>&nbsp;— August 17, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7129-max-murphy-podcast-christina-greer-and-alexis-grenell" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/grenell-max-greer-400-167.png" alt="Dr. Christina Greer and Alexis Grenell" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7129-max-murphy-podcast-christina-greer-and-alexis-grenell" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Representative vs. Substantive Representation, with Dr. Christina Greer and Alexis Grenell</a>&nbsp;— August 15, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7098-max-murphy-podcast-the-mayoral-race-with-top-political-strategists" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/max-murphy-katz-fullington-res.jpg" alt="max murphy katz fullington res" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7098-max-murphy-podcast-the-mayoral-race-with-top-political-strategists" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Mayoral Race with Top Political Strategists</a>&nbsp;— July 31, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <!-- Breaks --> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7080-max-murphy-podcast-mayoral-candidate-bo-dietl" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bo-dietl.jpg" alt="bo dietl" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7080-max-murphy-podcast-mayoral-candidate-bo-dietl" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayoral Candidate Bo Dietl</a>&nbsp;— July 24, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <!-- Breaks --> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7064-max-murphy-podcast-republican-mayoral-candidate-nicole-malliotakis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/nicole-malliotakis.jpg" alt="nicole malliotakis" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7064-max-murphy-podcast-republican-mayoral-candidate-nicole-malliotakis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Republican Mayoral Candidate Nicole Malliotaki</a>&nbsp;— July 13, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7033-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-press-secretary-eric-phillips" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/eric-phillips.jpg" alt="eric phillips" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7033-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-press-secretary-eric-phillips" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Eric Phillips, press secretary to Mayor Bill de Blasio</a>&nbsp;— July 5, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7030-max-murphy-podcast-democratic-mayoral-candidate-sal-albanese" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/sal-albanese.jpg" alt="sal albanese" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7030-max-murphy-podcast-democratic-mayoral-candidate-sal-albanese" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Democratic Mayoral Candidate Sal Albanese</a> — June 26, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7009-max-murphy-podcast-republican-mayoral-candidate-paul-massey" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/paul-massey.jpg" alt="paul massey" width="400" height="167" /></a>&nbsp;</td> <td> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7009-max-murphy-podcast-republican-mayoral-candidate-paul-massey">Republican Mayoral Candidate Paul Massey</a>&nbsp;— June 19, 2017 (note: Paul Massey dropped out of the mayoral race on June 28, though the episode is still worth listening to)</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6989-max-murphy-podcast-mayoral-candidate-bob-gangi" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bob-gangi.jpg" alt="bob gangi" width="400" height="167" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6989-max-murphy-podcast-mayoral-candidate-bob-gangi">Democratic Mayoral Candidate Bob Gangi</a> — June 12, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="placeholder" width="400" height="180" /></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6997-max-murphy-on-politics-election-season-is-here">Election Season is Here!</a> — June 1, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><br />A variety of earlier episodes of the Max &amp; Murphy Podcast, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6183-max-a-murphy-on-housing">through the&nbsp;archive</a>, often focused on New York housing policy and politics — <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6183-max-a-murphy-on-housing">see all episodes from the start February 12, 2016 to May 25, 2017</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy of City Limits, left, and Ben Max of Gotham Gazette, right</p> <hr /> <p>Max &amp; Murphy on Politics is a podcast hosted by Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Jarrett Murphy of City Limits. It began in 2016 focused on housing policy and politics when those issues were front and center to city and state politics and government, but it has expanded since. Now, in 2017, we are focused on the city election cycle, heading toward the September primary and November general elections. Find episodes through the links below, or find Max &amp; Murphy wherever you get your podcasts: iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, etc.</p> <p>Our election coverage began with an overview and preview episode June 1. Then we started to talk with mayoral candidates, with Democrat Bob Gangi on June 12 and Republican Paul Massey June 19. We're following those with Democrat Sal Albanese June 26 and we'll continue from there, also featuring episodes with other political figures and candidates for other offices. Have feedback? Find us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>.</p> <table style="width: 600px;" cellspacing="3" cellpadding="3"> <tbody><!-- --> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7737-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-kathy-hochul" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/kathy-hochul-400.jpg" alt="Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7737-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-kathy-hochul" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul</a>&nbsp;— June 14, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7712-max-murphy-podcast-criminal-justice-reform-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/fortune-society-reps-for-400.jpg" alt="fortune society reps for 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7712-max-murphy-podcast-criminal-justice-reform-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Criminal Justice Reform in New York</a>&nbsp;— June 5, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/andrea-s-c-pod-400px.jpg" alt="Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins</a>&nbsp;— June 1, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7692-max-murphy-podcast-state-party-conventions-nominations" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="placeholder" width="400" height="180" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7692-max-murphy-podcast-state-party-conventions-nominations" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State Party Conventions &amp; Nominations</a>&nbsp;— May 25, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/pod-steph-miner-400-163.jpg" alt="pod steph miner 400 163" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Stephanie Miner</a>&nbsp;— May 15, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7659-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-joe-borelli" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/joe-borelli-podcast-map-400.jpg" alt="joe borelli podcast map 400" width="400" height="315" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7659-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-joe-borelli" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City Council Member Joe Borelli</a>&nbsp;— May 7, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7648-max-murphy-podcast-brooklyn-borough-president-eric-adams" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/eric-adams-m-m-pod-400px.jpg" alt="eric adams m m pod 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7648-max-murphy-podcast-brooklyn-borough-president-eric-adams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams</a>&nbsp;— May 1, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7632-max-murphy-podcast-political-purity-tests-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/m-m-stanley-fritz-citizen-action-400px.jpg" alt="Stanley fritz citizen action 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7632-max-murphy-podcast-political-purity-tests-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Political Purity Tests in New York</a>&nbsp;— April 25, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7617-max-murphy-podcast-reforming-special-elections-more-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/susan-lerner-cc-ny-400px.jpg" alt="susan lerner cc ny 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7617-max-murphy-podcast-reforming-special-elections-more-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reforming Special Elections &amp; More in Albany</a>&nbsp;— April 17, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7597-max-murphy-suing-nycha" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/suing-nycha-400.jpg" alt="suing nycha 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7597-max-murphy-suing-nycha" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Suing NYCHA</a>&nbsp;— April 10, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7583-max-murphy-podcast-molinaro-launches-campaign-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/marc-molinaro400px.jpg" alt="Marc Molinaro Launches Campaign for Governor" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7583-max-murphy-podcast-molinaro-launches-campaign-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Molinaro Launches Campaign for Governor</a>&nbsp;— April 2, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7568-max-murphy-podcast-chirlane-mccray" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/ch-mccray-400px.jpg" alt="Chirlane McCray" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7568-max-murphy-podcast-chirlane-mccray" target="_blank" rel="noopener">First Lady Chirlane McCray</a>&nbsp;— March 26, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7548-max-murphy-podcast-michelle-de-la-uz" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/michelle-de-la-uz-400.jpg" alt="michelle de la uz 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7548-max-murphy-podcast-michelle-de-la-uz" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City Planning Commissioner Michelle de la Uz</a>&nbsp;— March 19, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7536-max-murphy-podcast-a-journalist-runs-for-state-senate" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/ross-barkan-senate400.jpg" alt="ross barkan senate" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7536-max-murphy-podcast-a-journalist-runs-for-state-senate" target="_blank">A Journalist Runs for State Senate</a>&nbsp;— March 13, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7517-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-s-progress-fighting-homelessness" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/bdb-homelessness-400.jpg" alt="De Blasio's Progress Fighting Homelessness" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7517-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-s-progress-fighting-homelessness" target="_blank" rel="noopener">De Blasio's Progress Fighting Homelessness</a>&nbsp;— March 5, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7494-max-murphy-podcast-idc-challengers-robert-jackson-jessica-ramos" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/ramos-jackson-podcast.jpg" alt="ramos jackson podcast" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7494-max-murphy-podcast-idc-challengers-robert-jackson-jessica-ramos" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IDC Challengers Robert Jackson &amp; Jessica Ramos</a>&nbsp;— February 26, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7490-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-candidate-jumaane-williams" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/jumanne-williams-pod-400.jpg" alt="Jumaane Williams" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7490-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-candidate-jumaane-williams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jumaane Williams</a>&nbsp;— February 23, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7478-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-de-blasio-s-state-of-the-city-address" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/feb14-podcast.jpg" alt="feb14 podcast" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7478-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-de-blasio-s-state-of-the-city-address" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Analyzing De Blasio's State of the City Address</a>&nbsp;— February 14, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7462-max-murphy-podcast-deconstructing-de-blasio-s-visit-to-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/3kall-pod-400.jpg" alt="Deconstructing De Blasio's Visit to Albany" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7462-max-murphy-podcast-deconstructing-de-blasio-s-visit-to-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Deconstructing De Blasio's Visit to Albany</a>&nbsp;— January 30, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7448-max-murphy-podcast-education-in-de-blasio-s-second-term" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/bdb-mayor-hearing-400px.jpg" alt="bdb mayor hearing 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7448-max-murphy-podcast-education-in-de-blasio-s-second-term" target="_blank" rel="noopener">De Blasio's 2nd Term Focus on Education</a>&nbsp;— January 30, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7433-max-murphy-podcast-congestion-pricing-with-alex-matthiessen-of-move-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/alex-matthiessen-move-ny-400.jpg" alt="alex matthiessen move ny 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7433-max-murphy-podcast-congestion-pricing-with-alex-matthiessen-of-move-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Congestion Pricing with Alex Matthiessen of Move New York</a>&nbsp;— January 22, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7426-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-ritchie-torres-on-the-new-council-his-new-role" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/ritchie-torres-400px.jpg" alt="ritchie torres 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7426-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-ritchie-torres-on-the-new-council-his-new-role" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City Council Member Ritchie Torres on The New Council &amp; His New Role</a>&nbsp;— January 17, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7413-max-murphy-podcast-new-city-council-members-justin-brannan-carlina-rivera" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/rivera-brannan-400x167.jpg" alt="rivera brannan 400x167" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7413-max-murphy-podcast-new-city-council-members-justin-brannan-carlina-rivera" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New City Council Members Justin Brannan &amp; Carlina Rivera</a>&nbsp;— January 10, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7400-max-murphy-big-political-news-to-start-2018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bdb400px.jpg" alt="bdb400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7400-max-murphy-big-political-news-to-start-2018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Big Political News to Start 2018</a>&nbsp;— January 3, 2018</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/melissa-mark-viverito-alatriste-podium400.jpg" alt="melissa mark viverito alatriste podium400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito</a>&nbsp;— December 15, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7363-max-murphy-podcast-eric-koch-former-city-council-communications-director" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/eric-koch-400.jpg" alt="eric koch 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7363-max-murphy-podcast-eric-koch-former-city-council-communications-director" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Eric Koch, former City Council communications director</a>&nbsp;— December 15, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7355-max-murphy-podcast-nycha-ceo-shola-olatoye" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/shola-olayote-400.jpg" alt="Shola Olayote" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7355-max-murphy-podcast-nycha-ceo-shola-olatoye" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye</a>&nbsp;— December 7, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7348-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-elizabeth-crowley" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/liz-crowley-podcast-400.jpg" alt="liz crowley podcast 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7348-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-elizabeth-crowley" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley</a>&nbsp;— December 5, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7337-max-murphy-podcast-previewing-de-blasio-s-second-term" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bill_de_blasio_2nd_term_400px.jpg" alt="bill de blasio 2nd term 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7337-max-murphy-podcast-previewing-de-blasio-s-second-term" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Previewing de Blasio's 2nd term</a>&nbsp;— November 27, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7308-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-election-results" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bdb-voting-sign-in-400.jpg" alt="bdb voting sign in 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7308-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-election-results" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Analyzing the 2017 Election Results</a>&nbsp;— November 9, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7301-max-murphy-podcast-10-things-to-think-about-on-election-day" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/mayor-bdb-400.jpg" alt="mayor bdb 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7301-max-murphy-podcast-10-things-to-think-about-on-election-day" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Things to Think About on Election Day</a>&nbsp;— November 7, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7292-max-murphy-podcast-resetting-the-mayoral-race-after-the-final-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/mayoral-candidates-400.jpg" alt="mayoral candidates 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7292-max-murphy-podcast-resetting-the-mayoral-race-after-the-final-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Resetting the Mayoral Race after the Final Debate</a>&nbsp;— November 3, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7269-max-murphy-podcast-akeem-browder-aaron-commey-mike-tolkin-are-running-for-mayor" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/3-mayors-stream.jpg" alt="3 mayors stream" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7269-max-murphy-podcast-akeem-browder-aaron-commey-mike-tolkin-are-running-for-mayor" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Akeem Browder, Aaron Commey &amp; Mike Tolkin are Running for Mayor</a>&nbsp;— October 23, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7259-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-the-public-advocate-comptroller-debates" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/brigid-at-debate-nyc-votesstream.jpg" alt="brigid at debate nyc votesstream" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7259-max-murphy-podcast-analyzing-the-public-advocate-comptroller-debates" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Analyzing the Public Advocate &amp; Comptroller Debates</a>&nbsp;— October 19, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7243-max-murphy-analyzing-the-first-general-election-mayoral-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/debate-stage400.jpg" alt="debate stage400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7243-max-murphy-analyzing-the-first-general-election-mayoral-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Analyzing the First General Election Mayoral Debate</a>&nbsp;— October 11, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7229-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-letitia-james" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/tish-james400.jpg" alt="tish james400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7229-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-letitia-james" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Public Advocate Letitia James</a>&nbsp;— October 2, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7219-max-murphy-podcast-comptroller-candidate-michel-faulkner" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/michel-faulkner400.jpg" alt="Michel faulkner" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7219-max-murphy-podcast-comptroller-candidate-michel-faulkner" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Comptroller candidate Michel Faulkner</a>&nbsp;— September 29, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7201-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-candidate-jc-polanco" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/jcpolanco-400.jpg" alt="jcpolanco 400" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7201-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-candidate-jc-polanco" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Public Advocate Candidate JC Polanco</a>&nbsp;— September 18, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7186-max-murphy-podcast-a-candidates-final-hours-of-a-campaign" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/gifford-miller-city-council-400px.jpg" alt="gifford miller city council 400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7186-max-murphy-podcast-a-candidates-final-hours-of-a-campaign" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gifford Miller, former Speaker of the City Council and mayoral candidate</a>&nbsp;— September 11, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7173-max-murphy-podcast-previewing-primary-day" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/brigid-bergin-and-ben-max400px.jpg" alt="brigid bergin and ben max400px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7173-max-murphy-podcast-previewing-primary-day" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Brigid Bergin of WNYC radio</a>&nbsp;— September 5, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7164-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-author-joseph-viteritti" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/cover-vitteri-stream2.jpg" alt="Joseph Viteritti" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7164-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-author-joseph-viteritti" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">De Blasio Author Joseph Viteritti</a>&nbsp;— August 30, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7158-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-candidate-david-eisenbach" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/public-adv-candidate-david-eisenbach400px.jpg" alt="Public advocate Candidate David Eisenbach" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7158-max-murphy-podcast-public-advocate-candidate-david-eisenbach" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Public advocate Candidate David Eisenbach</a>&nbsp;— August 28, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7135-max-murphy-podcast-azi-paybarah" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/azi-paybarah-tv-400px167px.jpg" alt="azi paybarah tv 400px167px" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7135-max-murphy-podcast-azi-paybarah" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Azi Paybarah</a>&nbsp;— August 17, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7129-max-murphy-podcast-christina-greer-and-alexis-grenell" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/grenell-max-greer-400-167.png" alt="Dr. Christina Greer and Alexis Grenell" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7129-max-murphy-podcast-christina-greer-and-alexis-grenell" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Representative vs. Substantive Representation, with Dr. Christina Greer and Alexis Grenell</a>&nbsp;— August 15, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7098-max-murphy-podcast-the-mayoral-race-with-top-political-strategists" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/max-murphy-katz-fullington-res.jpg" alt="max murphy katz fullington res" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7098-max-murphy-podcast-the-mayoral-race-with-top-political-strategists" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Mayoral Race with Top Political Strategists</a>&nbsp;— July 31, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <!-- Breaks --> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7080-max-murphy-podcast-mayoral-candidate-bo-dietl" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> <img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bo-dietl.jpg" alt="bo dietl" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7080-max-murphy-podcast-mayoral-candidate-bo-dietl" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayoral Candidate Bo Dietl</a>&nbsp;— July 24, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <!-- Breaks --> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7064-max-murphy-podcast-republican-mayoral-candidate-nicole-malliotakis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/nicole-malliotakis.jpg" alt="nicole malliotakis" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7064-max-murphy-podcast-republican-mayoral-candidate-nicole-malliotakis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Republican Mayoral Candidate Nicole Malliotaki</a>&nbsp;— July 13, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7033-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-press-secretary-eric-phillips" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/eric-phillips.jpg" alt="eric phillips" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7033-max-murphy-podcast-de-blasio-press-secretary-eric-phillips" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Eric Phillips, press secretary to Mayor Bill de Blasio</a>&nbsp;— July 5, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7030-max-murphy-podcast-democratic-mayoral-candidate-sal-albanese" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/sal-albanese.jpg" alt="sal albanese" width="400" height="167" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7030-max-murphy-podcast-democratic-mayoral-candidate-sal-albanese" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Democratic Mayoral Candidate Sal Albanese</a> — June 26, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7009-max-murphy-podcast-republican-mayoral-candidate-paul-massey" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/paul-massey.jpg" alt="paul massey" width="400" height="167" /></a>&nbsp;</td> <td> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7009-max-murphy-podcast-republican-mayoral-candidate-paul-massey">Republican Mayoral Candidate Paul Massey</a>&nbsp;— June 19, 2017 (note: Paul Massey dropped out of the mayoral race on June 28, though the episode is still worth listening to)</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6989-max-murphy-podcast-mayoral-candidate-bob-gangi" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bob-gangi.jpg" alt="bob gangi" width="400" height="167" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></a></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6989-max-murphy-podcast-mayoral-candidate-bob-gangi">Democratic Mayoral Candidate Bob Gangi</a> — June 12, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="width: 400px;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="placeholder" width="400" height="180" /></td> <td><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6997-max-murphy-on-politics-election-season-is-here">Election Season is Here!</a> — June 1, 2017</td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><br />A variety of earlier episodes of the Max &amp; Murphy Podcast, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6183-max-a-murphy-on-housing">through the&nbsp;archive</a>, often focused on New York housing policy and politics — <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6183-max-a-murphy-on-housing">see all episodes from the start February 12, 2016 to May 25, 2017</a></p> As Session Nears End, Electoral Reforms Mostly Stalled & Cuomo Quiet 2017-06-04T04:00:00+00:00 2017-06-04T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6972:as-session-nears-end-electoral-reforms-mostly-stalled-cuomo-quiet Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/22127912963_5f30becd97_z_3.jpg" alt="Cuomo voting 2015" width="600" height="390" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo votes (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo’s <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2017/04/cuomo-says-goodbye-to-albany-and-any-ethics-push-for-the-year-111271" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">prediction</a> that there is insufficient political will at the New York State Legislature to pass any significant voting reform measures this year may be coming to fruition.</p> <p>During the final weeks before the end of the legislative session, this year June 21 -- when lawmakers leave the Capitol and return to their districts for the remainder of the year -- there is typically a final thrust for policy measures that did not make it into the budget, which this year was passed in early April.</p> <p>On the electoral front, there has been a growing push from voting reform activists, civil rights organizations, and some Democratic elected officials to modernize New York’s arcane system, but, given the reluctance of Senate Republicans and, at least in part, Cuomo’s lack of prioritization of electoral reform despite saying in January he backs an ambitious agenda, major reforms appear to be elusive.</p> <p>Citing numerous barriers faced by voters during the 2016 elections, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York City Bill de Blasio have joined the call for Albany to pass meaningful electoral reform, a cause that has been <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6908-activists-lawmakers-rally-for-voting-reform-at-capitol" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">championed</a> by other Democrats in the state Assembly majority and Senate minority.</p> <p>Democrats in both legislative houses have introduced a slew of voting reform bills -- including legislation on early voting, automatic voter registration, electronic poll books, and “no excuse” absentee ballots, among other measures -- as they do each year. While most <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/Press/20170515/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">passed</a> the Democrat-controlled Assembly, as usual, the efforts are stalled in the Senate, where Republicans control the chamber by a slim majority given the help of Senator Simcha Felder, a nominal Democrat who conferences with Republicans, and bolstered by the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in a coalition agreement.</p> <p>The Senate has passed a significantly slimmer electoral package, most of which would do little to increase voter access or enhance voter registration.</p> <p>So far, the only electoral legislation passed in both houses would allow polling place inspectors to work eight-hour half-shifts, when previously they were made to work 16-hour days. It is a move intended to help Boards of Elections recruit staff and improve efficiency on election days.</p> <p>Another piece of legislation, sponsored by IDC Senator Diane Savino and Assemblymember Amy Paulin in their respective chambers, would require special ballots to be mailed to domestic violence victims and has passed each house’s election committee and is calendared for floor votes.</p> <p>The Assembly election committee <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/leg/?sh=agen2&amp;agenda=2017-06-02-20.51.46.129889&amp;ver=2017-06-02-20.51.46.188449&amp;ano=18&amp;com=Election%20Law" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">is meeting</a> on Tuesday, June 6, to consider a dozen more electoral law changes.</p> <p>Other relatively minor pieces of electoral <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/S1567/amendment/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">legislation</a> close to being passed in both houses relate to the way candidates are listed on the ballot, the creation of an inventory of official campaign websites, and protecting the ballot information of domestic violence victims.</p> <p>One sign of the lack of agreement on major electoral reforms, though, relates to consolidating New York’s repetitive primary election days, a cause that has bipartisan support -- in theory. Both the Senate and Assembly have passed bills to consolidate federal and state primary elections -- a move projected to save the state $25 million and help increase voter turnout -- however the houses cannot disagree on which month to hold the joint election.</p> <p>The congressional primaries were split from state level primaries in 2012, when the federal MOVE Act mandated that federal elections allow sufficient time for absentee ballots from those in the army and overseas to be collected. The Assembly bill requires the joint primary to happen in June, in order to allow more absentee ballots to trickle in, while the Senate suggests an August date, which would still meet federal regulations. Democrats argue that the August date would suppress voter turnout given peoples’ summer vacations.</p> <p>The only bill designed to expand voter access that has advanced in the Senate is an early voting bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, which would allow eligible New Yorkers an additional seven-day window prior to election day to cast their ballots, but it too appears unlikely to reach the Senate floor.</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins’ bill, which mirrors legislation by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh that has passed the Assembly, would open poll sites for seven days ahead of election day, allowing one day in between the early voting period and elections. Each county, depending on its size, would be required to make at least one and up to seven polling sites available during that period.</p> <p>In March, when Stewart-Cousins forced the Senate election committee to vote on the measure, Democratic members of the committee voted to advance the bill to the Senate floor, only to have it diverted to the local government committee by GOP members. <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2017/05/01/senate-committee-advances-early-voting-bill-111684" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">As Politico wrote</a>, the majority conference is able to kill legislation without explicitly voting against it by pawning it off to another committee, which is unlikely to meet more than once or twice before the end of session and does not have to calendar a vote.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/S3304" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A bill</a> for automatic voter registration, sponsored by Senator Michael Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens, was defeated after a vote was compelled in the same manner.</p> <p>While Cuomo, a second-term Democrat, unveiled a sweeping electoral reform agenda during his 2017 State of the State, by April, following the passage of the budget, he appeared to have lost any can-do, <a href="http://www.twcnews.com/nys/capital-region/politics/2017/04/28/new-york-democrats-still-trying-to-overhaul-state-voting-laws.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">telling reporters</a>, “There is more to do; there is no political will to do it. Otherwise we would have done it in the budget."</p> <p>This lack of enthusiasm on voting reform is echoed by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Republican of Long Island, who, when asked recently by a reporter, noted the fiscal component of early voting. “Early voting is defined so many ways, is it just one day?” he asked rhetorically. “I was just joking around that I’m supportive of early voting, just start 5 o’clock instead of 6. It is a serious subject and something we should be talking about, but how do you do that without costing astronomical amounts of money? Our county boards of election are strapped right now.”</p> <p>While there is still time left in the legislative session, without Cuomo using his influence, movement on the issue in unlikely, according the Blair Horner, executive director of New York Public Interest Group, one of the advocacy organizations lobbying for electoral reform.</p> <p>“Lawmakers don't have to face voters until next year so they are more likely to do popular things on even number years than odd number years. The governor has not shown a lot of leadership on this, so they haven't felt a lot of pressure,” Horner said.</p> <p>De Blasio, no ally of Cuomo, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6964-de-blasio-announces-plan-to-push-electoral-reform-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">told Gotham Gazette</a> last week that he and unnamed partners intend “to launch a major effort” to see voting and election reforms passed in Albany by the end of the session.<br /><br />Cuomo’s office <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6964-de-blasio-announces-plan-to-push-electoral-reform-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">told Gotham Gazette</a> that the governor continues to support modernizing the state’s electoral laws and will keep pushing for measures to do so despite their lack of movement through the Legislature. A spokesperson did not answer whether the governor would make any public push to see his desired electoral reforms passed.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/22127912963_5f30becd97_z_3.jpg" alt="Cuomo voting 2015" width="600" height="390" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo votes (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo’s <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2017/04/cuomo-says-goodbye-to-albany-and-any-ethics-push-for-the-year-111271" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">prediction</a> that there is insufficient political will at the New York State Legislature to pass any significant voting reform measures this year may be coming to fruition.</p> <p>During the final weeks before the end of the legislative session, this year June 21 -- when lawmakers leave the Capitol and return to their districts for the remainder of the year -- there is typically a final thrust for policy measures that did not make it into the budget, which this year was passed in early April.</p> <p>On the electoral front, there has been a growing push from voting reform activists, civil rights organizations, and some Democratic elected officials to modernize New York’s arcane system, but, given the reluctance of Senate Republicans and, at least in part, Cuomo’s lack of prioritization of electoral reform despite saying in January he backs an ambitious agenda, major reforms appear to be elusive.</p> <p>Citing numerous barriers faced by voters during the 2016 elections, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York City Bill de Blasio have joined the call for Albany to pass meaningful electoral reform, a cause that has been <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6908-activists-lawmakers-rally-for-voting-reform-at-capitol" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">championed</a> by other Democrats in the state Assembly majority and Senate minority.</p> <p>Democrats in both legislative houses have introduced a slew of voting reform bills -- including legislation on early voting, automatic voter registration, electronic poll books, and “no excuse” absentee ballots, among other measures -- as they do each year. While most <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/Press/20170515/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">passed</a> the Democrat-controlled Assembly, as usual, the efforts are stalled in the Senate, where Republicans control the chamber by a slim majority given the help of Senator Simcha Felder, a nominal Democrat who conferences with Republicans, and bolstered by the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in a coalition agreement.</p> <p>The Senate has passed a significantly slimmer electoral package, most of which would do little to increase voter access or enhance voter registration.</p> <p>So far, the only electoral legislation passed in both houses would allow polling place inspectors to work eight-hour half-shifts, when previously they were made to work 16-hour days. It is a move intended to help Boards of Elections recruit staff and improve efficiency on election days.</p> <p>Another piece of legislation, sponsored by IDC Senator Diane Savino and Assemblymember Amy Paulin in their respective chambers, would require special ballots to be mailed to domestic violence victims and has passed each house’s election committee and is calendared for floor votes.</p> <p>The Assembly election committee <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/leg/?sh=agen2&amp;agenda=2017-06-02-20.51.46.129889&amp;ver=2017-06-02-20.51.46.188449&amp;ano=18&amp;com=Election%20Law" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">is meeting</a> on Tuesday, June 6, to consider a dozen more electoral law changes.</p> <p>Other relatively minor pieces of electoral <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/S1567/amendment/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">legislation</a> close to being passed in both houses relate to the way candidates are listed on the ballot, the creation of an inventory of official campaign websites, and protecting the ballot information of domestic violence victims.</p> <p>One sign of the lack of agreement on major electoral reforms, though, relates to consolidating New York’s repetitive primary election days, a cause that has bipartisan support -- in theory. Both the Senate and Assembly have passed bills to consolidate federal and state primary elections -- a move projected to save the state $25 million and help increase voter turnout -- however the houses cannot disagree on which month to hold the joint election.</p> <p>The congressional primaries were split from state level primaries in 2012, when the federal MOVE Act mandated that federal elections allow sufficient time for absentee ballots from those in the army and overseas to be collected. The Assembly bill requires the joint primary to happen in June, in order to allow more absentee ballots to trickle in, while the Senate suggests an August date, which would still meet federal regulations. Democrats argue that the August date would suppress voter turnout given peoples’ summer vacations.</p> <p>The only bill designed to expand voter access that has advanced in the Senate is an early voting bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, which would allow eligible New Yorkers an additional seven-day window prior to election day to cast their ballots, but it too appears unlikely to reach the Senate floor.</p> <p>Stewart-Cousins’ bill, which mirrors legislation by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh that has passed the Assembly, would open poll sites for seven days ahead of election day, allowing one day in between the early voting period and elections. Each county, depending on its size, would be required to make at least one and up to seven polling sites available during that period.</p> <p>In March, when Stewart-Cousins forced the Senate election committee to vote on the measure, Democratic members of the committee voted to advance the bill to the Senate floor, only to have it diverted to the local government committee by GOP members. <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2017/05/01/senate-committee-advances-early-voting-bill-111684" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">As Politico wrote</a>, the majority conference is able to kill legislation without explicitly voting against it by pawning it off to another committee, which is unlikely to meet more than once or twice before the end of session and does not have to calendar a vote.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/S3304" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A bill</a> for automatic voter registration, sponsored by Senator Michael Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens, was defeated after a vote was compelled in the same manner.</p> <p>While Cuomo, a second-term Democrat, unveiled a sweeping electoral reform agenda during his 2017 State of the State, by April, following the passage of the budget, he appeared to have lost any can-do, <a href="http://www.twcnews.com/nys/capital-region/politics/2017/04/28/new-york-democrats-still-trying-to-overhaul-state-voting-laws.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">telling reporters</a>, “There is more to do; there is no political will to do it. Otherwise we would have done it in the budget."</p> <p>This lack of enthusiasm on voting reform is echoed by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Republican of Long Island, who, when asked recently by a reporter, noted the fiscal component of early voting. “Early voting is defined so many ways, is it just one day?” he asked rhetorically. “I was just joking around that I’m supportive of early voting, just start 5 o’clock instead of 6. It is a serious subject and something we should be talking about, but how do you do that without costing astronomical amounts of money? Our county boards of election are strapped right now.”</p> <p>While there is still time left in the legislative session, without Cuomo using his influence, movement on the issue in unlikely, according the Blair Horner, executive director of New York Public Interest Group, one of the advocacy organizations lobbying for electoral reform.</p> <p>“Lawmakers don't have to face voters until next year so they are more likely to do popular things on even number years than odd number years. The governor has not shown a lot of leadership on this, so they haven't felt a lot of pressure,” Horner said.</p> <p>De Blasio, no ally of Cuomo, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6964-de-blasio-announces-plan-to-push-electoral-reform-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">told Gotham Gazette</a> last week that he and unnamed partners intend “to launch a major effort” to see voting and election reforms passed in Albany by the end of the session.<br /><br />Cuomo’s office <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6964-de-blasio-announces-plan-to-push-electoral-reform-in-albany" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">told Gotham Gazette</a> that the governor continues to support modernizing the state’s electoral laws and will keep pushing for measures to do so despite their lack of movement through the Legislature. A spokesperson did not answer whether the governor would make any public push to see his desired electoral reforms passed.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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