Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/63 Thu, 23 Nov 2017 20:28:14 +0000 en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Amid Ongoing Uncertainty, De Blasio Makes Modest Budget Adjustment http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7330:amid-ongoing-uncertainty-de-blasio-makes-modest-budget-adjustment http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7330:amid-ongoing-uncertainty-de-blasio-makes-modest-budget-adjustment bdb budget presentation

De Blasio during a budget presentation (photo: Mayor's Office)


Mayor Bill de Blasio will release the mandated November budget modification on Tuesday, showing minor adjustments to the city’s nearly $86 billion budget for the current fiscal year, which runs through the end of June.

Spending for fiscal year 2018 (FY18) will be projected up from the $85.24 billion agreed upon by de Blasio and the City Council in June to $85.99 billion, according to the mayor’s office. The increase is largely due to more federal funding coming to the city for recovery from Superstorm Sandy and Homeland Security grants.

Otherwise, the budget adjustment includes a variety of new spending by the city and several areas in which the city is marking additional savings, according to the mayor's office. The city is projecting a $207 million reduction in city tax revenue, mostly in business taxes, while there is a projected increase in property tax revenue that will partially offset those shortfalls. The city budget has grown quickly under de Blasio and other November modifications have included larger increases in spending. The minimal nature of this mid-fiscal year adjustment appears indicative of the level to which de Blasio has funded his programs and priorities and the ongoing questions surrounding federal policies.

The November Plan, as it is known, will not reflect potential federal cuts or the possible effects of federal tax reform plans currently being debated, nor will it show any major new city spending.

"We came into office four years ago promising to bring opportunity to those who had been left without for so long. Today, we're on track to invest more in affordable housing than any administration in decades, we've created an entirely new grade and, bringing police and community together, we've seen the lowest crime rates in history,” de Blasio said in a statement. “While we will continue to provide for New Yorkers however we can, we must do so thoughtfully and strategically while the threat of funding cuts from Washington continues to loom."

The plan will show the addition of $47 million in city funds for FY18, largely for agency spending and an increase in pension contributions. The de Blasio administration says that the increases are more than offset by savings related to health care costs, debt service, and agency adjustments. While overall expenditures are projected to increase by $747 million, the FY18 budget remains balanced, as it must.

New spending highlights provided to Gotham Gazette by the mayor’s office include $7 million to upgrade the city’s 311 system and other major projects supported by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications; $4 million for sending supplies and city works to Puerto Rico to assist with hurricane recovery; $4.5 million to develop a construction site safety program; and $10 million for creating the new procurement system, PASSport. There is also $7.5 million to reflect additional costs from new collective bargaining agreements with certain employees at the Department of Environmental Protection.

The modification does not include any significant additional expenditures toward fighting homelessness or any of de Blasio’s other major priorities, like expanding pre-school to three-year-olds, closing the Rikers Island jails, or spurring 100,000 good-paying jobs over ten years.

Some of the agency savings outlined in the modification include the Department of Transportation saving $400,000 by using less expensive video cameras and computer analysis contracts for projects where manual traffic surveys are insufficient and the Financial Information Services Agency saving $500,000 due to lower maintenance of new computer equipment, according to the mayor’s office.

The November Plan will show $59 million in additional projected spending for FY19. The FY19 budget process will kick into gear in January when the mayor releases his preliminary budget. Hanging over the current and next city budgets are potential changes in state aid to the city and a great deal of uncertainty in terms of federal aid and policy out of Washington D.C. The city budget has grown about 18 percent under de Blasio, up to the nearly $86 billion now projected for this fiscal year, in large part due to increases in the city personnel headcount (thousands more teachers, police officers, and others) and additional programmatic expenditures (including related to homelessness and other social services, where expenditures have increased dramatically).

The budget adjustment does not reflect any federal cuts, as most of what has been proposed in Washington, D.C. has yet to come to fruition. The high-profile threat to city taxpayers that is the proposed reduction of state and local tax (SALT) deductions from federal tax filings is still being debated in Washington and around the country. De Blasio, a recently reelected Democrat, is working to fight the proposed tax reforms, which are being pushed by President Donald Trump and many of his fellow Republicans in Congress. Even if there is significant reform to SALT, it would not cut federal funding to the city. It would, however, put additional financial stress on many city taxpayers, whose overall tax burdens would increase, in some cases significantly. This stress would likely lead to calls for reductions in city and state taxes, which could lead the city to lower taxes under its control and thus have less revenue to spend.

De Blasio’s prior November Plan budget modifications were more significant in scope -- his first, in November 2014, showed almost $2 billion in additional planned expenditure, largely having to do with federal Sandy aid, as well as tens of millions of dollars in added spending on de Blasio priorities like NYPD retraining of officers, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and a rental assistance program for domestic violence survivors.

Upon release of this November Plan, the City Council will review the budget adjustments and is expected to vote them through.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Amid Ongoing Uncertainty, De Blasio Makes Modest Budget Adjustment Mon, 20 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
City Increasingly Paying Back Rent to Keep Tenants from Homelessness http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7326:city-increasingly-paying-back-rent-to-keep-tenants-from-homelessness http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7326:city-increasingly-paying-back-rent-to-keep-tenants-from-homelessness de Blasio homelessness

De Blasio discusses homelessness (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


In the effort to fight a steady, decades-long rise in homelessness, the de Blasio administration has significantly increased the city’s rental assistance programs over the past four years. A variety of programs including vouchers for those seeking to reenter stable housing from shelter, the effort also entails paying back rent for those at risk of losing their apartments.

Known as “rent arrears” payments, the de Blasio administration has dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to keep New Yorkers in their homes and out of the shelter system. While this and other efforts, like significant increases in city-funded legal assistance to tenants facing eviction in housing court, have not reversed the upward trend in the shelter census, combined efforts have kept thousands of families in their homes and led to a break in the trajectory of the homelessness population -- the shelter census has hovered around 60,000 for all of 2017.

The de Blasio administration has estimated that well over 70,000 people would be homeless were it not for its efforts. At the same time, an increase in homelessness under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s watch, leading to multiple shake-ups in the administration’s approach to the issue and personnel in charge, has been one of the biggest areas of criticism for the mayor and one where he has openly admitted an insufficient response.

When de Blasio took office, there were roughly 51,500 people in city shelters, according to numbers the mayor used during a February speech outlining new plans to combat homelessness. During the 12 years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, homelessness grew to that number from about 31,000. During Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s eight years in office, the shelter census grew from 24,000 to that 31,000.

While homelessness has grown under de Blasio, this year has shown a fairly sustained pause in that growth, one the administration attributes to its suite of programs and immense resources devoted to both re-housing people experiencing homelessness and keeping at-risk people in their homes. A key piece of the puzzle has been the increase in rent arrears payments.

In 2016, the city provided 58,167 households with rent arrears payments totaling more than $214 million, with an average of $3,688 per case. This was an increase from 54,737 households and $188 million in 2015; up from 48,654 cases and $149 million in 2014, the first year of de Blasio’s time as mayor, according to data provided by the administration’s Human Resources Administration (HRA).

Before de Blasio took office, the city was also using rent arrears payments through HRA. In 2013 about 47,000 households were helped with $127 million in rent arrears; in 2012, 44,500 were helped with $121 million; and in 2011, 40,300 households with $107 million, according to HRA.

The final year of the Bloomberg administration, 2013, compared to 2016 under de Blasio, shows rent arrears payments provided to about 25% more households. The average disbursement has gone from $2,695 to $3,668, indicative of the increased cost of housing in the city and the widening gaps between incomes and rents, according to the city. HRA indicated that rent arrears efforts have continued to grow in 2017.

“As part of this Administration’s overall effort to prevent evictions and alleviate homelessness, over the past three years we have rebuilt rental assistance and rehousing programs that had been eliminated in 2011, expanded legal services for tenants and enhanced emergency rent assistance,” said HRA spokesperson Lourdes Centeno, in a statement. “By providing emergency rent assistance, we have helped more than 300,000 New Yorkers remain in their homes while saving taxpayers’ money because rental assistance is much less expensive than the cost of a homeless shelter. Helping New Yorkers at risk of eviction remains a crucial priority for this Administration.”

The mayor has not only increased resources going toward homelessness prevention and reduction, as well as toward simply sheltering those experiencing homelessness (some at pricey hotels and at decrepit shelters), he also signed into law a “right to counsel” bill that will cover the vast majority of low-income tenants facing eviction in housing court, where they often do not have legal representation without the city’s help. While he had been increasing funding toward such legal services, de Blasio only agreed to such a law after intensive lobbying from City Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, the co-sponsors of the bill, and advocates.

Before that, though, de Blasio in February announced his second reboot of the administration’s approach to homelessness, with a focus on opening new shelters to keep people close to their communities, jobs, and support networks, while eliminating the use of costly hotels and substandard “cluster site” shelters.

“I said honestly, since we’ve come in, we’ve had to struggle to deal with a constant flow of people coming in, and that got to our worst point just about the time of Thanksgiving last year,” de Blasio said in February when releasing his new plan, Turning the Tide on Homelessness in New York City. “We reached the peak population that’s ever been in shelter, 60,709. Today, we have just over 60,000 people in shelter. By the end 2021, we will get down 57,500.”

De Blasio has been criticized for proposing to open 90 new shelters and for setting such a modest goal in homelessness reduction, which he admitted was such when he announced it.

According to the latest numbers available from the Department of Homeless Services, there were 60,325 people in homeless shelters on Tuesday of this week. (There are somewhere around another 2,000-4,000 people living on the streets, a population that is challenging to accurately quantify, members of which the de Blasio administration has launched new efforts to bring into shelter.)

In an interview earlier this year, de Blasio’s homelessness czar, Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks, said that while he was impatient to make more progress, “breaking the trajectory itself was a significant achievement. Three-and-a-half years in, there are signs of progress and signs of much more we need to do.”

Banks said that other than more federal and state help, the pieces were all in place to not just break the upward trendline, but put it in reverse. He often cites a “prevention-first strategy,” and listed “more supportive housing, more rental assistance, more outreach on the streets, more help to prevent evictions, more money for rent arrears, a shelter system to keep people close to their networks.” He added, “Reforms that we have wanted for years, now we’re putting them in place.”

Discussing the increase in rent arrears payments on Wednesday, Giselle Routhier, policy director at Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group, said that “the scale of the numbers highlights the scale of the need that’s out there. The number of cases and the investment indicate the widespread need across the city, something we should all be concerned about. But it’s good that the city is making these efforts to keep people housed.”

“This highlights one aspect of what the de Blasio administration is doing right -- prevention efforts,” Routhier said. “But when we’re talking about reducing record homelessness in New York City, we have to look at how they are helping people in shelter move into housing.”

Routhier added a word of criticism and previewed a City Council hearing schedule for this coming Monday. “Today he released Housing New York 2.0, in which he’s increasing the target number of units,” she said, “a vast increase in the total housing plan, but there’s no mention of an increase in the number of units for homeless households. For us, that’s a concern given the number of people in homeless shelters.”

Of de Blasio’s original 200,000-unit, ten-year affordable housing plan (now upped to 300,000 units over 12 years) there were 10,000 units dedicated to homeless households.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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City Increasingly Paying Back Rent to Keep Tenants from Homelessness Wed, 15 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
‘Democracy Vouchers’ May Come to New York City http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7322:democracy-vouchers-may-come-to-new-york-city http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7322:democracy-vouchers-may-come-to-new-york-city Ben Kallos campaign finance reform

City Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


As he ran for mayor this year, former City Council Member Sal Albanese typically didn’t go more than five minutes without mentioning his call to bring additional campaign finance reform to New York City. Despite the fact that the city already has a heralded public-matching system that encourages small donation fundraising, Albanese pointed to the “democracy voucher” program instituted in Seattle, which is even more radical in its efforts to lower individual donation limits, encourage more voters to engage in politics, and push candidates to pay more attention to residents of all financial means.

The Seattle program, passed by voters in 2015 as part of a larger “honest elections” initiative, not only mandates exceedingly low ceilings for individual donations to candidates and for candidate expenditures, it provides eligible residents with four $25 vouchers that they can donate to participating candidates of their choosing. Using public money garnered from a property tax, it encourages more people to participate by giving them the means to donate to candidates and pushes candidates to reach out more broadly to the electorate. Research has shown that people who donate to campaigns vote in very high numbers.

While Albanese fell short in his bid to unseat Mayor Bill de Blasio, the City Council’s resident campaign finance reformer is planning to explore a democracy voucher program in New York City. City Council Member Ben Kallos told Gotham Gazette that he has submitted a request to the Council’s bill-drafting unit for democracy voucher legislation, likely to be introduced next year, after a new class of Council members is seated and a new speaker selected in January.

"I'm exploring anything and everything a jurisdiction in the country or on the planet is using to increase participation," Kallos told Gotham Gazette on Monday.

"The recent court decision upholding democracy vouchers shows a promising option for the city as we investigate ways for candidates to come from a community with community support without having to rely on big dollars from special interests," Kallos added, referring to a challenge to the Seattle system that was dismissed earlier this month.

Putting in a request for legislation is the first step of many whereby a bill can become law, and many bills never get through the City Council to the mayor’s desk. But, Kallos intends to start a serious discussion about whether the city should take a more drastic step toward campaign finance reform. Next year will also see a report from the city’s Campaign Finance Board about its program, as is mandated by law in the year following each city election. The board will make recommendations for ways in which the city can tweak the program, but democracy vouchers are unlikely to be part of its recommendations.

As for drawbacks to a democracy voucher program, one is that there is very limited data on its effectiveness since the Seattle program just got going. Others include the potential cost in public dollars, which could exceed the money the city currently puts toward its program -- the CFB paid out “$17,694,046 to 103 qualifying candidates for the 2017 election cycle,” according to a recent press release -- and whether an accompanying reduction in maximum individual contributions would push more money into independent expenditures.

Before introducing democracy voucher legislation or the CFB post-election report, however, Kallos is looking to see one of his currently-pending campaign finance reform bills passed in the waning days of this legislative session. Co-sponsored by 29 members in the 51-seat Council, the Kallos bill would increase the public matching threshold for how much candidates can receive relative to the spending limit in their races (there are lower thresholds for City Council races than borough-wide and city-wide races).

The bill had a hearing in April and Kallos said he is pushing to see it passed this term. The Manhattan Democrat saw his online voter registration bill passed on Tuesday by the governmental operations committee he chairs. The full Council is expected to pass it on Thursday and de Blasio has indicated he will sign it into law.

The de Blasio administration has indicated support for Kallos’ bill to increase the public matching threshold, which would allow candidates to run their campaigns based more on smaller, matchable donations (eligible donations up to $175 are matched six-to-one, to a certain percentage of the spending threshold, which Kallos’ bill would increase).

A de Blasio spokesperson also expressed some vague support for exploring the ideas of democracy vouchers and lowering contribution limits, when asked by Gotham Gazette. “The Mayor supports moving towards full public financing of elections and reversing Citizens United,” said spokesperson Seth Stein, in a statement. “We are reviewing other proposals and City Council legislation that will help us end the influence of money in our elections.”

Under the Seattle system, the maximum contribution allowed by each individual to a candidate participating in the democracy voucher program is $250 plus $100 in vouchers. For candidates not participating in the program, the maximum individual contribution is $500. These numbers are far lower than those currently allowed in New York City, where, for example, the maximum individual donation to a mayoral candidate is $4,950.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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‘Democracy Vouchers’ May Come to New York City Tue, 14 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Election Post-Mortem with Nicole Malliotakis’ Campaign Manager http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7316:election-post-mortem-with-malliotakis-campaign-manager http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7316:election-post-mortem-with-malliotakis-campaign-manager malliotakis with people and banner

Nicole Malliotakis and company (photo: @NMalliotakis)


“I targeted 750,000 votes,” said Leticia Remauro, campaign manager for Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis’ mayoral bid, “and broke them up into about 26 Assembly Districts we needed to target.”

“To win as a Republican in New York City, you have to win Queens, Staten Island, and the Upper East Side,” Remauro told Gotham Gazette in an election post-mortem interview, with the intensity of the campaign still evident.

While some absentee and other ballots are still being counted, Malliotakis, the Republican challenger to incumbent Democrat Bill de Blasio, received just under 304,000 votes, to de Blasio’s 726,000 and change. (Malliotakis also appeared on the Conservative and “Dump de Blasio” ballot lines, while the mayor also appeared on the Working Families Party line.)

The campaign did win convincingly in Malliotakis’ home borough of Staten Island, she got 74 percent of the vote there, and did very well on the Upper East Side, while Queens was more of a mixed bag, as de Blasio won 64 percent of the vote in the borough.

In the interview, Remauro explained the long odds the Malliotakis campaign faced from the get-go, and what needed to happen for her to pull off the upset that did not transpire. She admitted no mistakes in how the campaign was run -- “I don’t think that we could have run a better campaign.” -- but did express a few regrets, and she pointed the finger at several causes of the loss.

“The reason de Blasio has been reelected has a lot do with Eric Ulrich,” Remauro said, referring to the Republican City Council member from Queens who endorsed Bo Dietl, an independent mayoral candidate who tried to run in the Democratic, then Republican primaries, but was unsuccessful in both efforts and ran on his own ballot line. Dietl raised and spent over $1 million in the race, participated in the two televised debates alongside de Blasio and Malliotakis, was the subject of a good amount of media coverage, and ultimately received 1 percent of the vote (about 10,600 votes).

Other factors Remauro pointed to included Dietl’s inclusion in the televised debates (“Bo Dietl turned those debates into an entertainment circus. I believe voters were cheated”); the rain that came down around rush hour on Election Day and she believes led some people to stay home (“Had that rain decided not to let go as people were just coming home from work you would’ve seen a higher number”); how the news media covered Malliotakis’ candidacy and the race in general; and the presence of President Donald Trump atop the Republican Party. “He caused a lot of hurt to a lot of candidates and there’s nothing anyone could have done about that,” Remauro said of Trump.

When asked about mistakes or things she wishes the campaign had done differently, Remauro said, “I would have liked to have had more money sooner. If I could turn back time it would have been good to get into the race in February, not in May or June, when we really got into it.” With more money sooner and thus public matching funds earlier, “get on the air sooner, done more mail than we did, spend earlier.”

“A young Assemblywoman from Staten Island running in a 7-to-1 Democrat city” against an incumbent, Remauro explained of the tough odds. “We had Paul Massey who had taken millions out of New York City, real estate money...and we suffered for that,” she added, referring to the real estate executive who had been the Republican mayoral frontrunner until Malliotakis got in the race and who dropped out after their first side-by-side debate a few weeks later.

“She had every disadvantage that you could imagine, and she still managed to capture a higher vote total and a higher vote percentage than Joe Lhota,” Remauro said, referring to the 2013 Republican mayoral nominee. She also explained that Lhota was more well-known and connected than Malliotakis at the times of their mayoral campaigns, explaining, for example, that he had been a deputy mayor and MTA chair, and that he was well-connected in Manhattan and had been endorsed by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Remauro, who runs The Von Agency, a public relations firm, noted that she has known Malliotakis since the Assembly member was in college, and always thought highly of her.

As for Council Member Ulrich, who at one point flirted with his own mayoral bid, and “fractured” GOP support in Queens, Remauro gave Ulrich credit given that he won his reelection handily, but expressed frustration and confusion about why he continued to back Dietl. Ulrich maintained throughout the campaign that of any candidate in the race, Dietl had the best chance to defeat de Blasio in the general election. “If he had embraced her he could have been working with a Republican mayor,” Remauro said of Ulrich and Malliotakis.

Remauro said that support for Massey, then Dietl from some leaders in Queens held Malliotakis’ campaign back (Ulrich supported Dietl throughout the campaign). While Remauro said that many district leaders and other GOP officials in Queens were helpful, “we always had to overcome the Dietl factor.”

“She was out there repeatedly, but it’s difficult to be able to get in deep in a borough unless you have the support from the district leaders in that borough and the people who are organizing in the borough, and that never manifested itself,” Remauro said. Not getting Ulrich and a few others on board “was a killer,” she added.

She drew a comparison to the Bronx, the most Democratic borough, where the Republican county party had also endorsed Massey in the early going, but then quickly embraced Malliotakis when her path to the Republican nomination became clear. “We took 16 percent in the Bronx versus Lhota’s 7 percent,” Remauro said. In 2013, Lhota received about 23 percent of the overall vote to de Blasio’s 73 percent. Malliotakis received about 28 percent to de Blasio’s 66.5 percent.

“It was difficult for us to get into Queens the way we got into the Bronx,” Remauro said. She also criticized Dietl’s inclusion in the two debates, which was at the discretion of the lead sponsors, first NY1, then CBS.

“It was always my opinion that Bo Dietl and [Reform Party nominee] Sal Albanese would take votes away from Nicole and indeed we saw that on Staten Island and elsewhere,” Remauro said.

“Press conference after press conference she put out substantive issues,” Remauro said, when asked to elaborate more on comments she made about the media’s treatment of Malliotakis’ candidacy. She listed mental illness, homelessness, education, school safety, property taxes, illegal conversions. “She held at least two press conferences a week where she presented plans, and reporters had other things on their mind, and would ask questions and ask questions until they landed on an answer they enjoyed, and everyone would write about that.”

“Up until that first debate, for whatever reason, she would get at every single press conference a question about the president. Her issues got buried,” Remauro said.

“Shame on some of the reporters, because they could have done their homework. She was out there...Too often reporters are becoming commentators and not just being reporters. And that’s what I’d say to those who say we didn’t have new ideas,” Remauro said.

“Nobody in the fourth estate wanted to talk about rape being up,” she said, touching on one of Malliotakis’ main lines of attack against de Blasio (rape reports are up slightly under de Blasio, which the mayor and NYPD officials have said is likely due to more awareness, encouragement, and willingness to report, something Remauro acknowledged as plausible).

Remauro went on to say that she feels good about the fact that the Malliotakis campaign clearly got de Blasio’s attention and pushed him on issues like sex crimes against women, homelessness, and property taxes that he will have to continue to work to address, possibly collaborating with Malliotakis in some way, she said, referring to a phone call the two had on Wednesday. She praised de Blasio as being “a good guy, a nice guy -- he wants to help the city.”

Other than a potential Assembly reelection bid in 2018, Remauro did not have anything specific to say in terms of what Malliotakis might do next, but said “the world is her oyster.” Malliotakis is “so intelligent, and she has great communication skills -- she can do whatever she wants,” Remauro added.

“If anyone can become the Republican mayor in my lifetime, it would be her,” she said of Malliotakis. “She has a lot of opportunity ahead of her. Her phone has been ringing.”

As for this mayoral bid that just ended, Remauro ultimately noted that Malliotakis “took votes from the mayor...she damaged him.”

“What could we have done differently?” she said, “Nothing. We did exactly what we could do.”

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Note: this article has been corrected to reflect that Joe Lhota does not live in Manhattan, but is well-connected in the borough. Lhota lives in downtown Brooklyn.

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Election Post-Mortem with Nicole Malliotakis’ Campaign Manager Fri, 10 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Mapping the Mayoral: Where De Blasio and Malliotakis Each Did Well http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7313:mapping-the-mayoral-where-de-blasio-and-malliotakis-each-did-well http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7313:mapping-the-mayoral-where-de-blasio-and-malliotakis-each-did-well wnyc map interactive

image: WNYC Data News team map of the 2017 mayoral race


Mayor Bill de Blasio was reelected for a second term on Tuesday with two-thirds of the vote in a low turnout election that saw only about 22 percent of registered New Yorkers cast a ballot for mayor.

There were few surprises across the five boroughs, and voter behavior was largely consistent with the 2013 mayoral election, in which de Blasio beat Republican Joe Lhota, 73 percent to 24 percent. But in certain enclaves of the city, de Blasio’s main challenger, Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, built on Lhota’s vote share and cut into the mayor’s margin of victory. The neighborhood by neighborhood break down of the vote not only tracks similarly to 2013, it also shows racial and ethnic divisions that have been consistent throughout de Blasio’s term. Meanwhile, Malliotakis’ performance was buoyed by her home borough of Staten Island.

De Blasio received 66.16 percent of the vote, with Malliotakis pulling 27.67 percent, according to unofficial election night returns from the Board of Elections (absentee and affidavit ballots are still being counted). In absolute numbers, more New Yorkers voted on Tuesday -- 1.09 million -- than in 2013, when 1.08 million people cast ballots, which was 26 percent of registered voters at the time.

A glance at the CUNY mapping service electoral maps from 2013 and 2017 show that de Blasio did not manage to either keep or expand on his vote share in several parts of the city. Some neighborhoods in Staten Island that voted for him in 2013 went deep red on Tuesday to back his Republican challenger. Similarly, parts of southern Brooklyn flipped to Republican, as did a section of northeastern Queens. Locales that were already Republican went further that way to varying degrees.

mayoral election 2013v2017 large

“I think Malliotakis definitely did better in terms of vote share in most places” compared to Lhota, said Steve Romalewski, director of CUNY Graduate Center's mapping service. “The turnout is also higher than average in those areas, compared to the citywide average.”

As expected, Malliotakis’ strongest performance was on Staten Island, her home borough that she represents in the Assembly along with a sliver of Brooklyn. She won both the 50th and 51st Council districts, which cover the central and southern parts of the island. In the 49th Council district, represented by Debi Rose, a Democrat, de Blasio pulled votes along the northern shore. In total, Malliotakis received more than 67,000 votes on the island, while de Blasio got just over 24,000.

In southern Brooklyn, Malliotakis won more neighborhoods across four Council districts than Lhota did in 2013. “She did better there but voter turnout wasn’t that high,” Romalewski pointed out. Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay and Midwood all went for Malliotakis. Notably, although Malliotakis carried most of the areas covering City Council District 43, the competitive open seat in that district went to a Democrat, Justin Brannan. Brannan, a progressive who had worked under de Blasio at the Department of Education, distanced himself from the mayor publicly, though aides to de Blasio helped Brannan on the ground.

Other smaller pockets that skewed Republican were Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and some neighborhoods adjacent to Marine Park.  

Malliotakis also received significant support in Council District 32 in Queens, represented by Eric Ulrich, a moderate who is one of the three Republicans currently in the City Council. Breezy Point, Rockaway Park, Howard Beach, and Lindenwood chose Malliotakis, while the northern part of the district, including Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill, voted for de Blasio. Ulrich won reelection convincingly against a Democratic opponent.

District 30 in Queens saw the closest City Council race and is yet to be called in one candidate’s favor. Incumbent Democrat Elizabeth Crowley may be headed to a loss against challenger Robert Holden, a registered Democrat who lost the primary to Crowley but ran on multiple ballot lines, including Republican and Conservative, in the general. Holden has a 133 vote lead and Crowley has yet to concede the race as other ballots are counted and a potential recount looms. A similar dynamic played out on the mayoral level, with Malliotakis winning most of the district, which covers Glendale, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven and Woodside.

Wide swathes of northeastern Queens, including College Point, Whitestone, Bayside and Little Neck, voted for Malliotakis. The neighborhoods fall within Council Member Paul Vallone’s constituency, District 19. Yet Vallone, a moderate Democrat, was comfortably reelected.  

Malliotakis also made inroads in Schuylerville, south of Pelham Bay Park in the East Bronx, in outgoing Council Member James Vacca’s 13th Council District.  

Manhattan voted almost entirely for de Blasio, save for swaths of the 4th Council District on the East Side, where Malliotakis won stretches along Museum Mile, and miniscule pockets in the 5th Council District. District 4 was one of the few Council seats with an open race, and one of only a handful with a Republican candidate running an assertive campaign, in which Democrat Keith Powers defeated Republican Rebecca Harary. [See map below from the WNYC radio Data News team]

“I think de Blasio did more than well enough in pretty much all the areas where people supported him in 2013,” Romalewski noted. The areas Malliotakis won are those with high percentages of white residents, though de Blasio did well in parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan home to many white, liberal voters. Throughout the 2013 race and the mayor’s first term he has polled significantly higher among people of color than white people.

De Blasio did best on Tuesday in neighborhoods such as his home area of Park Slope, as well as in areas of central Brooklyn (Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, East Flatbush, and beyond), southeast Queens, the south and north Bronx, and upper Manhattan. These are the areas where his win was by the largest margins.

“The one thing I was surprised about was turnout,” Romalewski said, about the increase in the number of voters, if not the rate of voting. “That’s encouraging. It’s too early to say if it’s a trend but compared to going the other way, it’s good.” On Wednesday, de Blasio declared a “mandate” from the voters and said that a slight increase in overall turnout was indicative of a backlash against President Donald Trump.

“I don’t think you should get too hung up on percentage turnout,” Romalewski said, noting that the increase in the number of registered voters is affected by the Board of Election’s efforts to maintain the voter rolls and it’s hard to decipher truly how many new voters have been added. “I have more faith in looking at total voters as a measure of civic participation.”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Mapping the Mayoral: Where De Blasio and Malliotakis Each Did Well Thu, 09 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Bill De Blasio Easily Wins Reelection as Mayor of New York City http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7305:bill-de-blasio-easily-wins-reelection-as-mayor-of-new-york-city http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7305:bill-de-blasio-easily-wins-reelection-as-mayor-of-new-york-city de Blasio voting election

Mayor Bill de Blasio after casting his vote (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)


Mayor Bill de Blasio triumphed over his challengers on Tuesday to become the first Democrat to be reelected mayor of New York City since Ed Koch won a third term in 1985. De Blasio celebrated, promised more progress, and put his win into the context of a larger Democratic wave that took place on Tuesday in other places around the country. De Blasio declared a new goal for a second and final term: making New York City “the fairest big city in America.”

With 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, de Blasio had received 726,361 votes, or 66.5 percent, according to unofficial Board of Elections returns. He handily beat his Republican rival Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who received 303,742 votes, or 28 percent. Five other candidates were on the mayoral ballot, with Reform Party candidate Sal Albanese coming in third with 2 percent (22,891 votes).

“This is your city,” de Blasio said as he declared victory before 10 p.m., invoking his campaign slogan to hundreds of supporters at the Brooklyn Museum on Tuesday night, as First Lady Chirlane McCray and their son Dante stood by his side.

De Blasio, a progressive who championed policies for low-income and working New Yorkers in his first term, stood emboldened by the result and shot back at the detractors who predicted gloom-and-doom under his administration. “They said things were going in the wrong direction,” he said, “Well, they were wrong.”

After a largely lackluster mayoral race matched by low turnout, and the power of incumbency on his side, de Blasio easily bested his opponents, who struggled to garner name recognition throughout the campaign and overcome the mayor’s significant fundraising advantage. The mayor’s campaign employed an expansive ground game and digital strategy, spending more than $8 million by Election Day, eclipsing all his rivals.

De Blasio comfortably carried every borough but Staten Island, Malliotakis’ home turf and a Republican bastion in a city where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans six to one.

Touting his “historic” win Tuesday, de Blasio reiterated the measures his administration has taken to make the city more equitable, including implementing universal pre-kindergarten, creating affordable housing, and reducing crime. And, he promised more. “We’ve got to have a fairer city, we’ve got to do it soon, we’ve got to do it fast, we’ve got to put everything we’ve got into it,” he said. “You saw some important changes in the last four years but you ain’t seen nothin yet.”

The crowd cheered repeatedly as de Blasio floated his oft-stated ideas to make New York that “fairest big city in America,” including a millionaires tax to fund the subways and subsidized MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers; a mansion tax to help create more affordable housing for seniors; and a reformed voting and election system that encourages, instead of burdens, democratic participation. All three would require cooperation from legislators and the governor in Albany, and de Blasio promised he’d apply the pressure in the first month of his second term.

De Blasio also talked about big goals like instituting universal, free preschool for three-year-olds across the city; expanding his affordable housing plan; creating 100,000 good-paying jobs by through city intervention; and outfitting all patrol officers with police body cameras.

Tuesday also marked one year since the election of Donald Trump, and de Blasio did not miss his opportunity to mock the Republican president, a fellow New Yorker, while also promising to hold fast in his opposition to federal policies. “America got a little fairer tonight, America got a little bluer tonight,” he said, exhorting the audience to cheer for Democrats who emerged victorious in New Jersey and Virginia as well. “Tonight, New York City sends a message to the White House as well. You can’t take on New York values and win, Mr. President.”

De Blasio’s margin of victory Tuesday seemed to fall short of his vote share in the 2013 general election, when he received 72.1 percent over Republican Joe Lhota’s 24 percent. That year de Blasio had not met the challenges of governing a complex and vast city, he had not had to make difficult decisions, solve a homelessness crisis, or figure out how to build new affordable housing.

The relatively sleepy race drew about 1,092,746 voters who cast a ballot for mayor, only about 23 percent of the roughly 4.6 million registered voters in the city, compared to 1,102,400 voters or 24 percent who turned out to vote in the 2013 mayoral race, also a particularly low-turnout election in keeping with a downward trend over decades.

Fellow Democratic elected officials were enthusiastic about the notion of heading into another four years with de Blasio at the city’s helm. Public Advocate Letitia James, who resoundingly won reelection on Tuesday, said she looks forward to working with the mayor on addressing the city’s affordable housing and homelessness crises in his second term, with bolder and bigger ideas. “That should be our primary focus,” she said shortly after casting her vote in Clinton Hill. “For the administration’s second term, they should wake up each and every day focusing on how they are going to build more affordable housing for low-, moderate- and middle-income families.”

Comptroller Scott Stringer, also reelected Tuesday, simply said he was “excited” about the mayor’s second term. Stringer had for some time considered challenging de Blasio this year but chose not to run; he and James are among those expected to run for mayor in 2021 when de Blasio is term-limited.

Earlier in the day, Clinton Hill resident Roslyn Fleming, 63, said she intended to vote for de Blasio and Democrats down the ballot. The mayor, she said, needs another four years to bring his work to fruition. “You know what, he only had four years,” she said. “And sometimes when you implement programs, you need another four years to get it through...and I think in the second four years he’s gonna do a much better job because he’s already kinda laid the groundwork.”

Seventeen-year-old Marcel Martinez was too young to vote Tuesday but was thrilled after meeting de Blasio at an afternoon campaign stop near West 72nd Street and Broadway. “I love how he’s always kind of involved, he’s always around,” Martinez said, shortly after the mayor embraced him in a hug, to which he exclaimed, “Oh! You just made my whole day!”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Bill De Blasio Easily Wins Reelection as Mayor of New York City Tue, 07 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Malliotakis Comes Up Short in Long-shot Mayoral Bid http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7306:nicole-malliotakis-comes-up-short-in-long-shot-mayoral-bid http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7306:nicole-malliotakis-comes-up-short-in-long-shot-mayoral-bid malliotakis whitestone crop

Nicole Malliotakis (photo via @NMalliotakis)


Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican nominee for mayor, lost her long-shot bid on Tuesday to the incumbent, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat.

The election’s outcome never seemed to be in doubt, with de Blasio holding significant leads in all the polls, a fundraising advantage, labor support, and the city’s overwhelmingly party registration margin. Beyond being in a city where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 6-to-1, Malliotakis also had to contend with her vote for President Trump and her conservative stances on issues such as policing and immigration in a largely liberal city.

De Blasio won about 66% of the vote to Malliotakis’ 28%; a handful of other candidates received the remaining 6%.

At the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg, where Malliotakis held her election night party, the atmosphere was relaxed and the crowd fairly thin. The campaign, and its supporters, knew the moment was coming, it was only a matter of margin.

As returns started to pour in, Malliotakis supporters booed whenever de Blasio’s image popped up on the television screen, but otherwise, there was little negativity from the losing campaign, perhaps a sign of Republicans’ understanding that their chances in New York City mayoral elections are slim, especially when crime is low and jobs are up.

The room let out a resounding ‘boo’ as soon as de Blasio was declared the victor by NY1. Malliotakis, who had been at her last campaign stop in Brighton Beach just before the election party, arrived at around 9:45 p.m., surrounded by campaign aides, friends, and family, to give a concession speech.

“We were loud and clear in showing that the status quo must end and that there are many people, thousands of people across this city that deserve to be heard,” Malliotakis said.

Malliotakis hit on what had become the central themes of her campaign: the supposedly deteriorating quality of life in the city coupled with increasing unaffordability of both rent and property taxes, and the decline of ethics in City Hall.

Malliotakis also discussed her humble origins as the daughter of immigrants, a theme she repeatedly focused on in her campaign while she largely ignored the potentially historic nature of her candidacy: the chance to become the first female and first Latina mayor of New York.

“Today, I had the opportunity to go out and vote with my parents, who came here not knowing the language, not having any family, not having any friends,” she said. “And yet, in one generation, their daughter was running to be Mayor of the City of New York.”

“I’ve traveled the whole world in just these five boroughs,” she said. “And it has been the honor of a lifetime.”

Malliotakis did not specifically name or congratulate de Blasio, something she told reporters afterward was not intentional, she said she had just been caught up in the moment. The 36-year-old showed herself to be an energetic and intense campaigner who may have a bright future within the New York Republican Party.

The Assembly member, who will be up for reelection next year, earned around 300,000 votes citywide. She won her home borough of Staten Island with 71% of the vote, but did not break 35% in any other borough. Preliminary numbers show that in Queens she received 34% of the vote, in Brooklyn 21.5%, in Manhattan 20%, and in the Bronx just 16.5%.

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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Malliotakis Comes Up Short in Long-shot Mayoral Bid Tue, 07 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
2017 New York City General Election Results http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7307:2017-new-york-city-general-election-results http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7307:2017-new-york-city-general-election-results voting elections New York City

(photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)


Mayor Bill de Blasio won reelection on Tuesday, earning about two-thirds of the vote in another low-turnout election -- about 1,070,000 voters cast ballots in the mayoral race. De Blasio's fellow incumbent citywide Democrats, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James, also won reelection, each with about three-quarters of the vote.

Among the most notable other votes cast in New York this Election Day, the constitutional convention ballot question -- proposal one on the back of the ballot -- was resoundly defeated, with more than 83% voting "no" statewide. Proposition two, which would allow the stripping of pensions from elected officials convicted of corruption, passed, and proposition three, allowing some opening up of preserved upstate land for important infrastructure projects, also passed. All three were statewide referendums, as voters went to the polls across New York, including in some interesting mayoral and county executive contests.

In New York City, though, de Blasio defeated six other candidates on the ballot, receiving about 66% of the vote, with Republican Nicole Malliotakis coming in second, earning about 28% of the vote. The other candidates -- Sal Albanese (Reform), Akeem Browder (Green), Mike Tolkin (Smart Cities), Bo Dietl (Dump the Mayor), and Aaron Commey (Libertarian) -- all finished at 2% or lower. Dietl, who raised and spent over $1 million and was included in both televised debates, got just 1% of the vote.

Stringer's Republican opponent, Michel Faulkner, came in second in the comptroller race with nearly 20% of the vote. Green Party nominee Julia Willebrand and Libertarian Alex Merced came in distant third and fourth, respectively.

James' Republican opponent, J.C. Polanco, came in second in the public advocate race with about 16% of the vote. Michael O'Reilly, the Conservative Party nominee, got about 8%; Green Party nominee James Lane about 2%; and Libertarian Devin Balkind under 1%.

Democrats Eric Gonzalez and Cyrus Vance won their Brooklyn and Manhattan District Attorney races overwhelmingly.

All five borough presidents were easily reelected with at least 75% of the vote: Gale Brewer in Manhattan; Ruben Diaz, Jr. in the Bronx; Eric Adams in Brooklyn; Melinda Katz in Queens -- all Democrats -- and James Oddo, a Republican, on Staten Island.

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh won a special election to the state Senate, taking the Brooklyn and Manhattan seat vacated by Daniel Squadron earlier this year.

The following City Council results came in on Election Day -- it is worth noting that Council District 30, in Queens, appears headed to a recount after, in a bit of a surprise, incumbent Democrat City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley appers on the verge of losing to Robert Holden, who had lost the Democratic primary to Crowley but ran in the general on several ballot lines, including Republican.

Council District 1: Margaret Chin, a Democrat, will win with about 50% of the vote, with Christopher Marte coming in second with about 37%. This, after Marte lost the Democratic primary to Chin by just over 200 votes.

CD2: Carlina Rivera, Democrat, elected

CD3: Corey Johnson, Democrat, reelected

CD4: Keith Powers, Democrat, elected with 57% of the vote; Republican Rebecca Harary received about 31%; Liberal Party nominee Rachel Honig got 12%.

CD5: Ben Kallos, Democrat, reelected

CD6: Helen Rosenthal, Democrat, reelected

CD7: Mark Levine, Democrat, reelected

CD8: Diana Ayala, Democrat, elected

CD9: Bill Perkins, Democrat, reelected

CD10: Ydanis Rodriguez, Democrat, reelected

CD11: Andrew Cohen, Democrat, reelected

CD12: Andy King, Democrat, reelected

CD13: Mark Gjonaj, Democrat, elected with 49% of the vote; Republican John Cerini received 36%; and Working Families Party nominee Marjorie Velazquez, who did not campaign in the general, received 13%

CD14: Fernando Cabrera, Democrat, reelected

CD15: Ritchie Torres, Democrat, reelected

CD16: Vanessa Gibson, Democrat, reelected

CD17: Rafael Salamanca, Democrat, reelected

CD18: Ruben Diaz, Sr., Democrat, elected

CD19: Paul Vallone, Democrat, reelected with 56% of the vote; Republican Konstantinos Poulidis received 25%; and Reform Party nominee Paul Graziano received 18%

CD20: Peter Koo, Democrat, reelected

CD21: Francisco Moya, Democrat, elected

CD22: Costa Constantinides, Democrat, reelected

CD23: Barry Grodenchik, Democrat, reelected

CD24: Rory Lancman, Democrat, reelected

CD25: Danny Dromm, Democrat, reelected

CD26: Jimmy Van Bramer, Democrat, reelected

CD27: I. Daneek Miller, Democrat, reelected

CD28: Adrienne Adams, Democrat, elected

CD29: Karen Koslowitz, Democrat, reelected

CD30: TBD, either incumbent Elizabeth Crowley (Democrat) or challenger Robert Holden (Republican)

CD31: Donovan Richards, Democrat, reelected

CD32: Eric Ulrich, Republican, reelected with 66% of the vote; Democrat Mike Scala received about 34%

CD33: Stephen Levin, Democrat, reelected

CD34: Antonio Reynoso, Democrat, reelected

CD35: Laurie Cumbo, Democrat, reelected with 68% of the vote; Green Party nominee Jabari Brisport received about 29%

CD36: Robert Cornegy, Jr., Democrat, reelected, reelected

CD37: Rafael Espinal, Democrat, reelected

CD38: Carlos Menchaca, Democrat, reelected

CD39: Brad Lander, Democrat, reelected

CD40: Mathieu Eugene, Democrat, reelected with 60% of the vote; Reform Party nominee Brian Cunningham received about 36%

CD41: Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Democrat, elected

CD42: Inez Barron, Democrat, reelected

CD43: Justin Brannan, Democrat, elected with about 51% of the vote; Republican John Quaglione received about 47%

CD44: Kalman Yeger, Democrat, elected, with 67% of the vote; Yoni Hikind, running on the Our Community line, received about 29%

CD45: Jumaane Williams, Democrat, reelected

CD46: Alan Maisel, Democrat, reelected

CD47: Mark Treyger, Democrat, reelected

CD48: Chaim Deutsch, Democrat, reelected

CD49: Debroah Rose, Democrat, reelected

CD50: Steve Matteo, Republican, reelected

CD51: Joseph Borelli, Republican, reelected

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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2017 New York City General Election Results Tue, 07 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: 10 Things to Think About on Election Day http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7301:max-murphy-podcast-10-things-to-think-about-on-election-day http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7301:max-murphy-podcast-10-things-to-think-about-on-election-day

Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette


November 6, 2017 - Max & Murphy: Previewing the Election

mayor bdb nov277

On this pre-Election Day episode, we bring you a special video show, with Max & Murphy providing 10 things to think about as voters in New York City and across the state head to the polls on Tuesday. Watch the video below for the special show, or, if you prefer audio only, find that further down. (photo via Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)

Watch and/or listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @jarrettmurphy. You can watch or listen to the episode with embedded video and audio below, or download the audio wherever you get your podcasts. Video was shot by Marc Bussanich.

 

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Max & Murphy Podcast: 10 Things to Think About on Election Day Mon, 06 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Dissecting Mayor De Blasio's Record As He Seeks Reelection http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7221:dissecting-mayor-de-blasio-s-record-as-he-seeks-reelection http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7221:dissecting-mayor-de-blasio-s-record-as-he-seeks-reelection Mayor de Blasio Chirlane McCray City Hall Reelection Parade

Mayor Bill de Blasio & First Lady Chirlane McCray (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


As Mayor Bill de Blasio, a first-term Democrat, seeks reelection this fall, a close examination of his record is essential. De Blasio came into power promising to address inequlality in a variety of forms, including income, educational, policing, racial, and opportunity inequities he identified during his 2013 campaign. In this year's election de Blasio is running in part on his record, which is headlined by the implementation of his campaign promise to provide universal pre-kindergarten for the city's four-year-olds. But, there is much more to the mayor's record than UPK, which has clearly been his biggest success.

In this series, Gotham Gazette, with election coverage partners City Limits and WNYC radio, examines de Blasio's record on a variety of important issues. While this is not completely exhaustive, it should be helpful to voters and others seeking to evaluate de Blasio this fall. With our partners, Gotham Gazette will release articles and audio pieces on the following aspects of de Blasio's record -- those already published are linked below.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 7.

More to read/view/hear:

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Dissecting Mayor De Blasio's Record As He Seeks Reelection Wed, 01 Nov 2017 23:26:00 +0000