Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/111 Mon, 17 Dec 2018 18:11:51 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) As We Close Rikers, Criminal Justice Reformers are Ready for Full Partnership in Albany http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8143-as-we-close-rikers-criminal-justice-reformers-are-ready-for-full-partnership-in-albany http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8143-as-we-close-rikers-criminal-justice-reformers-are-ready-for-full-partnership-in-albany guards rikers

(photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
Find the rest of the series here

Riding high on the crest of a Democratic blue wave powered by grassroots progressives, New York Democrats finally took back the state Senate for the first time in nearly a decade. With this accomplishment comes a responsibility to finally act upon a long list of priorities that have been stymied by the Republican-controlled upper chamber of the Legislature in Albany.  

Chief among these priorities is criminal justice reform, a topic that the New York City Council has been tackling aggressively for some time. Perhaps the Council’s most ambitious effort in this sphere has been to close all jails on Rikers Island. The decrepit jails on this island embody human misery and tragedy and it is our moral imperative to close them forever.

Any realistic effort to close these jails requires reducing the pretrial detention population, as close to 90 percent of those housed on Rikers are merely accused and not convicted of crimes. While the city has managed to take several bold steps in this area, state action will be required to make the dream of closing Rikers a reality. Over the past few years, our efforts at state reform have been hamstrung by an uncooperative state Senate. Throughout the process, our progressive allies in the Assembly majority and Senate minority voiced support for progressive criminal justice reform but were unable to move key bills to fruition.

Their inability to move legislation through the Senate did not stop some state elected officials from crafting bills that would greatly improve our criminal justice system. This legislation now stands a strong chance of passing once the new Democratic majority sits for the 2019 legislative session.

agenda19v2 aFirst and foremost, bail and speedy trial reform must be prioritized. Both efforts would go a long way towards a more equitable criminal justice system writ large, while lowering the detainee population on Rikers Island. While we here on the City Council have done much to make our bail system fairer, only Albany can implement the deep and systemic reform necessary to make our pretrial detention system truly fair and just. There are a number of bills in the Assembly and Senate that either significantly restrict or eliminate cash bail, encourage the use of monitored release in lieu of detention, and help ensure that pretrial detention is reserved for only the most severe cases. Any of this legislation would go a long way towards fixing what is a fundamentally broken and unfair bail system.

Meanwhile, speedy trial reform is arguably even more important in reducing pretrial detention. Given that close to 90 percent of the jail population is pretrial detainees, cutting the speed with which cases are resolved has a direct and massive impact on the jail population: a 25 percent faster system would mean close to a 25 percent reduction in the jail population. Much like our state’s bail laws, our speedy trial laws are outdated and ineffective, lagging far behind the federal system and other states. As they say, justice delayed is justice denied, so resolving criminal prosecutions faster not only reduces our jail population, it also helps our criminal justice system as a whole. While Senate Democrats tried to push for some minor reforms to our broken speedy trial laws in recent years, our new Senate leaders must be aggressive in tackling this issue.

There are also lesser-discussed issues that could be enormously transformative, such as parole reform. Approximately 16 percent of the population of Rikers Island jails is incarcerated for parole violations, and the state controls this issue in its entirety. According to a report issued by Columbia University’s Justice Lab, the state parolee population is the only jail group that saw an increase in its size over the past four years. Thankfully, Albany is aware of the issue, evident in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State speech, in which he touched on the importance of parole reform. When the new state Legislature convenes in January, it can move to shorten parole terms, incentivize good behavior, and require speedier hearings on these issues.

Though its impact on our jail population may not immediately be apparent, discovery reform should also prove critical in helping the city to run a more just criminal justice system and to close Rikers Island jails. Discovery is the process by which the prosecution provides its evidence to the defense. New York State has among the most restrictive discovery laws in the country. While the issue may seem complex, it is actually fairly simple: since well over 95 percent of criminal prosecutions result in a plea or dismissal, the faster the defense is able to assess the strength of the prosecution’s case, the faster a plea or dismissal can be reached. Luckily, there is already legislation in Albany to ameliorate the situation, and our new leaders should embrace these progressive reforms.  

Over the past several years, we here at the City Council worked hard to bring our criminal justice system into the 21st century. However, there has always been a limit to what we can accomplish without willing partners in Albany. In early January, when our fellow Democrats in the state Senate take their seats as the new majority and work with the Democratic majority in the Assembly, the possibilities for progressive criminal justice reform will widen tremendously.

The progressive activists who helped make Democratic victories a reality in November will be watching the new Legislature closely. It is imperative that our state elected officials finally act to create a criminal justice system in New York that reflects our values as a state and a city.

This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
Find the rest of the series here

***
Diana Ayala, Margaret Chin, and Stephen Levin are members of the New York City Council, representing parts of the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn, and members of the Council’s Progressive Caucus. Their districts are all slated to be home to new or larger jails as Rikers Island facilities are closed. On Twitter @DianaAyalaNYC & @CM_MargaretChin & @StephenLevin33.

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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As We Close Rikers, Criminal Justice Reformers are Ready for Full Partnership in Albany Sun, 16 Dec 2018 05:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 17 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8145-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-december-17 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8145-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-december-17 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Governor Andrew Cuomo will kick this week off with a major speech in Manhattan, at which he has promised to outline his 2019 legislative agenda, according to comments he made Friday on the Capitol Pressroom with host Susan Arbetter. That speech will be most of the political buzz on Monday, and may provide fodder for the week, depending on what Cuomo says about more controversial or unexpected things like legalizing recreational marijuana and actions to combat climate change. Much of what the governor will say is already known, he's made a fairly long list of priorities evident for months after the end of this year's budget and legislative session in Albany left many policy items favored by Democrats on the table. Now, with a fully Democratic Legislature set to take over in January, the Democratic governor is getting out ahead to tell legislators and the public much of what he wants to get done.

As Cuomo speaks in Manhattan, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration will be kicking off Manhattan week in its City Hall in Your Borough initiative. It's not yet clear what that will include in terms of Manhattan-focused announcements by the mayor. He only has one public event on Monday, giving introductory remarks about the program.

This week we're watching for any further word as the city and federal representatives try to work out a deal for the future of NYCHA, though a deadline has now been pushed to the end of January.

This week will also see the flurry of end-of-year activity at the City Council continue -- see details below -- and a few state legislative hearings ahead of the start of the new legislative session in Albany in January. The race for Public Advocate also continues this week with at least one candidate forum, and other campaigning expected.

 And there are other things happening all over the city, with several events to be aware of - see our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
The de Blasio administration will hold City Hall in Your Borough in Manhattan this week. As usual, components will include a city resource fair and a town hall meeting, while the administration will generally pay special attention to the borough at hand, typically including borough-focused announcements. On Monday at 12:30 p.m. at P.S. 150, "Mayor de Blasio will deliver remarks at P.S. 150 to kick off City Hall in Your Borough. This event is open press. There will be no Q-and-A." Later Monday, "the Mayor will deliver remarks at the School Construction Authority's 30th Anniversary Party. This event is closed press."

Governor Andrew Cuomo will give a speech on Monday morning in Manhattan to lay out specific elements of his 2019 legislative agenda, and to discuss what Franklin Delano Roosevelt would do today. At 11 a.m. at the New York City Bar Association, Cuomo will deliver an address on his "agenda for first 100 days" of 2019.

Monday morning will be the NYCERS Common Investment Meeting at 1 Centre Street. Public Advocate Letitia James will be among those who attend.

At the City Council on Monday:
--The Committees on Health and Civil Service & Labor will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding the “health of 9/11 responders and the surrounding community.”
--The Committee on Environmental Protection will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss a proposed law to replace the city’s school bus fleet with electric buses.
--The Committee on General Welfare will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding homeless shelter conditions, as well as to discuss several related proposed laws.

At the State Legislature on Monday: the Assembly Standing Committees on Economic Development and Small Business will meet jointly at 11 a.m. at SUNY Buffalo’s Center for an oversight hearing “to examine the effectiveness of economic development programs that leverage state funds to translate technology advancements into viable long-term business development and economic growth.”

At 2:30 p.m. Monday at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Borough President Eric Adams “will discuss enhancements that have been made in recent weeks to advancing public safety in Downtown Brooklyn, following discussions he convened with local law enforcement agencies, business leaders, community stakeholders, educational institutions, and residents’ associations after a series of daytime shooting incidents several months ago as well as greater concerns about gang-related activity threatening children, families, and seniors around the Fulton Mall area. Amid the activity of the holiday shopping season, which brings an influx of foot traffic to Downtown Brooklyn, Borough President Adams will be joined at a media briefing by leadership from the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP), Kings County District Attorney’s Office, New York City Department of Probation (DOP), New York City Police Department (NYPD), and New York State Courts Department of Public Safety, among others. They will also share some important safety tips for the holiday season and beyond.”

Members of the Fair Elections for New York coalition are holding two rallies on Monday to call on state leaders to pass election and campaign finance reforms in 2019 -- they want a “small donor matching program, the closing of campaign finance loopholes, and comprehensive voting rights reform.” One Monday press conference will be at 1 p.m. at New York City Hall, where “organizations working on issues from climate change to criminal justice, joined by grassroots resistance groups that played a major role in NYS’ recent Senate elections, will hold a rally and press conference to call for passage of a progressive platform, beginning with campaign finance reform and progressive tax policy, which they hope to pass during the NYS budget session.” The other Monday press conference will be on Long Island at 3 p.m. at the Suffolk County Legislature Lobby, where “community groups and grassroots activists will be joined by Suffolk County Legislators who passed public financing for county elections last year including Rob Calarco to call for leaders in Albany to follow Suffolk County’s lead.”

On Monday at 4:30 p.m. outside City Hall, “Advocates and homeless New Yorkers will be joined by faith leaders for a candlelight vigil outside of City Hall to urge Mayor de Blasio to increase the number of apartments set aside for homeless New Yorkers in his Housing New York 2.0 affordable housing plan to 30,000 units, with 24,000 units to be created through new construction.” The vigil will be led by the House Our Future NY coalition.

At 5:30 p.m. Monday, Borough President Melinda Katz will chair a meeting of the Queens Borough Board, at Queens Borough Hall.

Tuesday
At the City Council on Tuesday:
--The Committee on Sanitation will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “diverting non-curbside collected materials from landfill,” as well as to discuss a proposed law relating to “city agencies’ organics collection.”
--The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 10:45 a.m.
--The Committee on Land Use will meet at 11 a.m.
--The Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss two proposed laws, one relating to exempting stores with price scanners from merchandise labeling requirements and one prohibiting the use of dogs or cats as security in certain contracts.
--The Committees on Education and Finance and the Subcommittee on the Capital Budget will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing examining the city’s new 5-year capital plan for schools.
--The Committees on Criminal Justice and Cultural Affairs will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “Department of Probation arts programming.”

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics will meet in Albany.

At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, City & State will honor its “Responsible 100,” consisting of “New York's most outstanding responsible executives, thought leaders, visionaries and influencers who are setting new standards of excellence, dedication and leadership in improving their communities and making transformative change.” The Rev. Al Sharpton and Mary Stuart Masterson of Stockade Works will deliver keynote remarks. The event will take place at Sony Hall in Times Square.

At noon Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will host a city resource fair for Manhattan residents at the Children’s Aid Milbank Center in Harlem.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, several Democratic clubs will host a forum for Public Advocate candidates. There are 16 candidates confirmed as of Sunday. Gotham Gazette’s Ben Max and the Daily News’ Alyssa Katz will moderate the event, at First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn Heights.

Wednesday
At the City Council on Wednesday:
--The Committee on Immigration will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “the need for legal representation in immigration court under Trump.”
--The Committee on Small Business will tour Harlem Biospace at 3 p.m.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the City Planning Commission will hold a public meeting at 120 Broadway.

The latest episode of Max & Murphy on WBAI radio will air at 5 p.m. Wednesday, at 99.5FM and wbai.org, and will feature interviews with city Comptroller Scott Stringer and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Panel for Educational Policy will hold a public meeting at Murry Bergtraum High School in Chinatown.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio and City Council Member Keith Powers will hold a town hall meeting at Hunter College’s West Building on the Upper East Side. Also co-hosting will be Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman, and Assemblymembers Dan Quart and Harvey Epstein.

Thursday
The City Council will hold its final Stated meeting of the year at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Speaker Corey Johnson is likely to host a pre-Stated press conference at 12:30 p.m.

At the State Legislature on Thursday: the Assembly Standing Committee on Housing will meet at 10 a.m. in Albany for an oversight hearing regarding the enacted budget for New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Empire State Development will hold a directors’ meeting at its headquarters in East Midtown.

At 1 p.m. Thursday in Syracuse, members of the aforementioned Fair Elections for New York coalition will rally at the State Office Building, where “community groups and grassroots activists will be joined by elected leaders including Senator-elect Rachel May and Assemblyman Stirpe to call for voting rights and a small donor public financing system as an immediate priority for New York State.”

Friday and the weekend
Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show at 10 a.m. Friday.

Note: this is the final Week Ahead of 2018. We’ll be back with The Week Ahead for the first week of January 2019.

***
Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

***
by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 17 Sun, 16 Dec 2018 05:00:00 +0000
The Fuzzy Fine Print of Amazon’s Queens Real Estate Deal http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8132-the-fuzzy-fine-print-of-amazon-s-queens-real-estate-deal http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8132-the-fuzzy-fine-print-of-amazon-s-queens-real-estate-deal lic via edc

(image via NYC EDC)


The first of several New York City Council public oversight hearings on the deal to bring an Amazon campus to Long Island City will be held Wednesday at City Hall. Titled by the Council as “Exposing the Closed-Door Process,” the questions should concern not just the big-picture issues but also some fine print regarding the company’s acquisition of city-owned real estate.

Of course, the estimated $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies in the deal made among Amazon, the state, and the city deserve scrutiny, though, except for a state capital grant that could reach $505 million, those questions -- as Gotham Gazette previously reported -- mostly concern revising existing policy.

For example, the Citizens Budget Commission warns that "offering Amazon benefits that go well above the current cap and expiration date" of the Excelsior Jobs Program -- up to $1.2 billion in state tax credits -- "sets a concerning precedent.”

National subsidy watchdog Good Jobs First points out that the city's decision to have Amazon contribute PILOTs, or payments in lieu of taxes, into a local infrastructure fund, would "further enhanc[e] Amazon’s property value," a benefit worth quantifying.

But Council members also should look at two maddeningly complicated passages in the non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Amazon signed with Empire State Development (ESD), Gov. Andrew Cuomo's economic development authority, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), Mayor Bill de Blasio’s economic development entity.

They rather cryptically describe some contemplated transactions that deserve far more sunlight, both now and if/when they move toward fruition.

First, look at the proposed map (below), which shows two private development sites, two public development sites, and one city-owned building, known as DOE (Department of Education) Premises.

image1

Let's put aside the private development sites, which are owned by a company called Plaxall, and were intended to be part of a large project called Anable Basin.

Instead, let's focus on the two public development sites, which were previously part of a planned project called the Long Island City Innovation Center, involving developer TF Cornerstone and other partners. (The DOE site was not to be part of that project.)

An $850,000 lease
The agreement contains a major parenthetical: Empire State Development will lease the public development sites "for a total agreed base rent payment, exclusive of PILOT, of $850,000 per annum (such price being consistent with the competitively procured terms of NYCEDC's prior agreement with the Company's development partner and reflective of the costs to be assumed by the Company that include but are not limited to City agency relocations... and the Specific Infrastructure and Community Commitments...)"

That’s a lot to unpack.

First, $850,000 won't buy much in New York's rental market: that sum is the same asked of a child care center in the Upper West Side (in a former Duane Reade) or that which drove a bookstore out of SoHo. (I earlier mentioned this issue in an essay for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.)

And if that $850,000 reflects "the costs to be assumed by the Company that include but are not limited to City agency relocations," how are those presumably considerable costs calculated?

If those costs are absorbed in the first years of the Amazon lease, wouldn't the deal get better for them over time?

How exactly was that sum "consistent with the competitively procured terms" of the prior agreement? Why should that prior agreement apply to the Amazon project, given the latter’s scope and the suite of subsidies?

image3

Also, unlike other tenants in Long Island City, Amazon will not be at the mercy of a landlord aiming to raise rent after an initial lease period. The rent, according to the document, "will escalate in accordance with an agreed upon schedule based on the Consumer Price Index" or CPI.

Note that, while that verbiage suggests that the rent increases will correlate with the CPI, that doesn't mean direct correlation. In other words, an "agreed upon schedule" could be a percentage of the CPI. That's worth asking about. And, of course, this non-binding document only presages future negotiations.

The DOE building
Now consider the DOE Premises, a hulking former city warehouse -- approximately 672,000 square feet -- on Vernon Boulevard. According to the city/state memo, Amazon's initial base rent shall not exceed "the value of $500 per built gross square foot multiplied by 6.25%."

Why make that calculation so convoluted? It's hard to believe that was not presented as a way of obscuring the math that leads to $31.25 per square foot.

image2

Note that the base rent "shall equal the fair market rental value as determined by an Appraisal," but...the parties have already stipulated a ceiling of $31.25. That seems like a sweet deal.

How would that appraisal work? It might not happen until 90 days before the lease closes, but it will take "into account sales of, and income generated at, comparable commercial use properties exclusively for the period prior to the date of the MOU," as well as capital investments made by New York City.

Though an appraisal seems meaningless, the comps could use more attention. Consider the Falchi Building, a former factory building recently spiffed up in another section of Long Island City, below Sunnyside Yard. In 2016, the Commercial Observer reported asking rents "in the $40s" and also $55 per square foot.

Of course, asking rent is not contract rent, and these relatively small deals don't compare to leasing a full building. Still, it's hardly clear that $31.25 is the market rent in the area. Nor do we know how to value the "capital investments" factor cited in the MOU. (Update: However, according to the city's just-released response to Amazon's RFP, that site was presented as having a net illustrative rent between $24 and $49.)

image4

Note that the base rent will increase by the lesser of either 3% or the area CPI. Is such a cap on inflation standard operating procedure? 

Maybe city and state officials often come to such seemingly generous agreements. (If so, maybe reconsider those practices, too.) Or perhaps they can defend them as tougher than they seem. But the fuzzy fine print should provoke reason for skepticism—and some hard questions from our elected officials.

***
Norman Oder is a Brooklyn journalist who writes the watchdog blog Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report. On Twitter @AYReport.

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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The Fuzzy Fine Print of Amazon’s Queens Real Estate Deal Mon, 10 Dec 2018 05:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 10 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8128-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-december-10 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8128-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-december-10 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

We’re watching this week for the next major step in the potential deal among city, NYCHA, and federal officials for a consent decree related to public housing that has to be presented to a federal judge who rejected an earlier version. That is due Friday.

It will be another busy week at the City Council and with the MTA as both bodies head toward wrapping up their work for the year. The City Council will hold a number of hearings this week, as well as a full-body Stated Meeting where new bills are introduced and bills that have passed committee are voted on by the full Council. Two highlights hearings of the week will be an oversight hearing on the deal to bring Amazon to Queens and a hearing on a package of bills aimed at fighting tenant harassment -- see details below.

The MTA continues its public hearings around a planned toll and fare hike, and the MTA Board will meet again as it works on its 2019 budget -- see below for details.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - see our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
"On Monday, Mayor de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s 25th Anniversary Ceremony," at 1 p.m. at City Hall.

At the City Council on Monday:
--The Committee on For-Hire Vehicles will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding TLC’s Critical Driver and Persistent Violator programs, and to discuss laws to repeal the Critical Driver program and amend the Persistent Violator program.
--The Committee on Public Safety will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding neighborhood policing.

On Monday and Tuesday, the New York State Board of Regents will meet.

At 5:50 a.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza will appear on Ebro in the Morning on HOT 97 radio.

At 11 a.m. Monday, “Housing Justice For All” and several other advocacy groups will rally at the City Hall steps to call for stronger tenant protections, closing “the loopholes driving up rents in NYC,” and to “remove geographic restrictions from the Emergency Tenant Protection Act.”

At City Hall at 4:30 p.m. Monday, "First Lady Chirlane McCray will join the Commission on Gender Equity (CGE) and the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence at a vigil to mark the end of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence."

At 5 p.m. Monday, the MTA will hold a public hearing on proposed fare and toll hikes at Long Island University’s Kumble Theater in Fort Greene. Before the hearing, at 4 p.m., the “Fix The Subway Coalition” will rally outside the theater to demand that no fare hike take effect, and instead that congestion pricing be included in the next state budget, among other measures to finance the MTA.

At 6 p.m. Monday, the 2019 Charter Revision Commission will hold a public meeting at City Hall.

At 6 p.m. Monday, the CUNY Tech Meetup will hold its fourth annual end of year gathering, sponsored by Microsoft Cities and its New York City-based director, John Paul Farmer, and hosted by partner institution John Jay College. "We'll explore technology's role in cities to address civic challenges. We’ll feature a lineup of dynamic speakers using and building technology solutions to improve citizen-centered city life." Speakers will include Farmer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and several others.

On Monday evening, Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer will be among those to deliver remarks at the Co-op City 50th Anniversary Gala in the Bronx.

And at 9 p.m., Stringer will deliver remarks at the West Side Federation of Neighborhood and Block Associations Holiday Party.

Tuesday
"On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray will deliver remarks at the Gracie Mansion Conservancy Gala. This event is closed press."

The City Council will hold a Stated Meeting on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is expected to host the usual pre-Stated press conference at 12:30 p.m.

At the State Legislature on Tuesday:
--The Assembly Standing Committee on Racing and Wagering will meet at 10 a.m. in Albany for an oversight hearing on the State Gaming Commission’s 2018-19 budget “and its regulation of the gaming industry in New York State.”
--The Assembly Standing Committees on Children & Families and Mental Health will meet jointly at 11 a.m. in Albany for a public hearing regarding “access to mental health services in the juvenile justice system.”
--The Assembly Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse will meet at 11 a.m. at 250 Broadway in Manhattan for a public hearing regarding “adequacy of funding for addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services.”

On Tuesday, city public school students will rally on the City Hall steps to demand equity in school sports. They will be joined by City Council Member Antonio Reynoso, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, and the Fair Play Coalition.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will deliver remarks at Holiday Toy Donation Event with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association at FDNY Engine 1/Ladder 24 in Manhattan. At 7 p.m., Johnson will deliver remarks at the Human Services Council Benefit.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, "Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul Tours Irving Tissue with State and Local Officials" in Fort Edward. At 1:15 p.m., "Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul Visits National Purple Heart Hall of Honor" in New Windsor.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, OATH Commissioner Fidel Del Valle, City Council Member Peter Koo, and Queens Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Grech will host a “Building Bridges for Small Businesses” symposium at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library. Del Valle will give advice on how small businesses can challenge agency summonses through OATH.

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, the MTA will hold a public hearing on proposed fare and toll hikes at York College’s Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center in Jamaica, Queens.

At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office will host a meeting at the Office of Assemblymember Tremaine Wright in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where individuals with previous misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions “will be able to meet with a defense lawyer at no cost and fill out a motion asking to erase that conviction.”

At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza will attend the "Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics and delivers brief remarks" at The Cooper Union.

Wednesday
At the City Council on Wednesday:
--The Committee on Economic Development will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing on Amazon HQ2, specifically “exposing the closed-door process.”
--The Committee on Women will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “female genital mutilation/cutting and health care for women in New York City.”
--The Committees on Mental Health and Civil & Human Rights will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding the “negative mental health consequences of discrimination and bias incidents.”
--The Committee on Justice System will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “the future of bail.”
--The Committee on Parks and Recreation will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “the state of the city’s recreation centers.”

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans and the Subcommittee on Women Veterans will meet jointly in Albany for a public hearing regarding “veterans employment programs.”

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the MTA will hold a board meeting.

At 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Civilian Complaint Review Board will meet at 100 Church Street.

This week’s Max & Murphy on WBAI radio will air at 5 p.m. on 99.5FM and wbai.org -- the episode will be part of the Gotham Gazette-City Limits Agenda 2019 project’s week focused on health and will include an interview with State Senator Gustavo Rivera, the Senate’s lead sponsor of the New York Health Act, which is the state’s single-payer health care bill, and Bill Hammond of the Empire Center, who is perhaps the leading critic of the New York Health Act and has written extensively on the bill and related issues.

Thursday
At the City Council on Thursday:
--The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 9:30 a.m.
--The Committees on Higher Education and Veterans will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “veterans and access to higher education.”
--The Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet at 10:30 a.m. to discuss several proposed laws relating to tenant protections.
--The Subcommittee on Landmarks will meet at noon.
--The Committee on Technology will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss several proposed laws related to cybersecurity, including one to create an “Office of Cyber Command.”
--The Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions will meet at 2 p.m.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, City & State will host the “Ethics & Accountability Summit” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Speakers, including politicians, government officials, attorneys, and good government advocates, will “address the ethical challenges facing New York’s our public institutions.” Incoming City Investigations Commissioner Margaret Garnett will deliver keynote remarks. There will be several panels, including one on sexual harassment in state government and the next steps for laws passed earlier this year and one on government ethics and reform, which will be moderated by Gotham Gazette’s Ben Max.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, the Campaign Finance Board will meet at 100 Church Street.

The latest episode of the What’s The [Data] Point? podcast will be published Thursday afternoon and feature a conversation with the Manhattan Institute’s Stephen Eide on New York’s inpatient mental healthcare system and Eide’s recently published report on “deinstitutionalization in New York.”

At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the MTA will hold a public hearing on proposed fare and toll hikes at the Palisades Mall Adler Community Room.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, Arena will host a forum for candidates for Public Advocate at Wagner College on Staten Island. Attending candidates will be former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Council Members Jumaane Williams and Rafael Espinal, Assemblymembers Mike Blake and Dan O’Donnell, attorney Dawn Smalls, and activists Nomiki Konst, Theo Chino, Ifeome Ike, and Ben Yee.

On Thursday at 6 p.m. in Brooklyn, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Council Member Laurie Cumbo will co-host a town hall for Cumbo's constituents in the 35th Council District, at Medgar Evers College Prep School.

Friday and the weekend
Mayor Bill de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show at 10 a.m. Friday.

At noon Friday, the New York State Board of Elections will hold a commissioners’ meeting in Albany.

At 6:30 p.m. Friday, VocalNY and the FreeNY Campaign will host “Bringing our People Home: A National Conversation on Bail Reform” at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. Activists from around the country will discuss measures to end mass incarceration. Speakers will include Rena Karefa-Johnson of FWD.US, Ivette Alé of JusticeLA, Sharlyn Grace of the Chicago Community Bond Fund, Reuben Jones of JustLeadershipUSA, and leaders of the FreeNY campaign.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, the Brooklyn DA’s office will host a meeting at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Flatbush, where individuals with previous misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions “will be able to meet with a defense lawyer at no cost and fill out a motion asking to erase that conviction.”

At 7 p.m. Saturday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will join NPR’s Nina Totenberg for a discussion of her tenure on the Court. The event will take place at the New York Academy of Medicine on the Upper East Side.

***
Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

***
by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 10 Sun, 09 Dec 2018 05:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 3 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8114-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-3 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8114-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-3 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week we're watching a few interesting City Council hearings, including oversight hearings about city bail reforms and the MTA Fast Forward plan -- see below for details on those and more. We're also watching for more on the deal to bring Amazon to Queens; what the commission tasked with recommending pay raises for state legislators and executive branch commissioners will put forward; and more.  

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - see our day-by-day rundown below. It's also "Reform Week" in the Gotham Gazette-City Limits "Agenda 2019," so we'll be focused this week on issues like voting and campaign finance reform, government ethics reform, and other related topics that will (or at least should be) on the agenda for next year in Albany and at City Hall. The state pay raise commission fits into that picture, of course.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
On Monday evening, Mayor de Blasio will make his weekly appearance on NY1's Inside City Hall, during the 7 an 11 p.m. hours.

At 10 a.m. Monday, Governor Cuomo will be in Schenectady for the funeral for Trooper Jeremy VanNostrand.

At 7:40 a.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will appear live on AM 970's The Joe Piscopo Morning Show. At 9:30 a.m., Stringer will host the annual meeting of the "Advisory Council on Economic Growth Through Diversity and Inclusion" at his offices.

At 9 a.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza will visit a computer science lesson and make an announcement at PS 25 Eubie Blake School in Brooklyn.

At 9 a.m. Monday, "New York City Council Member Robert E. Cornegy Jr. will hold a press conference...with other elected officials, representatives from the Crown Heights North Association, Community Board 8, Friends of Brower Park, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and others...at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. They will unveil a maquette (scale model) of a statue of Shirley Chisholm to be installed in nearby Brower Park in the next year. Also in attendance will be renowned African American artist, Sterling Brown, who will design the statue in conjunction with the Crown Heights North Association."

At the City Council on Monday:
--The Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions will meet at 9:30 a.m.
--The Committees on Criminal Justice and Justice System will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing on the city’s bail system, as well as to discuss proposed laws requiring the city to inform inmates, defense attorneys, and court personnel when bail is set at $1, to remove fees associated with bail payments by credit card, and to allow “online bail payment to be made by direct deposit and electronic check.”
--The Committee on Land Use will meet at 11 a.m. to discuss sidewalk cafes.
--The Committee on Standards and Ethics will meet at 12:30 p.m. to discuss a proposed law “amending reporting and donor disclosure requirements for organizations affiliated with elected officials.”
--The Committee on Education will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding physical education in city public schools, to discuss a proposed law requiring the “Department of Education to report on funding for after school athletics,” and to discuss a resolution calling on DOE to “ensure that all students have equitable access to after-school athletic activities and associated funding.”
--The Committees on Public Safety and Mental Health will meet jointly at 1:30 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding how to address the opioid crisis in the Bronx.

At 10 a.m. Monday, the MTA’s Special Finance Committee will meet.

At 10:30 a.m. Monday, the Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Health, Governmental Operations, and Alcoholism & Drug Abuse will meet jointly at Babylon Town Hall in Babylon, Suffolk County for a public hearing regarding the potential legalization of marijuana.

At noon Monday, Make the Road NY will rally on the steps of City Hall to demand the state Legislature pass the Dream Act and Drivers’ Licenses for All.

At 4:30 p.m. Monday, the CUNY Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing at LaGuardia Community College. Activists plan to pack the room and express concerns regarding Amazon HQ2, which CUNY has come out in support of.

At 5:30 p.m. Monday, the MTA will hold a public hearing on proposed fare and toll hikes at the College of Staten Island’s Springer Concert Hall.

At 6:30 p.m. Monday, Teens Take Charge will host “The Ones Left Behind: Testimony from NYC Students” at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Main Branch, allowing city public school students to give testimony about “how it feels to be left behind in the nation's largest and most segregated school system.” Also speaking will be Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times Magazine.

At 7 p.m. Monday, U.S. Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will join Senator Bernie Sanders and others for a national town hall on the topic of climate change. Ocasio-Cortez will discuss her “Green New Deal” proposal. The town hall will be streamed on Facebook Live.

Tuesday
At the City Council on Tuesday:
--The Committee on Environmental Protection will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss several proposed laws relating to energy efficiency in buildings, including proposals to establish an “Office of Building Energy Performance” to oversee the development and implementation of energy efficiency policy for buildings, establish new limits on greenhouse gas emissions for existing buildings, establish a “sustainable energy loan program,” greatly expand retrofit requirements for large buildings, and update energy efficiency grades.
--The Committee on Transportation will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding New York City Transit’s Fast Forward plan.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, before the aforementioned environmental protection committee hearing, there will be a rally outside City Hall in support of the bills being heard. Participants will include "bill prime sponsor Costa Constantinides and other Councilmembers and more than 100 New Yorkers from a wide range of organizations including ALIGN-NY, DSA-NYC, EDF, Make the Road, New York Communities for Change, People’s Climate Mobilization, Sunrise Movement, NY Working Families, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, 350NYC and 350Brooklyn." They will rally "for a #GreenNewDeal4NYC before a hearing on historic, globally-unprecedented city council legislation with banners and other dynamic visuals. The legislation would fight climate change and create good jobs by requiring all large buildings in the city, the top source of the city’s climate pollution, to slash their pollution by over 80% by upgrading to high energy efficiency standards."

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Center for an Urban Future will host “Rethinking CUNY for a Changing Economy” at the Greene Space in the West Village. The event will discuss CUNY’s role in a shifting economy defined by tech jobs, automation, and the need for postsecondary degrees, and how CUNY should shift to keep up with the changing economy. Speakers will include Gail Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College; Tamar Jacoby, President of Opportunity America; Randy Moore of COOP; Eric Westphal of Cognizant; and Kenneth Adams, Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Bronx Community College.

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the New York Housing Conference will host its 45th Annual Awards Program at the Sheraton Hotel in Times Square. U.S. Representative and newly-elected House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries will deliver keynote remarks. Other speakers include prominent individuals in politics, real estate, and advocacy. Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max will moderate the first panel of the day, which will discuss what’s ahead with regard to housing policy in 2019 with REBNY’s John Banks, state Senator Liz Krueger, Assemblymember Steve Cymbrowitz, and Thomas McMahon of TLM Associates.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, several advocacy groups, including WE ACT for Environmental Justice, the Sunrise Movement, 350 Brooklyn, the Democratic Socialists of America, and others will rally on the City Hall steps in support of the environmental bills being debated at the Council to establish limits on pollution from large buildings.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Assembly Standing Committees on Labor and Judiciary will meet at 250 Broadway for a public hearing regarding wage theft.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and representatives of Empire State Development will hold a public open house at the Ingersoll Community Center in Fort Greene to solicit public input on how to spend a recent $10 million from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Wednesday
At the City Council on Wednesday: The Committees on Public Housing and Aging will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “senior services and centers in NYCHA.”

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, New York City Transit President Andy Byford will join Crain’s at the New York Athletic Club for a “Business Breakfast Forum” regarding the Fast Forward Plan and “its effect on commuters and contractors, transit funding, and reforming the culture of New York City Transit.”

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Assembly Standing Committee on Higher Education will meet in Albany for a public hearing regarding “maintenance of effort” for SUNY and CUNY.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the City Planning Commission will hold a public meeting at 120 Broadway.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the MTA will hold a public hearing on proposed fare and toll hikes at the New York Power Authority Building in White Plains.

This week’s Max & Murphy on WBAI radio will air at 5 p.m Wednesday, and will focus on voting, ethics, and campaign finance reform. Tune in at 99.5FM or wbai.org, or find the show on your favorite podcast platform thereafter. Guests will include two leaders of the new “Fair Election for New York” campaign: Jessica Wisneski, Legislative and Campaigns Director for Citizen Action of New York and Alison Hirsh, Vice President and Political Director for 32BJ SEIU.

At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the New York City Campaign Finance Board will hold a meeting of its Voter Assistance Advisory Committee.

Thursday
At the City Council on Thursday: The Committee on Health will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding the New York Health Act, the proposed state-level single-payer health care program, and to discuss a resolution calling on the state to pass the bill.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, the Center for New York City Affairs will host a forum on the status of Raise the Age implementation, and whether it’s what reformers intended. Speakers will include Marcus Campbell, a member of the Raise the Age Implementation Board; Felipe Franco of the Administration for Children’s Services; Dana Kaplan of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice; Cincere Wilson of the Center for NYC Affairs; Antoinette Kennedy of Man Up Inc; and Shanduke McPhatter of Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes.

At 11 a.m. Thursday, the Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health will meet in Albany for a public hearing regarding “access to mental health and developmental disability services and supports.”

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Museum of the City of New York and CityLab will host “Alternate Visions: Bold Proposals for Housing New Yorkers,” discussing out-of-the-box solutions for the housing affordability crisis. Speakers will include Deyanira Del Rio of the New Economy Project, Mo George of Picture The Homeless, Roseanne Haggery of Community Solutions, Howard Husock of the Manhattan Institute, and Will Spisak of Chhaya CDC.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance will host a “Brooklyn Climate Justice Forum” at El Puente in Williamsburg, discussing how “the climate crisis and environmental racism are impacting our lives” and potential solutions. Speakers will include Annel Hernandez of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, Lourdes Perez-Medina of UPROSE, Leslie Velazquez of El Puente, and Anthonine Pierre of the Brooklyn Movement Center.

Friday and the weekend
Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show on Friday at 10 a.m.

At 10:30 a.m. Friday, the Assembly Standing Committee on Libraries will meet in Albany for a public hearing regarding the role of public libraries in their communities, and the challenges facing libraries.

***
Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

***
by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 3 Sun, 02 Dec 2018 05:00:00 +0000
City Council Considers De Blasio Nominee for Department of Investigation http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8102-city-council-considers-de-blasio-nominee-for-department-of-investigation http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8102-city-council-considers-de-blasio-nominee-for-department-of-investigation mg headshot

Margaret Garnett (photo via City Hall)


Margaret Garnett, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pick to replace recently fired Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters, received praise from City Council Members and the support of City Council Speaker Corey Johnson at a Monday hearing on her nomination. Currently serving as the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice in the New York State Attorney General’s office, Garnett’s nomination hearing came amid significant controversy over de Blasio’s firing of Peters, who claimed on his way out that de Blasio’s behavior and motives in taking the unprecedented step of letting him go were highly questionable.

The DOI commissioner, charged with running the agency that independently investigates corruption and wrongdoing in city government, is the only mayoral department-head appointee that requires approval by the City Council. Peters, the treasurer for de Blasio’s first mayoral campaign, used his position to examine systemic failings in the mayor’s administration and issued several scathing reports on the public housing authority, the police department, and the children’s services department, among other agencies. But Peters’ work drew the ire of the mayor, who reportedly considered removing the commissioner for months.

The mayor was presented with a justifiable opportunity after an independent investigator, prosecutor James McGovern, issued a report that said Peters had exceeded his legal authority in attempting to take over an independent office that conducts oversight of the Department of Education, among other transgressions.

In responding to the report and his termination, Peters questioned the mayor’s motives in a letter to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Ritchie Torres, who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Investigations. Peters pointed to instances where the mayor and his aides had sought to suppress critical reports by DOI and speculated that de Blasio was attempting to bring an end to potential ongoing investigations into the mayor’s office. Those actions, he said, could chill the independence of the next DOI commissioner.

De Blasio responded that Peters was fired for cause and alluded to other troubling behavior not in the McGovern report, while adding that he regretted nominating Peters in the first place and saying the former prosecutor had delusions of grandeur. A BuzzFeed News report on Monday appeared to poke holes in Peters’ critique of the mayor, citing unnamed former and current DOI employees who said that Peters himself quashed a report about NYPD officers who lied in official statements and were not disciplined.

Naturally, Peters’ conduct and the saga around his dismissal by de Blasio formed the basis of Monday’s City Council hearing, held by the Council’s Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, chaired by City Council Member Karen Koslowitz. Council Members questioned Garnett on the approach she would take if she was confirmed to replace Peters in leading an office with dozens of investigators and the power to make arrests, and pressed her on how she would withstand influence from the administration and handle investigations, if any, that are already underway related to the mayor’s office.

“To do its job, It is imperative that DOI remain independent from the entities it is obligated to monitor, including and especially the mayor,” Speaker Johnson said in his opening statement. “The DOI commissioner must not be beholden to any political figure and she must be capable of withstanding political pressure that would affect the integrity of DOI’s work.”

Garnett emphasized her prosecutorial experience and her apolitical beliefs in her testimony. She also said that the findings of the McGovern Report, based on which Peters was fired, were “very shocking” and said she herself would expect to be terminated under those circumstances.

The Council members and Garnett seemed reconciled to a degree of professional tension between the legislative body and the independent agency. The McGovern report, Johnson said, raised the question of whether there needs to be structural changes to prevent the types of actions for which Peters was removed. “Who watches the watchman?,” Johnson asked.

But Garnett seemed to reject that idea, emphasizing rather that DOI remain independent and create an internal culture of integrity to prevent even the commissioner from abusing their power. “It’s very important...that prosecutors and law enforcement investigators be independent from political influence or political control, partisan concerns,” Garnett said, “and in order for that independence to be effective, that often means limited oversight by elected officials and other bodies.”

Garnett said she could cite “dozens of examples” from her career of withstanding political pressure into investigations, and said bluntly that if she was ever asked to end a particular inquiry or affect its outcome, “The first thing I’d do is hang up the phone.”

“I’m not a political person, I have no political ambitions...I would much sooner risk being fired than risk damaging my professional reputation,” she later said. Garnett is a veteran prosecutor and previously served as Assistant United States Attorney for the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. She has prosecuted tax fraud, embezzlement, narcotics cases and violent crimes, supervising the Violent and Organized Crime Unit for four years. She was later appointed Chief of Appeals for the Criminal Division. In the Attorney General’s office, besides heading the criminal division, Garnett oversees investigations of deaths of unarmed civilians in police interactions through the Special Investigations and Prosecution Unit.

Council members also used the hearing as an opportunity to delve further into Peters’ actions as commissioner, seeking assurances from Garnett that she would not make the same missteps. Among Peters abuses of power was the firing of a whistleblower in his own department, which Johnson said, and Garnett agreed, might necessitate strengthening whistleblower protections through legislative action.

Garnett shared the Council members’ apprehensions about Peters’ disclosure, in his letter to the Council, of the possible existence of investigations into the mayor’s office. But she also promised to look into any such investigations and said she would follow the facts and evidence without backing down as Peters’ letter suggested.

“I can assure you that I will not be chilled,” she said, “and to the extent that anyone, Mr. Peters or in the administration or otherwise, thinks that I will be intimidated or chilled, I think they’ll be sorely disappointed.”

Peters’ actions also prompted Council members to seek clarity on DOI’s role and authority over the NYPD inspector general, which is housed at DOI, and the Special Commissioner for Investigation at DOE, which Peters had tried to bring under his control. Garnett shared their concerns and was asked repeatedly about SCI’s structure in relation to DOI, even though she said she could not adequately address the question since she had yet to examine it. Council Member Mark Treyger in particular questioned whether that structural relationship should be reimagined considering that SCI has not conducted any systematic review of DOE for years despite the agency accounting for the largest share of the city budget.

Council Member Torres, who was critical of the mayor’s decision to fire Peters, said Garnett was “exceptionally qualified” to replace him. He said his “greatest frustration” with DOI was the lack of acknowledgement of the Council’s requests for probes of city agencies or particular issues. Garnett made no promises about instituting a formal reporting structure, as Torres proposed, but she agreed to have conversations with members about their concerns.

Members praised Garnett’s testimony and lengthy resume and, in the end, her confirmation to the post seemed assured (a vote is likely to be taken in committee then the full Council in the coming days). Shortly before departing the hearing, Johnson said he was impressed with Garnett’s testimony and qualifications and would support her nomination. “I feel confident in your ability to lead this agency,” he said.

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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City Council Considers De Blasio Nominee for Department of Investigation Mon, 26 Nov 2018 05:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 26 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8086-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-26 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8086-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-26 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week we're continuing to watch the fallout of Mayor Bill de Blasio's controverisal decision to fire Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters. De Blasio's nomination to replace Peters, Margaret Garnett, will testify before the City Council on Monday afternoon, a normal part of the process given that the DOI commissioner is the only agency head where the City Council votes to approve or disapprove the mayor's nominee. That hearing is among several especially interesting Council meetings set for this very busy week at City Hall.

We're also watching for further signs about the Democratic agenda for Albany in 2019, when the party controls the governor's office and both houses of the state Legislature. Senate Democrats will meet Monday in Albany to discuss their agenda and decide their leadership, at which time Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is expected to make history and be voted to lead the chamber come January.

Meanwhile, protests against the Amazon-to-Queens deal are set to intensify this week. And, we're waiting to see how the field for the Public Advocate special election continues to take shape. Most candidates expected to run have already either declared or formally said they are exploring it, other than former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is expected to announce her candidacy in the coming weeks. The election will be in February.

There's a lot more that could move ahead this week, from pay raises for state legislators to next steps around negotiations over NYCHA between federal prosecutors and the de Blasio administration, and much more. And, it's Housing Week in AGENDA 2019, the ongoing project from Gotham Gazette and City Limits.

Also, Mayor de Blasio is scheduled to head to Vermont at the end of the week, he'll be speaking at a summit of progressive leaders pulled together by Senator Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane Sanders.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - see our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
On Monday in Albany, State Senate Democrats will meet to vote on their leadership as they prepare to hold the majority come January. Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is set to become the first woman and first woman of color to lead a legislative chamber in New York.

Mayor de Blasio will appear on NY1’s Inside City Hall on Monday evening in the 7 and 11 p.m. hours. At 8 p.m., “the Mayor will deliver remarks at the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City’s Annual Awards Ceremony where he will be receiving the Theodore Roosevelt Leadership Award.”

At the City Council on Monday:
--The Committee on Small Business will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss a proposed law “in relation to microbusinesses.”
--The Committees on Hospitals and Health will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “access to transgender- and gender nonconforming-friendly health services.”
--The Committee on Veterans will meet at 2 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “discharge characterization upgrade assistance,” and two proposed laws relating to offering discharge upgrade assistance to veterans discharged due to their LGBTQ status and creating a “Discharge Upgrade Assistance Unit” at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
--The Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Elections will meet at 3 p.m. to discuss the nomination of Margaret Garnett as Commissioner of the Department of Investigation.

At 5 p.m. Monday, activist groups will converge at Court Square in Long Island City to protest the deal to bring Amazon to Queens, including the state and city tax incentives and subsidies to attract the company, and the potential for gentrification, among other things.

At 5:30 p.m. Monday in Manhattan, “Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul Attends Winter's Eve at Lincoln Square Festival and Tree Lighting,” at Dante Park.

At 6:30 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will host a Diwali Celebration.

Tuesday
At the City Council on Tuesday:
--The Committee on Fire and Emergency Management will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss proposed laws relating to “requiring the fire department to report on emergency medical services divisions and stations,” “requiring the fire department to annually report on the potential impact of certain rezonings on department services,” and “creating online applications for fire alarm plan examinations and inspections.”
--The Committee on Youth Services will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss a proposed laws requiring the Department of Youth and Community Development to create a “Runaway and Homeless Youth Immigration Information Plan.”
--The Committee on Standards and Ethics will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss a proposed law “amending reporting and donor disclosure requirements for organizations affiliated with elected officials.”
--The Committee on For-Hire Vehicles will meet at 10:30 a.m. to discuss a proposed law requiring the city to study debt owed by owners of taxi medallions.
--The Committee on Criminal Justice will meet at 11:30 a.m. to discuss a proposed law “informing persons released from city jails of their voting rights.”
--The Committee on Immigration will meet at noon to discuss two resolutions in opposition to the federal government’s proposed “public charge” rule.
--The Committee on Governmental Operations will meet at 12:30 p.m. to discuss proposed laws relating to “the Department of Probation informing persons of their voting rights” and “agencies assisting eligible parolees with voter registration.”
--The Committee on Transportation will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss several proposed laws relating to curb cuts and other matters related to sidewalks.
--The Committees on Governmental Operations and Civil Service & Labor will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding the Provisional Employee Reduction Plan, as well as to discuss a proposed law relating to that plan and calling on the state to pass a law automatically enrolling “optional employees” in the City’s BERS system after 90 days of employment.
--The Committees on General Welfare and Justice System will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “parent-child separation in family court.”

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Assembly Standing Committees on Banks and Consumer Affairs will meet jointly in Albany for a public hearing regarding the “practices of the student loan industry.”

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics will meet in Albany.

Wednesday
The City Council will hold a stated meeting on Wednesday. Council Speaker Corey Johnson is expected to host a pre-stated press conference at City Hall beforehand.

Also at the City Council on Wednesday: the Committee on Finance will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss the creation of a Throggs Neck Business Improvement District, and increasing the size and expenditure on the Hudson Square BID.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the Assembly Standing Committee on Agriculture will hold a public oversight hearing in Albany regarding the 2018-19 State Agriculture Department budget.

On Wednesday at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, this week's Max & Murphy will air. The show will focus on the major housing policy issues facing the state and the city in 2019.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Panel for Educational Policy will meet at Long Island City High School in Queens.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the New York City Bar Association will host a talk on fees associated with state courts and whether courts should be used as “revenue raisers.” Panelists will consist of State Supreme Court Judge Daniel Conviser, Ashika David of Brooklyn Defender Services, Ashley Gantt of JustLeadershipUSA, Claudia Wilner of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, and University of Washington professor Karin Martin.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and State Senator Brad Hoylman will hold a town hall on “the future of rent regulation” in New York City. The town hall will take place at the Celeste Auditorium at the New York Public Library’s main branch in Midtown.

Thursday
At the City Council on Thursday:
--The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 9:30 a.m.
--The Committees on Finance and Civil Service & Labor will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding the city’s Healthcare Savings Agreement.
--The Subcommittee on Landmarks, Pubic Siting, and Maritime Uses will meet at noon.
--The Committees on Economic Development and Cultural Affairs will meet jointly at 1 p.m. at One World Trade Center’s TWA Lounge for an oversight hearing regarding “the economic impact of the city’s tourism infrastructure and cultural attractions,” as well as to discuss a proposed law relating to “the creation of a tourism economy dashboard.”
--The Committees on Criminal Justice and Justice System will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing on the city’s bail system, as well as to discuss proposed laws requiring the city to inform inmates, defense attorneys, and court personnel when bail is set at $1, to remove fees associated with bail payments by credit card, and to allow “online bail payment to be made by direct deposit and electronic check.”
--The Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions will meet at 2 p.m.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, City & State will unveil its “Manhattan Power 50” at The Mezzanine at 55 Broadway. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will deliver keynote remarks.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host “Malls vs. Bodegas: Resisting the Suburbanization of the City,” discussing the simultaneous phenomena of the proliferation of chain stores, high-rent blight of storefronts, and displacement of small businesses due to high rent and other factors. Panelists will consist of Jonathan Bowles of the Center for an Urban Future, Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York, and Lena Afridi of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development.

Friday and the weekend
Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show at 10 a.m. Friday.

***
Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

***
by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 26 Sun, 25 Nov 2018 05:00:00 +0000
City Council Pushes Board of Elections on Another Round of Issues at the Polls http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8093-city-council-pushes-board-of-elections-on-another-round-of-issues-at-the-polls http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8093-city-council-pushes-board-of-elections-on-another-round-of-issues-at-the-polls citycouncil jcommhearing

BOE ED Michael Ryan (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


Embattled City Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan testified before the City Council's Committees on Oversight and Government Operations on Tuesday, explaining that a perforated two-page ballot, never before used anywhere in the United States, was primarily to blame for the issues at polling sites across the city on Election Day.

In a combative hearing initially presided over by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Ryan apologized, after being asked to do so, for the poor administration of the general election but defended the BOE by noting it was forced to work under tight timelines and restrictive administrative law, which required the center perforation on the two-page ballot and did not allow ballot questions, of which there were three this year proposed by the mayor’s Charter Revision Commission, to appear on the same side as candidates.

“The board has been advised that an initial analysis points to the perforated ballot requirement as the major cause of the increased ballot jams,” Ryan said in prepared testimony to the joint committees. “Such a ballot configuration has not been attempted in any jurisdiction in the United States for use with a poll site scanner. The perforated two page ballot presented a series of problems never before experienced by the Board or anywhere in the country.”

These problems included malfunctioning scanners without adequate tech support to fix them and lines so long that some voters simply went home without casting a ballot.

The timing of the submission of the ballot questions proposed by the Charter Revision Commission caused the ballot to not be finalized until October 9, and the hundreds of different "ballot styles" across various different overlapping jurisdictions for different offices, prevented adequate testing and the ability to upload different styles on the same machine, Ryan said.

In Manhattan alone, there were 924 different ballot styles, Ryan testified, owing to the various different combinations of overlapping districts for different offices such as Senate, Assembly, and Judgeships, among others.

Staten Island was the lone borough with a single sheet ballot, and did not experience the poll site issues that the other four boroughs did on Election Day.

Though still only about 38 percent, voter turnout in New York City for the general election was substantially higher than in recent non-presidential elections. Ryan said that state law dictates that there must be one scanner for every 4,000 voters, while BOE protocol stipulates one scanner for every 1,400 voters.

Because of both the abnormally high turnout and the two-page ballot, which when separated doubled the amount of paper that machines needed to process, “ballot bins” in the voting machines filled up much quicker than normally. In fact, most of the issues were related to simple overcapacity of ballots in the bins, rather than technical malfunction, Ryan said.

Ryan noted that about 4,000 scanners were in use on Election Day, while about 1,000 were left in the warehouse; they could not be brought out to poll sites due to transportation issues and the fact that individual ballot styles take an hour to upload onto the machine’s ballot reading software.

Ryan said that a two-page ballot was considered a possibility in 2016, but was ultimately not used. Nonetheless, Ryan was criticized for not testing a "generic" perforated ballot in that two-year span.

“There’s nothing that prevents you from testing the machines for a generic two-page perforated ballot,” said City Council Member Ritchie Torres, chair of the Oversight Committee. “For about two years, you’ve had the opportunity to test your equipment for a two-page perforated ballot, and it sounds like over the course of those two years, you’ve failed to do so.”

In fact, Ryan said that the Board did not test for potential malfunctions at all, citing a lack of adequate time between the ballot finalization and Election Day and the inability to predict voter behavior.

“We had just enough time to test the DS200 scanners for functionality,” he said, referring to the scanners that the state has used since switching from lever voting in 2010. “We did not have any time to do any kind of random testing to try to replicate the voter experience.”

Speaker Johnson, who called on Ryan to resign during the Election Day fiasco, expressed displeasure and distrust in Ryan but also condemned the election process in New York generally.

“I am embarrassed as a New Yorker about what happened on Election Day,” Johnson said. “I feel like this happens over and over and over again. I can’t remember an election where people said ‘you know what, it was done in a thoughtful, calm, professional, easy manner.’ New Yorkers deserve that. I don’t have confidence that that is gonna happen.” Johnson noted that he is not confident that the Board can competently administer the upcoming special election for Public Advocate, likely to occur in February.

Johnson was just one of several Council members to detail his own experience voting, noting that his polling place had only a single functioning scanner by 11 a.m., resulting in a significant line that stretched outside into the rain, which was another factor in the day’s issues.

"I expect to hear a plan forthcoming from the city and the state to rectify the issues of this election, and to improve tenfold the election operations for the next election, and the one after that, and the one after that," Johnson said.

Another problem beyond ballot design and machine capacity was staffing, which failed on multiple levels on Election Day, ranging from poll workers unable to handle the influx of voters or scanner malfunctions or a greatly deficient number of tech support workers to fix the mounting issues with the machines. The BOE supplied tech staff commensurate with the number staffed in the 2016 presidential election, which Ryan called a bad idea in retrospect.

"There was an avalanche early in the morning and we just could never catch up,” he said.

Ryan disclosed that the BOE had received nearly 10,000 calls on Election Day, with most related to technical issues, a number he said was much higher than previous elections.

The problem was most significant in Brooklyn, where the Board fielded 3,362 calls and wait times for a technician averaged an hour and 15 minutes. The average wait time citywide was 52 minutes.

Ryan, who is hired by the city BOE to run operations and be non-political, did not take an explicit position on some of the more talked-about election reform proposals for the state, such as early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, or automatic voter registration. However, he urged Council members on multiple occasions to work with the Board to establish a municipal poll-worker program modeled on a similar program in Los Angeles, where municipal workers at city agencies would get a bonus or a day off to work the polls. This could include techs from the city’s technology department, DoITT, or other agencies, who could supplement the existing tech support workers.

In the meantime, however, Ryan wants to staff poll sites in future elections with workers trained to fix malfunctions, rather than relying on a finite number of outside techs.

Brooklyn Council Member Kalman Yeger questioned why the existing poll workers themselves couldn’t be trained to clear ballot jams, comparing the issue to a printer malfunction.

"You make a straightforward and reasonable suggestion. The reluctance going back to 2010 was that we were losing poll workers because of their fear of the new machines,” Ryan said. “So a decision was made in that moment, which carried through to this election, have the poll workers do less with the machines, not more. This election, in a very hard way, taught us a difficult lesson."

Other testifiers, such as Douglas Kellner of the State Board of Elections, agreed with the municipal poll worker suggestion, while also suggesting that staffing in general needed to be improved to comply with the “30-minute rule,” a federal rule which stipulates that no voter should wait more than 30 minutes to vote.

“New York City has not complied with this regulation in its presidential general elections since the regulation was adopted in 2007,” Kellner said. “And I see no meaningful efforts by New York City to come into compliance in 2020.”

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

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City Council Pushes Board of Elections on Another Round of Issues at the Polls Tue, 20 Nov 2018 05:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 12 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8063-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-12 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8063-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-12 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week we continue to process the results of the past week's elections, but also turn our attention to the race in the special election for New York City Public Advocate, whereby Letitia James will be succeeded after she ascends to Attorney General. The election will likely take place in February, but several candidates have already declared and others surely will soon, and this week will see the first forums for those in the running.

There's also government happening this week, including a lot of action at the City Council - see our day-by-day rundown below. And, this will be criminal justice week in the new “Agenda 2019” project brought to you by Gotham Gazette and City Limits, wherein the two publications are teaming up to set the stage for 2019 in New York City and State politics and government. Read the initial overview: Agenda 2019: Major Policy Tests Ahead for State and City.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
"On Monday, Mayor de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Flight 587 17th Annual Memorial Service. This event is open press." In the evening, "the Mayor will appear on NY1’s Inside City Hall" during the 7 and 11 p.m. hours.

At noon Monday, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will deliver keynote remarks at VoteRunLead’s 2018 “Women & Power” National Town Hall, discussing the midterm elections and the future. Other speakers will include Representatives-elect Lauren Underwood and Ilhan Omar. The town hall will take place at the Times Square WeWork.

On Monday evening several Manhattan Democratic clubs and the New York Progressive Action Network will host a candidates' night in the race to replace Tish James as Public Advocate via a special election likely to occur in February. Candidates are set to address the crowd one at a time over the course of several hours at ThoughtWorks in Manhattan.

Tuesday
At the City Council on Tuesday:
--The Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss a proposed law to “establish a demonstration program to facilitate the creation and alteration of habitable apartments in basements and cellars of certain one- and two-family dwellings.”
--The Committee on For-Hire Vehicles will meet at 11 a.m. to discuss several proposed laws, including laws to “create a task force to study sale prices of taxicab medallions,” creating an “Office of Inclusion” within the Taxi and Limousine Commission, and “financial education for persons considering purchases or leases of for-hire vehicles or taxicab licenses.”
--The Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss proposed laws relating to information disclosure and trainings on harassment at nightlife establishments and the “disclosure of service fee charges associated with tickets to entertainment events in New York City,” as well as to discuss a resolution “calling on the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Office of Public Safety to update its mandatory security guard training curriculum to include sexual harassment prevention and bystander intervention training for all security guards who work in nightlife establishments.”
--The Committee on Veterans will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss proposed laws relating to “benefits counseling services for veterans,” “creating veterans resource centers,” and creating a “veterans resource guide.”
--The Committees on Youth Services and Juvenile Justice will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “reentry programs for formerly incarcerated youth.”
--The Committee on Technology will meet at 1:30 p.m. to discuss a proposal to create an “Office of Data Analytics.”

The state commission on legislative and executive branch compensation is set to meet on Tuesday.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Business Council of New York State will host its “2018 Annual Environmental Conference,” discussing “the latest in environment regulation and law.” Speakers will include EPA Region 2 Administrator Peter Lopez; NYSERDA CEO Alicia Barton; Diane Burmon, a member of the Public Service Commission; and State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. The conference will take place at the Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Correction will hold a public meeting at 125 Worth Street.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will deliver remarks at the opening of NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn. At 12:30 p.m., Hochul will make an announcement at Bausch + Lomb Vision Care in Rochester. And at 2:15 p.m., Hochul will tour Perry's Ice Cream on its 100th Anniversary, in Akron.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza will be in Cambridge, MA, where he will deliver keynote remarks at the MIT School Access and Quality Summit.

On Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. at City Hall, ""Council Member Rafael Espinal, representatives from Brooklyn venue House of Yes, and other advocates will gather before the Committee on Consumer Affairs hearing to rally in support of a package of legislation sponsored by Council Member Espinal that will combat sexual harassment in nightlife."

At 3 p.m. Tuesday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks at the New York State Compensation Committee Meeting.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Deputy Mayor J. Philip Thompson, and DCP Population Division Director Joseph Salvo will host a town hall on the 2020 Census at Queens Borough Hall.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will deliver remarks at the Council's Puerto Rican Heritage Celebration, at City Hall.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the New York City Bar Association will host the City’s Human Rights Commissioner, Carmelyn Malalis, for a discussion on the city’s recently effective Human Rights Law, aimed at eliminating bias in the workplace and public accommodations.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Public Advocate Letitia James will attend the Brennan Center for Justice Legacy Awards Reception & Dinner.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m. at New York Law School, Common Cause New York and Fair Vote will co-host "an in-depth panel discussion that will highlight the current state of election outcomes in New York City and explore the potential impact of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in New York City." It will be moderated by Susan Lerner, Executive Director, Common Cause/NY and include panelists New York City Council Member Brad Lander, Karen Brinson Bell, an elections administration consultant, & Betsy Sweet, a former Maine gubernatorial candidate.

Wednesday
The City Council will hold a stated meeting at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Council Speaker Corey Johnson will likely host the usual pre-stated press conference at 12:30 p.m.

Also at the City Council on Wednesday: the Committee on Finance will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss “authorizing an increase in the amount to be expended annually in 14 BIDs.”

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, City & State will host “NY Women’s Power 100” at the New York Academy of Sciences. Public Advocate and Attorney General-elect Letitia James will deliver keynote remarks.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Assembly Standing Committee on Aging will meet in Albany for a public hearing “to explore programs and services that help older New Yorkers who want to remain in their homes and communities as they grow older, as well as current challenges facing these older New Yorkers and best practices that can enhance the quality of life for older adults.”

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the City Planning Commission will hold a public meeting at 120 Broadway.

At 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Assembly Standing Committees on Alcoholism + Drug Abuse, Health, and Correction will meet jointly at 250 Broadway in Manhattan for a public hearing “examining the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment programs in state and local correctional facilities in the state.”

At 11 a.m. Wednesday outside the MTA's downtown offices, "The #FixTheSubway Coalition, composed of diverse, progressive organizations focused on labor, civil rights, racial justice, environmental, transit, and other issues and elected officials will rally in favor of a comprehensive transit funding plan with congestion pricing at its core and against the prospective transit fare hike." The coalition is led by Riders Alliance and other groups.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, this week’s Max & Murphy program will air on WBAI radio and will include interviews with State Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins about Democrats' agenda for taking power in the new year and with Assembly Member Latrice Walker about recent and upcoming criminal justice reform efforts in the state Legislature. The show airs at 99.5FM and wbai.org and is later available as a podcast.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Hunter Foundation will host a town hall meeting at Harlem Hospital on “battling K2 and the opioid crisis in America.” CNN’s Don Lemon will moderate a panel consisting of television host and Hunter Foundation founder Wendy Williams; City Council Member Andy King; Dr. Bunmi Asana, addiction psychiatrist at NYC Health + Hospitals; Dr. Ronnie Swift, Chief of Psychiatry at Metropolitan Hospital; and Dr. Lipi Roy, an addiction medicine expert.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza will be the featured guest speaker at the Queens Parent Advisory Board at Queens Borough Hall.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, TransitCenter will host “Fare Capping: A Formula for Fairer Fares,” discussing the potential benefits of fare capping, a technique whereby single-ride fares are “‘capped’ when they reach the cost of an unlimited-ride pass.” Panelists will include Andy Shaw, Senior Product Manager for Payments at Transport for London; Nick Sifuentes, the Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign; and Jaqi Cohen, campaign coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Civilian Complaint Review Board will hold a board meeting at Saint Claire Catholic Academy in Rosedale, Queens.

On Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at New York Law School, AARP NY and Citizens Union are hosting a candidate forum in the race to replace Attorney General-elect Tish James as Public Advocate. Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max will moderate the forum.

Thursday
At the City Council on Thursday:
--The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 9:30 a.m.
--The Committee on Contracts will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss a proposed law relating to “reporting of promptness of agency payments to contractors.”
--The Committee on Public Housing and the Subcommittee on the Capital Budget will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding NYCHA’s 2017 Physical Needs Assessment.
--The Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses will meet at noon.
--The Committees on Health, Immigration, and General Welfare will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “the impact of the proposed ‘public charge’ rule on NYC.”
--The Committees on Criminal Justice, Mental Health, and Hospitals will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding correctional health.
--The Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions will meet at 2 p.m.

At 8 a.m. Thursday, Crain’s will host its 2018 “Health Care Summit” at the Sheraton Hotel in Times Square, discussing “population health” and how location and other socioeconomic factors can weigh on health outcomes. Speakers will include Dave Chokshi, Chief Population Health Officer at NYC Health + Hospitals, as well as several private health care and hospital executives.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, the Association for a Better New York will join Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia for an “exclusive tour” of the Sanitation Department’s Manhattan garages. Garcia “will give a brief presentation at the beginning of the tour.”

At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, the Assembly Standing Committee on Election Law and the Subcommittee on Election Day Operations and Voter Disenfranchisement will meet jointly at 250 Broadway in Manhattan for a public hearing on “improving opportunities to vote in New York State,” “including through early voting and no-excuse absentee ballot reforms.”

At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the Housing Justice for All coalition will march against “corrupt landlords” and call on the new Democratic leadership in state government to enact “universal rent control.” the march will begin at the Museum of the American Indian in the Financial District.

Friday and the weekend
At 8:15 a.m. Friday, the Center for New York City Law at New York Law School will host David Hansell, Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services, for a “CityLaw Breakfast.”

At 10 a.m. Friday, the Assembly Standing Committee on the Judiciary will meet at 250 Broadway in Manhattan for a public hearing on “electronic filing of court papers.”

Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show on Friday at 10 a.m.

At 11:30 a.m. Friday, the Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation will meet in Albany for a public hearing on recycling.

***
Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

***
by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 12 Sun, 11 Nov 2018 05:00:00 +0000
City Council Checks In On Department of Veterans Services, Discusses Reporting Bill http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8027-city-council-checks-in-on-department-of-veterans-services-discusses-reporting-bill http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8027-city-council-checks-in-on-department-of-veterans-services-discusses-reporting-bill committee vets hearing

Veterans Services Commissioner Loree Sutton, middle (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


The New York City Council’s Committee on Veterans met Monday to discuss a bill that would require the city’s Department of Veterans Services to release an annual report detailing certain information about its work to help the city’s military veterans, including the number of its employees and types services it is providing.

The chair of the committee, Council Member Chaim Deutsch, a Brooklyn Democrat, advocated for the bill, Intro. 1118, as a necessary step toward better understanding of what DVS is doing and what may be needed to improve services for veterans. However, DVS Commissioner Loree Sutton suggested that an additional report would be redundant, as DVS is already required to give a report to the committee under law (Local Law 23 of 2015, introduced by Council Member Paul Vallone, a Queens Democrat) and it also takes part in the Mayor’s Management Report, which gives detailed accounts of city agencies and their effectiveness.

“Currently, City budget documents and the MMR include most of the information sought through Intro. 1118,” Sutton said. “While DVS looks forward to continued collaboration with the City Council concerning DVS personnel and performance metrics, we are confident that these aims can be best achieved through existing reporting mechanisms.”

The bill would specifically ask for the title of and services provided by each employee, as well as the number of veterans and families to whom services had been provided and how they learned about the services.

Most of this information is indeed available elsewhere. The Mayor’s Management Report gives a summary of the services provided by DVS, the number of veterans and their families engaged by DVS and the number of them given assistance. When it comes to DVS employees and their titles, those can be found on the department’s website. However, this leaves questions concerning how the veterans and their families learned about services provided by the department and what services each employee specifically provides unanswered.

While Sutton believes any additional information should simply be added to the current required report, Deutsch said the bill is an important step forward.

“I think that this bill is a step forward to receiving the information that we need and we deserve and the veterans deserve,” Deutsch said. “And this way we can better continue to understand what the issues are and how we could better implement [solutions in] some of the areas that need improvement.”

After discussion between Deutsch and Sutton, the committee allowed advocates to voice their views.

President and Founding Director of NYC Veterans Alliance Kristen Rouse said the bill does not require enough reporting on the part of DVS.

“We state our strong support for this committee providing oversight of the services provided to veterans and their families by DVS and other city agencies, programs, and funding,” Rouse said. “We are, however, uncertain of whether Intro. 1118 or other recent bill proposals will effectively accomplish the oversight and accountability that our community has called for and deserves.”

Rouse went on to mention that the information DVS provided the committee under Local Law 23 had not yet been made publicly available, and that even better than the proposed bill would be “for this committee to examine ways it can further empower DVS to accomplish its mission.” Asking for the report to be made public, better tracking of services provided by DVS through VetConnect, and the creation of an Agency Chief Contracting Officer to manage city contracts for veterans services, Rouse proposed multiple reforms to which Deutsch responded, “we’ll have the committee get back to you.”

Director of the Veteran Advocacy Project Coco Culhane said her organization “supports the introduction of Local Law 1118 and believes that DVS reporting on even more figures than they already do will benefit the entire community.”

Senior Veteran Transition Manager of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Vadim Panasyuk noted the redundancy of the bill Sutton alluded to earlier, suggesting that different metrics should be used to better evaluate DVS.

“IAVA supports the intent behind this bill,” Panasyuk said. “However, it appears that it is somewhat redundant as some of the data is already available, and does not require the reporting of necessary metrics to accurately evaluate this department’s performance and many of its various initiatives.”

Panasyuk would like to see more qualitative data used in conjunction with “organizational and programmatic” metrics in order to better understand the population being served by DVS and the needs of that population.

Another adjustment to the bill was suggested by Vallone, who said it was “critical” that they incorporate a requirement for DVS to distinguish in reports which veterans found them through sister agencies and which came directly to them.

Ashton Stewart, coordinator with SAGE Vets Program, an LGBT veterans advocacy group, also requested a more detailed report. “This bill is just a start of the reporting, we need to start from somewhere,” Deutsch said.

Earlier in the hearing, other topics were discussed as part of oversight by the committee. Deutsch expressed concern over a decrease in applications for and awards of vending licenses to veterans, and inquired about why significantly more veterans where using federal housing vouchers in the Bronx than any other borough. Sutton commented on the delay of federal GI Bill housing allowances for student veterans, noting that DVS would collaborate with the Department of Social Services to attempt to allocate resources towards supporting students negatively affected by the delays.

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by Victor Porcelli, Gotham Gazette

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City Council Checks In On Department of Veterans Services, Discusses Reporting Bill Tue, 30 Oct 2018 04:00:00 +0000