Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/1626 Sat, 21 Oct 2017 06:45:36 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Brooklyn Neighborhoods Look to Address School Overcrowding, Avoid Rezoning Issues Seen Elsewhere http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5951:brooklyn-neighborhoods-look-to-address-school-overcrowding-avoid-rezoning-issues-seen-elsewhere http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5951:brooklyn-neighborhoods-look-to-address-school-overcrowding-avoid-rezoning-issues-seen-elsewhere bk overcrowding forum

The community school forum (photo: @JoAnneSimonBK52) 


As rezoning problems plague some city school districts, leaders in one area of Brooklyn are looking to avoid similar pitfalls while reducing overcrowding.

In Carroll Gardens last week, local officials and parents gathered in the PS 58 auditorium to discuss overcrowding issues facing three elementary schools. Like others across the city, District 15 - which includes the schools at hand, PS 58, PS 32, and PS 29 - is facing challenges around booming development and school-aged populations, school crowding and zoning.

Wednesday’s forum, featuring several area elected officials, school leaders, and moderated by Professor David Bloomfield of CUNY, was an attempt to get ahead of these issues.

“Often when we’re dealing with overcrowding, we’re not able to address it until it’s a full-blown crisis,” said Paige Bellenbaum, a local district leader. A parent of second- and third-graders at PS 58, Bellenbaum noted that since 2005, the school’s enrollment has more than doubled.

Bellenbaum and other concerned residents heard from and spoke to a panel of elected and appointed decision-makers. The panel included local lawmakers, Department of Education (DOE) planning officials, the School Construction Authority (SCA) external affairs director, PTA parents with rezoning experience, and others.

Amid unprecedented growth and development in District 15 - which contains Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, and Sunset Park schools - those who spoke cited the need to “work together in advance to get ahead of the curve,” as Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon put it. City Council Member Brad Lander and State Senator Daniel Squadron, also co-organizers of the event, expressed a similar point.

As the district looks to the DOE and SCA to add capacity and rezone neighborhoods, anxiety is high. Local officials organized the forum to begin a dialogue earlier than has occurred in other places facing similar issues.

In District 15, the average utilization rate for classrooms is already 111.5 percent. PS 58, its principal explained, has been forced to cap entry into third and fourth grades. “In 2005, enrollment was about 400 students. In 2015, it was 996,” Bellenbaum said.

Recently, overcrowding-caused rezonings of four district schools last year and the 2012 rezoning of two Park Slope schools have caused controversy. Perhaps compounding anxiety about rezonings are the current uproars concerning PS 8 and PS 307 in downtown Brooklyn and PS 191 and PS 199 on the Upper West Side. PTA parents from other public schools that had experienced the rezoning process gave advice to parents from District 15 at last week’s forum.

Kim Glickman, co-president of the PS 8 PTA, offered her advice to District 15 parents on participating in school rezoning processes. “As leaders of your own schools, you need to be able to understand what the triggers causing the school to be overcrowded are and to be able to speak to them clearly,” Glickman said.

Because race and class lines are not as sharply drawn around the three District 15 schools as they are in the other aforementioned school pairings, it is unlikely that a rezoning dispute in the neighborhoods will be the kind of “gentrification battle” seen elsewhere. PS 58, PS 32, and PS 29 were also all deemed either “good standing” or “reward” status by the DOE in its assessment after the 2013-2014 school year.

Still, school district rezonings almost always leave some parents frustrated as their home zones are changed and their children are assigned to different elementary schools than they had planned.

Although overcrowding has not yet reached a crisis level in District 15, it has had a corrosive effect on its schools, speakers at the forum said. And, given the scale of development happening in the district - the Lightstone Group’s 700-unit residential complex is being built in the PS 32 zone, for example - the creation of many more school seats will be necessary to accommodate all of the students it will likely receive. Already, PS 32 has been using trailers in its rear yard for about fifteen years because of overcrowding.

The Lightstone building students (“200-ish” of whom will eventually go to PS 32, according to Council Member Lander) will get seats in the school. A 436-seat annex will be added to the school, Lander and CSA officials recently announced.

“So, it’s good that we’re building 400-plus seats,” Lander told community stakeholders. “But it does speak to the fact that it won’t create enough new capacity to solve our problems collectively.”

The annex is also not slated to be completed for a few more years, at which time the rezoning conversation will be at the forefront as officials determine which students are assigned to the new seats.

As Community Education Council 15 President Naila Rosario explained with a powerpoint, overcrowding is already having negative effects, including the elimination of enrichment programs, worse building maintenance, and the loss of rooms for art, music, and special services.

Though overcrowding appears in many ways as an inevitable result of more people moving into a neighborhood, it is perfectly preventable, according to Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, a nonprofit advocacy group. Haimson, who was at last week’s forum and frequently speaks to school capacity issues, says policymakers can take concrete steps to keep overcrowding from happening.

“The median utilization rate for elementary schools is over a hundred percent across the city,” Haimson told Gotham Gazette. The problem, she said, is fixable, though there has been a lack of political will. The DOE’s five-year capital plan includes 38,754 new seats for students, a figure that Haimson and her allies believe should be at least doubled.

The PS 32 annex is part of that capital plan, and while it will add seats in District 15, it is clear the district will need even more capacity to serve all of the students in the area.

A 2014 report from City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that one third of elementary schools in New York City registered at least 138 percent of their capacity in 2012. During February of last year, schools chancellor Carmen Fariña created the Blue Book Working Group, which was tasked to review the space utilization formulas of the DOE’s “Blue Book” and recommend reforms to it.

After the group gave its recommendations to the DOE last December, the department did not publish them until July, when it announced that some of them would be adopted. But it rejected the recommendation to shrink class sizes to those outlined by the Contracts for Excellence Law: on average, 19.9 students for kindergarten through third grade, 22.9 for grades 4-8 and 24.5 for grades 9-12. As DNAinfo recently pointed out, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to abide by these sizes during his mayoral campaign.

City school officials were criticized several times at the forum last week in Carroll Gardens.

The DOE has not built schools in Sunset Park, which has District 15 schools, where money was allocated to do so in order to ease overcrowding. “Sunset Park has been slotted to have schools for at least the last ten years,” one audience member said. “It’s not a budget issue.”

One parent, to enthusiastic applause, asked the panel why schools weren't included in new residential developments. When in response, SCA External Affairs Director Michael Mirisola said that his organization is not able to force the creation of schools, an audience member angrily interrupted, “Why not?”

It is up to local elected officials and the de Blasio administration to require public benefits like school seats in development deals. Officials are really only able to do so when developers are utilizing rezonings and other public incentives when they build. The administration and local officials in District 15 are currently negotiating a possible deal with the developer of the former Long Island College Hospital (LICH) site, where a rezoning may be allowed so that a larger development can be built in exchange for public benefits including school seats.

Haimson touched on another overcrowding issue, though not one at play in District 15 per se, decrying the state ensuring in law that any newly approved charter school is guaranteed space. “Here, we have this massive overcrowding problem in New York City where there are communities that have waited 20 years for a school, and yet any charter school can snap its fingers and the city has to give them space or pay for their rent,” Haimson told Gotham Gazette before the forum (she also spoke briefly as an audience member during the Q&A).

The DOE has faced criticism from Brooklyn residents for its handling of the PS 8/PS 307 District 13 rezoning, among others. Early talks with the department could prevent District 15 from having an adversarial relationship with the DOE when its rezoning process begins in earnest. The purpose of last week’s forum was to get dialogue started so that the lines of communication are open and community input is front and center.

“By coming together here with no specific group of so-called winners or so-called losers or people who want one thing and others who have a different goal, it is a really important step,” Sen. Squadron said in his remarks. “But it does not end here, because we have also seen that early engagement alone does not force the Department of Education to do what they're supposed to.”

***
by Ryan Brady, Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette

Note: this article has been corrected to indicate the schools at the center of rezoning talks on the Upper West Side - they are 191 and 199, not 32 and 29 as initially indicated

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Brooklyn Neighborhoods Look to Address School Overcrowding, Avoid Rezoning Issues Seen Elsewhere Mon, 26 Oct 2015 19:12:03 +0000
Quiet Before the Storm in New Phase of Mayoral Control Debate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5702:quiet-early-in-new-phase-of-mayoral-control-debate-de-blasio-bloomberg http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5702:quiet-early-in-new-phase-of-mayoral-control-debate-de-blasio-bloomberg BdB Albany

Mayor de Blasio sits to testify in Albany (photo: Skip Dickstein via Twitter)


At the end of June this year the law that grants New York's mayor control over city schools will expire. The expiration was designed so that all interested parties can take part in a discussion of what works and what doesn't, and adjust the law as needed. Parents, teachers, advocates, and legislators all have ideas about how to make the system better. But this year there is major concern that there might not be room for a nuanced discussion.

Some education advocates have been locked in a battle with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over his education reform plans, especially around teacher evaluations. They say that in a typical year there might be major campaigns on mayoral control but instead the bandwidth on education issues has been largely monopolized. Renewal of mayoral control will likely come at the end of session, which is scheduled for mid-June, as part of a larger deal and it's unclear how much public debate will take place.

On top of that, the Legislature is still reeling from the indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and now in limbo given the federal investigation into Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Senate Republicans are scrapping to keep control of their slim majority in the face of investigations and illness and they have expressed a great hesitance to renew mayoral control under Bill de Blasio, New York's progressive mayor who worked to push the chamber into Democratic control in the recent election cycle. Republicans are now playing defense to some extent and according to sources may be looking to simply wait out the session. Making de Blasio sweat and wait is an enjoyable byproduct for some.

"Should there be safeguards, should there be caveats on mayoral control, and then how long?" Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked, framing the key questions at hand as he addressed attendees at an Association for a Better New York breakfast last Friday. "The mayor asked for permanent mayoral control," he said of de Blasio, "The Assembly's position is 6 or 7 years, mine is 3 years, the senate is basically zero. This has to be basically rationalized. There is a big gap between zero and permanent."

As much as the renewal of mayoral control looks like a battle between city-based Democrats who back de Blasio and Long Island and rural Republicans who oppose him, it is city legislators whose constituents live within the system and who want to have a nuanced discussion about reforming it. But this year those Democrats have mostly been quiet. "They may not want to say much because they just want to get it done and make the mayor happy," said one advocate who requested anonymity of those city Democrats.

When de Blasio came to Albany in February to testify before the Legislature he sold mayoral control as essential to city schools' chance at success, despite the fact he had once voraciously opposed Mayor Bloomberg's use of the same system. "Before mayoral control, the city's school system was balkanized," de Blasio said. "School boards exerted great authority with little accountability and we saw far too many instances of mismanagement, waste, and corruption."

One Democratic legislator noted that if Bloomberg had been the one delivering that statement he would have been met by derision and vitriol but Democratic legislators bit their tongues. Many, especially in the city's poorest neighborhoods, see the city school system as in need of major improvement. De Blasio says the same, but professes faith in his vision to get there and argues that with mayoral control it's clear that he is accountable for the school system's performance.

A number of Democrats in both houses have three major reforms they'd like to see accompany an extension of mayoral control.

The first is greater accountability in the awarding of contracts by the Department of Education. Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, said she believes the city comptroller should be able to review those contracts. Sen. Diane Savino, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference from Staten Island, echoed that concern, saying that under previous mayors there had been wasteful and no-bid contracts. Krueger brought up City Time, the city's 911 revamp, and other projects where contractors botched projects and cost the city millions. "There has to be more accountability," said Krueger.

Concerns were recently raised when the Department of Education wanted to award a contract to expand internet access in city schools to a company that was tied to a kickback scandal.

"I've said repeatedly that mayoral control should be renewed but amended," Savino told Gotham Gazette. Savino said she wants to see changes to the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) that votes on policy changes. Currently, the mayor appoints 8 of the 13 PEP members. "It is functionally a staff meeting for the mayor with no diversity of opinion," said Savino. "We need to look at adding borough presidents, board members, something. I don't know what the exact answer is, but we need to look at it."

Parental involvement has been a hot topic surrounding mayoral control since it was established in 2002. A number of legislators are concerned that the city's Citywide and Community Education Councils (CECs) do not allow for enough parental participation in policy decisions. "They don't seem to be producing the parental activity they were intended to. I'm not sure why it's not happening, but we need to look into it and see if it is something in the law that needs changing."

Senate Republicans and Gov. Cuomo will likely tie renewal of mayoral control to raising the cap on charter schools. Cuomo has insisted that the charter sector would basically be "out of business" once it hits the cap in the city, which it is nearing. In outlining his 2015 agenda, Cuomo argued for raising the cap by 100 schools and eliminating any location-based ceiling within it, as New York City now has.

Republican's have also indicated they may hold a series of hearings to examine mayoral control but nothing has been formally scheduled.

Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder, who caucuses with Republicans, told the New York Post that the charter cap is directly tied to mayoral control. "Part of the discussion is that there should be no cap on children getting a better education. There should be no cap on children," said Felder. John Flanagan, the Senate's Education Committee chair who earlier this year indicated that mayoral control needs serious reconsideration, did not return calls for comment.

Public Advocate Letitia James held a series of "Our School, Our Voices" public forums on mayoral control across the five boroughs earlier this year. The focus of the events largely became increasing community say in the policy decisions. James' office is expected to release a report with recommendations on mayoral control sometime in May.

"Mayoral control must be amended to expand parental and community involvement," James said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "Earlier this year, my office held a number of community forums throughout New York City to discuss the future of public schools and it became clear that New Yorkers will no longer allow their voices to be drowned out of our schools system."

Despite the myriad of opinions on control the stakeholders don't appear to be rushing toward a resolution or even a basic discussion.

When asked if serious conversations about renewal had begun yet, Savino replied: "No. There is always plenty of time in Albany."

The Last Time
In 2009 mayoral control expired as Democrats and Republicans battled for control of the state Senate. The policy lapsed from the end of June until August 6. Though Mayor Michael Bloomberg had warned of great chaos if the law was not renewed, his allies on the Board of Education kept his policies in place and the law was eventually renewed, with tweaks like giving the Independent Budget Office more oversight over spending.

This year may not feature the same chaos as around the time of the '09 Senate coup, but with scandal in both houses and the precarious position of the Senate Republicans, things are similar.

Republicans are loathe to move on major issues as they are preoccupied with maintaining their majority. They have little incentive to deliver on mayoral control or renewal of rent regulations as only two of their members hail from the city and they appear to be holding onto a grudge against de Blasio. In 2009 Senate Republicans were the cinch votes for renewal of mayoral control of schools as Bloomberg had pumped millions into their campaign coffers.

When Senate Democrats finally won control of the chamber, then Democratic Leader John Sampson pushed for greater checks and balances on the mayor's power. At the time the Assembly had passed a bill that only slightly changed mayoral control - Sampson wanted to limit the mayor's ability to fire members of the Panel for Educational Policy and increase parental participation. It was the Senate Republicans who supported the Assembly's bill that offered fewer reductions to the mayor's influence.

Another major change from 2009 - at least thus far - is the absence of campaigns and grassroots movements to influence the policy. Parents' groups like Class Size Matters marched and rallied for more involvement; Bloomberg's allies created Mayoral Accountability for School Success and lobbied Albany heavily. This year those groups are missing in action. Union-allied education groups are tied up battling Cuomo, fighting on teacher evaluations, testing, and Common Core. Some advocates say they are considering action to influence the mayoral control conversation, but so far nothing has materialized.

Some legislators say that de Blasio may have learned from Bloomberg's and his own mistakes. Being critical of the Legislature backfired for both of them. In July 2009, frustrated with the impasse in Albany, Bloomberg took to the radio to criticize the legislative process. "If you remember Neville Chamberlain, no matter how many times you said yes, that's the starting point for the next round," Bloomberg said referring to the former British leader's negotiating trivails. "There's always more, more, more. I think that just the time for that is over."

Legislators cried bloody murder and accused Bloomberg of comparing them to Hitler. Negotiations stalled. De Blasio has already felt the sting of insulting opponents in the Legislature. Some legislators assume he is simply waiting quietly hoping not to ruffle any more feathers so that mayoral control is renewed in a simple trade for lifting the charter cap, which appears an inevitability in itself.

With only 22 days left of legislative session, the time for debate appears to be severely limited. In 2009 the New York Times quoted former Republican Senator Frank Padavan giving his assessment of the debate and the future of mayoral control: "There is no doubt in my mind that those of us who are here will be having a similar discussion then," Padavan said looking toward 2015. "We will look at the last six years and ask: Did our changes help?"

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
@DavidHowardKing

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Quiet Before the Storm in New Phase of Mayoral Control Debate Tue, 28 Apr 2015 20:52:33 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 16 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5632:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-march-16 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5632:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-march-16 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week will again be dominated by budget negotiations - especially in Albany, where a budget is due by the end of the month, which is rapidly approaching. In New York City, City Council hearings will continue on Mayor Bill de Blasio's preliminary fiscal year 2016 budget - once those hearings wrap up at the end of the month, the Council will craft its response to de Blasio, negotiations will continue, and the mayor will present his Executive Budget, leading to another round of council hearings. Key portions of the city budget are, of course, dependent upon the state budget, so much anticipation (and lobbying) surrounds negotiations in Albany, where Governor Andrew Cuomo is attempting to push through his spending plan, with major education and ethics reforms, despite significant disagreement from both Democrats (who control the State Assembly) and Republicans (who control the State Senate). Cuomo is also right in the middle on the minimum wage increase he's pushing and other issues.

While there will be a lot of action in Albany this week, this weekend is the annual Somos el Futuro Conference in Albany, at which there is always plenty of networking, negotiating, and more.

Speaking of budget negotiations, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (a former State Senator) launched a petition on Sunday to put additional pressure on the governor and other legislative leaders to include Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in budget negotiations. "Despite comprising over half of New York State's population, no woman has ever had a seat in statewide budget negotiations," it begins.

As for de Blasio, he made his case in Albany a few weeks ago and continues to lobby behind the scenes, while also praising the Assembly and its new Speaker, Carl Heastie of the Bronx, for its one-house budget outline. A key aspect of state funding for de Blasio is that for his universal pre-kindergarten program. On Sunday de Blasio held an event to kick off enrollment for pre-K for the 2015-2016 school year - enrollment officially opens on Monday. The City is hoping to expand pre-K enrollment from year one's 53,000-plus to all 73,000-or-so four-year-olds in the city. Monday is the start of pre-K enrollment and the end of the application period to be on one of the city's Community Education Councils. CECs are the local representative bodies that help inform education policy decision making and have been highlighted during the "Mayoral Control Forums" held by Public Advocate Letitia James in recent weeks.

James held a rally at City Hall on Sunday to call on the State to fully fund city schools in line with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and to criticize Gov. Cuomo's education reform policies. She starts her week with one event on her public schedule: a Howard University alumni affair.

Along with James, environmental activists and others, Comptroller Scott Stringer begins his week at a City Hall press conference to voice opposition to the Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas export facility.

The mayor starts his week with a busy Monday: he'll "host a breakfast for City Council Leadership in Manhattan...meet with Congressman Jerry Nadler and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez in City Hall," host an afternoon press conference with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to make an announcement; and, at 11 p.m. "appear on Tavis Smiley" on PBS, according to his public schedule.

On Thursday evening, the mayor is expected to speak at a fundraiser in Manhattan to support City Council Member Vincent Gentile's congressional campaign. By the way, if you want to register to vote in that special election or the other one (Assembly District 43) happening May 5, you have until April 10 to register.

On Monday evening, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will speak at a Citizens Union event on solving Albany's corruption probably. He is expected to unveil new plans to expand his role in doing so and new proposals pushing state lawmakers further in ethics reforms. Details below.

As always, there's a great deal happening at the City Council and 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
Monday in Albany, National Organization for Women NYC will rally to end human trafficking: “For the last three years NOW-NYC has been fighting for the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA). Consensus is growing that the problem of trafficking can be tackled by legislators ensuring survivors-especially children-get help not punishment. TVPJA does that and more, and its passage would make New York a national leader in the fight against human trafficking.” [Related: read Manhattan DA Cy Vance's recent op-ed on the need to strengthen New York's sex trafficking laws]

On Monday afternoon, Assembly Speaker Heastie will hold a "news conference announcing comprehensive legislation to combat human trafficking. He will be joined by members of the Assembly Majority and advocates," according to his public schedule.

Both the State Senate and the State Assembly are in session in Albany on Monday afternoon.

Monday’s City Council schedule will include a meeting of the Committee on Civil Rights for its preliminary budget hearing and a meeting of the Committee on Oversight and Investigations for its preliminary budget hearing.

On Monday morning, "New York Law School hosts "A Bold Step for New York's Children: A Symposium on Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility" featuring Jeremy Creelan, Soffiyah Elijah, Jacqueline Greene, Sheriff Allen Riley, Joel Copperman, Richard Aborn, Laurie Parise and others," according to City & State NY. [Related: read our report on Governor Cuomo's much-praised effort to "Raise the Age"]

Also according to City & State NY, on Monday at 11:30 a.m. "State Sen. IDC Leader Jeff Klein, state Sens. Diane Savino and Adriano Espaillat, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres and others gather for a rally calling for funding in state budget to repair and upgrade NYCHA developments, Million Dollar Staircase, State Capitol, Albany."

The City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is holding a TB Day of Action on Monday, in which Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and others are participating to raise awareness.

Monday at 5:30 p.m., New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Brad Lander will host a “Celebration of Bangladesh Independence,” at the Council Chambers inside City Hall. Other Council Members in attendance will include Rafael Espinal Jr., Rory Lancman, Daniel Dromm, I. Daneek Miller, Annabel Palma, Mark Weprin, Jimmy Van Bramer, among others.

On Monday evening, BP Brewer will attend the opening of the new Hunter College faculty/laboratory research space at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Also Monday evening, NYCHA will host its Manhattan town hall meeting at Johnson Houses CC, in East Harlem.

Monday evening, good government group Citizens Union will host “Can New Yorkers Fix Albany’s Corruption Problem?” - its first Civic Conversation of the year, featuring Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and an esteemed panel. “Join Citizens Union for our first Civic Conversation of the year. This educational forum will bring expert panelists and the public together to discuss why there is a crime wave of corruption in Albany and what can be done to fight back and change the capitol's ethics.” After Schneiderman delivers remarks, panelists will include Richard Briffault, Professor of Legislation at Columbia Law School, Chair of NYC Conflicts of Interest Board and Former Moreland Commissioner; Richard Brodsky, Senior Fellow at Demos, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Policy at NYU Wagner Graduate School, and Former NYS Assemblymember for the 92nd District; Jennifer Rodgers, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity, Former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The panel will be moderated by Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union.

Tuesday
Tuesday morning, “Join Crain’s and New York real estate's most impressive players to explore the next stage in the city’s development. Chairman of the NYC Planning Commission Carl Weisbrod will unveil the de Blasio administration’s latest zoning policies and urban-planning initiatives. A panel of experts will assess City Hall’s ambitious efforts to create and maintain 200,000 units of affordable housing. The conference will conclude with the sharpest minds in the business debating how best to reform a broken tax system that must pay for it all.”

Also Tuesday morning, the Young Women’s Christian Association of New York will host a discussion on Leadership and Generosity: A Call to Action: “We will look at ‘Young Women Leaders’ featuring Aissata M.B. Camara, Elizabeth Plank, Carmen Perez, Maria Naggaga, Yuh-Line Niou, and Candace Simpson.”

Tuesday’s City Council schedule will include a meeting of the Committee on Juvenile Justice, jointly with the Committee on General Welfare and the Committee on Women’s Issues for a preliminary budget hearing.

Tuesday at noon, The Brennan Center for Justice will present Democracy's Problems and Prospects: A Book Talk with Douglas E. Schoen: “America’s democracy is floundering, Congress is hopelessly gridlocked, and millions remain without gainful employment. Despite all this, longtime political strategist and polling expert Douglas E. Schoen remains optimistic.”

Tuesday evening, CUNY Institute for Education Policy (CIEP) will host a one-on-one conversation with the President of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Michael Mulgrew: “This unscripted conversation will cover a wide range of pressing issues facing New York State's teachers and their students.” Mulgrew will be speaking with CIEP Director David Steiner, who is also Dean of the Hunter College School of Education and former State Commissioner of Education.

[Explore the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette for something you may have missed]

Wednesday
Wednesday morning in Albany, Capital New York will host “Medical Marijuana: Is N.Y. Doing it Right?”, an in-depth conversation on the topic of New York’s medical marijuana law "covering regulation, accessibility, barriers to entry into the local market, program costs and more.” Featured speakers will include the incoming Counsel to the Governor of New York, Alphonso David; Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried; State Senator Diane Savino; and others.

On Wednesday, City Council Member Andy King and the Riverbay Corporation will host the "2015 Veterans Job and Resource Fair" in Co-op City in the Bronx. "Employers as well as non-profit resource organizations and city agencies will be present, including JP Morgan Chase & Co., which, with other founding corporations, launched the 100,000 Jobs Mission in 2011 with the goal of hiring 100,000 military veterans by 2020."

Wednesday afternoon, the Graduate Center at CUNY will host another public lecture in the Immigration Seminar Series: “Everyday Illegal: When Policies Undermine Immigrant Families.” Among the speakers will be Joanna Dreby, Associate Professor of Sociology at University at Albany, SUNY.

Wednesday evening, “Albany Capital Pro Trivia Night!...Albany Bureau Chief Jimmy Vielkind tees up questions on all things policy, politics and media."

Also Wednesday evening, Beta NYC is hosting a Civic Hacknight in Queens with Coalition 4 Queens.

Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at MoMA PS1, New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer will host a Cultural Town Hall event featuring special remarks from the Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Tom Finkelpearl.

Also in Queens Wednesday evening, BP Katz is hosting a "parent advisory board meeting on common core" that will include reps from the city DOE.

Thursday
All day Thursday, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development will host its Annual Community Development Conference. The morning keynote speaker will be Thomas J. Curry, Federal Comptroller of the Currency. The afternoon keynote speaker will be Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of New York City Council.

Thursday morning, Manhattan BP Brewer hosts a meeting of the Manhattan Borough Board.

Thursday at City Hall, there will be a Student Voter Registration Day press conference held by elected officials, advocacy groups, and school representatives.

Also Thursday morning, Queens BP Melinda Katz will hold a land use meeting at Queens Borough Hall.

Thursday’s City Council schedule will include a meeting of the Committee on Governmental Operations for its preliminary budget oversight hearing; a meeting of the Committee on Veterans to consider a resolution "calling upon the New York State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign S.752, the Veterans' Education Through SUNY Credits Act"; and a meeting of the Committee on Education to consider multiple resolutions, including one "calling upon the New York State Legislature to reject any attempt to raise the cap on the number of charter schools," one "calling upon the Department of Education to amend its Parent's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities to include information about opting out of high-stakes testing and distribute this document at the beginning of every school year, to every family, in every grade," and one "calling upon the New York State Legislature to eliminate the Governor's receivership proposal in the executive budget for New York City." 

Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to speak at a fundraiser for the Democratic candidate in the special election to fill the vacant 11th Congressional District seat, Brooklyn City Council Member Vincent Gentile. Democratic activist Bill Samuels and Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos will host the event at Mr. Samuels’ Manhattan home.

Also Thursday evening, the Department of Transportation and the MTA are hosting a town hall to unveil plans around the Utica Avenue B46 SBS Project, according to Riders Alliance, which is encouraging its members to attend and make their voices heard.

Thursday evening, at 6:30 p.m., Housing Preservation and Development will host a Owner Outreach and Education Forum with Council Members Inez Barron and Rafael Espinal and Cypress Hills Development Corporation in East New York, Brooklyn.

Also Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will host East Side Coastal Resiliency Project's Community Engagement Session: “Following on HUD's Rebuild by Design competition, New York City is working to reduce the risk of extreme weather and climate change, as well as improve quality of life. This project focuses on neighborhoods near the East River between Montgomery and 23rd Streets.”

Thursday at 7 p.m., the NYC Young Republican Club will host its monthly meetup at the Women's National Republican Club.

[Explore the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette for something you may have missed]

Friday and the weekend
All day Friday, Common Cause NY, Citizens Union, the New York City Council, and other partners will host Student Voter Registration Day “to increase youth voter registration and excite young people about being involved in the democratic process. Through interactive discussion SVRD encourages youth to see how issues at the polls affect their everyday lives.”

Friday’s City Council schedule will include a meeting of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations, jointly with the Subcommittee on Libraries, for a preliminary budget hearing.

Friday morning, Amnesty International USA will have its weekend-long 2015 Human Rights Conference and Annual General Meetings, in Brooklyn: “The 2015 Annual General Meeting will bring over a thousand human rights activists from around the world together to engage in networking opportunities, human rights actions, inspiring plenaries, outstanding key notes, and hands-on workshops." Speakers will include Harry Belafonte, Ann Burroughs, Rosa Alicia Clemente, Nusrat Durrani, Steven Hawkins, Thomas Jagow-Schultz, Benjamin Jealous, Linda Sarsour, Ciara Taylor, Vincent Warren, Jesse Williams, and Jie-Song Zhang.

Friday afternoon, Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright will host a Women’s History Month celebration, at which the Assembly Member is also set to give out Women of Distinction Awards to recognize “remarkable women and their efforts to improve our community.”

On Friday at 5:30 p.m., to commemorate women's history month, Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams "will host the second annual Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Celebration & Award Ceremony" at Brooklyn Public Library-Central Branch. "This event will honor seven extraordinary women from New York City who are making tremendous strides in their fields by using their skills and expertise to strengthen our communities. Two young community leaders will also be honored during the event and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will serve as the event's keynote speaker."

Friday evening in Albany, City & State NY will host a Somos Albany Kickoff Cocktail Reception. The event will feature New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and New York State Assemblyman & Somos el Futuro Chair Marcos Crespo.

Saturday morning, The Office of Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, together with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will host "Tuberculosis Awareness Walk and Rally." 

Also Saturday morning, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) will host a CUNY Citizenship Application Assistance Event in Brooklyn.

On Sunday afternoon, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez will give his State of the District speech at George Washington Educational Campus.

[Explore the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette for something you may have missed]

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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).

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by Rati Mukhuradze, Marco Poggio, and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 16 Sun, 15 Mar 2015 19:15:54 +0000