Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/comptroller 2017-10-16T23:59:58+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 4 2016-04-03T05:00:00+00:00 2016-04-03T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6260:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-april-4 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>We're about two weeks from New York's April 19 presidential primary vote. The three remaining Republican candidates and two remaining Democrats have been campaigning in New York, which is more in play than it has been in several cycles. Hillary Clinton is set to hold events in New York City and Albany Monday, including a rally with Gov. Cuomo and a meeting with state Assembly Democrats, and while the candidates are also paying attention to Wisconsin as the week begins, New York already has a great deal of their and the nation's focus. It should be an exciting and dramatic two weeks. As this week begins, the Clinton and Sanders campaigns continue to spar over whether there will be a Democratic debate in New York before the state votes.</p> <p>All three Republican candidates - Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich - are set to attend the New York GOP's annual gala, set for April 14. The candidates are expected to campaign in New York over the next two weeks.</p> <p>The day of the New York presidential primaries, April 19, is also the date of special elections in the state Legislature, including the races to replace both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both those races appear competitive two weeks out. The Senate race is especially important given that Democrats are eyeing this year's elections as a chance to take control of the chamber - they already have a wide majority in the Assembly.</p> <p>Monday will see return to a focus on the recently-passed state budget. Hillary Clinton will rally in New York City Monday with Gov. Cuomo and others to celebrate that the budget includes a path to a $15 per hour minimum wage and a paid family leave policy.</p> <p>There is sure to be more analysis of the $147-plus billion budget this week, it was passed Friday after much last-minute negotiating (a deal was announced just a few hours before the midnight Thursday deadline, with voting by the Legislature taking place through Thursday evening and into Friday - the state's fiscal year begins April 1). The new budget was met with some criticism, largely over the process by which it was agreed upon and passed with little time for review by lawmakers and the public, and much celebration, especially over the minimum wage and paid family leave provisions, as well as increased funding for education, transportation infrastructure, and more. There is a lot of budget language to digest as the details have been made public.</p> <p>The Legislature is due in Albany for three days of post-budget legislative session this week. Including this week, there are 27 days of session scheduled between now and its scheduled end on June 16. Issues to address include mayoral control of New York City schools, which expires at the end of June (the Senate will hold two May hearings, it recently announced, at which Mayor de Blasio is expected to testify), a property tax abatement program to spur affordable housing development (renewing or replacing the expired 421-a program), raising the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16, the Dream Act, and much more - including government ethics reform, which the governor says will be his top priority after none was included in the budget deal.</p> <p>On Monday we expect the City Council's official response to Mayor Bill de Blasio's $82 billion preliminary budget plan. The Council has held a month of budget hearings and now has the state budget to consider, so it is able to give its response to the mayor, who will take it and the state budget into account as he prepares his executive budget. When de Blasio releases his updated spending plan in a few weeks, it will kick off another round of Council budget hearings as the two sides head toward a deal by the end of June and the July 1 start of the city's new fiscal year. Since major cuts in funding to the city from the state that Gov. Cuomo had in his budget plan were taken out of the final deal, there will be little drama to the city budget process the rest of the way. The biggest bone of contention appears to be whether the mayor is insisting on enough agency savings. There will also be small battles over things like <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6240-library-funding-one-discrepancy-in-quiet-city-budget-season" target="_blank">levels of library funding</a>.</p> <p>Many eyes are also <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">on East New York as the week begins</a>. A large area of the Brooklyn community is set to be rezoned, the first of 15 neighborhoods where the de Blasio administration plans to significantly change land use rules to facilitate more housing and community improvements, but the clock is ticking as the administration and local stakeholders, led by City Council Member Rafael Espinal, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">negotiate the final details of the plan</a>. There is no zoning subcommittee or land use committee vote scheduled as of Sunday evening, but one could be scheduled if a deal is reached. The parties have until the end of the month to reach and pass a deal.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Council’s preliminary budget response to Mayor de Blasio is expected on Monday.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Monday at the Javits Center in Manhattan, The Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice will hold a "victory rally for $15 minimum wage and paid family leave"&nbsp;- participants will include "Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; Hillary Clinton; George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Chair of the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice; labor leaders; advocates and minimum wage workers." City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is expected to attend the rally, according to her schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 1 p.m. at 1 Police Plaza,&nbsp;"Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton will host a press conference to discuss monthly crime stats," according to the mayor's public schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Transportation will meet to discuss several items, such as the provision of certain parking privileges for press vehicles, the requirement of curb extensions at certain dangerous intersections, and the establishment of Earth Day 2016 as a car-free day for private and all non-essential city vehicles.</li> <li dir="ltr">10:30 a.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will meet to discuss various candidates for appointment to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Board of Corrections, and the City Planning Commission.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet to address several land use applications.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Contracts will hold an oversight meeting on the challenges facing nonprofits in city contracting.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 11:30 a.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña&nbsp;will visit "a Model Dual Language Program to make an announcement," at High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at noon,&nbsp;"At a press conference Monday, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance will release a new report on Mayor de Blasio's OneNYC Plan, his administration's blueprint for increasing the city's environmental sustainability and resiliency. The report shows that six low-income communities of color on the waterfront designated by the city as Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas (SMIAs)—the South Bronx, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Newtown Creek, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the North Shore of Staten Island—are still the most vulnerable to the threats of climate change and not sufficiently protected by the OneNYC Plan. A number of constructive recommendations for strengthening the plan are offered in the detailed report."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks&nbsp;"at 32BJ Security Contract Rally" at the Wall Street Bull. At 9 p.m., Stringer will appear on BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank (BronxNet TV or Bronxnet.org).</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7:30 p.m. Monday in Albany, the burgeoning Museum of Political Corruption will host a <a href="http://www.museumofpoliticalcorruption.org/news.html" target="_blank">roundtable discussion and public forum</a> on political corruption following a reception and fundraiser. Speakers include Frank Anechiarico, professor of government and law at Hamilton College; Blair Horner, Executive Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group; Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law School professor and Congressional candidate; Jimmy Vielkind, Politico NY Albany bureau chief; and Thomas Bass, SUNY Albany professor, who will moderate.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8 a.m., Bill Mulrow, secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo will <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20160317" target="_blank">discuss</a> the administration’s budget goals and legislative priorities, including a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, and infrastructure projects, at a Crain’s New York Business event. Moderating the conversation will be Crain’s New York editor Erik Engquist and Ken Lovett of the Daily News.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Tuesday on the Upper East Side,&nbsp;the launch of LinkNYC Kiosks with free Wi-Fi and more, featuring City Council Member Ben Kallos, Assistant Commissioner Telecommunications Planning at NYC Department of Information and Technology Stanley Shor and LinkNYC General Manager Jen Hensley (86th Street and 3rd Avenue, South East Corner).</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Tuesday: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Immigration will address a resolution calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a decision in U.S. v. Texas, which overturns the Fifth Circuit’s ruling and upholds the implementation of President Obama’s expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m., a town hall meeting to discuss the 2017 referendum to hold a New York constitutional convention will be held at the University at Buffalo. The event will feature a number of experts, such as Gerald Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz and Henrik Dullea, who served as director of state operations and policy management for Governor Mario Cuomo from 1983-91, who will discuss what a constitutional convention would look like and the issues at stake in constitutional reform.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m., The Coalition to End Broken Windows will launch a two-day <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breaking-broken-windows-tickets-21796569125" target="_blank">conference</a>, Breaking Broken Windows, at the CUNY Graduate Center. Participants will evaluate, debate, and debunk Broken Windows policing theory, which “contends that policing disorder leads to reductions in serious crime.” They will also analyze the era of mass criminalization and imprisonment while working towards alternative solutions for a better future for New York City. Speakers include a variety of academics, advocates, and journalists, including Noha Arafa, of New Yorkers Against Bratton, Janine Jackson of Fairness &amp; Accuracy in Reporting, and Professor Alex Vitale of Brooklyn College.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Queens, "City Council "Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Access Queens will host a Town Hall on the 7 train with New York City Transit President Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim. At this event, 7 train riders, angry and frustrated by seemingly endless delays, overcrowding, and weekend and evening closures, will have the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns directly with the president of New York City Transit."</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Manhattan Institute and the Fordham Institute will host a <a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/future-charter-schools—and-school-choice—-nyc-8621.html?et=5c3c75c9f5a6e1fc8f4bc64f46e771fc" target="_blank">conference</a> beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to address “The Future of Charter Schools—And School Choice—In NYC,” following a recent study ranking U.S. cities on various school-choice metrics (by the Fordham Institute) finding that local political support for charters in NYC has fallen from 8th to 26th place, and the city’s overall ranking from 3rd to 12th. Speakers include Priscilla Wohlstetter, professor at Teachers College, Columbia University; James Merriman, president of the New York City Charter School Center; Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute; and Charles Sahm, Director of Education Policy at the Manhattan Institute.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet to address several resolutions on Nicholas’ Law, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, Congressional funding for gun violence research, safeguards against wrongful convictions, and opposing the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Economic Development will hear a bill requiring a survey and study of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity among the leadership of city contractors.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will meet to address several issues deferred from the meeting of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Governmental Operations will meet to evaluate the structure and content of the preliminary Mayor’s Management Report.</li> </ul> <p>On Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Albany,&nbsp;"State Senator Liz Krueger will hold a forum on modernizing sales tax collection in New York State. New York State's current system of sales tax collection has not kept up with changes in retail payment methods and technological innovation. This forum will evaluate proposals for modernizing the collection of sales tax to improve its efficiency for retailers and to reduce the potential for fraud through sales tax suppression. One tax researcher has estimated that sales tax suppression costs New York State $1.7 billion in revenue annually. A number of other states and countries have adopted or are exploring the adoption of new technologies to address these issues."</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host a <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/moving-beyond-the-rhetoric-creating-a-diverse-workplace-in-the-21st-c-tickets-22062477464?ct=t(March+Programs+Week+3+(03082016))&amp;mc_eid=[UNIQID]&amp;mc_cid=6d60e307a9" target="_blank">panel</a> to discuss “Moving Beyond the Rhetoric: Creating a Diverse Workplace in the 21st Century.” Panelists include professionals leading Bloomberg LP’s Diversity and Inclusion group; Kristen Titus, Founding Director of NYC Tech Talent Pipeline; Anthony Crowell, President of New York Law School; Eulas Boyd, Dean of Admissions at Brooklyn Law School; and Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs” and will discuss their experiences in building and instituting workplace diversity policies.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Columbia’s schools of International and Public Affairs and Law will host a public policy forum about policing, criminal justice reform, and public integrity. Loretta Lynch, the 83rd Attorney General of the U.S., will deliver the keynote address. Former Mayor David Dinkins, who the event is named for and is a professor at Columbia, will deliver remarks. Professor Ester Fuchs will moderate a panel on&nbsp;on "Criminal Justice Reform and Public Integrity" featuring Mark Peters, Commissioner, NYC Department of Investigation; Daniel C. Richman, Paul J. Keller Professor of Law, Columbia Law School; Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney; Nicholas Turner, President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice. (This event is by invitation only.)</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to address a land use application and introduce a bill establishing a temporary program to resolve outstanding penalties imposed by the environmental control board.</li> <li dir="ltr">1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body stated meeting, which will be prefaced as usual by a pre-stated press conference hosted by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">State Legislature hearings Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Insurance and the Assembly Standing Committee on Health will be hosting a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/write/upload/publichearing/20160318.pdf" target="_blank">public hearing</a> to evaluate the process of modifying or enhancing health insurance coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">Noon in Oakdale, the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction will host a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">public meeting</a> to examine the issues facing communities in the wake of increased heroin abuse.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Thursday, the MTA will hold a <a href="http://web.mta.info/mta/news/hearings/" target="_blank">public hearing</a> about a proposal to restore service to the N and Q lines in connection with the opening of Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway, expected to be completed late this year.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara <a href="https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/715551466505814016" target="_blank">is scheduled to deliver</a> the keynote speech at the New York Press Association Spring <a href="https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/tab2.aspx?EventID=1812032" target="_blank">Convention</a>, which will begin at 9 a.m. Friday.</p> <p>At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo will join the ROLE Call in hosting the NYC Fatherhood and Family Enrichment Conference at Port Richmond High School. This <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nyc-fatherhood-and-family-enrichment-conference-2016-tickets-21128906127" target="_blank">event</a> aims to enhance Fatherhood Engagement by offering seminars and workshops in family and fatherhood services.</p> <p>***<br />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:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Kelly Fan and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>We're about two weeks from New York's April 19 presidential primary vote. The three remaining Republican candidates and two remaining Democrats have been campaigning in New York, which is more in play than it has been in several cycles. Hillary Clinton is set to hold events in New York City and Albany Monday, including a rally with Gov. Cuomo and a meeting with state Assembly Democrats, and while the candidates are also paying attention to Wisconsin as the week begins, New York already has a great deal of their and the nation's focus. It should be an exciting and dramatic two weeks. As this week begins, the Clinton and Sanders campaigns continue to spar over whether there will be a Democratic debate in New York before the state votes.</p> <p>All three Republican candidates - Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich - are set to attend the New York GOP's annual gala, set for April 14. The candidates are expected to campaign in New York over the next two weeks.</p> <p>The day of the New York presidential primaries, April 19, is also the date of special elections in the state Legislature, including the races to replace both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both those races appear competitive two weeks out. The Senate race is especially important given that Democrats are eyeing this year's elections as a chance to take control of the chamber - they already have a wide majority in the Assembly.</p> <p>Monday will see return to a focus on the recently-passed state budget. Hillary Clinton will rally in New York City Monday with Gov. Cuomo and others to celebrate that the budget includes a path to a $15 per hour minimum wage and a paid family leave policy.</p> <p>There is sure to be more analysis of the $147-plus billion budget this week, it was passed Friday after much last-minute negotiating (a deal was announced just a few hours before the midnight Thursday deadline, with voting by the Legislature taking place through Thursday evening and into Friday - the state's fiscal year begins April 1). The new budget was met with some criticism, largely over the process by which it was agreed upon and passed with little time for review by lawmakers and the public, and much celebration, especially over the minimum wage and paid family leave provisions, as well as increased funding for education, transportation infrastructure, and more. There is a lot of budget language to digest as the details have been made public.</p> <p>The Legislature is due in Albany for three days of post-budget legislative session this week. Including this week, there are 27 days of session scheduled between now and its scheduled end on June 16. Issues to address include mayoral control of New York City schools, which expires at the end of June (the Senate will hold two May hearings, it recently announced, at which Mayor de Blasio is expected to testify), a property tax abatement program to spur affordable housing development (renewing or replacing the expired 421-a program), raising the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16, the Dream Act, and much more - including government ethics reform, which the governor says will be his top priority after none was included in the budget deal.</p> <p>On Monday we expect the City Council's official response to Mayor Bill de Blasio's $82 billion preliminary budget plan. The Council has held a month of budget hearings and now has the state budget to consider, so it is able to give its response to the mayor, who will take it and the state budget into account as he prepares his executive budget. When de Blasio releases his updated spending plan in a few weeks, it will kick off another round of Council budget hearings as the two sides head toward a deal by the end of June and the July 1 start of the city's new fiscal year. Since major cuts in funding to the city from the state that Gov. Cuomo had in his budget plan were taken out of the final deal, there will be little drama to the city budget process the rest of the way. The biggest bone of contention appears to be whether the mayor is insisting on enough agency savings. There will also be small battles over things like <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6240-library-funding-one-discrepancy-in-quiet-city-budget-season" target="_blank">levels of library funding</a>.</p> <p>Many eyes are also <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">on East New York as the week begins</a>. A large area of the Brooklyn community is set to be rezoned, the first of 15 neighborhoods where the de Blasio administration plans to significantly change land use rules to facilitate more housing and community improvements, but the clock is ticking as the administration and local stakeholders, led by City Council Member Rafael Espinal, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">negotiate the final details of the plan</a>. There is no zoning subcommittee or land use committee vote scheduled as of Sunday evening, but one could be scheduled if a deal is reached. The parties have until the end of the month to reach and pass a deal.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Council’s preliminary budget response to Mayor de Blasio is expected on Monday.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Monday at the Javits Center in Manhattan, The Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice will hold a "victory rally for $15 minimum wage and paid family leave"&nbsp;- participants will include "Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; Hillary Clinton; George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Chair of the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice; labor leaders; advocates and minimum wage workers." City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is expected to attend the rally, according to her schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 1 p.m. at 1 Police Plaza,&nbsp;"Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton will host a press conference to discuss monthly crime stats," according to the mayor's public schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Transportation will meet to discuss several items, such as the provision of certain parking privileges for press vehicles, the requirement of curb extensions at certain dangerous intersections, and the establishment of Earth Day 2016 as a car-free day for private and all non-essential city vehicles.</li> <li dir="ltr">10:30 a.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will meet to discuss various candidates for appointment to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Board of Corrections, and the City Planning Commission.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet to address several land use applications.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Contracts will hold an oversight meeting on the challenges facing nonprofits in city contracting.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 11:30 a.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña&nbsp;will visit "a Model Dual Language Program to make an announcement," at High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at noon,&nbsp;"At a press conference Monday, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance will release a new report on Mayor de Blasio's OneNYC Plan, his administration's blueprint for increasing the city's environmental sustainability and resiliency. The report shows that six low-income communities of color on the waterfront designated by the city as Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas (SMIAs)—the South Bronx, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Newtown Creek, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the North Shore of Staten Island—are still the most vulnerable to the threats of climate change and not sufficiently protected by the OneNYC Plan. A number of constructive recommendations for strengthening the plan are offered in the detailed report."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks&nbsp;"at 32BJ Security Contract Rally" at the Wall Street Bull. At 9 p.m., Stringer will appear on BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank (BronxNet TV or Bronxnet.org).</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7:30 p.m. Monday in Albany, the burgeoning Museum of Political Corruption will host a <a href="http://www.museumofpoliticalcorruption.org/news.html" target="_blank">roundtable discussion and public forum</a> on political corruption following a reception and fundraiser. Speakers include Frank Anechiarico, professor of government and law at Hamilton College; Blair Horner, Executive Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group; Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law School professor and Congressional candidate; Jimmy Vielkind, Politico NY Albany bureau chief; and Thomas Bass, SUNY Albany professor, who will moderate.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8 a.m., Bill Mulrow, secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo will <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20160317" target="_blank">discuss</a> the administration’s budget goals and legislative priorities, including a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, and infrastructure projects, at a Crain’s New York Business event. Moderating the conversation will be Crain’s New York editor Erik Engquist and Ken Lovett of the Daily News.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Tuesday on the Upper East Side,&nbsp;the launch of LinkNYC Kiosks with free Wi-Fi and more, featuring City Council Member Ben Kallos, Assistant Commissioner Telecommunications Planning at NYC Department of Information and Technology Stanley Shor and LinkNYC General Manager Jen Hensley (86th Street and 3rd Avenue, South East Corner).</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Tuesday: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Immigration will address a resolution calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a decision in U.S. v. Texas, which overturns the Fifth Circuit’s ruling and upholds the implementation of President Obama’s expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m., a town hall meeting to discuss the 2017 referendum to hold a New York constitutional convention will be held at the University at Buffalo. The event will feature a number of experts, such as Gerald Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz and Henrik Dullea, who served as director of state operations and policy management for Governor Mario Cuomo from 1983-91, who will discuss what a constitutional convention would look like and the issues at stake in constitutional reform.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m., The Coalition to End Broken Windows will launch a two-day <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breaking-broken-windows-tickets-21796569125" target="_blank">conference</a>, Breaking Broken Windows, at the CUNY Graduate Center. Participants will evaluate, debate, and debunk Broken Windows policing theory, which “contends that policing disorder leads to reductions in serious crime.” They will also analyze the era of mass criminalization and imprisonment while working towards alternative solutions for a better future for New York City. Speakers include a variety of academics, advocates, and journalists, including Noha Arafa, of New Yorkers Against Bratton, Janine Jackson of Fairness &amp; Accuracy in Reporting, and Professor Alex Vitale of Brooklyn College.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Queens, "City Council "Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Access Queens will host a Town Hall on the 7 train with New York City Transit President Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim. At this event, 7 train riders, angry and frustrated by seemingly endless delays, overcrowding, and weekend and evening closures, will have the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns directly with the president of New York City Transit."</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Manhattan Institute and the Fordham Institute will host a <a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/future-charter-schools—and-school-choice—-nyc-8621.html?et=5c3c75c9f5a6e1fc8f4bc64f46e771fc" target="_blank">conference</a> beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to address “The Future of Charter Schools—And School Choice—In NYC,” following a recent study ranking U.S. cities on various school-choice metrics (by the Fordham Institute) finding that local political support for charters in NYC has fallen from 8th to 26th place, and the city’s overall ranking from 3rd to 12th. Speakers include Priscilla Wohlstetter, professor at Teachers College, Columbia University; James Merriman, president of the New York City Charter School Center; Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute; and Charles Sahm, Director of Education Policy at the Manhattan Institute.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet to address several resolutions on Nicholas’ Law, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, Congressional funding for gun violence research, safeguards against wrongful convictions, and opposing the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Economic Development will hear a bill requiring a survey and study of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity among the leadership of city contractors.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will meet to address several issues deferred from the meeting of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Governmental Operations will meet to evaluate the structure and content of the preliminary Mayor’s Management Report.</li> </ul> <p>On Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Albany,&nbsp;"State Senator Liz Krueger will hold a forum on modernizing sales tax collection in New York State. New York State's current system of sales tax collection has not kept up with changes in retail payment methods and technological innovation. This forum will evaluate proposals for modernizing the collection of sales tax to improve its efficiency for retailers and to reduce the potential for fraud through sales tax suppression. One tax researcher has estimated that sales tax suppression costs New York State $1.7 billion in revenue annually. A number of other states and countries have adopted or are exploring the adoption of new technologies to address these issues."</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host a <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/moving-beyond-the-rhetoric-creating-a-diverse-workplace-in-the-21st-c-tickets-22062477464?ct=t(March+Programs+Week+3+(03082016))&amp;mc_eid=[UNIQID]&amp;mc_cid=6d60e307a9" target="_blank">panel</a> to discuss “Moving Beyond the Rhetoric: Creating a Diverse Workplace in the 21st Century.” Panelists include professionals leading Bloomberg LP’s Diversity and Inclusion group; Kristen Titus, Founding Director of NYC Tech Talent Pipeline; Anthony Crowell, President of New York Law School; Eulas Boyd, Dean of Admissions at Brooklyn Law School; and Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs” and will discuss their experiences in building and instituting workplace diversity policies.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Columbia’s schools of International and Public Affairs and Law will host a public policy forum about policing, criminal justice reform, and public integrity. Loretta Lynch, the 83rd Attorney General of the U.S., will deliver the keynote address. Former Mayor David Dinkins, who the event is named for and is a professor at Columbia, will deliver remarks. Professor Ester Fuchs will moderate a panel on&nbsp;on "Criminal Justice Reform and Public Integrity" featuring Mark Peters, Commissioner, NYC Department of Investigation; Daniel C. Richman, Paul J. Keller Professor of Law, Columbia Law School; Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney; Nicholas Turner, President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice. (This event is by invitation only.)</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to address a land use application and introduce a bill establishing a temporary program to resolve outstanding penalties imposed by the environmental control board.</li> <li dir="ltr">1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body stated meeting, which will be prefaced as usual by a pre-stated press conference hosted by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">State Legislature hearings Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Insurance and the Assembly Standing Committee on Health will be hosting a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/write/upload/publichearing/20160318.pdf" target="_blank">public hearing</a> to evaluate the process of modifying or enhancing health insurance coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">Noon in Oakdale, the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction will host a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">public meeting</a> to examine the issues facing communities in the wake of increased heroin abuse.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Thursday, the MTA will hold a <a href="http://web.mta.info/mta/news/hearings/" target="_blank">public hearing</a> about a proposal to restore service to the N and Q lines in connection with the opening of Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway, expected to be completed late this year.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara <a href="https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/715551466505814016" target="_blank">is scheduled to deliver</a> the keynote speech at the New York Press Association Spring <a href="https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/tab2.aspx?EventID=1812032" target="_blank">Convention</a>, which will begin at 9 a.m. Friday.</p> <p>At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo will join the ROLE Call in hosting the NYC Fatherhood and Family Enrichment Conference at Port Richmond High School. This <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nyc-fatherhood-and-family-enrichment-conference-2016-tickets-21128906127" target="_blank">event</a> aims to enhance Fatherhood Engagement by offering seminars and workshops in family and fatherhood services.</p> <p>***<br />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:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Kelly Fan and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Once Rife with Problems, City Budget Process Now a Model for State System in Need of Reform 2016-01-18T05:28:20+00:00 2016-01-18T05:28:20+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6097:once-rife-with-problems-city-budget-process-now-a-model-for-state-system-in-need-of-reform kfan <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/14201878985_7561049369_z.jpg" alt="cuomo exec budget pres 2014" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>Governor Cuomo <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/14201878985/in/dateposted/" target="_blank">presents</a> his 2014-2015 Executive Budget</p> <hr /> <p>In 1975 New York City was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, having balanced its budget for years with massive borrowing and shady accounting tricks. Banks were at the point where they would lend no more. Mayor Abe Beame had written the announcement of the city's default. City lawyers were in State Supreme Court filing a petition for bankruptcy and police were prepared to serve the banks.</p> <p>At the last minute bankruptcy was averted as the federal government provided the city with loans. Those loans combined with the state-created Financial Control Board, which required the city to use generally accepted accounting practices and provide four-year financial plans, are credited with turning things around.</p> <p>Gone were the days when operating expenses were reclassified as capital investments, when labor costs were paid for with new loans, when raids on existing funds were acceptable ways to pay for new expenses. The city underwent such a turnaround in the following decades that its budget process is now thought to be a shining beacon across the country. The Financial Control Board that used to strike fear into the hearts of mayors is now a sleepy, almost forgotten entity.</p> <p>The state government, however, is facing a crisis of its own--not a fiscal one, but a crisis of trust, brought on by a series of convictions of sitting legislators that was capped late last year by the convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. For years, the Silver and Skelos served as two of the 'three men in a room' deciding the budget with the Governor. It's a process that has been decried by good government advocates, reform-minded legislators, and the U.S Attorney, Preet Bharara, who brought Silver and Skelos to justice for abusing their positions.</p> <p>"I think people should start to talk about budget transparency as a matter of ethics," said Sen. Liz Krueger, the Democrats' ranking member on the state Senate finance committee. "People really should care about the lack of transparency in the state budget process for a whole lot of reasons. One of them is that if you don't know what's going on, pay-to-play wins the day. If someone wants something in the budget they get it there with a whole lot of lobbying money that no one knows about. That's the harm, that's the danger and I'll tell you that happens constantly."</p> <p>A number of major corruption cases, including Silver's, have centered on the opaqueness of the budget process that allows legislators and the governor to put aside secret slush funds. For example, Silver was able to direct discretionary funding to a cancer doctor who in turn sent Silver and his law firm lucrative clients suffering from a rare form of cancer.</p> <p>Former Sen. Malcolm Smith was convicted in a scheme whereby he would provide a developer a $500,000 lump sum from the budget. <a href="http://www.citizensunion.org/site_res_view_template.aspx?id=44c00241-f127-49c8-b019-f2d3d8cd1c41" target="_blank">A report</a> from good government group Citizens Union found that the 2014 and 2015 fiscal year budgets had over $3 billion in lump funds, while Cuomo's proposed 2016 budget had around $2.6 billion. Citizens Union, Common Cause NY, and NYPIRG have this year <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6069-good-government-groups-want-legislators-to-pledge-to-fight-for-reform" target="_blank">called on legislators</a> to support reforms making budget spending more transparent.</p> <p>"Preet Bharara, the federal prosecutor who convicted both Silver and Skelos, basically said the strongest tool these guys had to game the system was unbridled power and an unbelievable lack of transparency in policing 'three men in a room,'" said Assemblymember Jim Tedisco, a Republican from the Capital Region who has proposed a bill that would force any pot of cash negotiated in the budget to be line-itemed and mandate that it is publicly documented how the cash is eventually spent.</p> <p>"The other thing Bharara told us is 'if you see something, say something,'" Tedisco said. "I didn't know about these pots of money and I'm sure my Democratic colleagues in the chamber didn't know either. So if you don't know who got the money, you can't stop what's going on. We just don't have that transparency holistically."</p> <p>Slush funds aren't the only part of the state budget that thwart transparency. Today the bad practices New York City was forced to abandon are commonplace in the state budget process. The state budgets without generally accepted accounting practices, routinely raids other programs, has lump-sum appropriations where spending is at times decided by memorandum of understanding between the governor and legislators, and routinely pushes expenses down the road.</p> <p>This year Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a slew of major infrastructure projects including the revamp of Penn Station and a third track for the Long Island Rail Road, but his budget proposal does not lay out how to fund them. Meanwhile, his budget continues funneling cash to economic development projects that are managed by entities with little transparency. Cuomo's Buffalo Billion project is currently <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/28/nyregion/us-investigating-contract-awards-in-buffalo-turnaround-project.html?_r=0" target="_blank">under investigation</a> by Bharara's office.</p> <p>Frank Mauro, executive director emeritus of the Fiscal Policy Institute, who also served as the director of research for the city's last major charter revision and as secretary of the Assembly's ways and means committee, said that the differences between the city and state budget processes are striking. "I don't think many people know just how different the city process is from the state's," said Mauro.</p> <p>The city budget process begins when the Mayor submits his Preliminary Budget to the City Council before January 21 each year (this was just moved from Jan. 16). Then the City Council holds public hearings over a period of several weeks, bringing in agency commissioners and budget directors to examine spending, considers budget priorities from community boards and borough presidents, and takes testimony from groups and citizens.</p> <p>The Council must issue its findings and recommendations by March 25. The Mayor then has until April 26 to propose an Executive Budget, with explanations of programs as well as a fiscal outlook for the city. The Council then holds another series of public hearings which are followed by negotiations between the mayor's budget office and the Council finance division. These negotiations must result in a balanced budget by the end of June, with the new fiscal year beginning July 1.</p> <p>The Council <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/about/budget.shtml" target="_blank">is allowed</a> to increase, decrease, add or omit any appropriation for personal services, or omit or change conditions related to any appropriation. The Council then votes on the budget. The mayor can veto any additions or increases the Council adds but may not interfere with any decreases.</p> <p>The city process also includes a significant role for the Comptroller, who oversees city contracts and audits city agencies. The Comptroller is the city's chief financial watchdog and analyzes the Mayor's budget proposals, performing independent forecasting, raising red flags, and making recommendations.</p> <p>"In the state budget you have to investigate where the money has gone, where certain programs are accounted for, and even then, good luck," said Sen. Krueger. "Even the [state] comptroller's office does not know until years later what was actually spent."</p> <p>The state process begins when the Governor devises an Executive Budget based on the needs of agencies and any programs he or she supports and delivers the budget to the Legislature. Both houses of the the Legislature put out their own budgets, mainly to signal their major priorities for the year. The Governor delivers his executive budget along with appropriation, revenue and budget bills by February 1. The Legislature typically holds a series of budget hearings on particular topics, like transportation and local governments.</p> <p>Under reform legislation passed in 2007, the Legislature is supposed to convene conference committees between both houses to reach agreements on aspects of the budget and set priorities. These committees have been ignored in the past despite the reform legislation.</p> <p>The Governor and Legislature are also required agree on a revenue forecast on or before March 1. They are generally very good at doing this, failure to do so results in the state Comptroller setting the forecast. The Legislature can only reduce or entirely remove spending proposed by the Governor and it has no control over the Governor's proposals for spending. The Legislature can add spending, but the Governor has the ability to line-item veto. The Legislature must vote on a budget by April 1, which is the start of the state's fiscal year.</p> <p>It isn't until the budget is voted on that a new financial plan is created showing how all the changes impact spending. So while a budget may start as balanced under the Governor's proposed plan, it rarely ends that way.</p> <p>The state budget is usually full of non-budget policies because the budget process gives the Governor the upper hand - the Legislature can either negotiate the Governor's priorities, stall, or fail to vote on a budget on time, in which case the Governor can simply issue emergency extenders that put his budget into place.</p> <p>Budgets are normally negotiated exclusively between the two majority leaders of the Legislature and the Governor, and time and again budget bills are not given the three-day waiting period for review mandated by law. Instead, the Governor issues messages of necessity that allow the budget bills to be voted on immediately. The result is legislators voting on voluminous budget bills late at night, having little or no time to actually read them. "To say there is any level of public review is just insulting," Krueger said.</p> <p>"I think the biggest difference between the state and city budget processes is that the state budget is a political negotiation and you don't see a financial plan until a month later," said Tammy Gamerman, a senior research associate with the Citizens Budget Commission (CBC). "With the city they tell you how they are going to balance the budget."</p> <p>Adding further mystery to the state budget, Governor Cuomo has taken to combining his State of the State address and Executive Budget presentation, doing so this year and last. This leads to less public explanation of the budget and more focus on big policy initiatives the governor is backing. In his speech last week, the governor laid out a number of government ethics proposals, including public financing of campaigns. He did not discuss changing the budget process.</p> <p>The city budget process is not perfect, of course. The City Council continues to push the Mayor to more specifically account for agency spending, providing more units of appropriation instead of lump sums. There is also a good deal of discretionary spending available to the City Council Speaker that watchdogs want more accounting for.</p> <p>Sen. Krueger, who is one of the most outspoken legislators during late night state budget votes, picking at and tracking spending threads while most legislators are waiting to simply cast a "yes" vote and get back to their districts, said that 'three men in a room' has led to an absolute lack of budget transparency and alienated the public.</p> <p>Krueger says she has seen a decrease in attendance at budget hearings, even from groups that have a lot at stake in the budget. "At the end of the budget process each year, after I'm done beating my head against the wall over one thing that made it through the budget process or the other, I come to find out there are 16 other things I missed," Krueger told Gotham Gazette. "I don't catch a huge number of things and I do care about this. So imagine what it is like for someone who isn't a legislator, who doesn't have experience with this. I want people to know they should be involved in the process. They should come to hearings just to point out 'Hey, you know New York has state parks that need to be funded and that isn't in here.'"</p> <p>Most rank-and-file legislators and advocates acknowledge that budget reform is not a hot topic at the moment. The last time there was major attention on the subject was in 2009 when Senate Democrats briefly controlled the chamber. They issued <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/sites/default/files/articles/attachments/krueger_budget_ar09_v1r2-final.pdf" target="_blank">a report</a> that recommended conference committees be given control over larger sums of budget funds, that the state adopt generally accepted accounting principles, a two-year budget cycle, and the creation of a legislative budget office.</p> <p>Krueger has since introduced bills that would create a state agency in the model of the city's <a href="http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/" target="_blank">Independent Budget Office</a> - a nonpartisan, publically funded agency that provides information to elected officials and the public about the budget, reviews budget proposals, and provides policy analysis. The bill has gone nowhere in the Senate.</p> <p>Krueger and other reformers also want to see the state require bills to have truthful financial impact statements. Currently, bills introduced from rank-and-file legislators, committee chairs, legislative leaders, or the Governor are supposed to have impact statements, but some simply lack them while others are presented in a dishonest way. Rather than presenting a program's cost for a year, some bills only represent a month's cost, or less.</p> <p>Gamerman said she feels that some progress has been made toward budget transparency over the last few years.</p> <p>"Accountability issues born of the financial crisis of the '70s forced the city to use generally accepted accounting principles," said Gamerman. "There isn't any similar oversight of the state. The state has increased transparency through the <a href="https://www.budget.ny.gov/" target="_blank">Open Budget website</a>. There is more info on agency spending. One of the big differences between the city and state is the city does a much better job tracking performance with the Mayor's Management Report. The state has been talking about doing something similar."</p> <p>Mauro said that he finds it unlikely there will be a major push for reform unless the Legislature feels the Governor is abusing his current powers because the status quo still works for the leadership. "It's an unlikely scenario where the Governor isn't running roughshod over the Legislature with budget powers that we'll see a push for change," said Mauro.</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> <p>Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/14201878985_7561049369_z.jpg" alt="cuomo exec budget pres 2014" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>Governor Cuomo <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/14201878985/in/dateposted/" target="_blank">presents</a> his 2014-2015 Executive Budget</p> <hr /> <p>In 1975 New York City was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, having balanced its budget for years with massive borrowing and shady accounting tricks. Banks were at the point where they would lend no more. Mayor Abe Beame had written the announcement of the city's default. City lawyers were in State Supreme Court filing a petition for bankruptcy and police were prepared to serve the banks.</p> <p>At the last minute bankruptcy was averted as the federal government provided the city with loans. Those loans combined with the state-created Financial Control Board, which required the city to use generally accepted accounting practices and provide four-year financial plans, are credited with turning things around.</p> <p>Gone were the days when operating expenses were reclassified as capital investments, when labor costs were paid for with new loans, when raids on existing funds were acceptable ways to pay for new expenses. The city underwent such a turnaround in the following decades that its budget process is now thought to be a shining beacon across the country. The Financial Control Board that used to strike fear into the hearts of mayors is now a sleepy, almost forgotten entity.</p> <p>The state government, however, is facing a crisis of its own--not a fiscal one, but a crisis of trust, brought on by a series of convictions of sitting legislators that was capped late last year by the convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. For years, the Silver and Skelos served as two of the 'three men in a room' deciding the budget with the Governor. It's a process that has been decried by good government advocates, reform-minded legislators, and the U.S Attorney, Preet Bharara, who brought Silver and Skelos to justice for abusing their positions.</p> <p>"I think people should start to talk about budget transparency as a matter of ethics," said Sen. Liz Krueger, the Democrats' ranking member on the state Senate finance committee. "People really should care about the lack of transparency in the state budget process for a whole lot of reasons. One of them is that if you don't know what's going on, pay-to-play wins the day. If someone wants something in the budget they get it there with a whole lot of lobbying money that no one knows about. That's the harm, that's the danger and I'll tell you that happens constantly."</p> <p>A number of major corruption cases, including Silver's, have centered on the opaqueness of the budget process that allows legislators and the governor to put aside secret slush funds. For example, Silver was able to direct discretionary funding to a cancer doctor who in turn sent Silver and his law firm lucrative clients suffering from a rare form of cancer.</p> <p>Former Sen. Malcolm Smith was convicted in a scheme whereby he would provide a developer a $500,000 lump sum from the budget. <a href="http://www.citizensunion.org/site_res_view_template.aspx?id=44c00241-f127-49c8-b019-f2d3d8cd1c41" target="_blank">A report</a> from good government group Citizens Union found that the 2014 and 2015 fiscal year budgets had over $3 billion in lump funds, while Cuomo's proposed 2016 budget had around $2.6 billion. Citizens Union, Common Cause NY, and NYPIRG have this year <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6069-good-government-groups-want-legislators-to-pledge-to-fight-for-reform" target="_blank">called on legislators</a> to support reforms making budget spending more transparent.</p> <p>"Preet Bharara, the federal prosecutor who convicted both Silver and Skelos, basically said the strongest tool these guys had to game the system was unbridled power and an unbelievable lack of transparency in policing 'three men in a room,'" said Assemblymember Jim Tedisco, a Republican from the Capital Region who has proposed a bill that would force any pot of cash negotiated in the budget to be line-itemed and mandate that it is publicly documented how the cash is eventually spent.</p> <p>"The other thing Bharara told us is 'if you see something, say something,'" Tedisco said. "I didn't know about these pots of money and I'm sure my Democratic colleagues in the chamber didn't know either. So if you don't know who got the money, you can't stop what's going on. We just don't have that transparency holistically."</p> <p>Slush funds aren't the only part of the state budget that thwart transparency. Today the bad practices New York City was forced to abandon are commonplace in the state budget process. The state budgets without generally accepted accounting practices, routinely raids other programs, has lump-sum appropriations where spending is at times decided by memorandum of understanding between the governor and legislators, and routinely pushes expenses down the road.</p> <p>This year Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a slew of major infrastructure projects including the revamp of Penn Station and a third track for the Long Island Rail Road, but his budget proposal does not lay out how to fund them. Meanwhile, his budget continues funneling cash to economic development projects that are managed by entities with little transparency. Cuomo's Buffalo Billion project is currently <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/28/nyregion/us-investigating-contract-awards-in-buffalo-turnaround-project.html?_r=0" target="_blank">under investigation</a> by Bharara's office.</p> <p>Frank Mauro, executive director emeritus of the Fiscal Policy Institute, who also served as the director of research for the city's last major charter revision and as secretary of the Assembly's ways and means committee, said that the differences between the city and state budget processes are striking. "I don't think many people know just how different the city process is from the state's," said Mauro.</p> <p>The city budget process begins when the Mayor submits his Preliminary Budget to the City Council before January 21 each year (this was just moved from Jan. 16). Then the City Council holds public hearings over a period of several weeks, bringing in agency commissioners and budget directors to examine spending, considers budget priorities from community boards and borough presidents, and takes testimony from groups and citizens.</p> <p>The Council must issue its findings and recommendations by March 25. The Mayor then has until April 26 to propose an Executive Budget, with explanations of programs as well as a fiscal outlook for the city. The Council then holds another series of public hearings which are followed by negotiations between the mayor's budget office and the Council finance division. These negotiations must result in a balanced budget by the end of June, with the new fiscal year beginning July 1.</p> <p>The Council <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/about/budget.shtml" target="_blank">is allowed</a> to increase, decrease, add or omit any appropriation for personal services, or omit or change conditions related to any appropriation. The Council then votes on the budget. The mayor can veto any additions or increases the Council adds but may not interfere with any decreases.</p> <p>The city process also includes a significant role for the Comptroller, who oversees city contracts and audits city agencies. The Comptroller is the city's chief financial watchdog and analyzes the Mayor's budget proposals, performing independent forecasting, raising red flags, and making recommendations.</p> <p>"In the state budget you have to investigate where the money has gone, where certain programs are accounted for, and even then, good luck," said Sen. Krueger. "Even the [state] comptroller's office does not know until years later what was actually spent."</p> <p>The state process begins when the Governor devises an Executive Budget based on the needs of agencies and any programs he or she supports and delivers the budget to the Legislature. Both houses of the the Legislature put out their own budgets, mainly to signal their major priorities for the year. The Governor delivers his executive budget along with appropriation, revenue and budget bills by February 1. The Legislature typically holds a series of budget hearings on particular topics, like transportation and local governments.</p> <p>Under reform legislation passed in 2007, the Legislature is supposed to convene conference committees between both houses to reach agreements on aspects of the budget and set priorities. These committees have been ignored in the past despite the reform legislation.</p> <p>The Governor and Legislature are also required agree on a revenue forecast on or before March 1. They are generally very good at doing this, failure to do so results in the state Comptroller setting the forecast. The Legislature can only reduce or entirely remove spending proposed by the Governor and it has no control over the Governor's proposals for spending. The Legislature can add spending, but the Governor has the ability to line-item veto. The Legislature must vote on a budget by April 1, which is the start of the state's fiscal year.</p> <p>It isn't until the budget is voted on that a new financial plan is created showing how all the changes impact spending. So while a budget may start as balanced under the Governor's proposed plan, it rarely ends that way.</p> <p>The state budget is usually full of non-budget policies because the budget process gives the Governor the upper hand - the Legislature can either negotiate the Governor's priorities, stall, or fail to vote on a budget on time, in which case the Governor can simply issue emergency extenders that put his budget into place.</p> <p>Budgets are normally negotiated exclusively between the two majority leaders of the Legislature and the Governor, and time and again budget bills are not given the three-day waiting period for review mandated by law. Instead, the Governor issues messages of necessity that allow the budget bills to be voted on immediately. The result is legislators voting on voluminous budget bills late at night, having little or no time to actually read them. "To say there is any level of public review is just insulting," Krueger said.</p> <p>"I think the biggest difference between the state and city budget processes is that the state budget is a political negotiation and you don't see a financial plan until a month later," said Tammy Gamerman, a senior research associate with the Citizens Budget Commission (CBC). "With the city they tell you how they are going to balance the budget."</p> <p>Adding further mystery to the state budget, Governor Cuomo has taken to combining his State of the State address and Executive Budget presentation, doing so this year and last. This leads to less public explanation of the budget and more focus on big policy initiatives the governor is backing. In his speech last week, the governor laid out a number of government ethics proposals, including public financing of campaigns. He did not discuss changing the budget process.</p> <p>The city budget process is not perfect, of course. The City Council continues to push the Mayor to more specifically account for agency spending, providing more units of appropriation instead of lump sums. There is also a good deal of discretionary spending available to the City Council Speaker that watchdogs want more accounting for.</p> <p>Sen. Krueger, who is one of the most outspoken legislators during late night state budget votes, picking at and tracking spending threads while most legislators are waiting to simply cast a "yes" vote and get back to their districts, said that 'three men in a room' has led to an absolute lack of budget transparency and alienated the public.</p> <p>Krueger says she has seen a decrease in attendance at budget hearings, even from groups that have a lot at stake in the budget. "At the end of the budget process each year, after I'm done beating my head against the wall over one thing that made it through the budget process or the other, I come to find out there are 16 other things I missed," Krueger told Gotham Gazette. "I don't catch a huge number of things and I do care about this. So imagine what it is like for someone who isn't a legislator, who doesn't have experience with this. I want people to know they should be involved in the process. They should come to hearings just to point out 'Hey, you know New York has state parks that need to be funded and that isn't in here.'"</p> <p>Most rank-and-file legislators and advocates acknowledge that budget reform is not a hot topic at the moment. The last time there was major attention on the subject was in 2009 when Senate Democrats briefly controlled the chamber. They issued <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/sites/default/files/articles/attachments/krueger_budget_ar09_v1r2-final.pdf" target="_blank">a report</a> that recommended conference committees be given control over larger sums of budget funds, that the state adopt generally accepted accounting principles, a two-year budget cycle, and the creation of a legislative budget office.</p> <p>Krueger has since introduced bills that would create a state agency in the model of the city's <a href="http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/" target="_blank">Independent Budget Office</a> - a nonpartisan, publically funded agency that provides information to elected officials and the public about the budget, reviews budget proposals, and provides policy analysis. The bill has gone nowhere in the Senate.</p> <p>Krueger and other reformers also want to see the state require bills to have truthful financial impact statements. Currently, bills introduced from rank-and-file legislators, committee chairs, legislative leaders, or the Governor are supposed to have impact statements, but some simply lack them while others are presented in a dishonest way. Rather than presenting a program's cost for a year, some bills only represent a month's cost, or less.</p> <p>Gamerman said she feels that some progress has been made toward budget transparency over the last few years.</p> <p>"Accountability issues born of the financial crisis of the '70s forced the city to use generally accepted accounting principles," said Gamerman. "There isn't any similar oversight of the state. The state has increased transparency through the <a href="https://www.budget.ny.gov/" target="_blank">Open Budget website</a>. There is more info on agency spending. One of the big differences between the city and state is the city does a much better job tracking performance with the Mayor's Management Report. The state has been talking about doing something similar."</p> <p>Mauro said that he finds it unlikely there will be a major push for reform unless the Legislature feels the Governor is abusing his current powers because the status quo still works for the leadership. "It's an unlikely scenario where the Governor isn't running roughshod over the Legislature with budget powers that we'll see a push for change," said Mauro.</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> <p>Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.</p> Cuomo Outlines $144 Billion Budget 2016-01-14T05:44:32+00:00 2016-01-14T05:44:32+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6088:cuomo-outlines-144-billion-budget kfan <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/23994415209_01555788be_z.jpg" alt="cuomo built to lead speech sots" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo taking the podium for his State of the State</p> <hr /> <p>Gov. Andrew Cuomo's sixth State of the State address was a dichotomy of the mundane and the moving, the political and the personal, striking contrasts whereby he celebrated infrastructure projects and lamented the status of the poor, homeless, and jobless.</p> <p>As much as Cuomo tried to steer the conversation toward past achievements and future successes he also decried the state's failures to boost the economy for all, house a growing homeless population, and provide low-income families with a liveable wage and benefits. Not to mention the ethical failures of corrupt politicians, which the governor had no choice but to address.</p> <p>Cuomo's $143.6 billion budget presentation and State of the State focused heavily on both investing in major transportation and other infrastructure and a social agenda that includes an eventual $15 per hour minimum wage and a proposal to provide workers with 12 weeks of paid family leave.</p> <p>The governor had clearly laid out the "Built" portion of his agenda in the days leading up to Wednesday's address. He's pledged $100 billion for infrastructure projects including a retooling of Penn Station, a third track for the Long Island Rail Road, and an expansion of the Javits Center - all under his New York: Built to Lead banner.</p> <p>The MTA will also see an investment of $26.1 billion, some of which will go toward a redesign of 30 subway stations and more wifi hotspots. Both LaGuardia and JFK airports will get attention--with LaGuardia being replaced and JFK getting an "overhaul"--as will airports, roads, and bridges in other parts of the state.</p> <p>"All experts are unanimous that investment today in the infrastructure of tomorrow creates jobs and builds economic strength," Cuomo said. "In Washington, both sides agree. However, like so many issues, Washington just can't get it done. In New York, we can and we will."</p> <p>Republican Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said he was concerned by "all the spending" and wanted to see details on how Cuomo will pay for all of his infrastructure projects. "Where is all of this spending coming from? How are we paying for it? Well get those answers or we'll vote no," Kolb told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>The "Lead" segment of Cuomo's "Built to Lead" agenda had very much to do with backing up the governor's repeated assertion that New York is the progressive capital of the nation.</p> <p>Cuomo returned to familiar territory by touting his record, including passage of marriage equality, as well as his being the governor to have closed the most prisons in the state and his various programs to reduce recidivism. "We are better at building and equipping a prison cell than a classroom. We are quicker to find a 16-year-old a jail cell than a job interview and that is just wrong," Cuomo said of the country. "New York State is going the other way."</p> <p>Cuomo again asked the legislature to "Raise the Age" so that 16- and 17-year-olds aren't tried as adults. New York is one of only two states that continue the practice--North Carolina being the other. Cuomo took executive action last year to move the current population of teens from adult prisons to a juvenile facility, a move that is in process.</p> <p>Cuomo pledged more job and alternative to incarceration programs, and "bail reform" that will require judges to consider whether a defendant is a danger to the public. New York is one of only four states that don't have judges consider public safety while setting bail.</p> <p>"We all agree that public safety is paramount," Cuomo said. "But we can also all agree that it is madness to spend over $50,000 a year for a prison cell while ignoring the wisdom of early intervention."</p> <p>Addressing another unresolved issue from last year, Cuomo asked the legislature to pass a bill establishing a special prosecutor to look into police killings of unarmed civilians. Last year Cuomo issued an executive order putting Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in charge of such cases. The move angered Republicans as well as district attorneys across the state.</p> <p>"The appointment of an unbiased, qualified individual has helped restore trust in our system and it literally helped to end demonstrations in our streets," Cuomo said. "I urge you to pass a law making this reform permanent. Assemblyman Keith Wright has advocated for such a law for over a decade."</p> <p>Cuomo's economic justice platform was imbued with a human touch that Cuomo has oftentimes been accused of lacking. His push for a $15 minimum wage, that is named in tribute to his father, who passed away last year, was greeted by cheers from the crowd. Both Republican legislative leaders remained seated while their Democratic counterparts rose from their chairs to applaud the measure.</p> <p>Cuomo didn't offer any new details but his plan would see the minimum wage increase to $15 by the end of 2018 in New York City and July 1, 2021 in the rest of the state. Cuomo, who opposed a $13 minimum wage in the spring of last year argued vigorously for his plan. "If the minimum wage in the '70s had been indexed to the rate of inflation, you know where it would be? My proposal today at $15 an hour," Cuomo told the crowd. "What that means is that the minimum wage since the '70s has not kept pace. What that means is you've had 45 years of economic injustice where the poor were getting poorer, while everyone else was moving up. That's not America's way because that's not fair."</p> <p>Cuomo went on to justify his plan because he said through social programs the state is subsidizing fast food restaurants that fail to provide a minimum wage, decrying such corporate welfare. "I say it's time to get out of the hamburger business," Cuomo said, repeating what has become a catchphrase during his minimum wage rallies.</p> <p>Small business groups across the state are opposed to the measure and claim it will cost jobs. Meanwhile, more Democrats are growing concerned that Cuomo may significantly extend the wage phase-in to reach a deal with Senate Republicans.</p> <p>Cuomo was expected to make a splash on the issue of homelessness and he did on two fronts. First he announced the commitment of $20 billion to combat homelessness, with $10 billion earmarked for 100,000 permanent affordable housing units and $10 billion for 6,000 new supported beds over 5 years, 1,000 emergency shelter beds, and other homeless services.</p> <p>"This is New York. And we are New Yorkers and we will not allow people to dwell in the gutter like garbage," Cuomo said. He promised to fund 20,000 supportive housing units over the next 15 years.</p> <p>Cuomo also unveiled a quality control system for homeless shelters across the state. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli will oversee the quality review of shelters, with city Comptroller Scott Stringer examining the city system, as he already does, but perhaps with more attention and now with more state collaboration.</p> <p>"They will do onsite inspections and review operating and financial protocols," Cuomo explained. "Thereafter, shelters they find to be unsafe or dangerous will either immediately add local police protection – or they will be closed. Shelters which they find as unsanitary or otherwise unfit will be subject to contract cancellation, operator replacement, immediate remediation or closure. If an operator's management problem is systemic, a receiver will be appointed to run that system."</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Cuomo for several announcements, including on supportive housing, pre-kindergarten and minimum wage. He said that Cuomo's announcements of the homelessness audits appeared to be in line with work already happening and did not express initial concern. He did express conern, though, about items Cuomo appeared to bury in budget documents that could cost the city big when it comes to Medicaid payments, CUNY funding, and certain tax rebates. De Blasio said he and his team would review the budget closely and have more to say soon. Budget watchdogs began<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/01/8588018/cuomo-budget-could-mean-real-pain-new-york-city" target="_blank"> sounding the alarm</a>, though.</p> <p>After outlining a variety of programs and proposals, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6087-cuomo-unveils-ethics-plan-to-questions-of-follow-through" target="_blank">Cuomo turned to government ethics</a>, saying that all depended on public trust in elected officials.</p> <p>Then, toward the end of his speech Cuomo dropped his rhetorical tone. He described how in late 2014 his father's health was failing and revealed that he was in Buffalo for an inauguration ceremony when he got the news that his father had passed away.</p> <p>"Life is such a precious gift and I have kicked myself every day that I didn't spend more time with my father at that end period," Cuomo lamented. "I could have. I am lucky. I could have taken off work, I could have cut days in half, I could have spent more time with him. It was my mistake and a mistake I blame myself for every day. But there are many people in this state who do not have the choice. A parent is dying, a child is sick, they can't take off of work."</p> <p>Cuomo went on to explain how the United States is one of three countries that does not have paid maternity leave. He proposed providing New Yorkers with 12 weeks of paid family leave. Last year Cuomo and legislative leaders were unable to reach a consensus on competing plans. The Assembly has repeatedly passed a plan that would expand the state's disability insurance fund to pay for leave. Last year the Independent Democratic Conference put forward a proposal that had the state covering the estimated $125 million cost of the plan. Cuomo's proposal would be covered by workers through a $1 paycheck deduction.</p> <p>Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters that he wants to see more details on the plan. "Paid family leave is something we've passed for a while," Heastie told reporters. "I want to see the details. It's hard for me to comment before I've seen the details."</p> <p>Senate Republicans are not particularly open to the plan.</p> <p>"This is all about getting these things from proposal to reality now," said Sen. Mike Gianaris of the Senate Democrats. "You've gotta like the agenda, these are things the Senate Minority has been talking about all along--paid family leave, minimum wage. It's about getting these things done now. If Senate Republicans decide to block things that are priorities to the people of New York then they will hear from the voters."</p> <p>[<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6087-cuomo-unveils-ethics-plan-to-questions-of-follow-through" target="_blank">Read more about Cuomo's ethics and campaign finance reform proposals here</a>]</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/23994415209_01555788be_z.jpg" alt="cuomo built to lead speech sots" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo taking the podium for his State of the State</p> <hr /> <p>Gov. Andrew Cuomo's sixth State of the State address was a dichotomy of the mundane and the moving, the political and the personal, striking contrasts whereby he celebrated infrastructure projects and lamented the status of the poor, homeless, and jobless.</p> <p>As much as Cuomo tried to steer the conversation toward past achievements and future successes he also decried the state's failures to boost the economy for all, house a growing homeless population, and provide low-income families with a liveable wage and benefits. Not to mention the ethical failures of corrupt politicians, which the governor had no choice but to address.</p> <p>Cuomo's $143.6 billion budget presentation and State of the State focused heavily on both investing in major transportation and other infrastructure and a social agenda that includes an eventual $15 per hour minimum wage and a proposal to provide workers with 12 weeks of paid family leave.</p> <p>The governor had clearly laid out the "Built" portion of his agenda in the days leading up to Wednesday's address. He's pledged $100 billion for infrastructure projects including a retooling of Penn Station, a third track for the Long Island Rail Road, and an expansion of the Javits Center - all under his New York: Built to Lead banner.</p> <p>The MTA will also see an investment of $26.1 billion, some of which will go toward a redesign of 30 subway stations and more wifi hotspots. Both LaGuardia and JFK airports will get attention--with LaGuardia being replaced and JFK getting an "overhaul"--as will airports, roads, and bridges in other parts of the state.</p> <p>"All experts are unanimous that investment today in the infrastructure of tomorrow creates jobs and builds economic strength," Cuomo said. "In Washington, both sides agree. However, like so many issues, Washington just can't get it done. In New York, we can and we will."</p> <p>Republican Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said he was concerned by "all the spending" and wanted to see details on how Cuomo will pay for all of his infrastructure projects. "Where is all of this spending coming from? How are we paying for it? Well get those answers or we'll vote no," Kolb told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>The "Lead" segment of Cuomo's "Built to Lead" agenda had very much to do with backing up the governor's repeated assertion that New York is the progressive capital of the nation.</p> <p>Cuomo returned to familiar territory by touting his record, including passage of marriage equality, as well as his being the governor to have closed the most prisons in the state and his various programs to reduce recidivism. "We are better at building and equipping a prison cell than a classroom. We are quicker to find a 16-year-old a jail cell than a job interview and that is just wrong," Cuomo said of the country. "New York State is going the other way."</p> <p>Cuomo again asked the legislature to "Raise the Age" so that 16- and 17-year-olds aren't tried as adults. New York is one of only two states that continue the practice--North Carolina being the other. Cuomo took executive action last year to move the current population of teens from adult prisons to a juvenile facility, a move that is in process.</p> <p>Cuomo pledged more job and alternative to incarceration programs, and "bail reform" that will require judges to consider whether a defendant is a danger to the public. New York is one of only four states that don't have judges consider public safety while setting bail.</p> <p>"We all agree that public safety is paramount," Cuomo said. "But we can also all agree that it is madness to spend over $50,000 a year for a prison cell while ignoring the wisdom of early intervention."</p> <p>Addressing another unresolved issue from last year, Cuomo asked the legislature to pass a bill establishing a special prosecutor to look into police killings of unarmed civilians. Last year Cuomo issued an executive order putting Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in charge of such cases. The move angered Republicans as well as district attorneys across the state.</p> <p>"The appointment of an unbiased, qualified individual has helped restore trust in our system and it literally helped to end demonstrations in our streets," Cuomo said. "I urge you to pass a law making this reform permanent. Assemblyman Keith Wright has advocated for such a law for over a decade."</p> <p>Cuomo's economic justice platform was imbued with a human touch that Cuomo has oftentimes been accused of lacking. His push for a $15 minimum wage, that is named in tribute to his father, who passed away last year, was greeted by cheers from the crowd. Both Republican legislative leaders remained seated while their Democratic counterparts rose from their chairs to applaud the measure.</p> <p>Cuomo didn't offer any new details but his plan would see the minimum wage increase to $15 by the end of 2018 in New York City and July 1, 2021 in the rest of the state. Cuomo, who opposed a $13 minimum wage in the spring of last year argued vigorously for his plan. "If the minimum wage in the '70s had been indexed to the rate of inflation, you know where it would be? My proposal today at $15 an hour," Cuomo told the crowd. "What that means is that the minimum wage since the '70s has not kept pace. What that means is you've had 45 years of economic injustice where the poor were getting poorer, while everyone else was moving up. That's not America's way because that's not fair."</p> <p>Cuomo went on to justify his plan because he said through social programs the state is subsidizing fast food restaurants that fail to provide a minimum wage, decrying such corporate welfare. "I say it's time to get out of the hamburger business," Cuomo said, repeating what has become a catchphrase during his minimum wage rallies.</p> <p>Small business groups across the state are opposed to the measure and claim it will cost jobs. Meanwhile, more Democrats are growing concerned that Cuomo may significantly extend the wage phase-in to reach a deal with Senate Republicans.</p> <p>Cuomo was expected to make a splash on the issue of homelessness and he did on two fronts. First he announced the commitment of $20 billion to combat homelessness, with $10 billion earmarked for 100,000 permanent affordable housing units and $10 billion for 6,000 new supported beds over 5 years, 1,000 emergency shelter beds, and other homeless services.</p> <p>"This is New York. And we are New Yorkers and we will not allow people to dwell in the gutter like garbage," Cuomo said. He promised to fund 20,000 supportive housing units over the next 15 years.</p> <p>Cuomo also unveiled a quality control system for homeless shelters across the state. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli will oversee the quality review of shelters, with city Comptroller Scott Stringer examining the city system, as he already does, but perhaps with more attention and now with more state collaboration.</p> <p>"They will do onsite inspections and review operating and financial protocols," Cuomo explained. "Thereafter, shelters they find to be unsafe or dangerous will either immediately add local police protection – or they will be closed. Shelters which they find as unsanitary or otherwise unfit will be subject to contract cancellation, operator replacement, immediate remediation or closure. If an operator's management problem is systemic, a receiver will be appointed to run that system."</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Cuomo for several announcements, including on supportive housing, pre-kindergarten and minimum wage. He said that Cuomo's announcements of the homelessness audits appeared to be in line with work already happening and did not express initial concern. He did express conern, though, about items Cuomo appeared to bury in budget documents that could cost the city big when it comes to Medicaid payments, CUNY funding, and certain tax rebates. De Blasio said he and his team would review the budget closely and have more to say soon. Budget watchdogs began<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/01/8588018/cuomo-budget-could-mean-real-pain-new-york-city" target="_blank"> sounding the alarm</a>, though.</p> <p>After outlining a variety of programs and proposals, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6087-cuomo-unveils-ethics-plan-to-questions-of-follow-through" target="_blank">Cuomo turned to government ethics</a>, saying that all depended on public trust in elected officials.</p> <p>Then, toward the end of his speech Cuomo dropped his rhetorical tone. He described how in late 2014 his father's health was failing and revealed that he was in Buffalo for an inauguration ceremony when he got the news that his father had passed away.</p> <p>"Life is such a precious gift and I have kicked myself every day that I didn't spend more time with my father at that end period," Cuomo lamented. "I could have. I am lucky. I could have taken off work, I could have cut days in half, I could have spent more time with him. It was my mistake and a mistake I blame myself for every day. But there are many people in this state who do not have the choice. A parent is dying, a child is sick, they can't take off of work."</p> <p>Cuomo went on to explain how the United States is one of three countries that does not have paid maternity leave. He proposed providing New Yorkers with 12 weeks of paid family leave. Last year Cuomo and legislative leaders were unable to reach a consensus on competing plans. The Assembly has repeatedly passed a plan that would expand the state's disability insurance fund to pay for leave. Last year the Independent Democratic Conference put forward a proposal that had the state covering the estimated $125 million cost of the plan. Cuomo's proposal would be covered by workers through a $1 paycheck deduction.</p> <p>Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters that he wants to see more details on the plan. "Paid family leave is something we've passed for a while," Heastie told reporters. "I want to see the details. It's hard for me to comment before I've seen the details."</p> <p>Senate Republicans are not particularly open to the plan.</p> <p>"This is all about getting these things from proposal to reality now," said Sen. Mike Gianaris of the Senate Democrats. "You've gotta like the agenda, these are things the Senate Minority has been talking about all along--paid family leave, minimum wage. It's about getting these things done now. If Senate Republicans decide to block things that are priorities to the people of New York then they will hear from the voters."</p> <p>[<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6087-cuomo-unveils-ethics-plan-to-questions-of-follow-through" target="_blank">Read more about Cuomo's ethics and campaign finance reform proposals here</a>]</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> 40 Questions for New York Politics in 2016 2016-01-04T01:15:12+00:00 2016-01-04T01:15:12+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6060:40-questions-for-new-york-politics-in-2016 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/22561857160_e0e40378c6_z.jpg" alt="bdb mmv lupo" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>photo: William Alatriste</p> <hr /> <p>Happy new year! As we jump right into 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares for his State of the State and budget address, Mayor Bill de Blasio works to improve his public approval ratings, and the two keep on feuding. There's a lot to look for in the new year, here are about 40 political questions we're asking as the year begins - if you want to share them, answer any, or let us know one we missed, tweet <a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>:</p> <ol> <li>How will <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6016-cuomo-increasingly-uses-state-power-to-undermine-de-blasio" target="_blank">the Cuomo-de Blasio feud</a> play out?</li> <li>Who's next for Preet Bharara?</li> <li>What will Albany do about preventing public corruption?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>Will the LLC loophole close?</li> <li>Will New York move forward on a public campaign finance system?</li> <li>Will there be agreement on pension forfeiture?</li> <li>Will further limits be placed on legislators' outside income?</li> <li>Will legislator salaries be raised?</li> <li>Does the budget process become more transparent?</li> </ol></li> <li>What kind of Assembly reforms will Speaker Carl Heastie allow in terms of the ways in which <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6043-assembly-reform-group-will-miss-own-deadline" target="_blank">his legislative house conducts its business</a>?</li> <li>How does <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5923-progressive-critics-largely-convinced-by-cuomos-wage-push" target="_blank">the Governor's minimum wage</a> push wind up?</li> <li>What happens with <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6038-negotiations-to-extend-important-affordable-housing-tax-break-said-to-reach-impasse" target="_blank">the 421-a tax break/affordable housing program</a>?</li> <li>Will the de Blasio administration show significant progress in turning around struggling schools?</li> <li>What happens with mayoral control of city schools, as dictated by state policy?</li> <li>What do teacher evaluations look like next, as dictated by state policy?</li> <li>What's the future of the Common Core in New York?</li> <li>Does the opt-out movement continue to grow?</li> <li>How do the 2016 elections affect which party controls the state Senate?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>Who wins the special election for the seat <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6032-skelos-conviction-greeted-with-calls-for-immediate-action-on-reform" target="_blank">previously held by Dean Skelos</a>?</li> <li>Who wins other vacant state legislative seats, like <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5955-as-sheldon-silver-heads-to-trial-a-democratic-challenger-is-poised-to-run" target="_blank">that held by Sheldon Silver</a>?</li> </ol></li> <li>Will de Blasio improve his relationship with Albany Democrats?</li> <li>Can de Blasio effectively reduce the street and shelter homeless populations?</li> <li>How will the city and the state approach the homelessness crisis together/separately?</li> <li>Will New York <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age" target="_blank">"raise the age" of criminal responsibility</a> from 16 (to 17 or 18)?</li> <li>Will de Blasio successfully negotiate paid parental leave with the city's municipal unions after <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6052-de-blasio-moves-on-paid-parental-leave" target="_blank">announcing he is offering it to nonunion city employees</a>?</li> <li>Will the State move on a paid family leave program?</li> <li>Can Cuomo show more progress in his efforts to revive struggling city and regional economies?</li> <li>How do <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6027-next-steps-for-the-mayors-controversial-zoning-proposals" target="_blank">the mayor's rezoning proposals</a> fare in the City Council?</li> <li>How does City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito differentiate herself from Bill de Blasio?</li> <li>Will the City Council move any bills that the mayor isn't behind - like the Right to Know Act?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>Will de Blasio use a veto for the first time as mayor?</li> </ol></li> <li>What's next for Mark-Viverito as she faces term-limits (at the end of 2017)?</li> <li>Can the Mayor keep making progress toward his affordable housing goals?</li> <li>What will city elected officials' compensation increases look like once the mayor and Council come to an agreement based on <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6049-pay-commission-recommends-raises-reforms-for-elected-compensation" target="_blank">the compensation commission's recommendations</a>?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>Will Council pay increases come <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6049-pay-commission-recommends-raises-reforms-for-elected-compensation" target="_blank">with the elimination of lulus and other reforms</a>?</li> </ol></li> <li>Who will replace Charlie Rangel in Congress?</li> <li>How does it go for <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6005-incoming-das-plan-to-join-thompson-and-vance-warrant-clearing-efforts" target="_blank">the two new District Attorneys</a>, in the Bronx and on Staten Island?</li> <li>Can the NYPD continue to drive crime down, reducing murders after a small rise, while also improving community relations?</li> <li>Will there be progress on Rikers Island?</li> <li>What steps will the City take <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6055-first-doe-school-diversity-report-will-spur-further-desegregation-efforts" target="_blank">to desegregate its schools</a>?</li> <li>What does Bill de Blasio's cabinet look like after a deputy mayor is replaced and the homeless services department is reassessed?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>Will other top officials leave the administration?</li> </ol></li> <li>What will happen with Uber?</li> <li>Will the City pass a plastic bag fee?</li> <li>Is there a compromise on reducing Central Park carriage horses?</li> <li>Can de Blasio improve his public approval ratings?</li> <li>Does anyone formidable emerge to declare a challenge to de Blasio for 2017?</li> <li>What will Comptroller Scott Stringer's charter school audits look like?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>What other audits and reports come from Stringer's office?</li> </ol></li> <li>Will Public Advocate Tish James continue <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5856-suing-the-hand-that-feeds-you-tish-james-de-blasio" target="_blank">to use litigation against the city to seek change?</a> If so, what suits?</li> <li>How are New York officials involved in the presidential race?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>How will de Blasio, Cuomo, Mark-Viverito and other city and state officials who have endorsed her be involved in Hillary Clinton's campaign?</li> <li>Who wins New York in the Democratic and Republican primaries?</li> </ol></li> <li>Who becomes the next President of the United States?</li> </ol> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/22561857160_e0e40378c6_z.jpg" alt="bdb mmv lupo" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>photo: William Alatriste</p> <hr /> <p>Happy new year! As we jump right into 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares for his State of the State and budget address, Mayor Bill de Blasio works to improve his public approval ratings, and the two keep on feuding. There's a lot to look for in the new year, here are about 40 political questions we're asking as the year begins - if you want to share them, answer any, or let us know one we missed, tweet <a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>:</p> <ol> <li>How will <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6016-cuomo-increasingly-uses-state-power-to-undermine-de-blasio" target="_blank">the Cuomo-de Blasio feud</a> play out?</li> <li>Who's next for Preet Bharara?</li> <li>What will Albany do about preventing public corruption?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>Will the LLC loophole close?</li> <li>Will New York move forward on a public campaign finance system?</li> <li>Will there be agreement on pension forfeiture?</li> <li>Will further limits be placed on legislators' outside income?</li> <li>Will legislator salaries be raised?</li> <li>Does the budget process become more transparent?</li> </ol></li> <li>What kind of Assembly reforms will Speaker Carl Heastie allow in terms of the ways in which <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6043-assembly-reform-group-will-miss-own-deadline" target="_blank">his legislative house conducts its business</a>?</li> <li>How does <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5923-progressive-critics-largely-convinced-by-cuomos-wage-push" target="_blank">the Governor's minimum wage</a> push wind up?</li> <li>What happens with <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6038-negotiations-to-extend-important-affordable-housing-tax-break-said-to-reach-impasse" target="_blank">the 421-a tax break/affordable housing program</a>?</li> <li>Will the de Blasio administration show significant progress in turning around struggling schools?</li> <li>What happens with mayoral control of city schools, as dictated by state policy?</li> <li>What do teacher evaluations look like next, as dictated by state policy?</li> <li>What's the future of the Common Core in New York?</li> <li>Does the opt-out movement continue to grow?</li> <li>How do the 2016 elections affect which party controls the state Senate?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>Who wins the special election for the seat <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6032-skelos-conviction-greeted-with-calls-for-immediate-action-on-reform" target="_blank">previously held by Dean Skelos</a>?</li> <li>Who wins other vacant state legislative seats, like <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5955-as-sheldon-silver-heads-to-trial-a-democratic-challenger-is-poised-to-run" target="_blank">that held by Sheldon Silver</a>?</li> </ol></li> <li>Will de Blasio improve his relationship with Albany Democrats?</li> <li>Can de Blasio effectively reduce the street and shelter homeless populations?</li> <li>How will the city and the state approach the homelessness crisis together/separately?</li> <li>Will New York <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age" target="_blank">"raise the age" of criminal responsibility</a> from 16 (to 17 or 18)?</li> <li>Will de Blasio successfully negotiate paid parental leave with the city's municipal unions after <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6052-de-blasio-moves-on-paid-parental-leave" target="_blank">announcing he is offering it to nonunion city employees</a>?</li> <li>Will the State move on a paid family leave program?</li> <li>Can Cuomo show more progress in his efforts to revive struggling city and regional economies?</li> <li>How do <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6027-next-steps-for-the-mayors-controversial-zoning-proposals" target="_blank">the mayor's rezoning proposals</a> fare in the City Council?</li> <li>How does City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito differentiate herself from Bill de Blasio?</li> <li>Will the City Council move any bills that the mayor isn't behind - like the Right to Know Act?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>Will de Blasio use a veto for the first time as mayor?</li> </ol></li> <li>What's next for Mark-Viverito as she faces term-limits (at the end of 2017)?</li> <li>Can the Mayor keep making progress toward his affordable housing goals?</li> <li>What will city elected officials' compensation increases look like once the mayor and Council come to an agreement based on <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6049-pay-commission-recommends-raises-reforms-for-elected-compensation" target="_blank">the compensation commission's recommendations</a>?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>Will Council pay increases come <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6049-pay-commission-recommends-raises-reforms-for-elected-compensation" target="_blank">with the elimination of lulus and other reforms</a>?</li> </ol></li> <li>Who will replace Charlie Rangel in Congress?</li> <li>How does it go for <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6005-incoming-das-plan-to-join-thompson-and-vance-warrant-clearing-efforts" target="_blank">the two new District Attorneys</a>, in the Bronx and on Staten Island?</li> <li>Can the NYPD continue to drive crime down, reducing murders after a small rise, while also improving community relations?</li> <li>Will there be progress on Rikers Island?</li> <li>What steps will the City take <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6055-first-doe-school-diversity-report-will-spur-further-desegregation-efforts" target="_blank">to desegregate its schools</a>?</li> <li>What does Bill de Blasio's cabinet look like after a deputy mayor is replaced and the homeless services department is reassessed?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>Will other top officials leave the administration?</li> </ol></li> <li>What will happen with Uber?</li> <li>Will the City pass a plastic bag fee?</li> <li>Is there a compromise on reducing Central Park carriage horses?</li> <li>Can de Blasio improve his public approval ratings?</li> <li>Does anyone formidable emerge to declare a challenge to de Blasio for 2017?</li> <li>What will Comptroller Scott Stringer's charter school audits look like?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>What other audits and reports come from Stringer's office?</li> </ol></li> <li>Will Public Advocate Tish James continue <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5856-suing-the-hand-that-feeds-you-tish-james-de-blasio" target="_blank">to use litigation against the city to seek change?</a> If so, what suits?</li> <li>How are New York officials involved in the presidential race?<ol style="list-style-type: lower-alpha;"> <li>How will de Blasio, Cuomo, Mark-Viverito and other city and state officials who have endorsed her be involved in Hillary Clinton's campaign?</li> <li>Who wins New York in the Democratic and Republican primaries?</li> </ol></li> <li>Who becomes the next President of the United States?</li> </ol> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> The Week Ahead in New York Politics, January 4 2016-01-03T05:00:00+00:00 2016-01-03T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6058:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-jan-4 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Happy New Year!</strong></p> <p>So far, New York politics in 2016 looks a lot like 2015. On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new Executive Order related to homelessness that appears to be the opening salvo in his plan to take aim at the issue, most pressingly in New York City, where he's criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio's handling of the crisis that includes about 60,000 homeless people. Cuomo's order notes that homelessness is a problem around the state and says that when temperatures are below freezing, municipalities must provide shelter to homeless individuals, move homeless people to shelter, extend shelter hours, and maintain quality shelter conditions that meet state and local laws and regulations.</p> <p>The move gets at the rivalry between the governor and the mayor, which shows little sign of abating, despite the fact that there are real policy issues - and lives - at stake. De Blasio has battled a persistent homeless census, issues with the conditions of homeless shelters, and a good deal of criticism from the governor and others, which has all led to a shake-up in his administration. To fight homelessness, de Blasio has enacted a good deal of new policy and drastically increased funding toward a variety of programs, but he has only just recently been able to level off a growing number of people without consistent housing.</p> <p>On Sunday, the de Blasio administration was quick to point out that the governor's executive order does little, if anything, to change things in the city, which already has a must-shelter law and where the city recently announced new protocols for shelter hours and services. There is one main point of contention, though, which is the order's provision that homeless individuals must be moved to shelter - something the de Blasio administration says can only be mandated through state law.</p> <p>De Blasio is sure to get questions about these issues when he holds a press conference centered around another topic Monday morning in Brooklyn - see below for details.</p> <p>Cuomo, meanwhile, is gearing up for his January 13 State of the State and budget address, which is likely to include other policies aimed at homelessness. Cuomo is set to make an announcement on Monday in Manhattan - see below for details.</p> <p>The state Legislature returns to Albany for its first session day of 2016 on Wednesday of this week. There are legislative hearings on the minimum wage and the failed Health Republic insurance exchange this week - see below for details.</p> <p>Later this week, de Blasio is likely to hold a ceremony to sign his own recent Executive Order, the one <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6052-de-blasio-moves-on-paid-parental-leave" target="_blank">mandating paid parental leave</a> for about 20,000 nonunion city employees. De Blasio announced the policy in late December and promised to reopen collective bargaining with city unions in order to make the benefit part of their contracts. He's also looking to the state and federal governments to act on paid family leave so that all New Yorkers (and Americans) can take time off to care for a new child or a sick or elderly relative (de Blasio's initial policy is only for new parents, it does not cover care for sick or elderly relatives, but most paid family leave bill proposals do). [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6052-de-blasio-moves-on-paid-parental-leave" target="_blank">De Blasio Moves on Paid Parental Leave</a>]</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>On Monday at 7:15 a.m. outside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, "Mayor de Blasio, Senator Charles Schumer, elected officials and senior Administration leadership will meet morning commuters...to pass out flyers on the City's new commuter benefits law. Tomorrow is the first work day after the law went into effect on January 1." Read about the new transit benefit laws here: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6048-new-transit-program-called-win-win-for-many-commuters-employers" target="_blank">New Transit Program Called 'Win-Win' for Many Commuters and Employers.</a></p> <p>At about 7:30 a.m. inside Barclays Center, "the Mayor will hold a press conference to discuss commuter benefits." Then, at 1:30 p.m. Monday at One Police Plaza, de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bratton "will hold a press conference to discuss historically low crime numbers in New York City."</p> <p>At 11 a.m. Monday at 1199 SEIU headquarters in Manhattan, Gov. Cuomo will make an announcement, kicking off "The Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice." City officials, including Comptroller Scott Stringer, will attend.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez will co-host <a href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1jOwRVyM-Lzs6l6wnPX4Ud0W-ATJAqsZ-l1-V0Pxm70M/viewform" target="_blank">a community town hall</a> focused on "Homelessness on the East Side" at the Parish Hall of the Church of the Epiphany. A variety of other Manhattan elected officials are also co-sponsoring and will either attend or send representatives.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>The New York State Legislature holds its first day of <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/calendar/" target="_blank">2016 legislative session</a> in Albany on Wednesday.</p> <p>At 9 a.m. on Wednesday in Albany, the Senate Standing Committees on Health and Insurance <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">will hold</a> a public meeting about "The demise of Health Republic and preparing for the future."</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li>At 9:30 a.m., the Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet about a resolution calling on the city and state to sign a fourth New York-New York supportive housing plan.</li> <li>At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to discuss a budget extender and two items related to Business Improvement Districts</li> <li>At noon, the Council will hold the year's first Stated Meeting. As always, this is expected to be prefaced by the Council Speaker's pre-stated press conference.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 8:30 a.m., Senator Charles Schumer "will discuss Congress' year-end budget and how it impacts New York" at an Association for a Better New York <a href="https://www.abny.org/Content/Events/EventViewer.aspx?EventID=187" target="_blank">breakfast event</a>.</p> <p>At the City Council at 10 a.m. Thursday, the Committee on Aging will meet for an oversight hearing about social adult day care.</p> <p>At the state Legislature on Thursday: an 11 a.m. public hearing in Albany held by the Senate Standing Committee on Labor to analyze "the overall impact increasing the statewide minimum wage to $15/hour would have on workers, employers, and the state as a whole."</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>Nothing on our radar right now, but that can easily change as events are announced once the week gets going. Stay tuned for updates here and elsewhere.</p> <p><em><strong>Read more recent highlights from Gotham Gazette:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6056-top-ten-stories-of-2015-in-new-york-politics" target="_blank">Top Ten Stories of 2015 in New York Politics</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6057-predictions-experts-look-ahead-to-new-york-politics-in-2016" target="_blank">Predictions! Experts Look Ahead to 2016 in New York Politics</a></li> </ul> <p>***<br />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:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Ryan Brady and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Happy New Year!</strong></p> <p>So far, New York politics in 2016 looks a lot like 2015. On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new Executive Order related to homelessness that appears to be the opening salvo in his plan to take aim at the issue, most pressingly in New York City, where he's criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio's handling of the crisis that includes about 60,000 homeless people. Cuomo's order notes that homelessness is a problem around the state and says that when temperatures are below freezing, municipalities must provide shelter to homeless individuals, move homeless people to shelter, extend shelter hours, and maintain quality shelter conditions that meet state and local laws and regulations.</p> <p>The move gets at the rivalry between the governor and the mayor, which shows little sign of abating, despite the fact that there are real policy issues - and lives - at stake. De Blasio has battled a persistent homeless census, issues with the conditions of homeless shelters, and a good deal of criticism from the governor and others, which has all led to a shake-up in his administration. To fight homelessness, de Blasio has enacted a good deal of new policy and drastically increased funding toward a variety of programs, but he has only just recently been able to level off a growing number of people without consistent housing.</p> <p>On Sunday, the de Blasio administration was quick to point out that the governor's executive order does little, if anything, to change things in the city, which already has a must-shelter law and where the city recently announced new protocols for shelter hours and services. There is one main point of contention, though, which is the order's provision that homeless individuals must be moved to shelter - something the de Blasio administration says can only be mandated through state law.</p> <p>De Blasio is sure to get questions about these issues when he holds a press conference centered around another topic Monday morning in Brooklyn - see below for details.</p> <p>Cuomo, meanwhile, is gearing up for his January 13 State of the State and budget address, which is likely to include other policies aimed at homelessness. Cuomo is set to make an announcement on Monday in Manhattan - see below for details.</p> <p>The state Legislature returns to Albany for its first session day of 2016 on Wednesday of this week. There are legislative hearings on the minimum wage and the failed Health Republic insurance exchange this week - see below for details.</p> <p>Later this week, de Blasio is likely to hold a ceremony to sign his own recent Executive Order, the one <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6052-de-blasio-moves-on-paid-parental-leave" target="_blank">mandating paid parental leave</a> for about 20,000 nonunion city employees. De Blasio announced the policy in late December and promised to reopen collective bargaining with city unions in order to make the benefit part of their contracts. He's also looking to the state and federal governments to act on paid family leave so that all New Yorkers (and Americans) can take time off to care for a new child or a sick or elderly relative (de Blasio's initial policy is only for new parents, it does not cover care for sick or elderly relatives, but most paid family leave bill proposals do). [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6052-de-blasio-moves-on-paid-parental-leave" target="_blank">De Blasio Moves on Paid Parental Leave</a>]</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>On Monday at 7:15 a.m. outside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, "Mayor de Blasio, Senator Charles Schumer, elected officials and senior Administration leadership will meet morning commuters...to pass out flyers on the City's new commuter benefits law. Tomorrow is the first work day after the law went into effect on January 1." Read about the new transit benefit laws here: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6048-new-transit-program-called-win-win-for-many-commuters-employers" target="_blank">New Transit Program Called 'Win-Win' for Many Commuters and Employers.</a></p> <p>At about 7:30 a.m. inside Barclays Center, "the Mayor will hold a press conference to discuss commuter benefits." Then, at 1:30 p.m. Monday at One Police Plaza, de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bratton "will hold a press conference to discuss historically low crime numbers in New York City."</p> <p>At 11 a.m. Monday at 1199 SEIU headquarters in Manhattan, Gov. Cuomo will make an announcement, kicking off "The Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice." City officials, including Comptroller Scott Stringer, will attend.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez will co-host <a href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1jOwRVyM-Lzs6l6wnPX4Ud0W-ATJAqsZ-l1-V0Pxm70M/viewform" target="_blank">a community town hall</a> focused on "Homelessness on the East Side" at the Parish Hall of the Church of the Epiphany. A variety of other Manhattan elected officials are also co-sponsoring and will either attend or send representatives.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>The New York State Legislature holds its first day of <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/calendar/" target="_blank">2016 legislative session</a> in Albany on Wednesday.</p> <p>At 9 a.m. on Wednesday in Albany, the Senate Standing Committees on Health and Insurance <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">will hold</a> a public meeting about "The demise of Health Republic and preparing for the future."</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li>At 9:30 a.m., the Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet about a resolution calling on the city and state to sign a fourth New York-New York supportive housing plan.</li> <li>At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to discuss a budget extender and two items related to Business Improvement Districts</li> <li>At noon, the Council will hold the year's first Stated Meeting. As always, this is expected to be prefaced by the Council Speaker's pre-stated press conference.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 8:30 a.m., Senator Charles Schumer "will discuss Congress' year-end budget and how it impacts New York" at an Association for a Better New York <a href="https://www.abny.org/Content/Events/EventViewer.aspx?EventID=187" target="_blank">breakfast event</a>.</p> <p>At the City Council at 10 a.m. Thursday, the Committee on Aging will meet for an oversight hearing about social adult day care.</p> <p>At the state Legislature on Thursday: an 11 a.m. public hearing in Albany held by the Senate Standing Committee on Labor to analyze "the overall impact increasing the statewide minimum wage to $15/hour would have on workers, employers, and the state as a whole."</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>Nothing on our radar right now, but that can easily change as events are announced once the week gets going. Stay tuned for updates here and elsewhere.</p> <p><em><strong>Read more recent highlights from Gotham Gazette:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6056-top-ten-stories-of-2015-in-new-york-politics" target="_blank">Top Ten Stories of 2015 in New York Politics</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6057-predictions-experts-look-ahead-to-new-york-politics-in-2016" target="_blank">Predictions! Experts Look Ahead to 2016 in New York Politics</a></li> </ul> <p>***<br />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:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Ryan Brady and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 23 2015-11-22T05:00:00+00:00 2015-11-22T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6002:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-23 Super User <p><img alt="New York City Hall" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>Thanksgiving week will see just a few days of political activity, but the beginning of the week is looking busy. Highlights include closing arguments in Sheldon Silver's corruption trial; the continuation of Dean Skelos' corruption trial; the release of the Public Advocate's "worst landlord list"; several City Council hearings and a full-body "Stated Meeting"; two public meetings of the city's <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5915-do-new-york-elected-officials-deserve-a-raise" target="_blank">commission on elected official compensation</a>; and more. See our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p>First, in case you haven't seen some of our most recent reporting, a few highlights:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5999-two-new-reps-set-to-join-the-city-council" target="_blank">Two New Reps Set to Join the City Council</a>&nbsp;- get to know Joseph Borelli and Barry Grodenchik, who just won special elections and will join the Council soon.</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5998-stringer-joins-calls-to-shut-down-rikers" target="_blank">Stringer Joins Calls to Shut Down Rikers</a> - Comptroller Scott Stringer said last week that the city should implement reforms at Rikers Island jails, but also begin to plan for eventually closing down the complex</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5994-as-homelessness-crisis-continues-shelter-siting-questions-intensify" target="_blank">As Homelessness Crisis Continues, Shelter Siting Questions Intensify</a> - with dozens of new homeless shelters opening, are they being distributed around the city fairly? are communities being given enough notice?</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5996-pressure-shifts-to-cuomo-as-de-blasio-announces-supportive-housing-plan" target="_blank">Pressure Shifts to Cuomo as De Blasio Makes Supportive Housing Announcement </a>- Mayor de Blasio put forth a 15,000-unit supportive housing plan, seeming to temporarily give up on city-state negotiations for a new New York/New York plan</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: center;">[To read more of the latest from Gotham Gazette, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">click here</a>; to subscribe to our newsletters, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/eye-opener" target="_blank">click here</a>]</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio had no public schedule Saturday. On Sunday, the mayor,&nbsp;NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson observed "an active shooter drill in Lower Manhattan." After that, the mayor was&nbsp;delivered remarks at Church of God of Prophecy in the Bronx, where he was hosted by City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, among others.</p> <p>On Monday, de Blasio&nbsp;"will deliver remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Hunter's Point South Phase II" at noon; "host a press conference to make an announcement related to mental health" with First Lady Chirlane McCray at 2 p.m. at CUNY Hunter College - Silberman School of Social Work; and hold a media availability at about 3 p.m. nearby the school.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Monday, November 23:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Public Safety and the Committee on Transportation will meet to hear the introduction of several bills regarding unmanned aviation vehicles (drones). They will focus on regulation, registration requirements and authorization of use.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Youth Services will meet to discuss several new bills that would require training for certain employees in treating runaway, homeless, and sexually exploited youths, and amend the requirement date for the annual report on sexually exploited children.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Education will meet for oversight on Department of Education’s efforts to help struggling schools. Schools chancellor Carmen Fariña will testify.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will meet to hear a series of new bills that would require successive employers of buildings to retain workers for a transitional time period and extend protections for displaced building service workers to food service workers.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Environmental Protection will meet to hear a new bill that would require the identification of geothermal systems and buildings eligible for them, as well as registration for the people allowed to install such systems.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 8 a.m., The Food Bank for New York will release a new report on the state of hunger and food networks in New York City. The “legislative breakfast” and report will examine the effects of federal cuts to SNAP cuts. Margarette Purvis, President and CEO, Food Bank For New York City; Steven Banks, Commissioner, New York City Human Resources Administration; Triada Stampas, Vice President For Research &amp; Public Affairs, Food Bank For New York City, and “elected officials from throughout New York City” are expected.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and Business Forward will host a business leader <a href="http://www.nysra.org/events/event_details.asp?id=712370" target="_blank">forum</a> to discuss the effects of severe climate change on the restaurant industry.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 9 a.m. Monday in Long Island City,&nbsp;City Council "Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer will be joined by several New Yorkers who have applied and have not been selected for a variety of the City's affordable housing development lotteries throughout the five boroughs. Together, Council Member Van Bramer and these New Yorkers in need will express why they believe Airbnb needs to be held accountable for allowing tax-subsidized affordable housing units to be posted as illegal hotels on their website."</p> <p dir="ltr">Later, Van Bramer will join the mayor for the aforementioned Hunter's Point groundbreaking.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. in Foley Square, Public Advocate Letitia James "will hold a tenant rally and release the 2015 Worst Landlord Watchlist. Following the rally, Public Advocate James will visit Brooklyn Housing Court to ensure tenants are aware of their rights and then tour one of the buildings on the Worst Landlord Watchlist.".</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11:15 a.m. Monday, State Senator Liz Krueger, together with community leaders and elected officials, will gather at the City Hall for a press conference which will urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to transition New York off of coal power by 2020. Senator Liz Krueger will be joined by State Senator Brad Hoylman; Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh, Rebecca Seawright and Jo Anne Simon; and City Council Members Donovan Richards and Dan Garodnick.<br />[Read Sen. Krueger's new op-ed on the subject: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6004-time-for-new-york-to-cut-the-coal" target="_blank">Time for New York to Cut the Coal</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At 12:45 p.m. Monday, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, joined with Unite Here 100, will <a href="http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=9ef7d130-3458-4b47-9baa-8cf556422dec&amp;c=c8d09780-6b74-11e5-b7e9-d4ae5292c38a&amp;ch=c8d5a090-6b74-11e5-b7e9-d4ae5292c38a" target="_blank">rally</a> for food service worker retention, supporting a bill that expands upon the 2002 Displaced Building Service Worker Protection Act to include food service workers from being fired from work after a new owner takes over a business. A Council hearing will take place at 1 p.m.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 2 p.m., Gov. Cuomo&nbsp;will be at the Jacob Javits Center to participate "in New York State's Annual Thanksgiving Food Donation Drive with volunteers and members of the New York National Guard."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. the city’s Quadrennial Advisory Committee <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5915-do-new-york-elected-officials-deserve-a-raise" target="_blank">on elected officials’ compensation</a> will hold its first of two <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/quadrennial/hearings-and-meetings/hearings-and-meetings.page" target="_blank">community hearings</a> to gather public feedback about its work. There is a state pay commission set to convene soon as well, we'll have details on that upcoming. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5915-do-new-york-elected-officials-deserve-a-raise" target="_blank">our recent look at the work ahead for the commission and the question of whether New York elected officials deserve a raise</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Monday, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s <a href="https://twitter.com/heynowjo/status/661935067044913152" target="_blank">Red Tape Commission</a> will hold a Staten Island hearing for business owners and entrepreneurs, part of the ongoing initiative to remake the government into a partner to businesses instead of being an “obstacle to growth”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also at 6 p.m. the Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will hold a <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/east_new_york/index.shtml" target="_blank">public hearing</a> on East New York community planning.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">State Legislature</a> on Tuesday: at noon, the Assembly Standing Committee on Agriculture will convene for “Oversight of the SFY 2015-2016 State Budget for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Tuesday, November 24th:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Finance will meet on a variety of topics.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the City Council Stated Meeting will be held - and as usual, it will be prefaced by the Speaker’s pre-stated press conference, at 12:30 p.m.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">On&nbsp;Tuesday, "Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will appear live on CNN's New Day to discuss ThriveNYC: The Mental Health Roadmap for All," at about 6:50 a.m. Later in the morning, "the Mayor will create and deliver food packages with Joel Berg of NYC Coalition Against Hunger." At about 11:45 a.m., "the Mayor will deliver remarks on hunger and food insecurity in New York City." At about 4 p.m., "the Mayor will join bi-partisan local elected officials – including Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congressman Dan Donovan and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez – to host a press conference to highlight the need for increased federal transportation funding as New Yorkers prepare for holiday weekend travel."</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday, November 24th, Council Member Andy King will offer Free Healthcare Enrollment and Legal Services to Bronx Residents. In cooperation with MetroPlus and New York Legal Assistance Group the event will help residents sign up for health care and legal services.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver&nbsp;remarks at "NYC Coalition Against Hunger Annual Flagship Event."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Tuesday the NYC Quadrennial Advisory Board will hold another <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/quadrennial/hearings-and-meetings/hearings-and-meetings.page" target="_blank">community hearing</a> on compensation for elected officials.&nbsp;[Read&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5915-do-new-york-elected-officials-deserve-a-raise" target="_blank">our recent look at the work ahead for the commission and the question of whether New York elected officials deserve a raise</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday&nbsp;at 7 p.m. Public Advocate Tish James will host an African Immigrant "Talk to Tish" Town Hall in the Bronx; and at 8:30 p.m. James will attend the Bayside Hills Civic Association General Meeting in Oakland Gardens.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday evening in Brooklyn,&nbsp;school district 15, which includes parts of Sunset Park, Kensington, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will hold a town hall "from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at P.S. 516...Local elected officials including City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and State Sen. Jesse Hamilton are expected to attend and answer questions from the public from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.," <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151123/sunset-park/parents-expected-grill-schools-chancellor-on-overcrowding-at-town-hall" target="_blank">according to DNAinfo</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em><strong>Happy Thanksgiving if you’re celebrating. Watch for our latest articles this week and we'll publish a 'Week Ahead' on Sunday, Nov. 29.</strong></em>&nbsp;</p> <p>***<br />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:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Colin O'Connor, Konstantine Beridze, and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img alt="New York City Hall" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>Thanksgiving week will see just a few days of political activity, but the beginning of the week is looking busy. Highlights include closing arguments in Sheldon Silver's corruption trial; the continuation of Dean Skelos' corruption trial; the release of the Public Advocate's "worst landlord list"; several City Council hearings and a full-body "Stated Meeting"; two public meetings of the city's <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5915-do-new-york-elected-officials-deserve-a-raise" target="_blank">commission on elected official compensation</a>; and more. See our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p>First, in case you haven't seen some of our most recent reporting, a few highlights:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5999-two-new-reps-set-to-join-the-city-council" target="_blank">Two New Reps Set to Join the City Council</a>&nbsp;- get to know Joseph Borelli and Barry Grodenchik, who just won special elections and will join the Council soon.</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5998-stringer-joins-calls-to-shut-down-rikers" target="_blank">Stringer Joins Calls to Shut Down Rikers</a> - Comptroller Scott Stringer said last week that the city should implement reforms at Rikers Island jails, but also begin to plan for eventually closing down the complex</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5994-as-homelessness-crisis-continues-shelter-siting-questions-intensify" target="_blank">As Homelessness Crisis Continues, Shelter Siting Questions Intensify</a> - with dozens of new homeless shelters opening, are they being distributed around the city fairly? are communities being given enough notice?</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5996-pressure-shifts-to-cuomo-as-de-blasio-announces-supportive-housing-plan" target="_blank">Pressure Shifts to Cuomo as De Blasio Makes Supportive Housing Announcement </a>- Mayor de Blasio put forth a 15,000-unit supportive housing plan, seeming to temporarily give up on city-state negotiations for a new New York/New York plan</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: center;">[To read more of the latest from Gotham Gazette, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">click here</a>; to subscribe to our newsletters, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/eye-opener" target="_blank">click here</a>]</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio had no public schedule Saturday. On Sunday, the mayor,&nbsp;NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson observed "an active shooter drill in Lower Manhattan." After that, the mayor was&nbsp;delivered remarks at Church of God of Prophecy in the Bronx, where he was hosted by City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, among others.</p> <p>On Monday, de Blasio&nbsp;"will deliver remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Hunter's Point South Phase II" at noon; "host a press conference to make an announcement related to mental health" with First Lady Chirlane McCray at 2 p.m. at CUNY Hunter College - Silberman School of Social Work; and hold a media availability at about 3 p.m. nearby the school.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Monday, November 23:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Public Safety and the Committee on Transportation will meet to hear the introduction of several bills regarding unmanned aviation vehicles (drones). They will focus on regulation, registration requirements and authorization of use.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Youth Services will meet to discuss several new bills that would require training for certain employees in treating runaway, homeless, and sexually exploited youths, and amend the requirement date for the annual report on sexually exploited children.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Education will meet for oversight on Department of Education’s efforts to help struggling schools. Schools chancellor Carmen Fariña will testify.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will meet to hear a series of new bills that would require successive employers of buildings to retain workers for a transitional time period and extend protections for displaced building service workers to food service workers.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Environmental Protection will meet to hear a new bill that would require the identification of geothermal systems and buildings eligible for them, as well as registration for the people allowed to install such systems.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 8 a.m., The Food Bank for New York will release a new report on the state of hunger and food networks in New York City. The “legislative breakfast” and report will examine the effects of federal cuts to SNAP cuts. Margarette Purvis, President and CEO, Food Bank For New York City; Steven Banks, Commissioner, New York City Human Resources Administration; Triada Stampas, Vice President For Research &amp; Public Affairs, Food Bank For New York City, and “elected officials from throughout New York City” are expected.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and Business Forward will host a business leader <a href="http://www.nysra.org/events/event_details.asp?id=712370" target="_blank">forum</a> to discuss the effects of severe climate change on the restaurant industry.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 9 a.m. Monday in Long Island City,&nbsp;City Council "Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer will be joined by several New Yorkers who have applied and have not been selected for a variety of the City's affordable housing development lotteries throughout the five boroughs. Together, Council Member Van Bramer and these New Yorkers in need will express why they believe Airbnb needs to be held accountable for allowing tax-subsidized affordable housing units to be posted as illegal hotels on their website."</p> <p dir="ltr">Later, Van Bramer will join the mayor for the aforementioned Hunter's Point groundbreaking.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. in Foley Square, Public Advocate Letitia James "will hold a tenant rally and release the 2015 Worst Landlord Watchlist. Following the rally, Public Advocate James will visit Brooklyn Housing Court to ensure tenants are aware of their rights and then tour one of the buildings on the Worst Landlord Watchlist.".</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11:15 a.m. Monday, State Senator Liz Krueger, together with community leaders and elected officials, will gather at the City Hall for a press conference which will urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to transition New York off of coal power by 2020. Senator Liz Krueger will be joined by State Senator Brad Hoylman; Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh, Rebecca Seawright and Jo Anne Simon; and City Council Members Donovan Richards and Dan Garodnick.<br />[Read Sen. Krueger's new op-ed on the subject: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6004-time-for-new-york-to-cut-the-coal" target="_blank">Time for New York to Cut the Coal</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At 12:45 p.m. Monday, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, joined with Unite Here 100, will <a href="http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=9ef7d130-3458-4b47-9baa-8cf556422dec&amp;c=c8d09780-6b74-11e5-b7e9-d4ae5292c38a&amp;ch=c8d5a090-6b74-11e5-b7e9-d4ae5292c38a" target="_blank">rally</a> for food service worker retention, supporting a bill that expands upon the 2002 Displaced Building Service Worker Protection Act to include food service workers from being fired from work after a new owner takes over a business. A Council hearing will take place at 1 p.m.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 2 p.m., Gov. Cuomo&nbsp;will be at the Jacob Javits Center to participate "in New York State's Annual Thanksgiving Food Donation Drive with volunteers and members of the New York National Guard."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. the city’s Quadrennial Advisory Committee <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5915-do-new-york-elected-officials-deserve-a-raise" target="_blank">on elected officials’ compensation</a> will hold its first of two <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/quadrennial/hearings-and-meetings/hearings-and-meetings.page" target="_blank">community hearings</a> to gather public feedback about its work. There is a state pay commission set to convene soon as well, we'll have details on that upcoming. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5915-do-new-york-elected-officials-deserve-a-raise" target="_blank">our recent look at the work ahead for the commission and the question of whether New York elected officials deserve a raise</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Monday, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s <a href="https://twitter.com/heynowjo/status/661935067044913152" target="_blank">Red Tape Commission</a> will hold a Staten Island hearing for business owners and entrepreneurs, part of the ongoing initiative to remake the government into a partner to businesses instead of being an “obstacle to growth”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also at 6 p.m. the Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will hold a <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/east_new_york/index.shtml" target="_blank">public hearing</a> on East New York community planning.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">State Legislature</a> on Tuesday: at noon, the Assembly Standing Committee on Agriculture will convene for “Oversight of the SFY 2015-2016 State Budget for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Tuesday, November 24th:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Finance will meet on a variety of topics.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the City Council Stated Meeting will be held - and as usual, it will be prefaced by the Speaker’s pre-stated press conference, at 12:30 p.m.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">On&nbsp;Tuesday, "Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will appear live on CNN's New Day to discuss ThriveNYC: The Mental Health Roadmap for All," at about 6:50 a.m. Later in the morning, "the Mayor will create and deliver food packages with Joel Berg of NYC Coalition Against Hunger." At about 11:45 a.m., "the Mayor will deliver remarks on hunger and food insecurity in New York City." At about 4 p.m., "the Mayor will join bi-partisan local elected officials – including Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congressman Dan Donovan and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez – to host a press conference to highlight the need for increased federal transportation funding as New Yorkers prepare for holiday weekend travel."</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday, November 24th, Council Member Andy King will offer Free Healthcare Enrollment and Legal Services to Bronx Residents. In cooperation with MetroPlus and New York Legal Assistance Group the event will help residents sign up for health care and legal services.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver&nbsp;remarks at "NYC Coalition Against Hunger Annual Flagship Event."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Tuesday the NYC Quadrennial Advisory Board will hold another <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/quadrennial/hearings-and-meetings/hearings-and-meetings.page" target="_blank">community hearing</a> on compensation for elected officials.&nbsp;[Read&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5915-do-new-york-elected-officials-deserve-a-raise" target="_blank">our recent look at the work ahead for the commission and the question of whether New York elected officials deserve a raise</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday&nbsp;at 7 p.m. Public Advocate Tish James will host an African Immigrant "Talk to Tish" Town Hall in the Bronx; and at 8:30 p.m. James will attend the Bayside Hills Civic Association General Meeting in Oakland Gardens.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday evening in Brooklyn,&nbsp;school district 15, which includes parts of Sunset Park, Kensington, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will hold a town hall "from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at P.S. 516...Local elected officials including City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and State Sen. Jesse Hamilton are expected to attend and answer questions from the public from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.," <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151123/sunset-park/parents-expected-grill-schools-chancellor-on-overcrowding-at-town-hall" target="_blank">according to DNAinfo</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em><strong>Happy Thanksgiving if you’re celebrating. Watch for our latest articles this week and we'll publish a 'Week Ahead' on Sunday, Nov. 29.</strong></em>&nbsp;</p> <p>***<br />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:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Colin O'Connor, Konstantine Beridze, and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Stringer Joins Calls to Shut Down Rikers 2015-11-20T00:20:28+00:00 2015-11-20T00:20:28+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5998:stringer-joins-calls-to-shut-down-rikers Super User <p dir="ltr"><img alt="rikers stringer new school" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/rikers_stringer_new_school.jpg" height="586" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Stringer at The New School (photo via @scottmstringer)</p> <hr /> <p>Giving keynote remarks at an event focused on Rikers Island jails, city Comptroller Scott Stringer added his voice to calls for shutting down the troubled complex.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Right now, Rikers Island is a case study in poor outcomes,” Stringer said, presenting<a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/comptroller-stringer-2015-analysis-violence-at-city-jails-spikes-dramatically-and-cost-per-inmate-explodes-even-as-inmate-population-declines/" target="_blank"> data analysis</a> by his office on large screens behind him. Stringer went on to point to court-mandated and other reforms being implemented at Rikers, but added that while changes are made, he believes the city must “plan for the day when Rikers Island can be safely and responsibly closed. Because part of the problem at Rikers is Rikers itself,” Stringer said to a crowd and panel of experts who appeared largely in agreement.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the New School's Center for New York City Affairs on Wednesday, criminal justice experts and stakeholders discussed Rikers Island, home of the city's massive jail complex, where about 11,000 inmates, many of whom are awaiting trial, are held. Introductory remarks were made by Glenn Martin, founder of JustLeadershipUSA, who said that he had made a personal plea for shutting down Rikers to Mayor de Blasio on the mayor’s inauguration day. After Stringer spoke, a panel discussion ensued, with the organizing question of whether Rikers should be reformed or shut down.</p> <p dir="ltr">Overwhelmingly, panelists favored the latter.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You can’t reform something that’s that sick, that has that much inequity, that’s that bigoted as a system,” Khary Lazarre-White, executive director of Harlem youth organization Brotherhood/Sister Sol, said. To applause, he continued: “It has to be almost, like, crushed to the ground and reimagined.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Other panelists included Neil Barsky, founder and chairman of The Marshall Project; Martin Horn, of John Jay College and formerly commissioner of the city’s correction department; Ann-Marie Louison, a co-director at CASES; Charles Nunez, a community advocate at Youth Represent; and Carmen Perez, a co-founder of Justice League NYC. It was moderated by NY1’s Errol Louis.</p> <p dir="ltr">The discussion took place following the presentation of striking data from Stringer: Riker’s cost per inmate (now $112,000 annually) has risen by 67 percent since 2007. And while the inmate population is historically low, use-of-force incidents by uniformed Rikers employees increased by 27 percent and the number of assaults on guards by inmates by 46 percent in fiscal year 2015.</p> <p dir="ltr">Reforms are currently being implemented by the Department of Correction under Commissioner Joseph Ponte and Mayor de Blasio. They are, in part, the result of a settlement between the city and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who had joined a class-action lawsuit about Rikers, Nunez v. City of New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As we implement the consent decree, I believe we must also plan for the day when Rikers Island can be safely and responsibly closed,” Stringer said of the settlement. Calling for a shutdown of the complex, Stringer noted that one of the settlement details - the appointment of a federal monitor - has happened at Rikers before.</p> <p dir="ltr">“By the late 1990s, a federal monitor had been appointed to supervise solitary units and staffing decisions,” the comptroller said. “There were significant reductions in violence but the improvements were just short-lived.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Shutting the ten-jail complex down, Stringer added, would take “years of planning.” The mayor's office did not indicate there is any current consideratoin to begin that process&nbsp;<a href="http://m.nydailynews.com/new-york/scott-stringer-time-shut-rikers-island-article-1.2439552" target="_blank">in response to</a> the Daily News.</p> <p dir="ltr">In his remarks, Horn said that finding space to replace Rikers would be difficult, but that it was truly a matter of political will.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The impediment is simply politics,” Horn said. “The way it works in New York City is if the City Council person whose district the facility is located in objects, then the City Council will not approve it,” Horn said. “And that’s the final step of the city’s land-use review process.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Horn outlined a plan for how to replace Rikers, but noted that any such planning would be at the mercy of about three Council members as it calls for modifying detention centers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.</p> <p dir="ltr">But such solutions are not often politically popular. As he mentioned at the panel, Horn met resistance when, as DOC commissioner, he tried to reopen the Brooklyn Detention House to some inmates from Rikers. Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson successfully blocked the plan in court.</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition to New Yorkers preferring correctional facilities isolated, the political value of being seen as “tough on crime” could also impede a Rikers closing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I think ultimately closing Rikers is about two things. It is about the politics, and it’s about the politics of fear,” panelist Neil Barsky, of the<a href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/" target="_blank"> Marshall Project</a>, said. “It’s all about the demagoguery that exists around this issue.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Barsky said that the killing of police officer Randolph Holder (posthumously promoted to detective) made the progressive mayor “go to war” with a judge who followed what Barsky called a proper legal process. The politicized reaction to Holder’s death, according to Barsky, is a “horrible thing, in my opinion, for what lies ahead because this is not gonna be easy politically.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition to that, Barsky said, the support of the major New York newspapers would be crucial to shutting down Rikers. Occasionally, local press has been highly critical of Rikers; 129 incidents of severe injuries to inmates were reported in a New York Times Rikers<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/14/nyregion/rikers-study-finds-prisoners-injured-by-employees.html" target="_blank"> investigation</a> last year.</p> <p dir="ltr">The New Yorker was highly praised for a piece on Kalief Browder, the teenager who killed himself after languishing for years on Rikers on charges of stealing a backpack that were later dropped.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rikers’ culture of brutality is viewed as central to Browder’s tragic tale. He is not alone in terms of inmates, as well as corrections officers, who are severely damaged by time on Rikers.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When you’re there, you’re not considered a person,” said Charles Nuñez, a community advocate who said he spent six months on Rikers himself. “You’re more acknowledged from your bed number or from your cell number,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I had to put on this face everyday and make sure that I wasn’t approachable because I knew that every situation was able to lead to a confrontation of violence,” Nunez said, his voice trembling. “And I was under that once you encounter those things, you have to be able to talk to someone about it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mental health treatment on Rikers, the city’s bail system, and the age of criminal responsibility being 16 in New York State were also discussed as major problems at the panel.</p> <p dir="ltr">Even for those visiting Rikers, it can be a nightmare. “Just the way in which you’re treated, regardless of your title, right?” Carmen Perez of Justice League NYC said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You’re really stripped down of your humanity,” Perez said, discussing protocols for making female visitors change their clothes.</p> <p dir="ltr">In some quarters, the idea of closing Rikers has gained traction: City Council Member Daniel Dromm, of Queens, has<a href="http://said" target="_blank"> said</a> that closing Rikers should be a goal. Demonstrators<a href="http://bronx.news12.com/news/arrests-made-during-protest-against-alleged-abuse-corruption-at-rikers-island-1.11001728" target="_blank"> voiced</a> the demand last month, and it has become a popular<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CloseRIKERS?src=hash" target="_blank"> hashtag</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">But no hope for its closure in the immediate future was expressed at the panel.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Can we envision Bill de Blasio running for office and saying ‘We’re going to close down these big out-of-date, poorly designed, dehumanizing factories of despair in Rikers Island and we’re going to build smaller jails for fewer people in Kew Gardens and Brooklyn Heights?’” Horn asked.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many in the audience laughed. Even if the mayor did, there would almost certainly be significant resistance in the neighborhoods targeted for new facilities: as Horn mentioned, there was an outcry among parents at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights when a federal pretrial services building moved near it.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I mean, society doesn’t want this to happen,” Horn said. “And I’m just not very optimistic that any serious politician is going to do what needs to be done.”</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Ryan Brady, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette&nbsp;</a></p> <p dir="ltr"><img alt="rikers stringer new school" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/rikers_stringer_new_school.jpg" height="586" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Stringer at The New School (photo via @scottmstringer)</p> <hr /> <p>Giving keynote remarks at an event focused on Rikers Island jails, city Comptroller Scott Stringer added his voice to calls for shutting down the troubled complex.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Right now, Rikers Island is a case study in poor outcomes,” Stringer said, presenting<a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/comptroller-stringer-2015-analysis-violence-at-city-jails-spikes-dramatically-and-cost-per-inmate-explodes-even-as-inmate-population-declines/" target="_blank"> data analysis</a> by his office on large screens behind him. Stringer went on to point to court-mandated and other reforms being implemented at Rikers, but added that while changes are made, he believes the city must “plan for the day when Rikers Island can be safely and responsibly closed. Because part of the problem at Rikers is Rikers itself,” Stringer said to a crowd and panel of experts who appeared largely in agreement.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the New School's Center for New York City Affairs on Wednesday, criminal justice experts and stakeholders discussed Rikers Island, home of the city's massive jail complex, where about 11,000 inmates, many of whom are awaiting trial, are held. Introductory remarks were made by Glenn Martin, founder of JustLeadershipUSA, who said that he had made a personal plea for shutting down Rikers to Mayor de Blasio on the mayor’s inauguration day. After Stringer spoke, a panel discussion ensued, with the organizing question of whether Rikers should be reformed or shut down.</p> <p dir="ltr">Overwhelmingly, panelists favored the latter.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You can’t reform something that’s that sick, that has that much inequity, that’s that bigoted as a system,” Khary Lazarre-White, executive director of Harlem youth organization Brotherhood/Sister Sol, said. To applause, he continued: “It has to be almost, like, crushed to the ground and reimagined.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Other panelists included Neil Barsky, founder and chairman of The Marshall Project; Martin Horn, of John Jay College and formerly commissioner of the city’s correction department; Ann-Marie Louison, a co-director at CASES; Charles Nunez, a community advocate at Youth Represent; and Carmen Perez, a co-founder of Justice League NYC. It was moderated by NY1’s Errol Louis.</p> <p dir="ltr">The discussion took place following the presentation of striking data from Stringer: Riker’s cost per inmate (now $112,000 annually) has risen by 67 percent since 2007. And while the inmate population is historically low, use-of-force incidents by uniformed Rikers employees increased by 27 percent and the number of assaults on guards by inmates by 46 percent in fiscal year 2015.</p> <p dir="ltr">Reforms are currently being implemented by the Department of Correction under Commissioner Joseph Ponte and Mayor de Blasio. They are, in part, the result of a settlement between the city and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who had joined a class-action lawsuit about Rikers, Nunez v. City of New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As we implement the consent decree, I believe we must also plan for the day when Rikers Island can be safely and responsibly closed,” Stringer said of the settlement. Calling for a shutdown of the complex, Stringer noted that one of the settlement details - the appointment of a federal monitor - has happened at Rikers before.</p> <p dir="ltr">“By the late 1990s, a federal monitor had been appointed to supervise solitary units and staffing decisions,” the comptroller said. “There were significant reductions in violence but the improvements were just short-lived.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Shutting the ten-jail complex down, Stringer added, would take “years of planning.” The mayor's office did not indicate there is any current consideratoin to begin that process&nbsp;<a href="http://m.nydailynews.com/new-york/scott-stringer-time-shut-rikers-island-article-1.2439552" target="_blank">in response to</a> the Daily News.</p> <p dir="ltr">In his remarks, Horn said that finding space to replace Rikers would be difficult, but that it was truly a matter of political will.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The impediment is simply politics,” Horn said. “The way it works in New York City is if the City Council person whose district the facility is located in objects, then the City Council will not approve it,” Horn said. “And that’s the final step of the city’s land-use review process.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Horn outlined a plan for how to replace Rikers, but noted that any such planning would be at the mercy of about three Council members as it calls for modifying detention centers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.</p> <p dir="ltr">But such solutions are not often politically popular. As he mentioned at the panel, Horn met resistance when, as DOC commissioner, he tried to reopen the Brooklyn Detention House to some inmates from Rikers. Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson successfully blocked the plan in court.</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition to New Yorkers preferring correctional facilities isolated, the political value of being seen as “tough on crime” could also impede a Rikers closing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I think ultimately closing Rikers is about two things. It is about the politics, and it’s about the politics of fear,” panelist Neil Barsky, of the<a href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/" target="_blank"> Marshall Project</a>, said. “It’s all about the demagoguery that exists around this issue.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Barsky said that the killing of police officer Randolph Holder (posthumously promoted to detective) made the progressive mayor “go to war” with a judge who followed what Barsky called a proper legal process. The politicized reaction to Holder’s death, according to Barsky, is a “horrible thing, in my opinion, for what lies ahead because this is not gonna be easy politically.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition to that, Barsky said, the support of the major New York newspapers would be crucial to shutting down Rikers. Occasionally, local press has been highly critical of Rikers; 129 incidents of severe injuries to inmates were reported in a New York Times Rikers<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/14/nyregion/rikers-study-finds-prisoners-injured-by-employees.html" target="_blank"> investigation</a> last year.</p> <p dir="ltr">The New Yorker was highly praised for a piece on Kalief Browder, the teenager who killed himself after languishing for years on Rikers on charges of stealing a backpack that were later dropped.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rikers’ culture of brutality is viewed as central to Browder’s tragic tale. He is not alone in terms of inmates, as well as corrections officers, who are severely damaged by time on Rikers.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When you’re there, you’re not considered a person,” said Charles Nuñez, a community advocate who said he spent six months on Rikers himself. “You’re more acknowledged from your bed number or from your cell number,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I had to put on this face everyday and make sure that I wasn’t approachable because I knew that every situation was able to lead to a confrontation of violence,” Nunez said, his voice trembling. “And I was under that once you encounter those things, you have to be able to talk to someone about it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mental health treatment on Rikers, the city’s bail system, and the age of criminal responsibility being 16 in New York State were also discussed as major problems at the panel.</p> <p dir="ltr">Even for those visiting Rikers, it can be a nightmare. “Just the way in which you’re treated, regardless of your title, right?” Carmen Perez of Justice League NYC said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You’re really stripped down of your humanity,” Perez said, discussing protocols for making female visitors change their clothes.</p> <p dir="ltr">In some quarters, the idea of closing Rikers has gained traction: City Council Member Daniel Dromm, of Queens, has<a href="http://said" target="_blank"> said</a> that closing Rikers should be a goal. Demonstrators<a href="http://bronx.news12.com/news/arrests-made-during-protest-against-alleged-abuse-corruption-at-rikers-island-1.11001728" target="_blank"> voiced</a> the demand last month, and it has become a popular<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CloseRIKERS?src=hash" target="_blank"> hashtag</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">But no hope for its closure in the immediate future was expressed at the panel.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Can we envision Bill de Blasio running for office and saying ‘We’re going to close down these big out-of-date, poorly designed, dehumanizing factories of despair in Rikers Island and we’re going to build smaller jails for fewer people in Kew Gardens and Brooklyn Heights?’” Horn asked.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many in the audience laughed. Even if the mayor did, there would almost certainly be significant resistance in the neighborhoods targeted for new facilities: as Horn mentioned, there was an outcry among parents at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights when a federal pretrial services building moved near it.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I mean, society doesn’t want this to happen,” Horn said. “And I’m just not very optimistic that any serious politician is going to do what needs to be done.”</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Ryan Brady, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette&nbsp;</a></p> The Week That Was in New York Politics, November 16-20 2015-11-20T19:19:14+00:00 2015-11-20T19:19:14+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6000:the-week-that-was-in-new-york-politics-november-16-20 Super User <p><img alt="week in review bus readers" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" width="600" height="409" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday November 20, 2015</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>Mayor de Blasio, former Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and others at Friday's tree-planting ceremony, <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCouncil/status/667761909085638656" target="_blank">via @NYCCouncil</a>; former Mayor Bloomberg speaks on Friday, <a href="https://twitter.com/howiewolf/status/667737637998972928" target="_blank">via Howard Wolfson, @howiewolf</a></p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="tree planting ceremony via NYC Council" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/tree_planting_ceremony_via_NYC_Council.jpg" width="400" height="266" /></p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="bloomberg tree planting wolfson" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/bloomberg_tree_planting_wolfson.jpg" width="400" height="400" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Mayor Announces Supportive Housing:</strong> On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/852-15/de-blasio-administration-plan-create-15-000-units-supportive-housing" target="_blank">announced</a> the city will invest over $2.6 billion to create 15,000 new units of supportive housing over the next 15 years. Supportive housing is considered <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5984-council-hearing-will-amplify-calls-for-more-supportive-housing" target="_blank">by many</a> to be both the most cost-effective and successful method to reduce homelessness among those with acute needs, such as those battling substance abuse and mental illness. The Mayor’s move puts new <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5996-pressure-shifts-to-cuomo-as-de-blasio-announces-supportive-housing-plan" target="_blank">pressure</a> on Governor Andrew Cuomo, with whom negotiations for greater state support in creating supportive housing have stalled, despite the fact that a bipartisan group of legislators have <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/Press/20150710/" target="_blank">repeatedly</a> <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/290160954/NYNY4-Signed-Letter" target="_blank">called</a> on Governor Cuomo to commit to the creation of 35,000 units of supportive housing statewide. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5996-pressure-shifts-to-cuomo-as-de-blasio-announces-supportive-housing-plan" target="_blank">Pressure Shifts to Cuomo as De Blasio Announces Supportive Housing Plan</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. New York Reacts After Paris Attacks:</strong> The NYPD stepped up <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2015/11/18/nypd-to-remain-at--heightened-state-of-vigilance--after-islamic-state-video-references-times-square.html" target="_blank">security</a> in certain areas of the city simply as a precaution this week in the wake of last Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. On Monday, the NYPD <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/terror-seizes-agenda-in-new-york-city-1447725939" target="_blank">launched</a> a new counterterrorism unit, known as the Critical Response Command. On Wednesday, following the release of a <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-morning10&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-morning10-20151119" target="_blank">video</a> by the Islamic State showing images of Times Square and threatening an attack on the city, Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton held a late night <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/857-15/transcript-mayor-de-blasio-nypd-commissioner-bill-bratton-provide-on-counterterrorism" target="_blank">press conference</a> to reassure the public that there is no credible threat to the city. Mayor de Blasio said that New York will not be intimidated and encouraged residents to continue going about their daily lives.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Cuomo, with Clinton, on Gun Control:</strong> At a Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gala on Thursday evening, Governor Cuomo and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton <a href="http://observer.com/2015/11/hillary-clinton-and-andrew-cuomo-trade-praise-on-gun-control/" target="_blank">praised</a> one another for their respective actions on gun control. Clinton, who received an award named after Governor Cuomo’s late father at the event, commended the Governor for passing the SAFE Act in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, saying “Congress may have let us down, but Andrew Cuomo did not.” At the event, Governor Cuomo reiterated his strong support of greater gun control, <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/11/cuomo-knocks-clinton-rivals-invokes-father-at-brady-campaign/" target="_blank">saying</a> “This is a man-made crisis that costs 33,000 lives per year. It is something we can solve. The answer is going to be federal legislation and that is the only way we’re actually going to make a difference.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Albany on Trial:</strong> The trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/nyregion/at-trial-prosecutors-to-detail-dean-skeloss-favors-for-his-son.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">began</a> this week just as the trial of former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver entered its third week. Skelos and his son face <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/nyregion/q-and-a-the-trial-of-dean-and-adam-skelos.html" target="_blank">eight charges</a> of bribery, extortion, and conspiracy with federal prosecutors <a href="http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/adam-skelos-attorney-said-he-looked-into-plea-possibilities-for-his-client-1.11134591" target="_blank">alleging</a> that Skelos “abused his power” to “line the pockets” of his son. Silver also faces charges of corruption and abuse of power, and on Wednesday, prosecutors <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/defense-wont-call-any-witnesses-in-trial-of-sheldon-silver-1447898169?alg=y" target="_blank">rested their case</a> after almost three weeks of testimony. Silver <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8583472/silver-wont-take-stand-his-corruption-trial?top-featured-2" target="_blank">will not take the stand</a> nor will Silver’s lawyers call witnesses, and Silver’s lawyers have asked the judge to <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8583642/defense-asks-judge-dismiss-corruption-charges-against-silver" target="_blank">acquit</a> Silver on all counts before jurors get the case, insisting that the government had not met the burden of proof.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Rikers Reform:</strong> On Wednesday, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Neil Barsky, founder and chairman of The Marshall Project, and several others discussed Rikers Island jails at an event with a <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5998-stringer-joins-calls-to-shut-down-rikers" target="_blank">panel</a> moderated by Errol Louis at The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. Stringer added his voice to calls for shutting down the dysfunctional jail complex, saying, “Right now, Rikers Island is a case study in poor outcomes.” [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5998-stringer-joins-calls-to-shut-down-rikers" target="_blank">Stringer Joins Calls to Shut Down Rikers</a>]</p> <p><strong>THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>51%</strong> of New Yorkers say they are struggling economically, just barely making ends meet, if at all, according to a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/nyregion/half-of-new-yorkers-say-they-are-barely-or-not-getting-by-poll-shows.html" target="_blank">poll</a> conducted by The New York Times and Siena College.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$5.3 million</strong> will be paid by the city to settle lawsuits over the deaths of two Rikers Island inmates, The New York Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/nyregion/rikers-inmate-jason-echevarria-wrongful-death-lawsuit-settlement.html" target="_blank">reports</a>.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$112,000</strong> per inmate is how much it costs annually to keep an individual locked up on Rikers Island - a <strong>67%</strong> increase since 2007, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/testimonies-and-remarks-rikers-island-reform-it-or-shut-it-down-the-center-for-new-york-city-affairs-at-the-new-school/" target="_blank">said</a> Wednesday.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>49th </strong>is<strong>&nbsp;</strong>New York State's <a href="http://taxfoundation.org/article/2016-state-business-tax-climate-index" target="_blank">rank</a>&nbsp;in state tax systems in the country by the Tax Foundation’s 2016 Business Tax Climate Index, though the index noted the substantial corporate tax reform package enacted by policymakers in 2014 will likely improve New York’s ranking once fully phased in.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$50 million</strong> will be spent by New York on efforts to market and promote the state as a destination for domestic and international tourism, Governor Cuomo <a href="http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/New-York-commits-50-million-to-marketing-state-6642335.php" target="_blank">announced</a> on Wednesday.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>14%</strong> of the nation's homeless population is in New York City, according to a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/20/nyregion/new-yorks-rise-in-homelessness-went-against-national-trend-us-report-finds.html" target="_blank">report</a> from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a good week for</strong> supportive housing advocates, as Mayor de Blasio <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/852-15/de-blasio-administration-plan-create-15-000-units-supportive-housing" target="_blank">announced</a> Wednesday that the city will invest over $2.6 billion to create 15,000 new units of supportive housing over the next 15 years.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a bad week for</strong> former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, whose trial on federal corruption charges <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/nyregion/at-trial-prosecutors-to-detail-dean-skeloss-favors-for-his-son.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">began</a> and included some damning and embarassing audio from federal wiretaps.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THE FLASH:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time four years ago</strong>, on November 15, 2011, the NYPD evicted Occupy Wall Street <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-15/police-clear-occupy-wall-street/3673220" target="_blank">protesters</a> from Zuccotti Park.</p> <p><strong>Around this time last year</strong>, on November 18, 2014, a giant <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-20/us-snowstorm-leavs-eight-dead/5905300" target="_blank">snowstorm</a> hit many parts of the United States, causing one New York county to declare a state of emergency and <a href="http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/11/22/death-toll-climbs-killer-us-snowstorm" target="_blank">killing</a> 13 people in New York.</p> <p><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5996-pressure-shifts-to-cuomo-as-de-blasio-announces-supportive-housing-plan">Pressure Shifts to Cuomo as De Blasio Announces Supportive Housing Plan</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5999-two-new-reps-set-to-join-the-city-council">Two New Reps Set to Join the City Council</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5998-stringer-joins-calls-to-shut-down-rikers">Stringer Joins Calls to Shut Down Rikers</a>, by Ryan Brady</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5994-as-homelessness-crisis-continues-shelter-siting-questions-intensify">As Homelessness Crisis Continues, Shelter Siting Questions Intensify</a>, by Christian Zhang</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5991-all-aboard-the-brt-express">All Aboard the BRT Express?</a> by Colin O’Connor</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5997-boards-to-offer-peek-into-new-ways-to-access-campaign-finance-data">Boards to Offer Peek Into New Ways to Access Campaign Finance Data</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5995-a-city-we-all-want-to-live-in">A City We All Want to Live In</a>, by Lawrence Mone (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5993-idnyc-cardholders-await-assurance-ahead-of-year-two">IDNYC Cardholders Await Assurance Ahead of Year Two</a>, by Lauren A. Haynes (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5992-improving-cunys-equity-and-efficiency-requiring-some-tuition-for-all">Improving CUNY’s Equity and Efficiency: Requiring Some Tuition for All</a>, by Robert Cherry (opinion)</p> <p><strong>MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Gerald Benjamin, SUNY New Paltz legend and scholar, <a href="http://www.wcny.org/nov-17-2015-gerald-benjamin-karl-sleight-asm-brindisi-and-asm-ryan-paul-gallay/" target="_blank">appeared on</a> WNYC’s “Capitol Pressroom” to provide an update on the trials of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.</p> <p>Gannett Albany’s Joseph Spector <a href="http://polhudson.lohudblogs.com/2015/11/18/assembly-democrats-plan-no-new-ethics-reforms-regardless-of-silvers-trial/?utm_source=dlvr.it&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">reports</a> that even as the two former leaders of the state Legislature stand trial on a number of corruption charges, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he has no plans for new ethics laws, despite calls from good government groups.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">On City &amp; State TV, City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#.Vk71hGSrToB" target="_blank">discussed</a> two zoning amendments and what they mean for the Mayor’s affordable housing program.</p> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max</p> <p><img alt="week in review bus readers" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" width="600" height="409" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday November 20, 2015</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>Mayor de Blasio, former Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and others at Friday's tree-planting ceremony, <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCouncil/status/667761909085638656" target="_blank">via @NYCCouncil</a>; former Mayor Bloomberg speaks on Friday, <a href="https://twitter.com/howiewolf/status/667737637998972928" target="_blank">via Howard Wolfson, @howiewolf</a></p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="tree planting ceremony via NYC Council" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/tree_planting_ceremony_via_NYC_Council.jpg" width="400" height="266" /></p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="bloomberg tree planting wolfson" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/bloomberg_tree_planting_wolfson.jpg" width="400" height="400" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Mayor Announces Supportive Housing:</strong> On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/852-15/de-blasio-administration-plan-create-15-000-units-supportive-housing" target="_blank">announced</a> the city will invest over $2.6 billion to create 15,000 new units of supportive housing over the next 15 years. Supportive housing is considered <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5984-council-hearing-will-amplify-calls-for-more-supportive-housing" target="_blank">by many</a> to be both the most cost-effective and successful method to reduce homelessness among those with acute needs, such as those battling substance abuse and mental illness. The Mayor’s move puts new <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5996-pressure-shifts-to-cuomo-as-de-blasio-announces-supportive-housing-plan" target="_blank">pressure</a> on Governor Andrew Cuomo, with whom negotiations for greater state support in creating supportive housing have stalled, despite the fact that a bipartisan group of legislators have <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/Press/20150710/" target="_blank">repeatedly</a> <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/290160954/NYNY4-Signed-Letter" target="_blank">called</a> on Governor Cuomo to commit to the creation of 35,000 units of supportive housing statewide. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5996-pressure-shifts-to-cuomo-as-de-blasio-announces-supportive-housing-plan" target="_blank">Pressure Shifts to Cuomo as De Blasio Announces Supportive Housing Plan</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. New York Reacts After Paris Attacks:</strong> The NYPD stepped up <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2015/11/18/nypd-to-remain-at--heightened-state-of-vigilance--after-islamic-state-video-references-times-square.html" target="_blank">security</a> in certain areas of the city simply as a precaution this week in the wake of last Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. On Monday, the NYPD <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/terror-seizes-agenda-in-new-york-city-1447725939" target="_blank">launched</a> a new counterterrorism unit, known as the Critical Response Command. On Wednesday, following the release of a <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-morning10&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-morning10-20151119" target="_blank">video</a> by the Islamic State showing images of Times Square and threatening an attack on the city, Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton held a late night <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/857-15/transcript-mayor-de-blasio-nypd-commissioner-bill-bratton-provide-on-counterterrorism" target="_blank">press conference</a> to reassure the public that there is no credible threat to the city. Mayor de Blasio said that New York will not be intimidated and encouraged residents to continue going about their daily lives.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Cuomo, with Clinton, on Gun Control:</strong> At a Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gala on Thursday evening, Governor Cuomo and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton <a href="http://observer.com/2015/11/hillary-clinton-and-andrew-cuomo-trade-praise-on-gun-control/" target="_blank">praised</a> one another for their respective actions on gun control. Clinton, who received an award named after Governor Cuomo’s late father at the event, commended the Governor for passing the SAFE Act in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, saying “Congress may have let us down, but Andrew Cuomo did not.” At the event, Governor Cuomo reiterated his strong support of greater gun control, <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/11/cuomo-knocks-clinton-rivals-invokes-father-at-brady-campaign/" target="_blank">saying</a> “This is a man-made crisis that costs 33,000 lives per year. It is something we can solve. The answer is going to be federal legislation and that is the only way we’re actually going to make a difference.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Albany on Trial:</strong> The trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/nyregion/at-trial-prosecutors-to-detail-dean-skeloss-favors-for-his-son.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">began</a> this week just as the trial of former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver entered its third week. Skelos and his son face <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/nyregion/q-and-a-the-trial-of-dean-and-adam-skelos.html" target="_blank">eight charges</a> of bribery, extortion, and conspiracy with federal prosecutors <a href="http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/adam-skelos-attorney-said-he-looked-into-plea-possibilities-for-his-client-1.11134591" target="_blank">alleging</a> that Skelos “abused his power” to “line the pockets” of his son. Silver also faces charges of corruption and abuse of power, and on Wednesday, prosecutors <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/defense-wont-call-any-witnesses-in-trial-of-sheldon-silver-1447898169?alg=y" target="_blank">rested their case</a> after almost three weeks of testimony. Silver <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8583472/silver-wont-take-stand-his-corruption-trial?top-featured-2" target="_blank">will not take the stand</a> nor will Silver’s lawyers call witnesses, and Silver’s lawyers have asked the judge to <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8583642/defense-asks-judge-dismiss-corruption-charges-against-silver" target="_blank">acquit</a> Silver on all counts before jurors get the case, insisting that the government had not met the burden of proof.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Rikers Reform:</strong> On Wednesday, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Neil Barsky, founder and chairman of The Marshall Project, and several others discussed Rikers Island jails at an event with a <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5998-stringer-joins-calls-to-shut-down-rikers" target="_blank">panel</a> moderated by Errol Louis at The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. Stringer added his voice to calls for shutting down the dysfunctional jail complex, saying, “Right now, Rikers Island is a case study in poor outcomes.” [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5998-stringer-joins-calls-to-shut-down-rikers" target="_blank">Stringer Joins Calls to Shut Down Rikers</a>]</p> <p><strong>THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>51%</strong> of New Yorkers say they are struggling economically, just barely making ends meet, if at all, according to a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/nyregion/half-of-new-yorkers-say-they-are-barely-or-not-getting-by-poll-shows.html" target="_blank">poll</a> conducted by The New York Times and Siena College.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$5.3 million</strong> will be paid by the city to settle lawsuits over the deaths of two Rikers Island inmates, The New York Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/nyregion/rikers-inmate-jason-echevarria-wrongful-death-lawsuit-settlement.html" target="_blank">reports</a>.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$112,000</strong> per inmate is how much it costs annually to keep an individual locked up on Rikers Island - a <strong>67%</strong> increase since 2007, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/testimonies-and-remarks-rikers-island-reform-it-or-shut-it-down-the-center-for-new-york-city-affairs-at-the-new-school/" target="_blank">said</a> Wednesday.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>49th </strong>is<strong>&nbsp;</strong>New York State's <a href="http://taxfoundation.org/article/2016-state-business-tax-climate-index" target="_blank">rank</a>&nbsp;in state tax systems in the country by the Tax Foundation’s 2016 Business Tax Climate Index, though the index noted the substantial corporate tax reform package enacted by policymakers in 2014 will likely improve New York’s ranking once fully phased in.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$50 million</strong> will be spent by New York on efforts to market and promote the state as a destination for domestic and international tourism, Governor Cuomo <a href="http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/New-York-commits-50-million-to-marketing-state-6642335.php" target="_blank">announced</a> on Wednesday.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>14%</strong> of the nation's homeless population is in New York City, according to a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/20/nyregion/new-yorks-rise-in-homelessness-went-against-national-trend-us-report-finds.html" target="_blank">report</a> from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a good week for</strong> supportive housing advocates, as Mayor de Blasio <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/852-15/de-blasio-administration-plan-create-15-000-units-supportive-housing" target="_blank">announced</a> Wednesday that the city will invest over $2.6 billion to create 15,000 new units of supportive housing over the next 15 years.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a bad week for</strong> former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, whose trial on federal corruption charges <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/nyregion/at-trial-prosecutors-to-detail-dean-skeloss-favors-for-his-son.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">began</a> and included some damning and embarassing audio from federal wiretaps.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THE FLASH:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time four years ago</strong>, on November 15, 2011, the NYPD evicted Occupy Wall Street <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-15/police-clear-occupy-wall-street/3673220" target="_blank">protesters</a> from Zuccotti Park.</p> <p><strong>Around this time last year</strong>, on November 18, 2014, a giant <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-20/us-snowstorm-leavs-eight-dead/5905300" target="_blank">snowstorm</a> hit many parts of the United States, causing one New York county to declare a state of emergency and <a href="http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/11/22/death-toll-climbs-killer-us-snowstorm" target="_blank">killing</a> 13 people in New York.</p> <p><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5996-pressure-shifts-to-cuomo-as-de-blasio-announces-supportive-housing-plan">Pressure Shifts to Cuomo as De Blasio Announces Supportive Housing Plan</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5999-two-new-reps-set-to-join-the-city-council">Two New Reps Set to Join the City Council</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5998-stringer-joins-calls-to-shut-down-rikers">Stringer Joins Calls to Shut Down Rikers</a>, by Ryan Brady</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5994-as-homelessness-crisis-continues-shelter-siting-questions-intensify">As Homelessness Crisis Continues, Shelter Siting Questions Intensify</a>, by Christian Zhang</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5991-all-aboard-the-brt-express">All Aboard the BRT Express?</a> by Colin O’Connor</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5997-boards-to-offer-peek-into-new-ways-to-access-campaign-finance-data">Boards to Offer Peek Into New Ways to Access Campaign Finance Data</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5995-a-city-we-all-want-to-live-in">A City We All Want to Live In</a>, by Lawrence Mone (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5993-idnyc-cardholders-await-assurance-ahead-of-year-two">IDNYC Cardholders Await Assurance Ahead of Year Two</a>, by Lauren A. Haynes (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5992-improving-cunys-equity-and-efficiency-requiring-some-tuition-for-all">Improving CUNY’s Equity and Efficiency: Requiring Some Tuition for All</a>, by Robert Cherry (opinion)</p> <p><strong>MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Gerald Benjamin, SUNY New Paltz legend and scholar, <a href="http://www.wcny.org/nov-17-2015-gerald-benjamin-karl-sleight-asm-brindisi-and-asm-ryan-paul-gallay/" target="_blank">appeared on</a> WNYC’s “Capitol Pressroom” to provide an update on the trials of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.</p> <p>Gannett Albany’s Joseph Spector <a href="http://polhudson.lohudblogs.com/2015/11/18/assembly-democrats-plan-no-new-ethics-reforms-regardless-of-silvers-trial/?utm_source=dlvr.it&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">reports</a> that even as the two former leaders of the state Legislature stand trial on a number of corruption charges, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he has no plans for new ethics laws, despite calls from good government groups.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">On City &amp; State TV, City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#.Vk71hGSrToB" target="_blank">discussed</a> two zoning amendments and what they mean for the Mayor’s affordable housing program.</p> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max</p> All Aboard the BRT Express? 2015-11-16T19:06:12+00:00 2015-11-16T19:06:12+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5991:all-aboard-the-brt-express Super User <p><img alt="bus mta photo m86" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/19667315725_424a50b309_z.jpg" width="600" height="421" /></p> <p>(photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)</p> <hr /> <p>Google Maps estimated an hour-and-a-half for a trip from near City Hall to a location in Southeast Queens, leaving at 5:30 p.m. on a recent Tuesday. On the E train to its final stop and a bus crawling along jam-packed Merrick Boulevard, the trip took about an hour longer, two-and-a-half hours from door to door.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Now you know what we go through every day,“ City Council Member I. Daneek Miller told Gotham Gazette following that night’s event, which he co-hosted with Council Member Donovan Richards and focused on, what else, transportation.</p> <p dir="ltr">The commute to and from downtown Manhattan that the Council members and some of their constituents face was part of the motivation behind the town hall, set in the outer reaches of the city and called to examine the challenging state of public transit in St. Albans, Laurelton, and surrounding neighborhoods - often referred to as a “transportation desert.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a recent <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20151104/OPINION/151029806/how-to-end-those-endless-commutes" target="_blank">op-ed</a> for Crain’s New York Business, Miller laid out the extent of the problem: people from Southeast Queens spend roughly 15 hours a week commuting, 238 percent more time than the average New Yorker.</p> <p dir="ltr">The residents of the area share this plight with several other neighborhoods considered transportation deserts because of their lack of public transit options - places including the Rockaways, the North Bronx, and the South Shore of Staten Island.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the subway map sure to stay mostly as it is, communities in greatest need of good transportation options that can get residents to the city’s main jobs centers are reliant on a bus system lacking in capacity and dependability. Even though 97 percent of the city‘s population lives within a quarter mile of a bus stop, the collective problems with the service--it is one of the slowest systems in the nation and the slowest among big <a href="http://www.straphangers.org/buscams/" target="_blank">cities</a>--render residents far removed from subway lines and feeling helpless.</p> <p dir="ltr">With increased scrutiny of transportation deserts and lengthy New York City commutes come increasing calls for creative bus solutions: with more selective bus service (SBS) and bus rapid transit (BRT) at the forefront.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="transpo deserts" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Screen_Shot_2015-11-04_at_21.04.49.jpg" width="400" height="307" />[NYC "subway deserts" - <a href="https://team.cartodb.com/u/chriswhong/viz/e60e7660-3982-11e5-9997-0e853d047bba/public_map" target="_blank">map by Chris Whong</a>)</p> <p dir="ltr">According to an <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/comptroller-stringer-audit-reveals-nearly-one-third-of-mta-express-buses-not-on-time/" target="_blank">audit</a> released by Comptroller Scott Stringer in April, buses are not just slow, they are also often late: Stringer‘s study revealed that more than 30 percent of the city’s express buses do not run on schedule. Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island are hit the hardest, the comptroller said. The report also found that the MTA had inconsistent inspection standards for wheelchair lifts across their bus fleet, which, in addition to failing disabled riders, also slows bus time.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is more than just a statistic,“ Stringer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOTCewSGawk" target="_blank">said</a> at the press conference unveiling his audit, “a late bus could mean a missed job opportunity, missed wages, or missed time with children.“</p> <p dir="ltr">One possible antidote for lagging buses and transit hungry commuters is Bus Rapid Transit, and the idea is gaining momentum, as the Miller-Richards town hall showed. The questions ahead are about political will and community buy-in toward expanding BRT in New York City. BRT was a piece of a recent City Council hearing on transportation deserts, but the city’s Department of Transportation has already been made to study BRT through a law passed in the Council and signed by Mayor de Blasio that will lead to a report on areas where BRT should be implemented.</p> <p dir="ltr">Started in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974, BRT was originally formulated as a cheaper alternative for a city that didn‘t have the money to build a subway. In its fullest form BRT combines a variety of features to make it operate at a speed comparable to light rail (an option also talked about for Queens and Staten Island). Long accordion style buses--in Curitiba they hold up to 250 people--shoot up and down bus-only lanes of large streets, stopping at intervals akin to a subway line (rather than the shorter ones of typical bus service).</p> <p dir="ltr">Traffic signals have sensors in order to hold green lights for buses approaching intersections. People pay their fare before they board the bus and stations often feature elevated platforms or curbsides that coincide with the floor of the bus, making it quick and easy for elderly or disabled people to board. All this amounts to more on time, reliable, and efficient bus service.</p> <p dir="ltr">Since the turn of the century cities across the globe including Paris, Istanbul, Bogata, and Los Angeles have all adopted BRT to curb car use and improve public transit overall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to bring BRT to New York as part of his efforts to help the city’s lower and middle classes. The argument also goes, of course, that if workers have shorter and easier commutes they are more productive when they’re at work.</p> <p dir="ltr">”Bus riders are the most neglected part of our transportation system,” de Blasio’s <a href="http://b.3cdn.net/deblasio/d193f478cdba70ac0e_2jm6bkaxk.pdf" target="_blank">policy book</a> from his 2013 mayoral campaign reads. “Bus Rapid Transit has the potential to save outer-borough commuters hours off their commute times every week and stimulate economic activity in neighborhoods the subway system doesn’t reach.”</p> <p dir="ltr">While it’s been somewhat slow to materialize, de Blasio’s pledge to bring New York City a “world-class bus rapid transit system” has been gaining steam. When signing the BRT study bill in May, de Blasio <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya8d5_TmViI" target="_blank">reminded</a> that, “We all know that mass transit is particularly critical for those New Yorkers for whom resources are very tight, whose incomes are very tight - mass transit is their lifeline. It connects them to jobs, schools, everything.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In March the state-run MTA and the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the official plan for the city‘s first full-scale BRT route on Woodhaven Boulevard, in Queens. The project will stretch 14.4 miles, cost around $200 million, and be fully operational by 2017. (By contrast, the Second Avenue subway is supposed to cover 8.5 miles, cost upwards of $17 billion, and be done at a to-be-determined date.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Previously the two organizations’ efforts to speed up bus time came in the form of Select Bus Service, a paired down version of BRT that also utilizes off-board fare collection, along with traffic signal priority, semi-exclusive bus lanes, and longer distances between stations. The first SBS route was launched in 2008 on the Bx12 on Fordham Road in the Bronx, and has enjoyed relative success. According to statistics collected by the MTA one year after the launch, running times increased up to 19 percent, ridership by 8 percent.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over the past seven years the MTA and the DOT have added seven other SBS routes, including ones going up First Avenue and down Second Avenue in Manhattan. All routes have enjoyed faster service and a 2013 DOT <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/brt/downloads/pdf/brt-routes-fullreport.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> claimed that SBS had saved eight million hours of travel time.</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, SBS is not BRT. The former appears more suited for the busier sections for the city, the latter for moving people from the city’s outer reaches to its transit and business hubs.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the Woodhaven route, which will have exclusive lanes and robust, fully-outfitted stations with shelters, seats, and real-time information on bus arrivals (along with off-board fare collection and transit signal priority) the city is setting a new standard for its above-ground transportation. The fully exclusive bus lanes, which will also allow traffic signal priority to be more effective, are particularly exciting given that Kevin Ortiz, spokesperson for the MTA, told Gotham Gazette that traffic congestion and red lights are the top two causes for bus delays.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="woodhaven2 int" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/woodhaven2_int.jpg" width="500" height="332" />[Woodhaven BRT rendering, via NYC DOT]</p> <p dir="ltr">The line, which will run north-south, perpendicular to the A, E, F, J, M, R, and 7 trains, is indicative of the type of improvements BRT could offer in the so-called “outer boroughs.” Joan Byron, Director of Policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development and a member of the advocacy group BRT for NYC, sees this improvement as imperative to the economic empowerment of New York’s outer-borough residents.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have a problem right now of people not being able to get to their jobs and employers not being able to get to their workforce. Work locations are shifting. Job growth is much faster in the boroughs than it is in Manhattan…and the subway system isn‘t set up to serve them. You can do things with BRT that would take decades to do with rail,“ Byron told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">As it stands, she explains, “if you live some place like Far Rockaway…the number of jobs that are within a reasonable commute range for you are much smaller than if you live someplace like Park Slope.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The Woodhaven line plans to change that for its service area. BRT lines along the North Shore of Staten Island (something City Council Member Debbie Rose <a href="https://www.facebook.com/CouncilwomanDebiRose/" target="_blank">called</a> “a necessity, not an amenity”) and Southern Brooklyn—two possible routes the MTA and DOT are investigating—would also serve similar purposes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Donovan Richards, who represents part of the area the new BRT route will serve, sees this project as only the beginning. Ultimately, he wants a full-scale BRT network throughout the city, viewing the issue as one that is also key to environmental justice.</p> <p dir="ltr">“[BRT] needs to become as natural as breathing air,“ he said to Gotham Gazette after the town hall. “We have got to remember that if we don’t get cars off the road, climate change is going to wipe out communities in New York City. Overall the city needs to adopt it,” he said, referring to BRT.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="Car Ownership blog" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Car_Ownership_blog.jpg" width="450" height="450" />[Rates of car ownership, via NYC EDC]</p> <p dir="ltr">Richards, along with city DOT officials, recently had lunch with and gave a tour of the planned Woodhaven route to a federal transportation secretary. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has promised to push for federal funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">The excitement continued into May when the mayor signed into law the new BRT-related <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#/0" target="_blank">bill</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1687958&amp;GUID=C4CBC081-829F-4A83-9036-1F942F6A91EF&amp;Options=ID|Text|&amp;Search=211-A" target="_blank">According to</a> the City Council website, “Under the bill, DOT would work with the MTA and gather input with the public to develop a citywide BRT plan, due to the Council no later than September 1, 2017. The plan would consider areas of the City in need of additional rapid transit options, strategies for serving growing neighborhoods, potential intra-borough and inter-borough BRT corridors DOT plans to establish by 2027, strategies for integrating BRT with other transit routes, and the anticipated operating costs of additional BRT lines.”</p> <p dir="ltr">SBS may continue to expand, and many note that it is a version of BRT, but the extent to which a strong BRT system will be implemented is unclear. In several other cities where the system has achieved success, says Joan Byron of Pratt, the build of these cities naturally accommodated the necessary BRT infrastructure.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The places where that has been done, places like Bogota, Columbia, that model was implemented exactly in the parts of the city that have kind of a post-World War II physical fabric and development pattern. The street there for the main bus line, the Transmillenial, is twelve lanes wide. Pedestrians cross that street on over-passes. It wasn’t a big jump to put dedicated lanes in the center region and to have physical stations that are actually enclosed.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Woodhaven Boulevard, eight lanes wide and notoriously hazardous for pedestrians (the station islands to be installed in the middle of the avenue also act as a <a href="http://qns.com/story/2015/10/09/bus-rapid-transit-advocates-release-woodhaven-boulevard-crash-study-numbers/" target="_blank">safety measure</a>), is at least somewhat similar.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Brad Lander, the lead sponsor of the BRT bill, sees Manhattan’s First and Second Avenues as streets also appropriate for the full BRT service, especially given the MTA‘s <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/nyregion/mayor-de-blasiojoins-in-criticism-of-2nd-avenue-subway-cuts.html?_r=1" target="_blank">recent announcement</a> to forgo $1 billion in funding for the Second Avenue Subway project.</p> <p dir="ltr">Most buses, though, don‘t operate on streets the width of a small highway (even dedicating a full lane of First or Second Avenue could prove quite contentious). For these routes Lander and Byron see smaller BRT-like features being incorporated into bus operation citywide on a case-by-case basis.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The simple idea of off-board fare payment, that’s something we want to get to on every city bus,” Lander told Gotham Gazette. After that, he said, what is doable will depend on infrastructure features and funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lander cited the SBS M86 route, the MTA‘s latest SBS addition, as a prime example. Even though there is not enough room for a dedicated bus lane (the bus runs crosstown on 86th Street in Manhattan), the MTA has already installed off-board fare collection and plans to add bus bulbs - protruding, bulges of sidewalk in front of bus stops, constructed so that the bus doesn‘t have to pull over when it picks up passengers. Stations are also equipped with real-time bus arrival information. A similar approach could be effective on smaller streets in the outer boroughs as well.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="imgres" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/imgres.jpg" width="328" height="153" />[A bus bulb, via Streetsblog.org]</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Daneek Miller is impatient, saying that his transit-starved constituents can’t wait a decade for BRT lines.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There are 300,000 people in Southeast Queens who it’s talking an hour-and-a-half, an hour-and-forty-five minutes to get to their job in the city, who can’t wait 20 years for a change,” Miller said after his town hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Miller, who ran a transportation workers union before joining the Council, takes a slightly more cynical view of SBS. He says the recent buzz around BRT has led the city to overlook basic adaptations that could yield considerable results, like those he outlined in his op-ed, such as <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2271101&amp;GUID=C0E2BACA-89E7-47EE-8684-8DD0495D4E1A&amp;Options=Advanced&amp;Search=" target="_blank">fare reform</a> on the LIRR. For his constituents, Miller said, “BRT might be the second best answer. I can get to City Hall in 50 [minutes] on the LIRR; it takes me an hour-and-40-minutes using public transportation.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, Miller certainly wants to see extended express bus service to Downtown Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. He acknowledges infrastructure challenges of implementing BRT in some places, saying “We don‘t want to put square pegs in a round hole,” and that it is essential to have all the components, otherwise it won’t be BRT, but a “glorified express bus service.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With an eye toward communities like those represented by his colleagues Miller and Richards, Lander points to the need for more options for commuters. Citing “low-income New Yorkers and communities of color” that “have disproportionately long commute times,” Lander said at the May bill-signing that “New Yorkers across the city – especially in transit-starved, outer-borough neighborhoods – need more mass-transit options. This law, and subsequent exploration of a Bus Rapid Transit network, will significantly improve public transportation access in the parts of NYC that need it most, at a cost we can afford, and help insure a more sustainable future.”</p> <p dir="ltr">BRT and SBS advocates, like Lander, stand confident that their plan will deliver, and sooner than projected.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I think it’s going to accelerate,“ said Byron. “For every elected official that will stand up and say ‘I want BRT in my district now,’ which all the Council members along the Q52, Q53 routes have said, you’ll get others that say, ‘Forget it, my constituents ride the bus,‘” Byron said, referring to hesitant Council members who she thinks will acquiesce.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked about the twelve year timeline in his BRT bill, a charged Lander replied, “the city - the DOT with the MTA - is already rolling out BRT at a pretty rapid rate...we are not waiting.“</p> <p dir="ltr">****<br />by Colin O’Connor<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/colinqoconnor93" target="_blank">@colinqoconnor93</a></p> <p><img alt="bus mta photo m86" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/19667315725_424a50b309_z.jpg" width="600" height="421" /></p> <p>(photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)</p> <hr /> <p>Google Maps estimated an hour-and-a-half for a trip from near City Hall to a location in Southeast Queens, leaving at 5:30 p.m. on a recent Tuesday. On the E train to its final stop and a bus crawling along jam-packed Merrick Boulevard, the trip took about an hour longer, two-and-a-half hours from door to door.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Now you know what we go through every day,“ City Council Member I. Daneek Miller told Gotham Gazette following that night’s event, which he co-hosted with Council Member Donovan Richards and focused on, what else, transportation.</p> <p dir="ltr">The commute to and from downtown Manhattan that the Council members and some of their constituents face was part of the motivation behind the town hall, set in the outer reaches of the city and called to examine the challenging state of public transit in St. Albans, Laurelton, and surrounding neighborhoods - often referred to as a “transportation desert.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a recent <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20151104/OPINION/151029806/how-to-end-those-endless-commutes" target="_blank">op-ed</a> for Crain’s New York Business, Miller laid out the extent of the problem: people from Southeast Queens spend roughly 15 hours a week commuting, 238 percent more time than the average New Yorker.</p> <p dir="ltr">The residents of the area share this plight with several other neighborhoods considered transportation deserts because of their lack of public transit options - places including the Rockaways, the North Bronx, and the South Shore of Staten Island.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the subway map sure to stay mostly as it is, communities in greatest need of good transportation options that can get residents to the city’s main jobs centers are reliant on a bus system lacking in capacity and dependability. Even though 97 percent of the city‘s population lives within a quarter mile of a bus stop, the collective problems with the service--it is one of the slowest systems in the nation and the slowest among big <a href="http://www.straphangers.org/buscams/" target="_blank">cities</a>--render residents far removed from subway lines and feeling helpless.</p> <p dir="ltr">With increased scrutiny of transportation deserts and lengthy New York City commutes come increasing calls for creative bus solutions: with more selective bus service (SBS) and bus rapid transit (BRT) at the forefront.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="transpo deserts" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Screen_Shot_2015-11-04_at_21.04.49.jpg" width="400" height="307" />[NYC "subway deserts" - <a href="https://team.cartodb.com/u/chriswhong/viz/e60e7660-3982-11e5-9997-0e853d047bba/public_map" target="_blank">map by Chris Whong</a>)</p> <p dir="ltr">According to an <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/comptroller-stringer-audit-reveals-nearly-one-third-of-mta-express-buses-not-on-time/" target="_blank">audit</a> released by Comptroller Scott Stringer in April, buses are not just slow, they are also often late: Stringer‘s study revealed that more than 30 percent of the city’s express buses do not run on schedule. Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island are hit the hardest, the comptroller said. The report also found that the MTA had inconsistent inspection standards for wheelchair lifts across their bus fleet, which, in addition to failing disabled riders, also slows bus time.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is more than just a statistic,“ Stringer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOTCewSGawk" target="_blank">said</a> at the press conference unveiling his audit, “a late bus could mean a missed job opportunity, missed wages, or missed time with children.“</p> <p dir="ltr">One possible antidote for lagging buses and transit hungry commuters is Bus Rapid Transit, and the idea is gaining momentum, as the Miller-Richards town hall showed. The questions ahead are about political will and community buy-in toward expanding BRT in New York City. BRT was a piece of a recent City Council hearing on transportation deserts, but the city’s Department of Transportation has already been made to study BRT through a law passed in the Council and signed by Mayor de Blasio that will lead to a report on areas where BRT should be implemented.</p> <p dir="ltr">Started in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974, BRT was originally formulated as a cheaper alternative for a city that didn‘t have the money to build a subway. In its fullest form BRT combines a variety of features to make it operate at a speed comparable to light rail (an option also talked about for Queens and Staten Island). Long accordion style buses--in Curitiba they hold up to 250 people--shoot up and down bus-only lanes of large streets, stopping at intervals akin to a subway line (rather than the shorter ones of typical bus service).</p> <p dir="ltr">Traffic signals have sensors in order to hold green lights for buses approaching intersections. People pay their fare before they board the bus and stations often feature elevated platforms or curbsides that coincide with the floor of the bus, making it quick and easy for elderly or disabled people to board. All this amounts to more on time, reliable, and efficient bus service.</p> <p dir="ltr">Since the turn of the century cities across the globe including Paris, Istanbul, Bogata, and Los Angeles have all adopted BRT to curb car use and improve public transit overall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to bring BRT to New York as part of his efforts to help the city’s lower and middle classes. The argument also goes, of course, that if workers have shorter and easier commutes they are more productive when they’re at work.</p> <p dir="ltr">”Bus riders are the most neglected part of our transportation system,” de Blasio’s <a href="http://b.3cdn.net/deblasio/d193f478cdba70ac0e_2jm6bkaxk.pdf" target="_blank">policy book</a> from his 2013 mayoral campaign reads. “Bus Rapid Transit has the potential to save outer-borough commuters hours off their commute times every week and stimulate economic activity in neighborhoods the subway system doesn’t reach.”</p> <p dir="ltr">While it’s been somewhat slow to materialize, de Blasio’s pledge to bring New York City a “world-class bus rapid transit system” has been gaining steam. When signing the BRT study bill in May, de Blasio <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya8d5_TmViI" target="_blank">reminded</a> that, “We all know that mass transit is particularly critical for those New Yorkers for whom resources are very tight, whose incomes are very tight - mass transit is their lifeline. It connects them to jobs, schools, everything.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In March the state-run MTA and the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the official plan for the city‘s first full-scale BRT route on Woodhaven Boulevard, in Queens. The project will stretch 14.4 miles, cost around $200 million, and be fully operational by 2017. (By contrast, the Second Avenue subway is supposed to cover 8.5 miles, cost upwards of $17 billion, and be done at a to-be-determined date.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Previously the two organizations’ efforts to speed up bus time came in the form of Select Bus Service, a paired down version of BRT that also utilizes off-board fare collection, along with traffic signal priority, semi-exclusive bus lanes, and longer distances between stations. The first SBS route was launched in 2008 on the Bx12 on Fordham Road in the Bronx, and has enjoyed relative success. According to statistics collected by the MTA one year after the launch, running times increased up to 19 percent, ridership by 8 percent.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over the past seven years the MTA and the DOT have added seven other SBS routes, including ones going up First Avenue and down Second Avenue in Manhattan. All routes have enjoyed faster service and a 2013 DOT <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/brt/downloads/pdf/brt-routes-fullreport.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> claimed that SBS had saved eight million hours of travel time.</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, SBS is not BRT. The former appears more suited for the busier sections for the city, the latter for moving people from the city’s outer reaches to its transit and business hubs.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the Woodhaven route, which will have exclusive lanes and robust, fully-outfitted stations with shelters, seats, and real-time information on bus arrivals (along with off-board fare collection and transit signal priority) the city is setting a new standard for its above-ground transportation. The fully exclusive bus lanes, which will also allow traffic signal priority to be more effective, are particularly exciting given that Kevin Ortiz, spokesperson for the MTA, told Gotham Gazette that traffic congestion and red lights are the top two causes for bus delays.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="woodhaven2 int" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/woodhaven2_int.jpg" width="500" height="332" />[Woodhaven BRT rendering, via NYC DOT]</p> <p dir="ltr">The line, which will run north-south, perpendicular to the A, E, F, J, M, R, and 7 trains, is indicative of the type of improvements BRT could offer in the so-called “outer boroughs.” Joan Byron, Director of Policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development and a member of the advocacy group BRT for NYC, sees this improvement as imperative to the economic empowerment of New York’s outer-borough residents.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have a problem right now of people not being able to get to their jobs and employers not being able to get to their workforce. Work locations are shifting. Job growth is much faster in the boroughs than it is in Manhattan…and the subway system isn‘t set up to serve them. You can do things with BRT that would take decades to do with rail,“ Byron told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">As it stands, she explains, “if you live some place like Far Rockaway…the number of jobs that are within a reasonable commute range for you are much smaller than if you live someplace like Park Slope.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The Woodhaven line plans to change that for its service area. BRT lines along the North Shore of Staten Island (something City Council Member Debbie Rose <a href="https://www.facebook.com/CouncilwomanDebiRose/" target="_blank">called</a> “a necessity, not an amenity”) and Southern Brooklyn—two possible routes the MTA and DOT are investigating—would also serve similar purposes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Donovan Richards, who represents part of the area the new BRT route will serve, sees this project as only the beginning. Ultimately, he wants a full-scale BRT network throughout the city, viewing the issue as one that is also key to environmental justice.</p> <p dir="ltr">“[BRT] needs to become as natural as breathing air,“ he said to Gotham Gazette after the town hall. “We have got to remember that if we don’t get cars off the road, climate change is going to wipe out communities in New York City. Overall the city needs to adopt it,” he said, referring to BRT.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="Car Ownership blog" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Car_Ownership_blog.jpg" width="450" height="450" />[Rates of car ownership, via NYC EDC]</p> <p dir="ltr">Richards, along with city DOT officials, recently had lunch with and gave a tour of the planned Woodhaven route to a federal transportation secretary. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has promised to push for federal funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">The excitement continued into May when the mayor signed into law the new BRT-related <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#/0" target="_blank">bill</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1687958&amp;GUID=C4CBC081-829F-4A83-9036-1F942F6A91EF&amp;Options=ID|Text|&amp;Search=211-A" target="_blank">According to</a> the City Council website, “Under the bill, DOT would work with the MTA and gather input with the public to develop a citywide BRT plan, due to the Council no later than September 1, 2017. The plan would consider areas of the City in need of additional rapid transit options, strategies for serving growing neighborhoods, potential intra-borough and inter-borough BRT corridors DOT plans to establish by 2027, strategies for integrating BRT with other transit routes, and the anticipated operating costs of additional BRT lines.”</p> <p dir="ltr">SBS may continue to expand, and many note that it is a version of BRT, but the extent to which a strong BRT system will be implemented is unclear. In several other cities where the system has achieved success, says Joan Byron of Pratt, the build of these cities naturally accommodated the necessary BRT infrastructure.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The places where that has been done, places like Bogota, Columbia, that model was implemented exactly in the parts of the city that have kind of a post-World War II physical fabric and development pattern. The street there for the main bus line, the Transmillenial, is twelve lanes wide. Pedestrians cross that street on over-passes. It wasn’t a big jump to put dedicated lanes in the center region and to have physical stations that are actually enclosed.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Woodhaven Boulevard, eight lanes wide and notoriously hazardous for pedestrians (the station islands to be installed in the middle of the avenue also act as a <a href="http://qns.com/story/2015/10/09/bus-rapid-transit-advocates-release-woodhaven-boulevard-crash-study-numbers/" target="_blank">safety measure</a>), is at least somewhat similar.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Brad Lander, the lead sponsor of the BRT bill, sees Manhattan’s First and Second Avenues as streets also appropriate for the full BRT service, especially given the MTA‘s <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/nyregion/mayor-de-blasiojoins-in-criticism-of-2nd-avenue-subway-cuts.html?_r=1" target="_blank">recent announcement</a> to forgo $1 billion in funding for the Second Avenue Subway project.</p> <p dir="ltr">Most buses, though, don‘t operate on streets the width of a small highway (even dedicating a full lane of First or Second Avenue could prove quite contentious). For these routes Lander and Byron see smaller BRT-like features being incorporated into bus operation citywide on a case-by-case basis.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The simple idea of off-board fare payment, that’s something we want to get to on every city bus,” Lander told Gotham Gazette. After that, he said, what is doable will depend on infrastructure features and funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lander cited the SBS M86 route, the MTA‘s latest SBS addition, as a prime example. Even though there is not enough room for a dedicated bus lane (the bus runs crosstown on 86th Street in Manhattan), the MTA has already installed off-board fare collection and plans to add bus bulbs - protruding, bulges of sidewalk in front of bus stops, constructed so that the bus doesn‘t have to pull over when it picks up passengers. Stations are also equipped with real-time bus arrival information. A similar approach could be effective on smaller streets in the outer boroughs as well.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="imgres" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/imgres.jpg" width="328" height="153" />[A bus bulb, via Streetsblog.org]</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Daneek Miller is impatient, saying that his transit-starved constituents can’t wait a decade for BRT lines.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There are 300,000 people in Southeast Queens who it’s talking an hour-and-a-half, an hour-and-forty-five minutes to get to their job in the city, who can’t wait 20 years for a change,” Miller said after his town hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Miller, who ran a transportation workers union before joining the Council, takes a slightly more cynical view of SBS. He says the recent buzz around BRT has led the city to overlook basic adaptations that could yield considerable results, like those he outlined in his op-ed, such as <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2271101&amp;GUID=C0E2BACA-89E7-47EE-8684-8DD0495D4E1A&amp;Options=Advanced&amp;Search=" target="_blank">fare reform</a> on the LIRR. For his constituents, Miller said, “BRT might be the second best answer. I can get to City Hall in 50 [minutes] on the LIRR; it takes me an hour-and-40-minutes using public transportation.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, Miller certainly wants to see extended express bus service to Downtown Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. He acknowledges infrastructure challenges of implementing BRT in some places, saying “We don‘t want to put square pegs in a round hole,” and that it is essential to have all the components, otherwise it won’t be BRT, but a “glorified express bus service.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With an eye toward communities like those represented by his colleagues Miller and Richards, Lander points to the need for more options for commuters. Citing “low-income New Yorkers and communities of color” that “have disproportionately long commute times,” Lander said at the May bill-signing that “New Yorkers across the city – especially in transit-starved, outer-borough neighborhoods – need more mass-transit options. This law, and subsequent exploration of a Bus Rapid Transit network, will significantly improve public transportation access in the parts of NYC that need it most, at a cost we can afford, and help insure a more sustainable future.”</p> <p dir="ltr">BRT and SBS advocates, like Lander, stand confident that their plan will deliver, and sooner than projected.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I think it’s going to accelerate,“ said Byron. “For every elected official that will stand up and say ‘I want BRT in my district now,’ which all the Council members along the Q52, Q53 routes have said, you’ll get others that say, ‘Forget it, my constituents ride the bus,‘” Byron said, referring to hesitant Council members who she thinks will acquiesce.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked about the twelve year timeline in his BRT bill, a charged Lander replied, “the city - the DOT with the MTA - is already rolling out BRT at a pretty rapid rate...we are not waiting.“</p> <p dir="ltr">****<br />by Colin O’Connor<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/colinqoconnor93" target="_blank">@colinqoconnor93</a></p> The Week That Was in New York Politics, November 2-6 2015-11-06T13:40:05+00:00 2015-11-06T13:40:05+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5974:the-week-that-was-in-new-york-politics-november-2-6 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" alt="week in review bus readers" height="409" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday November 6</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio and others participate in solidarity march in Puerto Rico, <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/22420388219/in/album-72157660460343850/" target="_blank">via</a> the governor's office on flickr;&nbsp;"Belongings of homeless individuals removed from Soho. Homeless outreach team offered social services," <a href="https://twitter.com/KarenHinton/status/662280575726821382" target="_blank">tweeted</a> de Blasio press secretary Karen Hinton (with photo below) in response to CBS2 reporter Marcia Kramer's inquiries.</p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/22420388219_7b3b5200a8_z.jpg" alt="cuomo de blasio puerto rico march" height="267" width="400" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/hinton_photo_homeless_encampment_soho.jpg" alt="hinton photo homeless encampment soho" height="300" width="400" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Election Results:</strong> After Tuesday's elections, New York City has two new City Council members, two new District Attorneys, two new Assembly members, and one new state Senator. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5968-2015-general-election-results" target="_blank">See the results.</a></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Silver Trial:</strong> The trial of former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver began in New York City this week, with Silver, who had been Assembly speaker for <a href="http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Ouster-New-York-Assembly-Speaker-Sheldon-Silver-Bribery-Charges-289882461.html" target="_blank">21 years</a>, facing federal corruption charges. Dr. Robert Taub took the stand on Wednesday under a non-prosecution agreement, and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/nyregion/doctor-tells-of-elaborate-arrangement-at-sheldon-silver-trial.html?ref=nyregion&amp;module=ArrowsNav&amp;contentCollection=N.Y.%20/%20Region&amp;action=keypress&amp;region=FixedLeft&amp;pgtype=article" target="_blank">testified</a> that Silver had requested that the doctor <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dr-robert-taub-testifies-sheldon-silver-trial-article-1.2423558" target="_blank">refer</a> Mesothelioma patients to his law firm because the cases were lucrative. Taub said he had asked Silver if his law firm could donate to aid the doctor’s research, and, after writing the state a request for grant money, received a $250,000 grant. Taub also testified that Silver had asked him to <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2015/11/4/government-calls-first-witness-in-sheldon-silver-corruption-trial.html" target="_blank">keep the arrangement quiet</a>. Prosecutors allege Silver acted out of greed and abused his power for personal gain. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5955-as-sheldon-silver-heads-to-trial-a-democratic-challenger-is-poised-to-run" target="_blank">As Sheldon Silver Heads to Trial, A Democratic Challenger is Poised to Run</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Politicians in Puerto Rico:</strong> Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio marched together at a<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cuomo-de-blasio-barely-speak-pr-march-article-1.2425125" target="_blank"> rally</a> calling for improved healthcare funding for Puerto Rico in San Juan on Thursday. The mayor, the governor, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and many others were/are in San Juan this week to show solidarity with the island territory as it faces a <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/11/8582056/puerto-rico-de-blasio-cuomo-show-solidarity-not-each-other" target="_blank">debt crisis</a>, to attend the annual Somos El Futuro conference, and to put pressure on Congress to aid Puerto Rico with its financial crisis.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Calls for Voter Reform:</strong> Voter turnout was low as usual for this week’s elections, and on Tuesday, the “<a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/media/advisories/advisory-statewide-voting-reform-petition-drive-launches-november-3-election-day" target="_blank">Vote Better NY</a>” coalition, led by NYC Votes, the voter outreach arm of the city’s Campaign Finance Board, along with other advocacy and good government organizations launched a petition drive to highlight the importance of election reform and call on lawmakers to pass legislation to modernize elections in New York. The reforms call for early voting, better ballot design, and comprehensive online and easier voter registration in order to increase voter turnout.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. MTA Criticism:</strong> City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Mayor de Blasio, members of the state Assembly and Senate, City Council members, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and others <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151030/east-harlem/east-harlem-locals-blast-mtas-1b-cut-second-ave-subway-expansion" target="_blank">criticized</a> the MTA this week over its decision to delay construction on the northern end of Second Avenue subway and cut $1 billion in funding to the project. Elected officials called for the MTA to put the money back into their 5-year capital plan, with Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151103/east-harlem/mta-commits-second-ave-subway-amid-criticism-over-1-b-budget-cut" target="_blank">saying</a> the move to cut funds “screams of transit inequality and economic injustice.” MTA CEO Thomas Prendergast responded in a statement, saying if they could speed up the schedule, they would pursue a capital program amendment to do so.</p> <p><strong>THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>17%</strong> drop in the number of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/31/nyregion/new-york-city-school-suspensions-fell-17-in-2014-15-officials-say.html?ref=nyregion" target="_blank">suspensions</a> at New York City public schools last year.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$41,000</strong> is the median income of African American households in New York City, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/wealth-gap-blacks-whites-wider-report-article-1.2418379" target="_blank">roughly half</a> of the median income of $80,200 made by white households, according to a report from members of Congress detailing the growing wealth gap between white and black Americans.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$900 million</strong> is how much New York plans to spend on capital improvements by 2020 on the state <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/nyregion/new-york-state-parks-after-years-of-decline-receive-a-face-lift.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">park system</a>, in an investment that includes 215 parks and historic sites.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>20,000</strong> new industrial and manufacturing <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#/0" target="_blank">jobs</a> in New York City will supposedly be spurred by new investments and actions by the de Blasio administration and the City Council announced this week.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>1.3 million</strong> <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5971-city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy" target="_blank">freelance workers</a>&nbsp;could be afforded similar protections to those enjoyed by full-time employees under the package of laws the New York City Council is developing.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$2.3 million</strong> paid to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/nyregion/mayor-de-blasios-hired-guns-private-consultants-help-shape-city-hall.html" target="_blank">political consultants</a> advising Mayor de Blasio during the first year and a half of his term, according to the New York Times.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>37%</strong> of New York City’s population is made up of immigrants, and those immigrants account for nearly 1/3 of the city’s <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/immigrants-account-1-3-nyc-economy-report-article-1.2425207" target="_blank">economic activity</a>.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>11.6%</strong> decrease in the number of financial grievances against the <a href="http://observer.com/2015/11/legal-claims-against-cops-down-after-decade-long-climb-comptrollers-report-finds/" target="_blank">NYPD</a> in the 2015 fiscal year, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer's office. The drop comes after over a decade of steady increase in the number of legal claims against the NYPD.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$170,000</strong> per year former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos made at “his own no-show job” at the Ruskin Moscou Faltischek law firm starting in 1994, <a href="http://nypost.com/2015/11/06/dean-skelos-son-made-thousands-for-no-show-jobs-feds/" target="_blank">new court filings suggest</a>.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$1 billion</strong> surplus for New York entering its next fiscal year, state officials <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8582055/state-target-billion-dollar-surplus" target="_blank">projected</a> this week.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>It was a good week for <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5968-2015-general-election-results" target="_blank">the election winners</a></strong>, including soon-to-be new City Council Members Barry Grodenchik and Joseph Borelli; District Attorneys Darcel Clark and Michael McMahon; and others.</li> <li><strong>It was a bad week</strong>, of course, for those who did not win the elections held Tuesday.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE FLASH:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 22 years ago</strong>, on November 2, 1993, Rudy Giuliani defeated David Dinkins to become New York’s first Republican <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1993/11/03/nyregion/1993-elections-mayor-giuliani-ousts-dinkins-thin-margin-whitman-upset-winner.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">mayor</a> in nearly three decades.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 5 years ago</strong>, on November 2, 2010, Andrew Cuomo became <a href="http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/new-york" target="_blank">governor</a> of New York after winning the race by a wide margin.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 6 years ago</strong>, on November 3, 2009, Michael Bloomberg was elected to a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/nyregion/04mayor.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">third term as mayor</a> of New York City after winning a battle to overturn term limits.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 2 years ago</strong>, on November 5, 2013, Bill de Blasio was elected Mayor of New York City in a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/nyregion/de-blasio-is-elected-new-york-city-mayor.html" target="_blank">landslide victory</a>.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 15 years ago</strong>, on November 7, 2000, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/08/politics/08YORK.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">Hillary Rodham Clinton</a> was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York, becoming the first First Lady to win public office.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 98 years ago</strong>, on November 6, 1917, New York State adopted a constitutional amendment giving <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/01/nyregion/1917-when-women-won-right-to-vote.html" target="_blank">women the right to vote</a> in state elections, three years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution gave women the vote in national elections.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 121 years ago</strong>, on November 6, 1894, voters narrowly approved the consolidation of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island into the <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2015/11/6/november-6th-in-nyc-history.html" target="_blank">Greater City of New York</a>.</li> </ul> <p><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5971-city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy" target="_blank">City Council Developing New Protections for Workers in ‘Gig’ Economy</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5964-citing-a-violence-problem-cuomo-calls-on-new-yorkers-to-respect-the-police" target="_blank">Citing 'A Violence Problem,' Cuomo Calls on New Yorkers to 'Respect the Police'</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5972-east-harlem-tenants-group-rejects-de-blasio-housing-plan-offer-its-own" target="_blank">East Harlem Tenants Group Rejects De Blasio Housing Plan, Offers Its Own</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5963-as-new-yorkers-go-to-the-polls-activists-launch-vote-better-campaign" target="_blank">As New Yorkers Go to the Polls, Activists Launch 'Vote Better' Campaign</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5968-2015-general-election-results" target="_blank">2015 General Election Results</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5965-in-new-de-blasio-heath-care-plan-limited-coverage-for-undocumented-immigrants" target="_blank">In New De Blasio Heath Care Plan, Limited Coverage for Undocumented Immigrants</a>, by Sarah Betancourt</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5967-with-risks-p3s-and-design-build-seen-as-beneficial-to-infrastructure-planning" target="_blank">With Risks, P3s and Design-Build Seen as Beneficial to Infrastructure Planning</a>, by Ryan Brady</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5970-prison-alternatives-enhance-public-safety-a-must-be-left-in-place" target="_blank">Prison Alternatives Enhance Public Safety &amp; Must Be Left in Place</a>, Lisa Schreibersdorf (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5969-wall-street-doesnt-work-for-new-york-lets-create-a-bank-that-will" target="_blank">Wall Street Doesn’t Work for New York, Let’s Create a Bank that Will</a>, Matthew Rigney &amp; Evan Casper-Futterman (opinion)&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</strong></p> <p>[Video] Gotham Gazette Executive Editor Ben Max <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2Eig0Yjg8U" target="_blank">participated in a discussion</a> about this week's election results and New York efforts to reform voting access, on BRIC-TV.</p> <p>[Video] Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch joined Errol Louis on NY1's Inside City Hall <a href="http://www.twcnews.com/nyc/all-boroughs/inside-city-hall/2015/11/5/ny1-online--state-schools-chancellor-explains-why-she-s-planning-on-leaving-office-next-year-.html" target="_blank">to discuss her position</a> at the center of a polarizing debate over standardized testing, as well as her decision to leave the office next year.</p> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" alt="week in review bus readers" height="409" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday November 6</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio and others participate in solidarity march in Puerto Rico, <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/22420388219/in/album-72157660460343850/" target="_blank">via</a> the governor's office on flickr;&nbsp;"Belongings of homeless individuals removed from Soho. Homeless outreach team offered social services," <a href="https://twitter.com/KarenHinton/status/662280575726821382" target="_blank">tweeted</a> de Blasio press secretary Karen Hinton (with photo below) in response to CBS2 reporter Marcia Kramer's inquiries.</p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/22420388219_7b3b5200a8_z.jpg" alt="cuomo de blasio puerto rico march" height="267" width="400" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/hinton_photo_homeless_encampment_soho.jpg" alt="hinton photo homeless encampment soho" height="300" width="400" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Election Results:</strong> After Tuesday's elections, New York City has two new City Council members, two new District Attorneys, two new Assembly members, and one new state Senator. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5968-2015-general-election-results" target="_blank">See the results.</a></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Silver Trial:</strong> The trial of former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver began in New York City this week, with Silver, who had been Assembly speaker for <a href="http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Ouster-New-York-Assembly-Speaker-Sheldon-Silver-Bribery-Charges-289882461.html" target="_blank">21 years</a>, facing federal corruption charges. Dr. Robert Taub took the stand on Wednesday under a non-prosecution agreement, and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/nyregion/doctor-tells-of-elaborate-arrangement-at-sheldon-silver-trial.html?ref=nyregion&amp;module=ArrowsNav&amp;contentCollection=N.Y.%20/%20Region&amp;action=keypress&amp;region=FixedLeft&amp;pgtype=article" target="_blank">testified</a> that Silver had requested that the doctor <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dr-robert-taub-testifies-sheldon-silver-trial-article-1.2423558" target="_blank">refer</a> Mesothelioma patients to his law firm because the cases were lucrative. Taub said he had asked Silver if his law firm could donate to aid the doctor’s research, and, after writing the state a request for grant money, received a $250,000 grant. Taub also testified that Silver had asked him to <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2015/11/4/government-calls-first-witness-in-sheldon-silver-corruption-trial.html" target="_blank">keep the arrangement quiet</a>. Prosecutors allege Silver acted out of greed and abused his power for personal gain. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5955-as-sheldon-silver-heads-to-trial-a-democratic-challenger-is-poised-to-run" target="_blank">As Sheldon Silver Heads to Trial, A Democratic Challenger is Poised to Run</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Politicians in Puerto Rico:</strong> Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio marched together at a<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cuomo-de-blasio-barely-speak-pr-march-article-1.2425125" target="_blank"> rally</a> calling for improved healthcare funding for Puerto Rico in San Juan on Thursday. The mayor, the governor, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and many others were/are in San Juan this week to show solidarity with the island territory as it faces a <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/11/8582056/puerto-rico-de-blasio-cuomo-show-solidarity-not-each-other" target="_blank">debt crisis</a>, to attend the annual Somos El Futuro conference, and to put pressure on Congress to aid Puerto Rico with its financial crisis.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Calls for Voter Reform:</strong> Voter turnout was low as usual for this week’s elections, and on Tuesday, the “<a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/media/advisories/advisory-statewide-voting-reform-petition-drive-launches-november-3-election-day" target="_blank">Vote Better NY</a>” coalition, led by NYC Votes, the voter outreach arm of the city’s Campaign Finance Board, along with other advocacy and good government organizations launched a petition drive to highlight the importance of election reform and call on lawmakers to pass legislation to modernize elections in New York. The reforms call for early voting, better ballot design, and comprehensive online and easier voter registration in order to increase voter turnout.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. MTA Criticism:</strong> City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Mayor de Blasio, members of the state Assembly and Senate, City Council members, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and others <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151030/east-harlem/east-harlem-locals-blast-mtas-1b-cut-second-ave-subway-expansion" target="_blank">criticized</a> the MTA this week over its decision to delay construction on the northern end of Second Avenue subway and cut $1 billion in funding to the project. Elected officials called for the MTA to put the money back into their 5-year capital plan, with Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151103/east-harlem/mta-commits-second-ave-subway-amid-criticism-over-1-b-budget-cut" target="_blank">saying</a> the move to cut funds “screams of transit inequality and economic injustice.” MTA CEO Thomas Prendergast responded in a statement, saying if they could speed up the schedule, they would pursue a capital program amendment to do so.</p> <p><strong>THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>17%</strong> drop in the number of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/31/nyregion/new-york-city-school-suspensions-fell-17-in-2014-15-officials-say.html?ref=nyregion" target="_blank">suspensions</a> at New York City public schools last year.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$41,000</strong> is the median income of African American households in New York City, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/wealth-gap-blacks-whites-wider-report-article-1.2418379" target="_blank">roughly half</a> of the median income of $80,200 made by white households, according to a report from members of Congress detailing the growing wealth gap between white and black Americans.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$900 million</strong> is how much New York plans to spend on capital improvements by 2020 on the state <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/nyregion/new-york-state-parks-after-years-of-decline-receive-a-face-lift.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">park system</a>, in an investment that includes 215 parks and historic sites.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>20,000</strong> new industrial and manufacturing <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#/0" target="_blank">jobs</a> in New York City will supposedly be spurred by new investments and actions by the de Blasio administration and the City Council announced this week.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>1.3 million</strong> <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5971-city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy" target="_blank">freelance workers</a>&nbsp;could be afforded similar protections to those enjoyed by full-time employees under the package of laws the New York City Council is developing.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$2.3 million</strong> paid to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/nyregion/mayor-de-blasios-hired-guns-private-consultants-help-shape-city-hall.html" target="_blank">political consultants</a> advising Mayor de Blasio during the first year and a half of his term, according to the New York Times.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>37%</strong> of New York City’s population is made up of immigrants, and those immigrants account for nearly 1/3 of the city’s <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/immigrants-account-1-3-nyc-economy-report-article-1.2425207" target="_blank">economic activity</a>.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>11.6%</strong> decrease in the number of financial grievances against the <a href="http://observer.com/2015/11/legal-claims-against-cops-down-after-decade-long-climb-comptrollers-report-finds/" target="_blank">NYPD</a> in the 2015 fiscal year, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer's office. The drop comes after over a decade of steady increase in the number of legal claims against the NYPD.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$170,000</strong> per year former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos made at “his own no-show job” at the Ruskin Moscou Faltischek law firm starting in 1994, <a href="http://nypost.com/2015/11/06/dean-skelos-son-made-thousands-for-no-show-jobs-feds/" target="_blank">new court filings suggest</a>.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$1 billion</strong> surplus for New York entering its next fiscal year, state officials <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8582055/state-target-billion-dollar-surplus" target="_blank">projected</a> this week.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>It was a good week for <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5968-2015-general-election-results" target="_blank">the election winners</a></strong>, including soon-to-be new City Council Members Barry Grodenchik and Joseph Borelli; District Attorneys Darcel Clark and Michael McMahon; and others.</li> <li><strong>It was a bad week</strong>, of course, for those who did not win the elections held Tuesday.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE FLASH:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 22 years ago</strong>, on November 2, 1993, Rudy Giuliani defeated David Dinkins to become New York’s first Republican <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1993/11/03/nyregion/1993-elections-mayor-giuliani-ousts-dinkins-thin-margin-whitman-upset-winner.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">mayor</a> in nearly three decades.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 5 years ago</strong>, on November 2, 2010, Andrew Cuomo became <a href="http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/new-york" target="_blank">governor</a> of New York after winning the race by a wide margin.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 6 years ago</strong>, on November 3, 2009, Michael Bloomberg was elected to a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/nyregion/04mayor.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">third term as mayor</a> of New York City after winning a battle to overturn term limits.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 2 years ago</strong>, on November 5, 2013, Bill de Blasio was elected Mayor of New York City in a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/nyregion/de-blasio-is-elected-new-york-city-mayor.html" target="_blank">landslide victory</a>.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 15 years ago</strong>, on November 7, 2000, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/08/politics/08YORK.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">Hillary Rodham Clinton</a> was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York, becoming the first First Lady to win public office.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 98 years ago</strong>, on November 6, 1917, New York State adopted a constitutional amendment giving <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/01/nyregion/1917-when-women-won-right-to-vote.html" target="_blank">women the right to vote</a> in state elections, three years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution gave women the vote in national elections.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 121 years ago</strong>, on November 6, 1894, voters narrowly approved the consolidation of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island into the <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2015/11/6/november-6th-in-nyc-history.html" target="_blank">Greater City of New York</a>.</li> </ul> <p><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5971-city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy" target="_blank">City Council Developing New Protections for Workers in ‘Gig’ Economy</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5964-citing-a-violence-problem-cuomo-calls-on-new-yorkers-to-respect-the-police" target="_blank">Citing 'A Violence Problem,' Cuomo Calls on New Yorkers to 'Respect the Police'</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5972-east-harlem-tenants-group-rejects-de-blasio-housing-plan-offer-its-own" target="_blank">East Harlem Tenants Group Rejects De Blasio Housing Plan, Offers Its Own</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5963-as-new-yorkers-go-to-the-polls-activists-launch-vote-better-campaign" target="_blank">As New Yorkers Go to the Polls, Activists Launch 'Vote Better' Campaign</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5968-2015-general-election-results" target="_blank">2015 General Election Results</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5965-in-new-de-blasio-heath-care-plan-limited-coverage-for-undocumented-immigrants" target="_blank">In New De Blasio Heath Care Plan, Limited Coverage for Undocumented Immigrants</a>, by Sarah Betancourt</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5967-with-risks-p3s-and-design-build-seen-as-beneficial-to-infrastructure-planning" target="_blank">With Risks, P3s and Design-Build Seen as Beneficial to Infrastructure Planning</a>, by Ryan Brady</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5970-prison-alternatives-enhance-public-safety-a-must-be-left-in-place" target="_blank">Prison Alternatives Enhance Public Safety &amp; Must Be Left in Place</a>, Lisa Schreibersdorf (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5969-wall-street-doesnt-work-for-new-york-lets-create-a-bank-that-will" target="_blank">Wall Street Doesn’t Work for New York, Let’s Create a Bank that Will</a>, Matthew Rigney &amp; Evan Casper-Futterman (opinion)&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</strong></p> <p>[Video] Gotham Gazette Executive Editor Ben Max <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2Eig0Yjg8U" target="_blank">participated in a discussion</a> about this week's election results and New York efforts to reform voting access, on BRIC-TV.</p> <p>[Video] Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch joined Errol Louis on NY1's Inside City Hall <a href="http://www.twcnews.com/nyc/all-boroughs/inside-city-hall/2015/11/5/ny1-online--state-schools-chancellor-explains-why-she-s-planning-on-leaving-office-next-year-.html" target="_blank">to discuss her position</a> at the center of a polarizing debate over standardized testing, as well as her decision to leave the office next year.</p> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max</p>