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/costa-constantinides 2017-12-11T20:47:00+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com City Council Ends Term with Flurry of Oversight Hearings 2017-11-19T05:00:00+00:00 2017-11-19T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7328:city-council-ends-term-with-flurry-of-oversight-hearings Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/mmv_hearing_john_mccarten_city_council.jpg" alt="mmv hearing john mccarten city council" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: John McCarten/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p><em>[Note: this article has been updated based on fluctuations in the City Council calendar]</em></p> <p>A flurry of oversight hearings are filling the City Council calendar as the Council enters its final month of the four-year session, most notably a hearing slated to address controversies over NYCHA’s falsified lead inspection reports, a hearing to discuss the city’s progress in closing Rikers Island jails, and a hearing on integrating the city's segregated public schools.</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx">More than a dozen oversight hearings</a> are slated for Council committee discussion between November 20 and December 19 as this current iteration of the Council ends its term. A new class of Council members, many of whom are current officeholders who won reelection this fall, will be sworn in just after the new year, with a new Council Speaker chosen at the first full-body “stated meeting” in early January.</p> <p>At oversight hearings, Council members typically question the relevant top officials in the mayoral administration about the topic at hand, before testimony from other stakeholders, like advocates, non-governmental experts, or members of the public. While the hearings can be informative to Council members, journalists, advocates, and the broader public, further Council action will likely be taken in the next session, when many committee chair positions will have changed hands.</p> <p>Along with the oversight hearings on the NYCHA lead controversy and initial steps being taken toward closing Rikers jails, some of the scheduled oversight hearings deal with fighting homelessness, the NYPD’s role in school safety, mental health services for military veterans, evaluating workforce development programs, “the feasibility of microgrids,” and more.</p> <p>The oversight hearing scheduled to discuss closing Rikers, set for December 4, comes on the heels of the de Blasio administration’s release of a request for proposals to assess existing jails as potential sites to accommodate additional inmates and the overall need for space across the boroughs other than State Island, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has said no new jail will be opened.</p> <p>A 10-year plan issued by the mayor’s office in June committed to reducing the city’s jail population from the now roughly 9,500 to 5,000 within this time frame, while ensuring space in four borough jails for that smaller number of detainees.</p> <p>City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is term-limited out of office at the end of the year, has been a driving force behind the mission to close Rikers jails. At a press conference on Thursday, she told Gotham Gazette that the hearing will be important in terms of examining progress on several fronts important to the larger goal.</p> <p>“There’s already sites that exist and what we have to do is look at how we can create a modern day facility that really addresses some of the concerns that were raised and the recommendations made in the independent commission report,” she said, referring to the issue of identifying space and the RFP being put out by the city whereby a consultant will be hired to study resources and need. She also referred to the report put forth by a commission she empaneled led by former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, which crafted its own 10-year plan for closing Rikers jails.&nbsp;"There’s stuff to talk about, there’s other recommendations and action items that have to be taken, action that has to be taken and we can’t do that alone so it’s a matter of figuring out, where do we stand, what’s next to do, how quickly can we get it done,” Mark-Viverito said.</p> <p>The timeline for closing Rikers, the designation of responsibility, locations for housing detainees, the rate of population decline within the correctional facility, and a number of recent bail reform laws are topics of interest for the oversight hearing according to Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, chair of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice, which will host the hearing. Crowley will lead it, likely along with Mark-Viverito.</p> <p>“This would be the most ideal way of wrapping up the session because it’s an immense endeavor and one that clearly the Department of Corrections doesn’t have the talents right now and the ability to address,” Crowley told Gotham Gazette in an interview. “I’m hoping that we can put together recommendations for the mayor’s office to help make this plan more of a reality.”</p> <p>The NYCHA lead hearing was a recent addition to the slate, called by City Council Member Ritchie Torres, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Public Housing, in light of a Department of Investigations report revealing that NYCHA submitted false documentation of lead paint safety inspections never completed. The hearing, set for December 5, will discuss the practice and steps being taken to make things right, Torres said. According to the report, NYCHA failed to perform apartment inspections in 2013, 2014 and 2015 despite not having conducted the approximate 55,000 annual inspections required to satisfy the federal rule.</p> <p>The DOI report asserted that false paperwork was submitted even after NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye learned of the department’s non-compliance with city and federal rules. Olatoye is expected to appear before the committee during the oversight hearing next month. “I want to ask the chairperson about the agency’s practice of misleading the federal government about conducting lead paint inspections. Why did those practices transpire? When did she find out those practices were happening? How long did it take her before she revealed it to the general public and revealed it to DOI?” Torres told Gotham Gazette in an interview.</p> <p>In response to the DOI report and fallout, NYCHA announced personnel and programmatic changes. Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio has stated his support for Olatoye, whose departure has been called for by several people, most notably Public Advocate Letitia James.</p> <p>The Department of Investigation, Council Member Torres, and Public Advocate James, among others, have called for an independent monitor to oversee NYCHA inspections in the future. “NYCHA no longer has the credibility to monitor its own lead paint inspections. The only hope for restoring public confidence is an independent monitor,” Torres said.</p> <p>On December 7, the Council's education committee will hold an oversight hearing on "diversity in New York City schools," whereby the Council will check in on progress in reports from the Department of Education mandated by legislation co-sponsored by Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres.</p> <p>"This hearing will begin with testimony from the NYC Department of Education (DOE) about the plan they released in the spring (<a href="https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u=http%3A%2F%2Fschools.nyc.gov%2FNR%2Frdonlyres%2FD0799D8E-D4CD-45EF-A0D5-8F1DB246C2BA%2F0%2Fdiversity_final.pdf&amp;e=822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace&amp;utm_source=bradlander&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=wxy_response&amp;n=2" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fschools.nyc.gov%252FNR%252Frdonlyres%252FD0799D8E-D4CD-45EF-A0D5-8F1DB246C2BA%252F0%252Fdiversity_final.pdf%26e%3D822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace%26utm_source%3Dbradlander%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dwxy_response%26n%3D2&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1511288945029000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGfBMLho06w-CXN2EyIlxv1Yv-KFg">“Equity and Excellence for All: Diversity in New York City Public Schools”</a>), the third-annual&nbsp;<a href="https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u=http%3A%2F%2Fschools.nyc.gov%2Fcommunity%2Fcity%2Fpublicaffairs%2FDemographic%2BReports.htm&amp;e=822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace&amp;utm_source=bradlander&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=wxy_response&amp;n=3" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fschools.nyc.gov%252Fcommunity%252Fcity%252Fpublicaffairs%252FDemographic%252BReports.htm%26e%3D822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace%26utm_source%3Dbradlander%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dwxy_response%26n%3D3&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1511288945029000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHQtfHPwaIrq96mcC5n-8qWVyAEuA">“School Diversity Accountability Act” report</a>&nbsp;(just released last week), and other efforts such as their recently-announced&nbsp;<a href="https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u=http%3A%2F%2Fschools.nyc.gov%2FOffices%2Fmediarelations%2FNewsandSpeeches%2F2017-2018%2FD1Diversity.htm&amp;e=822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace&amp;utm_source=bradlander&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=wxy_response&amp;n=4" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fschools.nyc.gov%252FOffices%252Fmediarelations%252FNewsandSpeeches%252F2017-2018%252FD1Diversity.htm%26e%3D822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace%26utm_source%3Dbradlander%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dwxy_response%26n%3D4&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1511288945029000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGw0oqxEL7Z_kduvhxi2X0DPPokuA">plan for District 1</a>&nbsp;and the work they are beginning for District 15 middle-schools," according to an announcemnt from Lander's office.</p> <p>"After that -- and just as important -- the hearing will also provide an opportunity for the City Council to hear public testimony from students, parents, educators, and advocates working to combat school segregation and create truly integrated schools," the Lander announcement adds.</p> <p>An oversight hearing to discuss career pathways and workforce development systems is also scheduled, for November 27. New York City’s population is notably underprepared for the workforce, with more than 3.3 million residents over the age of 25 lacking an associate’s degree or other level of college education, according to July 2016 <a href="https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/newyorkcitynewyork/PST045216" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Census data</a> estimates. Those with degrees are concentrated largely within Manhattan. The city’s launch of the Career Pathways program in 2014 was an initial step in addressing the issue; committed to improving working conditions for lower-wage workers emphasizing training and education and creating connections with city employers. While the program has shown some promise in reforming and overhauling the city’s approach to skill-building programs, Career Pathways still lacks permanent funding and has yet to establish the necessary system of referrals and partnerships, according to <a href="https://nycfuture.org/research/building-the-workforce-of-the-future" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a> released by Center for an Urban Future in 2016.</p> <p>The oversight hearing will likely include an update on the status of the Career Pathways program from the city’s Department of Small Business Services and testimony from Stacy Woodruff of the Workforce Professionals Training Institute on changes within the job market, according to Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr., chair of the Committee on Small Business.</p> <p>“November’s small business committee hearing will be geared towards gaining a better understanding of the progress of the Career Pathways program announced in 2014. As New York’s economy continues to evolve, it is essential we understand the ways in which we can anticipate that evolution and ensure we prepare New Yorkers for the jobs that will come along with it,” said Cornegy, whose committee will co-host the hearing with the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, chaired by Council Member Daneek Miller.</p> <p>Earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio announced a new plan to use city resources to spur 100,000 new, good-paying jobs, with an emphasis on making sure that current city residents and those who have long-lived in the city are able to fill the new jobs. The Career Pathways program is seen by many in economic development and job training circles as key to this effort, but experts say that it has been underfunded by the de Blasio administration.</p> <p>Under this City Council, a bill was passed and signed by the mayor in 2016 to establish a separate Department of Veterans Affairs, outside of the Mayor’s Office. The new department has a much bigger staff and budget than the old Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, and works to place veterans in jobs through Workforce1 centers, reduce homelessness among military veterans, connect veterans to benefits and services, including mental health care. An oversight meeting on Monday, November 20 included discussion of the city’s progress in providing mental health services for veterans.</p> <p>The hearing was co-hosted by the Committee on Mental Health, chaired by Council Member Andrew Cohen, and the Committee on Veterans, chaired by Council Member Eric Ulrich.</p> <p>“This is the end of the City Council session so it’s the last opportunity to check in here on the status of the newly created Department of Veterans, the overall services available to veterans. I’d like to make an inquiry into the nexus between Thrive[NYC] and our veterans, the number of veterans being serviced through Thrive and just kind of an overall taking the temperature of where we’re at in terms of connecting veterans with mental health services,” said Cohen, referring to the de Blasio administration’s large mental health care program spearheaded by First Lady Chirlane McCray.</p> <p>Also on the City Council calendar is an oversight hearing that took place Tuesday, November 21 to discuss “the feasibility of microgrids.” Local energy grids capable of disconnecting from central power sources and operating autonomously, microgrids are used to provide power when the traditional grid has been compromised by an emergency or major power outage. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which left 800,000 city residents without power, microgrids could offer an important alternative in helping deal with future storms.</p> <p>Such grids also enable greater use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, potentially allowing city residents more flexibility in their energy sources. “These types of small electricity grids have the potential to change the way we generate and consume power “ said Council Member Costa Constantinides, chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, in a statement to Gotham Gazette prior to the hearing, which his committee hosted in conjunction with the Committee on Consumer Affairs, chaired by Council Member Rafael Espinal. “We hope to learn more about how microgrids could be implemented in our city, how consumers could save money on utility bills, and hear feedback from environmental advocacy groups,” said Constantinides.</p> <p>On Monday, November 20, the committees on housing and on general welfare held an oversight hearing on how the city’s housing department coordinates with the city’s homeless services department and its welfare agency “to address the homelessness crisis.”</p> <p>Other <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">scheduled</a>&nbsp;oversight hearings, some of which have now occurred, include: a public safety committee hearing on “NYPD’s School Safety’s Role and Efforts to Improve School Climate”; the committees on higher education and technology on “CUNY Tech Incubators”; the committees on health and immigration on “Immigrant Access to Healthcare”; the governmental operations committee on “DCAS’s Energy Management and Energy Efficiency Initiatives”; the economic development committee on “NYC’s Sagging Air Cargo Industry”; the recovery and resiliency committee on “Update on assisting vulnerable populations in emergency evacuations”; the juvenile justice committee on “Trauma-Informed Services in the Juvenile Justice System”; the contracts committee on “Examining Existing Supports and Needs of Underrepresented Business Owners in City Procurement”; the aging committee on “Supporting Unpaid Caregivers”; the technology committee on "MODA's Data and Verification Plan"; the housing committee on "Housing Development Fund Corps. (HDFCs) &amp; Transparency"; the environmental protection committee on "The City’s Wastewater Infrastructure – Current Condition and Future Plans"; the economic development committee on "Economic Impact of Vacant Storefronts"; and a few others.&nbsp;</p> <p>(Note: be sure to re-check <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the Council calendar</a> as hearings are often postponed or canceled.)</p> <p>(Note: this article has been updated with information about an additional hearing.)</p> <p>

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by Grace Dixon for Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/mmv_hearing_john_mccarten_city_council.jpg" alt="mmv hearing john mccarten city council" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: John McCarten/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p><em>[Note: this article has been updated based on fluctuations in the City Council calendar]</em></p> <p>A flurry of oversight hearings are filling the City Council calendar as the Council enters its final month of the four-year session, most notably a hearing slated to address controversies over NYCHA’s falsified lead inspection reports, a hearing to discuss the city’s progress in closing Rikers Island jails, and a hearing on integrating the city's segregated public schools.</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx">More than a dozen oversight hearings</a> are slated for Council committee discussion between November 20 and December 19 as this current iteration of the Council ends its term. A new class of Council members, many of whom are current officeholders who won reelection this fall, will be sworn in just after the new year, with a new Council Speaker chosen at the first full-body “stated meeting” in early January.</p> <p>At oversight hearings, Council members typically question the relevant top officials in the mayoral administration about the topic at hand, before testimony from other stakeholders, like advocates, non-governmental experts, or members of the public. While the hearings can be informative to Council members, journalists, advocates, and the broader public, further Council action will likely be taken in the next session, when many committee chair positions will have changed hands.</p> <p>Along with the oversight hearings on the NYCHA lead controversy and initial steps being taken toward closing Rikers jails, some of the scheduled oversight hearings deal with fighting homelessness, the NYPD’s role in school safety, mental health services for military veterans, evaluating workforce development programs, “the feasibility of microgrids,” and more.</p> <p>The oversight hearing scheduled to discuss closing Rikers, set for December 4, comes on the heels of the de Blasio administration’s release of a request for proposals to assess existing jails as potential sites to accommodate additional inmates and the overall need for space across the boroughs other than State Island, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has said no new jail will be opened.</p> <p>A 10-year plan issued by the mayor’s office in June committed to reducing the city’s jail population from the now roughly 9,500 to 5,000 within this time frame, while ensuring space in four borough jails for that smaller number of detainees.</p> <p>City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is term-limited out of office at the end of the year, has been a driving force behind the mission to close Rikers jails. At a press conference on Thursday, she told Gotham Gazette that the hearing will be important in terms of examining progress on several fronts important to the larger goal.</p> <p>“There’s already sites that exist and what we have to do is look at how we can create a modern day facility that really addresses some of the concerns that were raised and the recommendations made in the independent commission report,” she said, referring to the issue of identifying space and the RFP being put out by the city whereby a consultant will be hired to study resources and need. She also referred to the report put forth by a commission she empaneled led by former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, which crafted its own 10-year plan for closing Rikers jails.&nbsp;"There’s stuff to talk about, there’s other recommendations and action items that have to be taken, action that has to be taken and we can’t do that alone so it’s a matter of figuring out, where do we stand, what’s next to do, how quickly can we get it done,” Mark-Viverito said.</p> <p>The timeline for closing Rikers, the designation of responsibility, locations for housing detainees, the rate of population decline within the correctional facility, and a number of recent bail reform laws are topics of interest for the oversight hearing according to Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, chair of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice, which will host the hearing. Crowley will lead it, likely along with Mark-Viverito.</p> <p>“This would be the most ideal way of wrapping up the session because it’s an immense endeavor and one that clearly the Department of Corrections doesn’t have the talents right now and the ability to address,” Crowley told Gotham Gazette in an interview. “I’m hoping that we can put together recommendations for the mayor’s office to help make this plan more of a reality.”</p> <p>The NYCHA lead hearing was a recent addition to the slate, called by City Council Member Ritchie Torres, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Public Housing, in light of a Department of Investigations report revealing that NYCHA submitted false documentation of lead paint safety inspections never completed. The hearing, set for December 5, will discuss the practice and steps being taken to make things right, Torres said. According to the report, NYCHA failed to perform apartment inspections in 2013, 2014 and 2015 despite not having conducted the approximate 55,000 annual inspections required to satisfy the federal rule.</p> <p>The DOI report asserted that false paperwork was submitted even after NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye learned of the department’s non-compliance with city and federal rules. Olatoye is expected to appear before the committee during the oversight hearing next month. “I want to ask the chairperson about the agency’s practice of misleading the federal government about conducting lead paint inspections. Why did those practices transpire? When did she find out those practices were happening? How long did it take her before she revealed it to the general public and revealed it to DOI?” Torres told Gotham Gazette in an interview.</p> <p>In response to the DOI report and fallout, NYCHA announced personnel and programmatic changes. Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio has stated his support for Olatoye, whose departure has been called for by several people, most notably Public Advocate Letitia James.</p> <p>The Department of Investigation, Council Member Torres, and Public Advocate James, among others, have called for an independent monitor to oversee NYCHA inspections in the future. “NYCHA no longer has the credibility to monitor its own lead paint inspections. The only hope for restoring public confidence is an independent monitor,” Torres said.</p> <p>On December 7, the Council's education committee will hold an oversight hearing on "diversity in New York City schools," whereby the Council will check in on progress in reports from the Department of Education mandated by legislation co-sponsored by Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres.</p> <p>"This hearing will begin with testimony from the NYC Department of Education (DOE) about the plan they released in the spring (<a href="https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u=http%3A%2F%2Fschools.nyc.gov%2FNR%2Frdonlyres%2FD0799D8E-D4CD-45EF-A0D5-8F1DB246C2BA%2F0%2Fdiversity_final.pdf&amp;e=822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace&amp;utm_source=bradlander&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=wxy_response&amp;n=2" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fschools.nyc.gov%252FNR%252Frdonlyres%252FD0799D8E-D4CD-45EF-A0D5-8F1DB246C2BA%252F0%252Fdiversity_final.pdf%26e%3D822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace%26utm_source%3Dbradlander%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dwxy_response%26n%3D2&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1511288945029000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGfBMLho06w-CXN2EyIlxv1Yv-KFg">“Equity and Excellence for All: Diversity in New York City Public Schools”</a>), the third-annual&nbsp;<a href="https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u=http%3A%2F%2Fschools.nyc.gov%2Fcommunity%2Fcity%2Fpublicaffairs%2FDemographic%2BReports.htm&amp;e=822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace&amp;utm_source=bradlander&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=wxy_response&amp;n=3" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fschools.nyc.gov%252Fcommunity%252Fcity%252Fpublicaffairs%252FDemographic%252BReports.htm%26e%3D822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace%26utm_source%3Dbradlander%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dwxy_response%26n%3D3&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1511288945029000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHQtfHPwaIrq96mcC5n-8qWVyAEuA">“School Diversity Accountability Act” report</a>&nbsp;(just released last week), and other efforts such as their recently-announced&nbsp;<a href="https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u=http%3A%2F%2Fschools.nyc.gov%2FOffices%2Fmediarelations%2FNewsandSpeeches%2F2017-2018%2FD1Diversity.htm&amp;e=822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace&amp;utm_source=bradlander&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=wxy_response&amp;n=4" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://bradlander.nationbuilder.com/r?u%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fschools.nyc.gov%252FOffices%252Fmediarelations%252FNewsandSpeeches%252F2017-2018%252FD1Diversity.htm%26e%3D822327e927f5ca70ec4cc0c3c103361c2111bace%26utm_source%3Dbradlander%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dwxy_response%26n%3D4&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1511288945029000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGw0oqxEL7Z_kduvhxi2X0DPPokuA">plan for District 1</a>&nbsp;and the work they are beginning for District 15 middle-schools," according to an announcemnt from Lander's office.</p> <p>"After that -- and just as important -- the hearing will also provide an opportunity for the City Council to hear public testimony from students, parents, educators, and advocates working to combat school segregation and create truly integrated schools," the Lander announcement adds.</p> <p>An oversight hearing to discuss career pathways and workforce development systems is also scheduled, for November 27. New York City’s population is notably underprepared for the workforce, with more than 3.3 million residents over the age of 25 lacking an associate’s degree or other level of college education, according to July 2016 <a href="https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/newyorkcitynewyork/PST045216" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Census data</a> estimates. Those with degrees are concentrated largely within Manhattan. The city’s launch of the Career Pathways program in 2014 was an initial step in addressing the issue; committed to improving working conditions for lower-wage workers emphasizing training and education and creating connections with city employers. While the program has shown some promise in reforming and overhauling the city’s approach to skill-building programs, Career Pathways still lacks permanent funding and has yet to establish the necessary system of referrals and partnerships, according to <a href="https://nycfuture.org/research/building-the-workforce-of-the-future" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a> released by Center for an Urban Future in 2016.</p> <p>The oversight hearing will likely include an update on the status of the Career Pathways program from the city’s Department of Small Business Services and testimony from Stacy Woodruff of the Workforce Professionals Training Institute on changes within the job market, according to Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr., chair of the Committee on Small Business.</p> <p>“November’s small business committee hearing will be geared towards gaining a better understanding of the progress of the Career Pathways program announced in 2014. As New York’s economy continues to evolve, it is essential we understand the ways in which we can anticipate that evolution and ensure we prepare New Yorkers for the jobs that will come along with it,” said Cornegy, whose committee will co-host the hearing with the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, chaired by Council Member Daneek Miller.</p> <p>Earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio announced a new plan to use city resources to spur 100,000 new, good-paying jobs, with an emphasis on making sure that current city residents and those who have long-lived in the city are able to fill the new jobs. The Career Pathways program is seen by many in economic development and job training circles as key to this effort, but experts say that it has been underfunded by the de Blasio administration.</p> <p>Under this City Council, a bill was passed and signed by the mayor in 2016 to establish a separate Department of Veterans Affairs, outside of the Mayor’s Office. The new department has a much bigger staff and budget than the old Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, and works to place veterans in jobs through Workforce1 centers, reduce homelessness among military veterans, connect veterans to benefits and services, including mental health care. An oversight meeting on Monday, November 20 included discussion of the city’s progress in providing mental health services for veterans.</p> <p>The hearing was co-hosted by the Committee on Mental Health, chaired by Council Member Andrew Cohen, and the Committee on Veterans, chaired by Council Member Eric Ulrich.</p> <p>“This is the end of the City Council session so it’s the last opportunity to check in here on the status of the newly created Department of Veterans, the overall services available to veterans. I’d like to make an inquiry into the nexus between Thrive[NYC] and our veterans, the number of veterans being serviced through Thrive and just kind of an overall taking the temperature of where we’re at in terms of connecting veterans with mental health services,” said Cohen, referring to the de Blasio administration’s large mental health care program spearheaded by First Lady Chirlane McCray.</p> <p>Also on the City Council calendar is an oversight hearing that took place Tuesday, November 21 to discuss “the feasibility of microgrids.” Local energy grids capable of disconnecting from central power sources and operating autonomously, microgrids are used to provide power when the traditional grid has been compromised by an emergency or major power outage. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which left 800,000 city residents without power, microgrids could offer an important alternative in helping deal with future storms.</p> <p>Such grids also enable greater use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, potentially allowing city residents more flexibility in their energy sources. “These types of small electricity grids have the potential to change the way we generate and consume power “ said Council Member Costa Constantinides, chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, in a statement to Gotham Gazette prior to the hearing, which his committee hosted in conjunction with the Committee on Consumer Affairs, chaired by Council Member Rafael Espinal. “We hope to learn more about how microgrids could be implemented in our city, how consumers could save money on utility bills, and hear feedback from environmental advocacy groups,” said Constantinides.</p> <p>On Monday, November 20, the committees on housing and on general welfare held an oversight hearing on how the city’s housing department coordinates with the city’s homeless services department and its welfare agency “to address the homelessness crisis.”</p> <p>Other <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">scheduled</a>&nbsp;oversight hearings, some of which have now occurred, include: a public safety committee hearing on “NYPD’s School Safety’s Role and Efforts to Improve School Climate”; the committees on higher education and technology on “CUNY Tech Incubators”; the committees on health and immigration on “Immigrant Access to Healthcare”; the governmental operations committee on “DCAS’s Energy Management and Energy Efficiency Initiatives”; the economic development committee on “NYC’s Sagging Air Cargo Industry”; the recovery and resiliency committee on “Update on assisting vulnerable populations in emergency evacuations”; the juvenile justice committee on “Trauma-Informed Services in the Juvenile Justice System”; the contracts committee on “Examining Existing Supports and Needs of Underrepresented Business Owners in City Procurement”; the aging committee on “Supporting Unpaid Caregivers”; the technology committee on "MODA's Data and Verification Plan"; the housing committee on "Housing Development Fund Corps. (HDFCs) &amp; Transparency"; the environmental protection committee on "The City’s Wastewater Infrastructure – Current Condition and Future Plans"; the economic development committee on "Economic Impact of Vacant Storefronts"; and a few others.&nbsp;</p> <p>(Note: be sure to re-check <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the Council calendar</a> as hearings are often postponed or canceled.)</p> <p>(Note: this article has been updated with information about an additional hearing.)</p> <p>

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by Grace Dixon for Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

&nbsp;</p>
4 Interesting Participatory Budgeting Project Winners 2017-05-23T04:00:00+00:00 2017-05-23T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6949:4-interesting-participatory-budgeting-project-winners Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/pb_vote_via_lander.jpg" alt="pb vote via lander" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>(photo: Council Member Lander's office)</p> <hr /> <p>After an 11-day window in which over 100,000 residents of pertinent districts cast ballots, the City Council recently announced the winners of the 2016-17 participatory budgeting cycle. Thirty-one of 51 Council districts participated this year, leading to $34 million in capital funds going towards hyper-local projects chosen directly by the districts’ voters.</p> <p>A total of 138 projects received funding in this cycle, with most districts backing three to five projects. Some districts awarded funding for many more projects -- District 38, which includes Sunset Park, Red Hook, and Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn and is represented by Democrat Carlos Menchaca, is funding 10 projects. Many project proposals were represented in multiple districts, such as laptops or air conditioning in schools and security cameras for places such as parks, schools, and police precincts, but many were more unique to the respective districts. While participatory budgeting funds are all for capital projects, like equipment or some kind of small construction work, and often show a lot of similarity to each other and to those funded in past cycles, a handful of winning projects stand out this year.</p> <p>The participatory budgeting movement, which began in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989 as a means of decentralizing budgetary authority and handing power to the people, has since spread to numerous municipalities worldwide. It reached New York City in 2011, when City Council Members Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Eric Ulrich, and Jumaane Williams launched participatory budgeting projects in their respective districts, dedicating about $1 million of the funds at their disposal to a community process.</p> <p>While it’s not required of all Council districts, and it hasn’t been implemented citywide, the movement is clearly growing at a rapid pace in the city. Districts participating in participatory budgeting set aside, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5946-participatory-budgeting-grows-in-nyc-why-isnt-every-council-member-doing-it" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at minimum</a>, $1 million of their capital budget allocation for public determination.</p> <p>Participatory budgeting allows issues unique to each community to gain both attention and funding from a city budget process that may have overlooked them without direct citizen input. For instance, one out of four public school classrooms in the city lack air conditioning, which can become not only a health hazard for both students and teachers, but also an impediment to effective learning in the later months of the school term, which ends on June 28 this year.</p> <p>Several districts voted to allocate participatory budgeting funds toward putting air conditioning in classrooms devoid of it. As it turns out, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that his executive budget proposal, unveiled last month, includes almost $29 million to put air conditioning in every public school classroom in the city within five years. Another long-requested but never-delivered service, bus countdown clocks, also won funding in numerous districts. The countdown clocks have a lurid history, with the MTA removing physical clocks from some stops upon the development of a BusTime app by the Authority, which can alienate low-income New Yorkers who don’t possess smartphones.</p> <p>“This is democracy in action,” City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito said in a statement announcing the results of the cycle, getting at the essence of participatory budgeting, at least for its proponents.</p> <p>While those like Mark-Viverito, dozens of other Council members, a variety of community groups, and many residents are pleased with participatory budgeting, some critics say that it is a waste of time and Council staff resources (it is a labor heavy program for aides to Council members) and that the projects funded are ones that should really be taken into consideration in the regular budget process. Critics say that Council members are supposed to be gauging their constituents’ needs year-round anyway and influencing the larger budget process and allocating their member item funding accordingly.</p> <p>The City Council won the Roy and Lila Ash Innovation Award for Public Engagement for participatory budgeting in 2015 from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, winning $100,000 as a means of “<a href="https://ash.harvard.edu/news/new-york-san-francisco-named-winners-harvards-2015-innovation-american-government-award" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">replication and dissemination of their innovations</a>.”</p> <p>This year’s participatory budgeting winners include many typical projects, but a few others stand out.</p> <p>The highest number of votes for any project in the city went to a proposal in District 39, represented by Democrat Brad Lander, who has been a vocal proponent of PB since he was one of the original four to pilot it in the city. The votes were for providing mobile showers for homeless people. The project received 5,293 votes. The program is administered by CHiPS, a homeless services non-profit that runs a soup kitchen and a residency program, and will be stationed in front of its soup kitchen in Park Slope.</p> <p>District 39, which includes parts of Park Slope and Gowanus, has a relatively low number of homeless shelter beds. It is one of 18 City Council districts without any family shelter units, but does have nearly 300 adult single shelter beds.&nbsp;Mayor Bill de Blasio may soon change these numbers given that his new homeless shelter plan includes opening 90 new shelters of various types across the city. He has promised more beds for Park Slope, where he used to live and was the City Council member before being elected Public Advocate, then Mayor.</p> <p>Another winning project is the addition of a courtroom for Benjamin Cardozo High School in District 23, represented by Barry Grodenchik; the school is known for its Mentor Law and Humanities program. All students in the program must participate in either mock trial or model UN in their sophomore year. The courtroom will not be the first in a Queens high school; Maspeth High School opened a student courtroom in February of last year.</p> <p>In District 22, represented by Democrat Costa Constantinides, the Steinway Branch of the Queens Library will be fitted with solar panels after receiving over 1,000 votes in the district’s cycle. The library will join several other public library branches in the city that have adopted solar energy.</p> <p>The total votes in Constantinides’ district more than doubled since last year. Constantinides said this shows “that neighborhood residents care about our public and community spaces.”</p> <p>And in District 32, represented by Republican Eric Ulrich (the only one of three Republican Council districts participating in the program), Shore Front Parkway will be the site of new adult exercise equipment “adjacent to the boardwalk” as well as a “labyrinth/yoga/meditation area.” Projects in Ulrich’s district received the fewest votes of any district participating in the program this year; only 858 votes were cast in total.</p> <p>The full list of winners of New York City’s 2016-17 Participatory Budgeting Cycle can be found <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/press/2017/05/15/1414/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: the article has been clarified to better explain the homeless shelter beds currently in District 39.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/pb_vote_via_lander.jpg" alt="pb vote via lander" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>(photo: Council Member Lander's office)</p> <hr /> <p>After an 11-day window in which over 100,000 residents of pertinent districts cast ballots, the City Council recently announced the winners of the 2016-17 participatory budgeting cycle. Thirty-one of 51 Council districts participated this year, leading to $34 million in capital funds going towards hyper-local projects chosen directly by the districts’ voters.</p> <p>A total of 138 projects received funding in this cycle, with most districts backing three to five projects. Some districts awarded funding for many more projects -- District 38, which includes Sunset Park, Red Hook, and Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn and is represented by Democrat Carlos Menchaca, is funding 10 projects. Many project proposals were represented in multiple districts, such as laptops or air conditioning in schools and security cameras for places such as parks, schools, and police precincts, but many were more unique to the respective districts. While participatory budgeting funds are all for capital projects, like equipment or some kind of small construction work, and often show a lot of similarity to each other and to those funded in past cycles, a handful of winning projects stand out this year.</p> <p>The participatory budgeting movement, which began in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989 as a means of decentralizing budgetary authority and handing power to the people, has since spread to numerous municipalities worldwide. It reached New York City in 2011, when City Council Members Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Eric Ulrich, and Jumaane Williams launched participatory budgeting projects in their respective districts, dedicating about $1 million of the funds at their disposal to a community process.</p> <p>While it’s not required of all Council districts, and it hasn’t been implemented citywide, the movement is clearly growing at a rapid pace in the city. Districts participating in participatory budgeting set aside, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5946-participatory-budgeting-grows-in-nyc-why-isnt-every-council-member-doing-it" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at minimum</a>, $1 million of their capital budget allocation for public determination.</p> <p>Participatory budgeting allows issues unique to each community to gain both attention and funding from a city budget process that may have overlooked them without direct citizen input. For instance, one out of four public school classrooms in the city lack air conditioning, which can become not only a health hazard for both students and teachers, but also an impediment to effective learning in the later months of the school term, which ends on June 28 this year.</p> <p>Several districts voted to allocate participatory budgeting funds toward putting air conditioning in classrooms devoid of it. As it turns out, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that his executive budget proposal, unveiled last month, includes almost $29 million to put air conditioning in every public school classroom in the city within five years. Another long-requested but never-delivered service, bus countdown clocks, also won funding in numerous districts. The countdown clocks have a lurid history, with the MTA removing physical clocks from some stops upon the development of a BusTime app by the Authority, which can alienate low-income New Yorkers who don’t possess smartphones.</p> <p>“This is democracy in action,” City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito said in a statement announcing the results of the cycle, getting at the essence of participatory budgeting, at least for its proponents.</p> <p>While those like Mark-Viverito, dozens of other Council members, a variety of community groups, and many residents are pleased with participatory budgeting, some critics say that it is a waste of time and Council staff resources (it is a labor heavy program for aides to Council members) and that the projects funded are ones that should really be taken into consideration in the regular budget process. Critics say that Council members are supposed to be gauging their constituents’ needs year-round anyway and influencing the larger budget process and allocating their member item funding accordingly.</p> <p>The City Council won the Roy and Lila Ash Innovation Award for Public Engagement for participatory budgeting in 2015 from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, winning $100,000 as a means of “<a href="https://ash.harvard.edu/news/new-york-san-francisco-named-winners-harvards-2015-innovation-american-government-award" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">replication and dissemination of their innovations</a>.”</p> <p>This year’s participatory budgeting winners include many typical projects, but a few others stand out.</p> <p>The highest number of votes for any project in the city went to a proposal in District 39, represented by Democrat Brad Lander, who has been a vocal proponent of PB since he was one of the original four to pilot it in the city. The votes were for providing mobile showers for homeless people. The project received 5,293 votes. The program is administered by CHiPS, a homeless services non-profit that runs a soup kitchen and a residency program, and will be stationed in front of its soup kitchen in Park Slope.</p> <p>District 39, which includes parts of Park Slope and Gowanus, has a relatively low number of homeless shelter beds. It is one of 18 City Council districts without any family shelter units, but does have nearly 300 adult single shelter beds.&nbsp;Mayor Bill de Blasio may soon change these numbers given that his new homeless shelter plan includes opening 90 new shelters of various types across the city. He has promised more beds for Park Slope, where he used to live and was the City Council member before being elected Public Advocate, then Mayor.</p> <p>Another winning project is the addition of a courtroom for Benjamin Cardozo High School in District 23, represented by Barry Grodenchik; the school is known for its Mentor Law and Humanities program. All students in the program must participate in either mock trial or model UN in their sophomore year. The courtroom will not be the first in a Queens high school; Maspeth High School opened a student courtroom in February of last year.</p> <p>In District 22, represented by Democrat Costa Constantinides, the Steinway Branch of the Queens Library will be fitted with solar panels after receiving over 1,000 votes in the district’s cycle. The library will join several other public library branches in the city that have adopted solar energy.</p> <p>The total votes in Constantinides’ district more than doubled since last year. Constantinides said this shows “that neighborhood residents care about our public and community spaces.”</p> <p>And in District 32, represented by Republican Eric Ulrich (the only one of three Republican Council districts participating in the program), Shore Front Parkway will be the site of new adult exercise equipment “adjacent to the boardwalk” as well as a “labyrinth/yoga/meditation area.” Projects in Ulrich’s district received the fewest votes of any district participating in the program this year; only 858 votes were cast in total.</p> <p>The full list of winners of New York City’s 2016-17 Participatory Budgeting Cycle can be found <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/press/2017/05/15/1414/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: the article has been clarified to better explain the homeless shelter beds currently in District 39.</p>
New Urgency in Our City’s Fight for Our Planet’s Future 2016-11-27T05:00:00+00:00 2016-11-27T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6639:new-urgency-in-our-city-s-fight-for-our-planet-s-future Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/31063409135_710823e9ba_z.jpg" alt="Costa Constantinides" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Council Member Constantinides, the author</p> <hr /> <p>As we continue to digest the results of the election, a troubling reality emerges that our core beliefs are under attack. As New Yorkers, we stand in unity with our neighbors, especially Muslim, Latino, and LGBTQ communities across our city.</p> <p>We are also left with deep disappointment because President-elect Trump has attacked climate change as a hoax. He has pledged to undo American efforts to prevent a global warming catastrophe, including retreat from the Paris Agreement on Climate, Clean Power Plan, and new EPA regulations.</p> <p>It is clear that our city and other local governments need to lead the way on protecting equality, as well as protecting our planet.</p> <p>As Chair of the New York City Council's Environmental Protection Committee, I remain focused on making our city greener and more sustainable. We learned four years ago with Hurricane Sandy that the effects of climate change can cause devastating damage to our homes, infrastructure, and places we hold dear. Since then, New York has made great strides in resilience and sustainable building.</p> <p>With a strong environmental partner in Mayor de Blasio, we have already begun working toward our commitment to reduce our carbon emissions 80% by 2050 and continue to invest in environmental education and programming. The City Council recently passed legislation I sponsored to boost renewable energy including solar, geothermal, and bioheat.</p> <p>We have also helped encourage sustainable habits such as taking public transportation more and using less air conditioning. Earlier this month, we passed a bill, Intro. 1124, which will encourage more New Yorkers to drive electric vehicles by implementing a pilot program for publicly accessible charging stations.</p> <p>On Monday, I will chair an Environmental Protection Committee oversight hearing on emissions that come from power plants throughout the city.</p> <p>It is time for us to be bolder in our efforts to lead on environmental policy, through innovative policies and careful oversight, like the efforts mentioned above.</p> <p>We have introduced legislation that advocates for environmental justice in our most underserved communities, making New York the first large city in the nation that would have such a commitment.</p> <p>Knowing that 75% of our emissions come from buildings, we are exploring the use of wind energy in our city, allowing neighbors to tap into the same geothermal energy source to power their own homes, and solar thermal installation on city-owned buildings. New York has already been a worldwide role model in sustainability and we must continue to keep this work a top priority.</p> <p>Now is the time that we must stand up and fight for our planet’s future.</p> <p>***<br />City Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the 22nd Council District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as Chair the Council's Environmental Protection Committee and sits on six additional committees. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Costa4NY" target="_blank">@Costa4NY</a>.</p> <p>

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

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/31063409135_710823e9ba_z.jpg" alt="Costa Constantinides" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Council Member Constantinides, the author</p> <hr /> <p>As we continue to digest the results of the election, a troubling reality emerges that our core beliefs are under attack. As New Yorkers, we stand in unity with our neighbors, especially Muslim, Latino, and LGBTQ communities across our city.</p> <p>We are also left with deep disappointment because President-elect Trump has attacked climate change as a hoax. He has pledged to undo American efforts to prevent a global warming catastrophe, including retreat from the Paris Agreement on Climate, Clean Power Plan, and new EPA regulations.</p> <p>It is clear that our city and other local governments need to lead the way on protecting equality, as well as protecting our planet.</p> <p>As Chair of the New York City Council's Environmental Protection Committee, I remain focused on making our city greener and more sustainable. We learned four years ago with Hurricane Sandy that the effects of climate change can cause devastating damage to our homes, infrastructure, and places we hold dear. Since then, New York has made great strides in resilience and sustainable building.</p> <p>With a strong environmental partner in Mayor de Blasio, we have already begun working toward our commitment to reduce our carbon emissions 80% by 2050 and continue to invest in environmental education and programming. The City Council recently passed legislation I sponsored to boost renewable energy including solar, geothermal, and bioheat.</p> <p>We have also helped encourage sustainable habits such as taking public transportation more and using less air conditioning. Earlier this month, we passed a bill, Intro. 1124, which will encourage more New Yorkers to drive electric vehicles by implementing a pilot program for publicly accessible charging stations.</p> <p>On Monday, I will chair an Environmental Protection Committee oversight hearing on emissions that come from power plants throughout the city.</p> <p>It is time for us to be bolder in our efforts to lead on environmental policy, through innovative policies and careful oversight, like the efforts mentioned above.</p> <p>We have introduced legislation that advocates for environmental justice in our most underserved communities, making New York the first large city in the nation that would have such a commitment.</p> <p>Knowing that 75% of our emissions come from buildings, we are exploring the use of wind energy in our city, allowing neighbors to tap into the same geothermal energy source to power their own homes, and solar thermal installation on city-owned buildings. New York has already been a worldwide role model in sustainability and we must continue to keep this work a top priority.</p> <p>Now is the time that we must stand up and fight for our planet’s future.</p> <p>***<br />City Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the 22nd Council District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as Chair the Council's Environmental Protection Committee and sits on six additional committees. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Costa4NY" target="_blank">@Costa4NY</a>.</p> <p>

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

</p>
A Closer Look at BQX Funding Plans 2016-05-10T04:00:00+00:00 2016-05-10T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6325:a-closer-look-at-bqx-funding-plans Ben Max <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bqx_presser_bdb.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="bqx presser bdb" /></p> <p>photo via nyc.gov</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">In his State of the City address on February 4, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a major new transportation project: a “state-of-the-art” streetcar that will run the waterfront on a 16-mile route between Sunset Park in Brooklyn and Astoria in Queens. This Brooklyn-Queens Connector, or the BQX, has drawn a somewhat mixed response. The de Blasio administration quickly publicized support from a variety of business and civic leaders, elected officials, and several transportation advocates. Some transportation experts and residents of the neighborhoods where the BQX will run remain skeptical.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio hailed it as another key step in fighting inequality by offering more mass transportation to underserved New Yorkers, especially those in the public housing complexes near the route. It would also be a project the city would control itself, unlike the MTA, a state agency that runs the trains and buses. One immediate question, of course, was ‘who’s going to pay for it?’</p> <p dir="ltr">On February 16, the administration offered up more details in a media release that included the line “Self-financed streetcar line would generate 28,000 jobs and over $25 billion in wages and economic activity for New Yorkers.” A key phrase being “self-financed.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The project is estimated to cost about $2.5 billion, which the city will raise through a method of value capture and creation unlike the usual procedure of financing capital projects. Instead of selling municipal bonds to borrow money and paying those off from city revenues, as is done for capital funds, the city will create a non-profit entity -- likely a Local Development Corporation (LDC) -- which will then issue tax-exempt bonds to raise funds. This debt will be paid by “capturing” the increases in property taxes of existing real estate and new developments along the streetcar corridor. In effect, the plan is that BQX will pay for itself with the revenue it creates.</p> <p dir="ltr">Although LDCs are non-profit entities that are usually set up by private individuals and businesses interested in developing their communities, the city can also set up LDCs like the Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corporation (HYIC) and give them bond-issuing authority to raise funds.</p> <p dir="ltr">Private LDCs often receive support from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), a city-run nonprofit organization that promotes businesses and economic growth. For instance, the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center LDC has received more than $4.4 million since 2014 from the City Council and the Brooklyn Borough President through EDC to convert an auto parts warehouse into a multi-tenant manufacturing center.</p> <p dir="ltr">The city is nowhere near setting up the nonprofit -- officials are currently <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/04/8597483/city-gives-new-bqx-streetcar-details-and-revs-outreach-plan" target="_blank">courting public opinion</a> and further assessing the BQX proposal -- but a similar structure was used under Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the redevelopment of Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side. HYIC was set up in 2005 to raise funds by issuing $3 billion in bonds for projects including the extension of the 7-train subway line and building green spaces from West 30th to 42nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. This is an analogous example of how the BQX will be funded and built.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As imagined, there would be no new taxes,” said an official from EDC. “This project will make it so that value of properties will go up so property taxes will go up nominally. Property taxes sliced off the top would be funnelled towards debt service.” In other words, increased property tax revenue is used to pay back the bonds.</p> <p dir="ltr">The EDC official added that there will be revenue through property taxes on new development along the corridor.</p> <p dir="ltr">Two key mechanisms of value capture are tax increment financing (TIF), which seems to be planned for BQX, and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT). TIF is formulaic while PILOT is discounted payments negotiated with developers instead of regular property taxes. The administration has not clarified yet whether they will use both tools.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the case of Hudson Yards, HYIC garners revenue chiefly through PILOT, Tax Equivalency Payments (TEP), which are property taxes collected by the city from new development in the area, and District Improvement Bonuses paid by private developers for the right to build additional density, among other sources.</p> <p dir="ltr">City officials have not yet provided a detailed funding plan or fully explained why they are choosing value capture, which may have advantages in that it doesn’t add to existing capital debt, but also risks leading to higher costs that take longer to pay off. This was apparent in the years after the Hudson Yards project began. By 2014, the city had paid <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/west-side-commercial-development-costs-taxpayers-650m-article-1.2015834" target="_blank">about $439 million</a> to service HYIC debt owing to shortfalls in projected revenue. That’s added onto the millions in cost overruns that the city also had to bear. The city had signed an Interest Support Agreement to service HYIC debt in the case of revenue shortfall.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There can be risks,” said George Sweeting, deputy director of the Independent Budget Office, a nonpartisan publicly-funded budget watchdog. Sweeting pointed out the disconnect between when the investment is made and when the city can start capturing value and making payments, since development doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why, in the case of Hudson Yards, the city agreed to pay off part of the debt directly from its general fund in the form of interest support payments and HYIC raised additional revenue by selling developers the right to create additional density.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It depends on how fast you think development will occur,” Sweeting said. “Some of where the [streetcar] is going has significant development already,” he added, noting that land along the waterfront has already become more valuable in recent years. “You might not be able to attribute [further growth] to the BQX.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With the traditional model of capital funding, Sweeting said, the city can “cross-subsidize” using other resources to pay off debt. That’s not necessarily the case with a dedicated value-capture scheme. “It can take longer to pay back,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bridget Fisher, associate director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School, highlighted many of the risks in value capture funding in <a href="http://www.economicpolicyresearch.org/images/docs/research/political_economy/Bridget_Fisher_WP_2015-4_final.pdf" target="_blank">a report</a> from July. Looking at the Hudson Yards redevelopment project, she sought to dispel the “myths” of self-financing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Like Hudson Yards, describing these projects as self-financing is a rhetorical tool that can be misleading,” Fisher told Gotham Gazette. “There’s nothing magical about value capture. It’s still debt and it’s still expensive. It’s a decision to go outside the municipal bond market that adds cost, but the city’s still on the hook for the cost.”</p> <p dir="ltr">These bonds, issued by a nonprofit rather than the city directly, are also in a “legal limbo,” she said, since they’re not backed by the city but by an entity created by it. Adding to that, bond buyers receive higher interest rates because the bonds are not directly backed by the city, but still have the security of knowing the city will pay them back. “It does pay for itself,” Fisher said, “but all capital projects pay for themselves. They’re paid for with debt and debt is paid back with profits.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The question to me is, why choose a route that’s more expensive when you have the capacity to do it through the normal city capital budget, which also has democratic checks and balances?” Fisher added.</p> <p dir="ltr">There is an advantage to the mechanism, depending on your budgeting perspective. The city has a constitutionally mandated debt limit and value capture funding does not add to it. “It preserves the general obligation debt capacity for other important projects,” Sweeting said.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/documents/CAPDEBT2015.pdf" target="_blank">a report</a> by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the city’s debt limit in fiscal 2016 was $85.18 billion. As of July 1, 2015 (start of the 2016 fiscal year), the city’s outstanding debt counted towards the debt limit was $57.43 billion, leaving $27.76 billion in debt-incurring power for the city. For fiscal 2017, the city’s debt is about $72 billion, owing to capital plan additions in this year’s budget.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The only pro,” said Fisher, “is that in an environment hypersensitive to spending, local officials can provide growth opportunities and still maintain a rhetoric of fiscal discipline.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“There is no absolute right or wrong,” said IBO’s Sweeting. “There are a lot of considerations to take into account -- how much new development there will be, the time between when you make investments and development will occur, and how you structure the value capture.” &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">For the City Council members whose districts will be served by the BQX, funding is just one of the many concerns about the project. Council Member Carlos Menchaca represents Sunset Park, at one end of the line, and Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the other end, Astoria.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As we get more thoroughly through the process, there’s a lot of questions that have to be answered in my mind both on financing and the actual route and how it’s going to affect the communities,” Constantinides told Gotham Gazette shortly before an unrelated hearing at City Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">He intends to be a strong voice throughout the process, he said, and wants to be part of the LDC when it is set up. So far, he believes the city is taking the right approach to community outreach and seeking input on the project - EDC held its first BQX visioning session in Astoria <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160510/astoria/astoria-weighs-on-citys-streetcar-plan-first-public-meeting" target="_blank">on Monday night</a>. “That is a welcome change from when we used to have a mayoralty that would dictate to us how things were going and we’d have to respond,” Constantinides said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Council member sees the potential in value capture funding, but also the risks. “I just wouldn’t want to see residents that are further away from the site…One, two, three-family homeowners that live two blocks from where this would potentially be...to see them get crushed by some sort of increase in their taxes would just not be where I was at,” he said. For homeowners, additional property value can be a great thing, but if you do not intend to sell in the near term, making larger property tax payments based on new assessments can be challenging.</p> <p dir="ltr">Menchaca reiterated these concerns. “I want to make sure that residents of affected neighborhoods like Sunset Park and Red Hook have a leading voice at the beginning of the process and in a way that determines the exact details and impact of the project,” he said in a statement. He emphasized that the BQX could provide relief to “transit deserts” like Red Hook and create better mass-transit for the growing manufacturing zone in Sunset Park. But he recognizes that it could also contribute to gentrification and displace existing residential and commercial tenants.</p> <p>“We've all seen ‘it will pay of itself’ projects fail to live up to expectations or have unintended consequences,” he added. “The impact of BQX – including the financial impact – must be studied carefully in public with residents at the center of the conversation.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bqx_presser_bdb.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="bqx presser bdb" /></p> <p>photo via nyc.gov</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">In his State of the City address on February 4, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a major new transportation project: a “state-of-the-art” streetcar that will run the waterfront on a 16-mile route between Sunset Park in Brooklyn and Astoria in Queens. This Brooklyn-Queens Connector, or the BQX, has drawn a somewhat mixed response. The de Blasio administration quickly publicized support from a variety of business and civic leaders, elected officials, and several transportation advocates. Some transportation experts and residents of the neighborhoods where the BQX will run remain skeptical.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio hailed it as another key step in fighting inequality by offering more mass transportation to underserved New Yorkers, especially those in the public housing complexes near the route. It would also be a project the city would control itself, unlike the MTA, a state agency that runs the trains and buses. One immediate question, of course, was ‘who’s going to pay for it?’</p> <p dir="ltr">On February 16, the administration offered up more details in a media release that included the line “Self-financed streetcar line would generate 28,000 jobs and over $25 billion in wages and economic activity for New Yorkers.” A key phrase being “self-financed.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The project is estimated to cost about $2.5 billion, which the city will raise through a method of value capture and creation unlike the usual procedure of financing capital projects. Instead of selling municipal bonds to borrow money and paying those off from city revenues, as is done for capital funds, the city will create a non-profit entity -- likely a Local Development Corporation (LDC) -- which will then issue tax-exempt bonds to raise funds. This debt will be paid by “capturing” the increases in property taxes of existing real estate and new developments along the streetcar corridor. In effect, the plan is that BQX will pay for itself with the revenue it creates.</p> <p dir="ltr">Although LDCs are non-profit entities that are usually set up by private individuals and businesses interested in developing their communities, the city can also set up LDCs like the Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corporation (HYIC) and give them bond-issuing authority to raise funds.</p> <p dir="ltr">Private LDCs often receive support from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), a city-run nonprofit organization that promotes businesses and economic growth. For instance, the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center LDC has received more than $4.4 million since 2014 from the City Council and the Brooklyn Borough President through EDC to convert an auto parts warehouse into a multi-tenant manufacturing center.</p> <p dir="ltr">The city is nowhere near setting up the nonprofit -- officials are currently <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/04/8597483/city-gives-new-bqx-streetcar-details-and-revs-outreach-plan" target="_blank">courting public opinion</a> and further assessing the BQX proposal -- but a similar structure was used under Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the redevelopment of Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side. HYIC was set up in 2005 to raise funds by issuing $3 billion in bonds for projects including the extension of the 7-train subway line and building green spaces from West 30th to 42nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. This is an analogous example of how the BQX will be funded and built.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As imagined, there would be no new taxes,” said an official from EDC. “This project will make it so that value of properties will go up so property taxes will go up nominally. Property taxes sliced off the top would be funnelled towards debt service.” In other words, increased property tax revenue is used to pay back the bonds.</p> <p dir="ltr">The EDC official added that there will be revenue through property taxes on new development along the corridor.</p> <p dir="ltr">Two key mechanisms of value capture are tax increment financing (TIF), which seems to be planned for BQX, and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT). TIF is formulaic while PILOT is discounted payments negotiated with developers instead of regular property taxes. The administration has not clarified yet whether they will use both tools.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the case of Hudson Yards, HYIC garners revenue chiefly through PILOT, Tax Equivalency Payments (TEP), which are property taxes collected by the city from new development in the area, and District Improvement Bonuses paid by private developers for the right to build additional density, among other sources.</p> <p dir="ltr">City officials have not yet provided a detailed funding plan or fully explained why they are choosing value capture, which may have advantages in that it doesn’t add to existing capital debt, but also risks leading to higher costs that take longer to pay off. This was apparent in the years after the Hudson Yards project began. By 2014, the city had paid <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/west-side-commercial-development-costs-taxpayers-650m-article-1.2015834" target="_blank">about $439 million</a> to service HYIC debt owing to shortfalls in projected revenue. That’s added onto the millions in cost overruns that the city also had to bear. The city had signed an Interest Support Agreement to service HYIC debt in the case of revenue shortfall.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There can be risks,” said George Sweeting, deputy director of the Independent Budget Office, a nonpartisan publicly-funded budget watchdog. Sweeting pointed out the disconnect between when the investment is made and when the city can start capturing value and making payments, since development doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why, in the case of Hudson Yards, the city agreed to pay off part of the debt directly from its general fund in the form of interest support payments and HYIC raised additional revenue by selling developers the right to create additional density.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It depends on how fast you think development will occur,” Sweeting said. “Some of where the [streetcar] is going has significant development already,” he added, noting that land along the waterfront has already become more valuable in recent years. “You might not be able to attribute [further growth] to the BQX.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With the traditional model of capital funding, Sweeting said, the city can “cross-subsidize” using other resources to pay off debt. That’s not necessarily the case with a dedicated value-capture scheme. “It can take longer to pay back,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bridget Fisher, associate director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School, highlighted many of the risks in value capture funding in <a href="http://www.economicpolicyresearch.org/images/docs/research/political_economy/Bridget_Fisher_WP_2015-4_final.pdf" target="_blank">a report</a> from July. Looking at the Hudson Yards redevelopment project, she sought to dispel the “myths” of self-financing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Like Hudson Yards, describing these projects as self-financing is a rhetorical tool that can be misleading,” Fisher told Gotham Gazette. “There’s nothing magical about value capture. It’s still debt and it’s still expensive. It’s a decision to go outside the municipal bond market that adds cost, but the city’s still on the hook for the cost.”</p> <p dir="ltr">These bonds, issued by a nonprofit rather than the city directly, are also in a “legal limbo,” she said, since they’re not backed by the city but by an entity created by it. Adding to that, bond buyers receive higher interest rates because the bonds are not directly backed by the city, but still have the security of knowing the city will pay them back. “It does pay for itself,” Fisher said, “but all capital projects pay for themselves. They’re paid for with debt and debt is paid back with profits.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The question to me is, why choose a route that’s more expensive when you have the capacity to do it through the normal city capital budget, which also has democratic checks and balances?” Fisher added.</p> <p dir="ltr">There is an advantage to the mechanism, depending on your budgeting perspective. The city has a constitutionally mandated debt limit and value capture funding does not add to it. “It preserves the general obligation debt capacity for other important projects,” Sweeting said.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/documents/CAPDEBT2015.pdf" target="_blank">a report</a> by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the city’s debt limit in fiscal 2016 was $85.18 billion. As of July 1, 2015 (start of the 2016 fiscal year), the city’s outstanding debt counted towards the debt limit was $57.43 billion, leaving $27.76 billion in debt-incurring power for the city. For fiscal 2017, the city’s debt is about $72 billion, owing to capital plan additions in this year’s budget.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The only pro,” said Fisher, “is that in an environment hypersensitive to spending, local officials can provide growth opportunities and still maintain a rhetoric of fiscal discipline.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“There is no absolute right or wrong,” said IBO’s Sweeting. “There are a lot of considerations to take into account -- how much new development there will be, the time between when you make investments and development will occur, and how you structure the value capture.” &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">For the City Council members whose districts will be served by the BQX, funding is just one of the many concerns about the project. Council Member Carlos Menchaca represents Sunset Park, at one end of the line, and Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the other end, Astoria.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As we get more thoroughly through the process, there’s a lot of questions that have to be answered in my mind both on financing and the actual route and how it’s going to affect the communities,” Constantinides told Gotham Gazette shortly before an unrelated hearing at City Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">He intends to be a strong voice throughout the process, he said, and wants to be part of the LDC when it is set up. So far, he believes the city is taking the right approach to community outreach and seeking input on the project - EDC held its first BQX visioning session in Astoria <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160510/astoria/astoria-weighs-on-citys-streetcar-plan-first-public-meeting" target="_blank">on Monday night</a>. “That is a welcome change from when we used to have a mayoralty that would dictate to us how things were going and we’d have to respond,” Constantinides said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Council member sees the potential in value capture funding, but also the risks. “I just wouldn’t want to see residents that are further away from the site…One, two, three-family homeowners that live two blocks from where this would potentially be...to see them get crushed by some sort of increase in their taxes would just not be where I was at,” he said. For homeowners, additional property value can be a great thing, but if you do not intend to sell in the near term, making larger property tax payments based on new assessments can be challenging.</p> <p dir="ltr">Menchaca reiterated these concerns. “I want to make sure that residents of affected neighborhoods like Sunset Park and Red Hook have a leading voice at the beginning of the process and in a way that determines the exact details and impact of the project,” he said in a statement. He emphasized that the BQX could provide relief to “transit deserts” like Red Hook and create better mass-transit for the growing manufacturing zone in Sunset Park. But he recognizes that it could also contribute to gentrification and displace existing residential and commercial tenants.</p> <p>“We've all seen ‘it will pay of itself’ projects fail to live up to expectations or have unintended consequences,” he added. “The impact of BQX – including the financial impact – must be studied carefully in public with residents at the center of the conversation.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Tunnel Controversy Prompts Closer Look at Water Infrastructure 2016-04-20T04:00:00+00:00 2016-04-20T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6290:tunnel-controversy-prompts-closer-look-at-water-infrastructure Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/waterfall_via_nystateparks.jpg" width="600" height="338" alt="waterfall via nystateparks" /></p> <p>(photo via @nystateparks)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio recently faced an embarrassing situation and had to act quickly to remedy it. Seemingly out of nowhere, there was a lack of clarity around the city’s investment, or apparent lack thereof, in water infrastructure - namely the long-under-construction third water tunnel. The tunnel, along with other elements of the city’s water system are nearer the top of the Spring political agenda. City Council members want answers about what the city is doing to protect and ensure its clean water supply, and will push for them in upcoming executive budget hearings.</p> <p dir="ltr">On April 5, The New York Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/nyregion/de-blasio-postpones-work-on-crucial-water-tunnel.html?_r=0" target="_blank">reported</a> that the mayor withheld capital funds and therefore postponed construction on a crucial pipeline that will bring water to Brooklyn and Queens, while providing insurance for the city’s two current water tunnels. City Water Tunnel No. 3, work on which has been in progress since 1970, was originally slated for completion by 2021. It will act as a measure against the possible failure of either of the first two tunnels, which have been in operation since 1917 and 1936, or provide an opportunity to proactively shut one of the two down for maintenance.</p> <p dir="ltr">A day after the Times’ front-page story, which caused widespread uproar, de Blasio said the report was wrong and that work had not been delayed. He laid blame on his staff for the confusion. “There are times when my team does not do a good job of explaining something, and I think it’s as simple as that,” he told reporters after an unrelated event at a school in Bushwick.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio explained that the capital funds for later years were temporarily put on hold. “We didn’t think that the estimate was accurate so we pulled it back awaiting a more accurate estimate,” he said. “I could say very comfortably that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do in terms of showing people the ongoing commitment. But what we did do in the preliminary budget was started to add the money back because we got very specific numbers. So if you look at the preliminary budget, $52 million was now added back to keep things on the 2021 schedule.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In what seemed like an attempt to fully undercut any criticism, he went further, announcing that the city had in fact moved up its deadline for the tunnel by a year, bringing it to 2020. He also committed another $305 million to the project’s completion.</p> <p dir="ltr">At least three City Council members were concerned enough with what they were hearing to act. Council Member Costa Constantinides, chair of the environmental protection committee, and his colleagues Dan Garodnick and Brad Lander wrote to the mayor asking for clarification about the timeline and funding for the project. “The importance of this tunnel for Brooklyn and Queens residents cannot be over-stated,” reads the letter, issued after the Times’ initial article. “Should we have a failure of existing tunnels before this final leg is complete, it could have devastating economic and human consequences for millions of New Yorkers.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Garodnick reiterated the point when asked for comment. "While we appreciate that the Mayor has committed to completing this project, we continue to have questions," he said in an emailed statement. "Given how crucial this water tunnel is for millions of New Yorkers, we need to know when and how the Mayor intends to follow through on that commitment."</p> <p dir="ltr">Lingering questions will carry forward into next month’s executive budget hearings, as the Council evaluates the de Blasio administration’s $80-plus billion plan. Before the water tunnel flare-up, the Council recently issued its response to the mayor’s preliminary budget - de Blasio’s updated spending plan is due shortly.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Our slated budget hearings for May will have a strong focus on infrastructure,” Constantinides told Gotham Gazette in a phone interview, “including a deeper dive into the third water tunnel and all the water and sewer infrastructure under the Department of Environmental Protection.” As chair of the environmental protection committee, Constantinides has oversight of DEP and he intends to carry on this conversation consistently with the administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">Although he stressed that capital budgeting can be complicated, he wants to ensure that people understand the intricacies of the often-overlooked issue. “We’re gonna really prioritize an understanding for the public,” he said. “We want to make it as clear as possible. We need a precise timeline and targeted completion date” for the tunnel.</p> <p dir="ltr">Acknowledging some of his own inattention to the water tunnel issue, Lander said that the Council must bring all parties to pay attention to infrastructure. “One of the great challenges is focusing public attention and the city’s attention -- including the City Council and the administration -- on infrastructure investment,” he said. “Water, electricity, streets, bridges are all absolutely fundamental to our shared lives together. There’s not always public attention on those issues.” He pointed out that the Council held a dedicated hearing last year on the capital plan, and “almost no one came.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Lander also admitted that he could have done a better job of asking questions of the administration on the issue. The Council member was among those present at the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2568993&amp;GUID=34DFA993-2954-4A0F-841F-2D53CB07F442&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">preliminary budget hearing</a> where DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd indicated a delay in completing the third water tunnel.</p> <p dir="ltr">Part of the issue around capital spending on water infrastructure is that budgets are allocated each year while capital budgets plan for future years. <a href="http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/IBOCBG.pdf" target="_blank">Each year</a>, the Mayor’s preliminary budget includes a preliminary capital budget, which proposes funding for projects for the coming fiscal year and projected allocations for the following three fiscal years. It includes input from city agencies and community boards. The CBs and Borough Presidents then hold public hearings on the preliminary capital budget, after which recommendations for modifications are sent to the mayor. The City Council also weighs in through the preliminary budget process.</p> <p dir="ltr">Following that, the executive capital budget is released along with the executive expense budget in April, and after another round of comment from BPs and council hearings, it is eventually adopted by the City Council. The Council can also choose to add new capital projects to the budget. As opposed to the expense budget, which is paid for through city revenue and taxes, capital commitments are funded through the sale of city bonds and from state and federal funds.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Adopted Capital Commitment Plan then lays out the schedule for projects to be implemented under the adopted capital budget. Although projects may be funded, they might not necessarily start or finish within the first year of the plan itself.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Charter also mandates the creation of a ten-year capital strategy, which is reiterated by the Department of City Planning and the Office of Management and Budget in November of every even-numbered year, according to the Independent Budget Office’s guide to the capital budget. It goes through a public hearing after which the City Planning Commission issues a report. The final capital strategy is then released with the executive budget in odd-numbered years. According to the City Charter, the Mayor is required to document any variances between the ten-year plan and the adopted capital budget within 30 days of adoption. “In practice, the Mayor’s budget office considers the Adopted Capital Commitment Plan as fulfilling this requirement,” says <a href="http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/IBOCBG.pdf" target="_blank">the IBO guide</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Capital projects are expensive and often lack federal funding that municipalities rely on to make them a reality. Adam Forman, senior researcher at the Center for an Urban Future, pointed to these issues and more in a <a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/Caution-Ahead.pdf" target="_blank">March 2014 report</a> about the city’s infrastructure. The report was titled “Caution Ahead” for a reason.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Capital budgets are always moving goal posts,” Forman told Gotham Gazette. “There are shifting expenditures in out-years…The water system is financed by the water authority, rates are determined by the water board. It’s complicated.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Forman said is encouraged by the mayor’s commitment to the water tunnel project, despite the confusion, but speculated that the city expects to reign in capital costs once older projects initiated under former administrations are completed.</p> <p dir="ltr">Besides Water Tunnel No. 3, Forman listed what he thinks should be the city’s biggest priorities: replacing internal water mains and sewer lines, and addressing the ongoing problem of <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/cso_long_term_control_plan/ltcp_disp_nyc_cso_program.pdf" target="_blank">combined sewer overflow</a> (which results in 25 billion gallons of untreated water entering the city’s watershed each year).</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite expensive competing demands and insufficient funding, he believes DEP has done a “fantastic” job. “New York’s waterways are much cleaner than they were 10 to 15 years ago,” Forman said.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Forman’s report, the average age of New York City’s 6,400 miles of sewage mains is approximately 84 years. Of the 6,800 miles of water mains, more than 1,000 miles are over 100 years old, leading to “frequent and disruptive breaks.” In 2013 alone, there were 403 water main breaks.</p> <p>Perhaps the silver lining to the water tunnel issue is that it has people talking about capital infrastructure, especially water-related, and the dire need for adequate investment on the city’s part. At least, that’s what Council Member Lander believes. “I think it’s productive that we’re having this conversation and I hope that in the context of the executive budget hearings that the Council and the administration can focus more broadly on key infrastructure priorities and making sure those projects are on track and we have the resources we need,” he said. “These are the kinds of questions we have to ask to keep the city strong into the future.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/waterfall_via_nystateparks.jpg" width="600" height="338" alt="waterfall via nystateparks" /></p> <p>(photo via @nystateparks)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio recently faced an embarrassing situation and had to act quickly to remedy it. Seemingly out of nowhere, there was a lack of clarity around the city’s investment, or apparent lack thereof, in water infrastructure - namely the long-under-construction third water tunnel. The tunnel, along with other elements of the city’s water system are nearer the top of the Spring political agenda. City Council members want answers about what the city is doing to protect and ensure its clean water supply, and will push for them in upcoming executive budget hearings.</p> <p dir="ltr">On April 5, The New York Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/nyregion/de-blasio-postpones-work-on-crucial-water-tunnel.html?_r=0" target="_blank">reported</a> that the mayor withheld capital funds and therefore postponed construction on a crucial pipeline that will bring water to Brooklyn and Queens, while providing insurance for the city’s two current water tunnels. City Water Tunnel No. 3, work on which has been in progress since 1970, was originally slated for completion by 2021. It will act as a measure against the possible failure of either of the first two tunnels, which have been in operation since 1917 and 1936, or provide an opportunity to proactively shut one of the two down for maintenance.</p> <p dir="ltr">A day after the Times’ front-page story, which caused widespread uproar, de Blasio said the report was wrong and that work had not been delayed. He laid blame on his staff for the confusion. “There are times when my team does not do a good job of explaining something, and I think it’s as simple as that,” he told reporters after an unrelated event at a school in Bushwick.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio explained that the capital funds for later years were temporarily put on hold. “We didn’t think that the estimate was accurate so we pulled it back awaiting a more accurate estimate,” he said. “I could say very comfortably that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do in terms of showing people the ongoing commitment. But what we did do in the preliminary budget was started to add the money back because we got very specific numbers. So if you look at the preliminary budget, $52 million was now added back to keep things on the 2021 schedule.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In what seemed like an attempt to fully undercut any criticism, he went further, announcing that the city had in fact moved up its deadline for the tunnel by a year, bringing it to 2020. He also committed another $305 million to the project’s completion.</p> <p dir="ltr">At least three City Council members were concerned enough with what they were hearing to act. Council Member Costa Constantinides, chair of the environmental protection committee, and his colleagues Dan Garodnick and Brad Lander wrote to the mayor asking for clarification about the timeline and funding for the project. “The importance of this tunnel for Brooklyn and Queens residents cannot be over-stated,” reads the letter, issued after the Times’ initial article. “Should we have a failure of existing tunnels before this final leg is complete, it could have devastating economic and human consequences for millions of New Yorkers.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Garodnick reiterated the point when asked for comment. "While we appreciate that the Mayor has committed to completing this project, we continue to have questions," he said in an emailed statement. "Given how crucial this water tunnel is for millions of New Yorkers, we need to know when and how the Mayor intends to follow through on that commitment."</p> <p dir="ltr">Lingering questions will carry forward into next month’s executive budget hearings, as the Council evaluates the de Blasio administration’s $80-plus billion plan. Before the water tunnel flare-up, the Council recently issued its response to the mayor’s preliminary budget - de Blasio’s updated spending plan is due shortly.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Our slated budget hearings for May will have a strong focus on infrastructure,” Constantinides told Gotham Gazette in a phone interview, “including a deeper dive into the third water tunnel and all the water and sewer infrastructure under the Department of Environmental Protection.” As chair of the environmental protection committee, Constantinides has oversight of DEP and he intends to carry on this conversation consistently with the administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">Although he stressed that capital budgeting can be complicated, he wants to ensure that people understand the intricacies of the often-overlooked issue. “We’re gonna really prioritize an understanding for the public,” he said. “We want to make it as clear as possible. We need a precise timeline and targeted completion date” for the tunnel.</p> <p dir="ltr">Acknowledging some of his own inattention to the water tunnel issue, Lander said that the Council must bring all parties to pay attention to infrastructure. “One of the great challenges is focusing public attention and the city’s attention -- including the City Council and the administration -- on infrastructure investment,” he said. “Water, electricity, streets, bridges are all absolutely fundamental to our shared lives together. There’s not always public attention on those issues.” He pointed out that the Council held a dedicated hearing last year on the capital plan, and “almost no one came.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Lander also admitted that he could have done a better job of asking questions of the administration on the issue. The Council member was among those present at the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2568993&amp;GUID=34DFA993-2954-4A0F-841F-2D53CB07F442&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">preliminary budget hearing</a> where DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd indicated a delay in completing the third water tunnel.</p> <p dir="ltr">Part of the issue around capital spending on water infrastructure is that budgets are allocated each year while capital budgets plan for future years. <a href="http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/IBOCBG.pdf" target="_blank">Each year</a>, the Mayor’s preliminary budget includes a preliminary capital budget, which proposes funding for projects for the coming fiscal year and projected allocations for the following three fiscal years. It includes input from city agencies and community boards. The CBs and Borough Presidents then hold public hearings on the preliminary capital budget, after which recommendations for modifications are sent to the mayor. The City Council also weighs in through the preliminary budget process.</p> <p dir="ltr">Following that, the executive capital budget is released along with the executive expense budget in April, and after another round of comment from BPs and council hearings, it is eventually adopted by the City Council. The Council can also choose to add new capital projects to the budget. As opposed to the expense budget, which is paid for through city revenue and taxes, capital commitments are funded through the sale of city bonds and from state and federal funds.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Adopted Capital Commitment Plan then lays out the schedule for projects to be implemented under the adopted capital budget. Although projects may be funded, they might not necessarily start or finish within the first year of the plan itself.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Charter also mandates the creation of a ten-year capital strategy, which is reiterated by the Department of City Planning and the Office of Management and Budget in November of every even-numbered year, according to the Independent Budget Office’s guide to the capital budget. It goes through a public hearing after which the City Planning Commission issues a report. The final capital strategy is then released with the executive budget in odd-numbered years. According to the City Charter, the Mayor is required to document any variances between the ten-year plan and the adopted capital budget within 30 days of adoption. “In practice, the Mayor’s budget office considers the Adopted Capital Commitment Plan as fulfilling this requirement,” says <a href="http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/IBOCBG.pdf" target="_blank">the IBO guide</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Capital projects are expensive and often lack federal funding that municipalities rely on to make them a reality. Adam Forman, senior researcher at the Center for an Urban Future, pointed to these issues and more in a <a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/Caution-Ahead.pdf" target="_blank">March 2014 report</a> about the city’s infrastructure. The report was titled “Caution Ahead” for a reason.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Capital budgets are always moving goal posts,” Forman told Gotham Gazette. “There are shifting expenditures in out-years…The water system is financed by the water authority, rates are determined by the water board. It’s complicated.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Forman said is encouraged by the mayor’s commitment to the water tunnel project, despite the confusion, but speculated that the city expects to reign in capital costs once older projects initiated under former administrations are completed.</p> <p dir="ltr">Besides Water Tunnel No. 3, Forman listed what he thinks should be the city’s biggest priorities: replacing internal water mains and sewer lines, and addressing the ongoing problem of <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/cso_long_term_control_plan/ltcp_disp_nyc_cso_program.pdf" target="_blank">combined sewer overflow</a> (which results in 25 billion gallons of untreated water entering the city’s watershed each year).</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite expensive competing demands and insufficient funding, he believes DEP has done a “fantastic” job. “New York’s waterways are much cleaner than they were 10 to 15 years ago,” Forman said.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Forman’s report, the average age of New York City’s 6,400 miles of sewage mains is approximately 84 years. Of the 6,800 miles of water mains, more than 1,000 miles are over 100 years old, leading to “frequent and disruptive breaks.” In 2013 alone, there were 403 water main breaks.</p> <p>Perhaps the silver lining to the water tunnel issue is that it has people talking about capital infrastructure, especially water-related, and the dire need for adequate investment on the city’s part. At least, that’s what Council Member Lander believes. “I think it’s productive that we’re having this conversation and I hope that in the context of the executive budget hearings that the Council and the administration can focus more broadly on key infrastructure priorities and making sure those projects are on track and we have the resources we need,” he said. “These are the kinds of questions we have to ask to keep the city strong into the future.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
How To Become a New York City Council Member 2015-08-27T13:23:11+00:00 2015-08-27T13:23:11+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5862:how-to-become-a-new-york-city-council-member Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bdb_cms_muni_id_alatriste.jpg" alt="bdb cms muni id alatriste" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Mayor de Blasio, a former Council member, with several current CMs (William Alatriste)</span></p> <hr /> <p>Ask any New York City Council member and they'll tell you— there is no set formula that will send an aspiring candidate to City Hall.</p> <p>"If you want to be a lawyer, the path is the same: get a bachelor's degree, take the LSATs, go to law school, take the bar exam, and voila, you're a lawyer," Ritchie Torres, the 51-member Council's youngest rep, told Gotham Gazette. "Whereas in politics, there is no single path."</p> <p>Torres' ascent to deputy leader in the Council— he is an openly gay, Afro-Latino, college drop-out who grew up in public housing in the Bronx— is perhaps most emblematic of this truth, reflected in the broad expanse of backgrounds present in today's class of Council members.</p> <p>The sole member of the Council with a doctorate of medicine, Mathieu Eugene, has another unique story. "I grew up in a country of many challenges. If somebody told my mother when I was a child, 'your son will be an elected official in New York,' she would've said, 'you're crazy,'" said the Haitian-born Eugene, of Brooklyn.</p> <p>But while it's true that there's not a single path to becoming a member of the New York City Council, it is also true - as indicated by data and Council members' own admissions - that some paths are more commonly travelled than others.</p> <p>Gotham Gazette found that nearly 40 percent of current Council members have served on the staff of a Council member or state Assembly member, with 60 percent of that group serving as chief of staff; and nearly 30 percent of Council members served on a community board.</p> <p>Several Council members have come to the body directly from the state Assembly, the path being taken by soon-to-be Council Member Joseph Borrelli, of Staten Island. Borrelli is running unopposed in a special election to replace former Council Member Vincent Ignizio, who resigned recently to take a non-profit leadership job.</p> <p>Meanwhile, last Thursday's primary day saw Barry Grodenchik emerge from a crowded Democratic field in a race to fill a vacant Queens Council post. Grodenchik, a former Assembly member and current aide to the Queens Borough President, still has to defeat a general election opponent, but is favored to do so.</p> <p>Asked about his government experience preparing him for the Council, Grodenchik emailed Gotham Gazette to say that elected officials deal with many challenges in office, one being "the level of bureaucracy you sometimes face in navigating government on behalf of constituents." He believes that "experience doing so matters - and I believe my experience in the Assembly, as well as at [Queens] Borough Hall will help me be a better Councilman if elected."</p> <p>Grodenchik continued to say that throughout his "career in public service" he's "gained insight on how to get things done in government." His experience likely appeals to voters, especially the small number willing to vote on a Thursday in an "off-year." It is also what led him to garner the support of the Queens County Democratic "establishment," which helped him get elected - establishment support is often a key to electoral victory in City Council races.</p> <p>While many Council members come from other parts of government, including elected bodies like the Assembly, their predecessors' staffs, and local community boards, others come from community organizing and labor. Some enter the Council from the private sector, but usually have community ties to speak of.</p> <p>Gotham Gazette spoke with current Council members about their journeys to City Hall and how the demographics of the Council are changing.</p> <p><strong>Chief of Staff</strong><br />Many Council members who served in the role of chief of staff look back on the job as a pivotal position that gave them the tools to be an effective Council member.</p> <p>"I think that anyone considering running for office should have some experience in government because I think it's important for people to know about the job that they are seeking," Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos said. Kallos served as chief of staff to former Assembly Member Jonathan Bing. "I can say that being a chief of staff, I was able to learn about the most important part of the job, which is constituent services and helping individuals with their cases."</p> <p>Kallos also said he was able to learn about "how the legislative process works, how to get things done in a collegial environment...and ultimately as a chief of staff you get to learn a lot about the different jobs and what is necessary to run a well-functioning office."</p> <p>Queens Council Member Costa Constantinides told Gotham Gazette his experience working as deputy chief of staff to former Council Member James Gennaro provided him with a strong skillset on which to run.</p> <p>"When I made the choice to run for City Council I had a foundation in policies and I felt that was really important," Constantinides said. "I talked about, 'I have a record of getting bills passed, I have a record of knowing how this institution works, I have a record of taking on real fights already.'"</p> <p>Council Member Torres, a former constituent liaison for now colleague Council Member Jimmy Vacca, said the role of chief of staff is particularly crucial: it allows for "far more access to the political establishment" than employees in a Council member's district office have.</p> <p>"Yes, one path to elected office could be employment in the office of an elected official, but within that category there are huge differences between chief of staff and the role of a constituent organizer," Torres said. "The center of political action tends to be in City Hall and if you're in the district office, you're disconnected from the political dynamics."</p> <p>Underlining the importance of working for an elected official: when asked what advice they would give a college student aspiring to serve as a Council member, each current member interviewed by Gotham Gazette suggested interning for a Council member or working on a campaign for City Council.</p> <p><strong>Community Boards &amp; Name recognition</strong><br />For many interested in helping their community, joining a community board is a natural first step, and one that may develop into the desire to run for City Council. For some, the perception exists that community boards may be used a springboard or requisite stop along the road for aspiring elected officials.</p> <p>"Absolutely, community boards are supposed to be a voice for the community and naturally those that are providing that voice will be interested [in becoming a Council member], but often times— and one of the things I'm trying to discourage— is a place where it becomes a solely-owned subsidiary of the political establishment where it just ends up being full of people running for office," said Kallos, who served on Community Board 8. "So there needs to be a delicate balance."</p> <p>To that end, Kallos is pushing community board reform legislation, including term limits.</p> <p>Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, a former Council member and community board member now in charge of appointing community board members, sees the boards practically, as a place where aspiring Council members can learn about the issues facing their community. If successful and effective as a board member, Brewer says, individuals can make a name for themselves and help their communities.</p> <p>Brewer disagrees with Kallos' assertion that community boards are overly politicized (a fact they both amiably alluded to in interviews— Brewer is opposed to Kallos' term limits bill), noting that her office interviewed over 700 community board candidates this year alone.</p> <p>"If you are going to be on the community board, you're going to take it seriously. So I think we are beyond the politicization, what's happened in the past is in the past," Brewer said, referring to more stringent reforms in the application and appointment processes now in place. "So I think people who think they're going to get on [the board] just so they can run for office— I mean it could happen, if you do a really good job on the community board then you should run, in my opinion, because you know the issues."</p> <p>Brewer says it is good that for aspiring elected officials community boards can be a training ground and necessary step.</p> <p>"I think unless you have some extraordinary circumstance in terms of name recognition, which I did not, and most people don't, then if you're a college student and you want to be a lawyer and then come back and run for office, you really do need to get on the community board, make a difference somehow," Brewer said, citing Helen Rosenthal and Corey Johnson as examples of current Council members who showed promise as leaders on their community boards. Rosenthal was elected in 2013 to replace Brewer on the Council.</p> <p>"I have found it now that I'm on the Council really helpful that I was on the community board for so long," Rosenthal told Gotham Gazette. "I was on it for 15 years, so when issues come up I have a long history on them...So now as a Council member, when these same types of issues come up, I have a good toolbox to draw from."</p> <p>Name recognition often rules the day when it comes to elections, and for local races, that neighborhood notoriety can be essential. Name recognition can also come in other ways.</p> <p>"Look, you have the pure insider and the pure outsider," Torres said. "I'm neither purely an insider or purely an outsider, I think most of us fall in a spectrum in between, but I think what was unique about my candidacy was that no one had ever heard of me before. I think most Council members have much more name recognition with the political establishment than I did when I ran for public office."</p> <p>In speaking of the importance of name recognition, Manhattan BP Brewer referenced the Weprins, of Queens— Assembly Member David Weprin and his brother, former Council Member Mark Weprin. The Weprin brothers have each held both the Assembly and Council seats that they were holding until Mark resigned this spring to work for Governor Cuomo; their father Saul was the Speaker of the Assembly.</p> <p>Then there is the Rivera family— Assembly Member Jose Rivera and former Council Member Joel Rivera— for over 20 years Joel held the seat Torres now occupies.</p> <p>Before joining Congress, U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke succeeded her mother Una Clarke in the City Council. Current Council Member Inez Barron and her husband, Assembly Member Charles Barron, completed an easy seat swap recently when he was term-limited out of the Council.</p> <p>But according to political consultant and executive director of the New York State Democratic Party Basil Smikle, candidates with private sector backgrounds who toe the edge of what Torres referred to as the "outsider" side of the spectrum still can be appealing to voters.</p> <p>"Voters tend to respond to candidates who can convey both an understanding for the issues as well as a passion to actually want to impact them. So you can be active in your community and not convey to a voter that you want the job. You can work in the private sector and be able to speak of a vision with a fervor that come across to the voter," Smikle said.</p> <p>"I think ultimately no matter what path you take," Smikle continued, "having that so-called 'fire in the belly' always is important no matter where you come from and no matter what your trajectory. Having said that, I think even if you come from the private sector you still need to have a sense of what is going on with the voters in your neighborhood. You have to know that. A voter needs to know you can take whatever it is in your background up until this point and apply it to their situation."</p> <p><strong>Labor unions</strong><br />"Unions are the other place people come out of," Brewer said. "It's where Melissa [Mark-Viverito, the current Speaker] came out of, where [Council Member] Annabel Palma came out of...You have to have some unions with you to win."</p> <p>Council Member Daniel Dromm was a delegate and chapter chair for the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) before he became a Council member and enjoyed the union's support once he decided to run. Dromm told Gotham Gazette that the UFT had thrown him an early endorsement in 2008 a few months before term limits were extended, enabling the Council member he was running against to seek a third term.</p> <p>"So the UFT had to make a decision again the following June what to do because the incumbent who was also very supportive of the union decided she was going to run, and what they decided to do was do a dual endorsement," Dromm said. "But at that point I had gotten what I had needed out of the endorsement from the UFT, so it was very helpful to me in that sense and gave my candidacy a lot of legitimacy."</p> <p>It is well-known that in Democrat-heavy New York City, unions can make a difference both in building legitimacy and name-recognition, but also in helping get out the vote come primary day. New York City Council elections often see crowded Democratic primaries, as was the case when Rosenthal was elected in 2013 and the primary that Grodenchik just won in Queens.</p> <p>Smikle told Gotham Gazette that earning the support of unions is important both operationally and symbolically.</p> <p>"You're still looking to represent districts that chances are have labor union representation among your constituents. If you're living in an area that has a large number of TWU workers, [for example], that union endorsement is very important. If other unions come on board, it looks like you are a friend to the working people, to laborers, and you get the symbolism that's attached to that as well because you're not just a friend to organized labor, you're a friend to people's aspirations. That is extraordinarily important," Smikle said.</p> <p><strong>The shift in demographics</strong><br />The power unions hold to get candidates elected underlines the importance of having contacts in politics.</p> <p>"If you're a poor kid from the Bronx without a college education and no position in politics, for all intents and purposes you have no means of fundraising," Torres said. "You have no social capital, no economic capital, no rolodex you can tap into for fundraising purposes. So you either need to have some position— even if you're at the margins of the political establishment, you need some position in politics— or you need to be part of the professional class."</p> <p>Brewer, however, said that being a part of the professional class may actually put candidates at a disadvantage compared to people involved in community organizing or activism.</p> <p>"If you work on Wall Street and then decide to come back and run, then you'll be able to raise money but you won't know the people...In Manhattan you can always raise more money whether you're on a community board, work for an elected official, or not," Brewer said.</p> <p>The public campaign financing system in New York City, which provides public matching funds for small donations, "gives you the opportunity," Brewer said, "to raise a little money and still win. What you have to do is develop your own list. Initially you run and win financing-wise on friends and family."</p> <p>At a forum hosted by the Campaign Finance Board in July, Council Member Eric Ulrich, a Republican from Queens, also emphasized the importance of the city's matching funds program in equalizing the playing field for aspiring Council members.</p> <p>"If it were not for the Campaign Finance Board I would never have been elected to City Council. I did not come from a political family, I came from a single parent household, we didn't come from money," Ulrich told attendees.</p> <p>Constantinides also cited the CFB's matching program as being a game changer, adding the importance of the change in term limits.</p> <p>"That's a huge, huge part to seeing this demographic shift," Constantinides said, referring to the changes in the age, race, and ethnic diversity in the Council. "Term limits have changed, it's leveled the playing field, it's allowed people to come in and say- you have matching funds, you're not worried about raising 300-, 400-thousand dollars, you're focused on raising a certain amount and then going out and making your case to your constituents."</p> <p>The demographic shift to which Constantinides references came at the confluence of the implementation of stricter term limits and the rise of the Progressive Caucus, a liberal bloc of Council members formed in 2010 in response to the Bloomberg administration's more conservative policies and the city's shifting population.</p> <p>"What you actually saw was this dramatic change in the Council where progressive Council members are helping other progressive Council members [and candidates]," Kallos, who was elected to the Council in 2013 and joined the Progressive Caucus upon taking office in 2014, said. "So whereas typically you'll have seen independent expenditures from the Real Estate Board of New York shaping elections, now what you'll see is organized activity by [progressive] members trying to elect more. So I think what you saw was a much more progressive body getting elected by virtue of members making that happen."</p> <p>The rise of the caucus, which began with 12 and now includes 19 of the 51 council members (with several other close allies who are not official members), was viewed by many as a shift away from machine politics and toward community organizing and advocacy. But Torres, a caucus member whose ascent into politics is emblematic of this shift, said he thought the picture was more complicated.</p> <p>"It is certainly true that you have an organized progressive movement, progressive infrastructure that operates independently of the traditional centers of political power, and it is true that the progressive movement has made a priority out of electing younger people to public office, people of color to public office, and more women in public office," Torres, who is 27, said. "So that is true, but I will caution you not to distinguish or completely separate the progressive movement from the establishment."</p> <p>Even the progressive movement can be in danger of becoming an insider's game, where the progressives who get the endorsements are the ones who have the relationships and can raise money, Torres said. There is also always a question of how closely aligned unions and progressives are with the different county political machines.</p> <p>"Even in the progressive world, the two currencies are the same: money and relationships," Torres said. "I think someone like me has a greater chance of succeeding in the new world in which we are operating, but I want to caution that. Relationships and money continue to be the dominant forces of politics."</p> <p>***<br />by Catie Edmondson, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/CatieEdmondson" target="_blank">@CatieEdmondson</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bdb_cms_muni_id_alatriste.jpg" alt="bdb cms muni id alatriste" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Mayor de Blasio, a former Council member, with several current CMs (William Alatriste)</span></p> <hr /> <p>Ask any New York City Council member and they'll tell you— there is no set formula that will send an aspiring candidate to City Hall.</p> <p>"If you want to be a lawyer, the path is the same: get a bachelor's degree, take the LSATs, go to law school, take the bar exam, and voila, you're a lawyer," Ritchie Torres, the 51-member Council's youngest rep, told Gotham Gazette. "Whereas in politics, there is no single path."</p> <p>Torres' ascent to deputy leader in the Council— he is an openly gay, Afro-Latino, college drop-out who grew up in public housing in the Bronx— is perhaps most emblematic of this truth, reflected in the broad expanse of backgrounds present in today's class of Council members.</p> <p>The sole member of the Council with a doctorate of medicine, Mathieu Eugene, has another unique story. "I grew up in a country of many challenges. If somebody told my mother when I was a child, 'your son will be an elected official in New York,' she would've said, 'you're crazy,'" said the Haitian-born Eugene, of Brooklyn.</p> <p>But while it's true that there's not a single path to becoming a member of the New York City Council, it is also true - as indicated by data and Council members' own admissions - that some paths are more commonly travelled than others.</p> <p>Gotham Gazette found that nearly 40 percent of current Council members have served on the staff of a Council member or state Assembly member, with 60 percent of that group serving as chief of staff; and nearly 30 percent of Council members served on a community board.</p> <p>Several Council members have come to the body directly from the state Assembly, the path being taken by soon-to-be Council Member Joseph Borrelli, of Staten Island. Borrelli is running unopposed in a special election to replace former Council Member Vincent Ignizio, who resigned recently to take a non-profit leadership job.</p> <p>Meanwhile, last Thursday's primary day saw Barry Grodenchik emerge from a crowded Democratic field in a race to fill a vacant Queens Council post. Grodenchik, a former Assembly member and current aide to the Queens Borough President, still has to defeat a general election opponent, but is favored to do so.</p> <p>Asked about his government experience preparing him for the Council, Grodenchik emailed Gotham Gazette to say that elected officials deal with many challenges in office, one being "the level of bureaucracy you sometimes face in navigating government on behalf of constituents." He believes that "experience doing so matters - and I believe my experience in the Assembly, as well as at [Queens] Borough Hall will help me be a better Councilman if elected."</p> <p>Grodenchik continued to say that throughout his "career in public service" he's "gained insight on how to get things done in government." His experience likely appeals to voters, especially the small number willing to vote on a Thursday in an "off-year." It is also what led him to garner the support of the Queens County Democratic "establishment," which helped him get elected - establishment support is often a key to electoral victory in City Council races.</p> <p>While many Council members come from other parts of government, including elected bodies like the Assembly, their predecessors' staffs, and local community boards, others come from community organizing and labor. Some enter the Council from the private sector, but usually have community ties to speak of.</p> <p>Gotham Gazette spoke with current Council members about their journeys to City Hall and how the demographics of the Council are changing.</p> <p><strong>Chief of Staff</strong><br />Many Council members who served in the role of chief of staff look back on the job as a pivotal position that gave them the tools to be an effective Council member.</p> <p>"I think that anyone considering running for office should have some experience in government because I think it's important for people to know about the job that they are seeking," Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos said. Kallos served as chief of staff to former Assembly Member Jonathan Bing. "I can say that being a chief of staff, I was able to learn about the most important part of the job, which is constituent services and helping individuals with their cases."</p> <p>Kallos also said he was able to learn about "how the legislative process works, how to get things done in a collegial environment...and ultimately as a chief of staff you get to learn a lot about the different jobs and what is necessary to run a well-functioning office."</p> <p>Queens Council Member Costa Constantinides told Gotham Gazette his experience working as deputy chief of staff to former Council Member James Gennaro provided him with a strong skillset on which to run.</p> <p>"When I made the choice to run for City Council I had a foundation in policies and I felt that was really important," Constantinides said. "I talked about, 'I have a record of getting bills passed, I have a record of knowing how this institution works, I have a record of taking on real fights already.'"</p> <p>Council Member Torres, a former constituent liaison for now colleague Council Member Jimmy Vacca, said the role of chief of staff is particularly crucial: it allows for "far more access to the political establishment" than employees in a Council member's district office have.</p> <p>"Yes, one path to elected office could be employment in the office of an elected official, but within that category there are huge differences between chief of staff and the role of a constituent organizer," Torres said. "The center of political action tends to be in City Hall and if you're in the district office, you're disconnected from the political dynamics."</p> <p>Underlining the importance of working for an elected official: when asked what advice they would give a college student aspiring to serve as a Council member, each current member interviewed by Gotham Gazette suggested interning for a Council member or working on a campaign for City Council.</p> <p><strong>Community Boards &amp; Name recognition</strong><br />For many interested in helping their community, joining a community board is a natural first step, and one that may develop into the desire to run for City Council. For some, the perception exists that community boards may be used a springboard or requisite stop along the road for aspiring elected officials.</p> <p>"Absolutely, community boards are supposed to be a voice for the community and naturally those that are providing that voice will be interested [in becoming a Council member], but often times— and one of the things I'm trying to discourage— is a place where it becomes a solely-owned subsidiary of the political establishment where it just ends up being full of people running for office," said Kallos, who served on Community Board 8. "So there needs to be a delicate balance."</p> <p>To that end, Kallos is pushing community board reform legislation, including term limits.</p> <p>Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, a former Council member and community board member now in charge of appointing community board members, sees the boards practically, as a place where aspiring Council members can learn about the issues facing their community. If successful and effective as a board member, Brewer says, individuals can make a name for themselves and help their communities.</p> <p>Brewer disagrees with Kallos' assertion that community boards are overly politicized (a fact they both amiably alluded to in interviews— Brewer is opposed to Kallos' term limits bill), noting that her office interviewed over 700 community board candidates this year alone.</p> <p>"If you are going to be on the community board, you're going to take it seriously. So I think we are beyond the politicization, what's happened in the past is in the past," Brewer said, referring to more stringent reforms in the application and appointment processes now in place. "So I think people who think they're going to get on [the board] just so they can run for office— I mean it could happen, if you do a really good job on the community board then you should run, in my opinion, because you know the issues."</p> <p>Brewer says it is good that for aspiring elected officials community boards can be a training ground and necessary step.</p> <p>"I think unless you have some extraordinary circumstance in terms of name recognition, which I did not, and most people don't, then if you're a college student and you want to be a lawyer and then come back and run for office, you really do need to get on the community board, make a difference somehow," Brewer said, citing Helen Rosenthal and Corey Johnson as examples of current Council members who showed promise as leaders on their community boards. Rosenthal was elected in 2013 to replace Brewer on the Council.</p> <p>"I have found it now that I'm on the Council really helpful that I was on the community board for so long," Rosenthal told Gotham Gazette. "I was on it for 15 years, so when issues come up I have a long history on them...So now as a Council member, when these same types of issues come up, I have a good toolbox to draw from."</p> <p>Name recognition often rules the day when it comes to elections, and for local races, that neighborhood notoriety can be essential. Name recognition can also come in other ways.</p> <p>"Look, you have the pure insider and the pure outsider," Torres said. "I'm neither purely an insider or purely an outsider, I think most of us fall in a spectrum in between, but I think what was unique about my candidacy was that no one had ever heard of me before. I think most Council members have much more name recognition with the political establishment than I did when I ran for public office."</p> <p>In speaking of the importance of name recognition, Manhattan BP Brewer referenced the Weprins, of Queens— Assembly Member David Weprin and his brother, former Council Member Mark Weprin. The Weprin brothers have each held both the Assembly and Council seats that they were holding until Mark resigned this spring to work for Governor Cuomo; their father Saul was the Speaker of the Assembly.</p> <p>Then there is the Rivera family— Assembly Member Jose Rivera and former Council Member Joel Rivera— for over 20 years Joel held the seat Torres now occupies.</p> <p>Before joining Congress, U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke succeeded her mother Una Clarke in the City Council. Current Council Member Inez Barron and her husband, Assembly Member Charles Barron, completed an easy seat swap recently when he was term-limited out of the Council.</p> <p>But according to political consultant and executive director of the New York State Democratic Party Basil Smikle, candidates with private sector backgrounds who toe the edge of what Torres referred to as the "outsider" side of the spectrum still can be appealing to voters.</p> <p>"Voters tend to respond to candidates who can convey both an understanding for the issues as well as a passion to actually want to impact them. So you can be active in your community and not convey to a voter that you want the job. You can work in the private sector and be able to speak of a vision with a fervor that come across to the voter," Smikle said.</p> <p>"I think ultimately no matter what path you take," Smikle continued, "having that so-called 'fire in the belly' always is important no matter where you come from and no matter what your trajectory. Having said that, I think even if you come from the private sector you still need to have a sense of what is going on with the voters in your neighborhood. You have to know that. A voter needs to know you can take whatever it is in your background up until this point and apply it to their situation."</p> <p><strong>Labor unions</strong><br />"Unions are the other place people come out of," Brewer said. "It's where Melissa [Mark-Viverito, the current Speaker] came out of, where [Council Member] Annabel Palma came out of...You have to have some unions with you to win."</p> <p>Council Member Daniel Dromm was a delegate and chapter chair for the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) before he became a Council member and enjoyed the union's support once he decided to run. Dromm told Gotham Gazette that the UFT had thrown him an early endorsement in 2008 a few months before term limits were extended, enabling the Council member he was running against to seek a third term.</p> <p>"So the UFT had to make a decision again the following June what to do because the incumbent who was also very supportive of the union decided she was going to run, and what they decided to do was do a dual endorsement," Dromm said. "But at that point I had gotten what I had needed out of the endorsement from the UFT, so it was very helpful to me in that sense and gave my candidacy a lot of legitimacy."</p> <p>It is well-known that in Democrat-heavy New York City, unions can make a difference both in building legitimacy and name-recognition, but also in helping get out the vote come primary day. New York City Council elections often see crowded Democratic primaries, as was the case when Rosenthal was elected in 2013 and the primary that Grodenchik just won in Queens.</p> <p>Smikle told Gotham Gazette that earning the support of unions is important both operationally and symbolically.</p> <p>"You're still looking to represent districts that chances are have labor union representation among your constituents. If you're living in an area that has a large number of TWU workers, [for example], that union endorsement is very important. If other unions come on board, it looks like you are a friend to the working people, to laborers, and you get the symbolism that's attached to that as well because you're not just a friend to organized labor, you're a friend to people's aspirations. That is extraordinarily important," Smikle said.</p> <p><strong>The shift in demographics</strong><br />The power unions hold to get candidates elected underlines the importance of having contacts in politics.</p> <p>"If you're a poor kid from the Bronx without a college education and no position in politics, for all intents and purposes you have no means of fundraising," Torres said. "You have no social capital, no economic capital, no rolodex you can tap into for fundraising purposes. So you either need to have some position— even if you're at the margins of the political establishment, you need some position in politics— or you need to be part of the professional class."</p> <p>Brewer, however, said that being a part of the professional class may actually put candidates at a disadvantage compared to people involved in community organizing or activism.</p> <p>"If you work on Wall Street and then decide to come back and run, then you'll be able to raise money but you won't know the people...In Manhattan you can always raise more money whether you're on a community board, work for an elected official, or not," Brewer said.</p> <p>The public campaign financing system in New York City, which provides public matching funds for small donations, "gives you the opportunity," Brewer said, "to raise a little money and still win. What you have to do is develop your own list. Initially you run and win financing-wise on friends and family."</p> <p>At a forum hosted by the Campaign Finance Board in July, Council Member Eric Ulrich, a Republican from Queens, also emphasized the importance of the city's matching funds program in equalizing the playing field for aspiring Council members.</p> <p>"If it were not for the Campaign Finance Board I would never have been elected to City Council. I did not come from a political family, I came from a single parent household, we didn't come from money," Ulrich told attendees.</p> <p>Constantinides also cited the CFB's matching program as being a game changer, adding the importance of the change in term limits.</p> <p>"That's a huge, huge part to seeing this demographic shift," Constantinides said, referring to the changes in the age, race, and ethnic diversity in the Council. "Term limits have changed, it's leveled the playing field, it's allowed people to come in and say- you have matching funds, you're not worried about raising 300-, 400-thousand dollars, you're focused on raising a certain amount and then going out and making your case to your constituents."</p> <p>The demographic shift to which Constantinides references came at the confluence of the implementation of stricter term limits and the rise of the Progressive Caucus, a liberal bloc of Council members formed in 2010 in response to the Bloomberg administration's more conservative policies and the city's shifting population.</p> <p>"What you actually saw was this dramatic change in the Council where progressive Council members are helping other progressive Council members [and candidates]," Kallos, who was elected to the Council in 2013 and joined the Progressive Caucus upon taking office in 2014, said. "So whereas typically you'll have seen independent expenditures from the Real Estate Board of New York shaping elections, now what you'll see is organized activity by [progressive] members trying to elect more. So I think what you saw was a much more progressive body getting elected by virtue of members making that happen."</p> <p>The rise of the caucus, which began with 12 and now includes 19 of the 51 council members (with several other close allies who are not official members), was viewed by many as a shift away from machine politics and toward community organizing and advocacy. But Torres, a caucus member whose ascent into politics is emblematic of this shift, said he thought the picture was more complicated.</p> <p>"It is certainly true that you have an organized progressive movement, progressive infrastructure that operates independently of the traditional centers of political power, and it is true that the progressive movement has made a priority out of electing younger people to public office, people of color to public office, and more women in public office," Torres, who is 27, said. "So that is true, but I will caution you not to distinguish or completely separate the progressive movement from the establishment."</p> <p>Even the progressive movement can be in danger of becoming an insider's game, where the progressives who get the endorsements are the ones who have the relationships and can raise money, Torres said. There is also always a question of how closely aligned unions and progressives are with the different county political machines.</p> <p>"Even in the progressive world, the two currencies are the same: money and relationships," Torres said. "I think someone like me has a greater chance of succeeding in the new world in which we are operating, but I want to caution that. Relationships and money continue to be the dominant forces of politics."</p> <p>***<br />by Catie Edmondson, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/CatieEdmondson" target="_blank">@CatieEdmondson</a></p> The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 26 2015-05-25T21:17:46+00:00 2015-05-25T21:17:46+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5738:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-may-26 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><strong>EYES ON ALBANY:</strong> The Legislature is back <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/calendar/" target="_blank">in session</a> on Wednesday and Thursday this week, two of the final 12 days until session is due to end Wednesday June 17. Will there simply be a big end-of-session deal as in years past? Will there be compromise reached to extend New York City rent regulations, the 421-a real estate tax abatement, or mayoral control of city schools? Will there be a deal reached on a hike to the minimum wage - or will Governor Andrew Cuomo continue to move through the wage board he had the Department of Labor convene? Will Senate Republicans agree to some semblance of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5734-as-he-campaigns-for-top-priorities-many-wonder-where-cuomo-is-on-dream" target="_blank">the DREAM Act</a> or to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18? Will Assembly Democrats agree to the education investment tax credit that the governor and Senate Republicans are behind? Those are among the top questions heading into the final weeks of negotiations. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/reporters/david-howard-king" target="_blank">the latest on Albany</a> from Gotham Gazette]</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><strong>EYES ON ALBANY:</strong> The Legislature is back <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/calendar/" target="_blank">in session</a> on Wednesday and Thursday this week, two of the final 12 days until session is due to end Wednesday June 17. Will there simply be a big end-of-session deal as in years past? Will there be compromise reached to extend New York City rent regulations, the 421-a real estate tax abatement, or mayoral control of city schools? Will there be a deal reached on a hike to the minimum wage - or will Governor Andrew Cuomo continue to move through the wage board he had the Department of Labor convene? Will Senate Republicans agree to some semblance of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5734-as-he-campaigns-for-top-priorities-many-wonder-where-cuomo-is-on-dream" target="_blank">the DREAM Act</a> or to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18? Will Assembly Democrats agree to the education investment tax credit that the governor and Senate Republicans are behind? Those are among the top questions heading into the final weeks of negotiations. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/reporters/david-howard-king" target="_blank">the latest on Albany</a> from Gotham Gazette]</p> The New Yorker's Guide To The New City Government 2013-12-31T16:55:08+00:00 2013-12-31T16:55:08+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=4792:the-guide-to-new-york-citys-new-government Super User <p><img class="caption" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/CityHall2.jpg" alt="CityHall2" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span class="caption">Photo by Bill Alatriste/City Council</span></p> <p>NEW YORK —&nbsp;The historic overhaul of New York City government this year goes well beyond the mayor's office.</p> <p class="c2">There are 21 new members of the City Council, four new borough presidents, and fresh, yet familiar, faces in the offices of Brooklyn district attorney, comptroller, and public advocate. With the city’s politics taking an increasingly liberal turn, there are few outright conservatives left in city government.</p> <p class="c2">“Reapportionment and term limits combined to make the City Council younger, a little bit further to the left, perhaps less a product of traditional political organizations or machines, and demographically, a little more like the population of the city,” said Kenneth Sherrill, Chair of the Political Science Department at Hunter College.</p> <p class="c2">New city officials include the first Mexican-American on City Council; old friends of incoming Police Commissioner Bill Bratton from his tenure during the 1990s; yet another member of the Queens Vallone clan; and a progressive new Brooklyn D.A., who has said he wants to re-train the borough's police officers. We've rounded up the full list here.</p> <h1 class="c2">Citywide</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Mayor</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Bill de Blasio - De Blasio has been involved in New York City politics since he helped the last progressive mayor, David Dinkins, get elected in 1989.<span class="c3">&nbsp;Between that first campaign and his mayoral victory, De Blasio served as the regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helped Hillary Clinton get elected to the U.S. Senate, spent eight years representing some of Brooklyn’s wealthier neighborhoods on the City Council, and, most recently, served as the city’s public advocate. In an attempt to deliver on a key campaign promise early on, De Blasio has spent the last few weeks drumming up support in Albany for a small tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-K. Dinkins, somewhat ironically and <span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/nyregion/praised-by-de-blasio-dinkins-responds-with-an-arrow.html">extremely publicly</a>, recently told him to reconsider, saying “we might have more success” with a commuter tax.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Comptroller</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Scott Stringer - Stringer left his post as Manhattan Borough President and took on former Gov. Elliot Spitzer in order to ascend to this quietly powerful office overseeing city finances. He brings with him experience as a&nbsp;trustee of the massive<a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx">NYCERS pension fund</a>&nbsp;and a track record of spearheading<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511">populist economic initiatives</a>, including the New York City Taxpayer Receipt, a website that allows constituents to<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/">track their tax dollars</a>.</span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Public Advocate</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Letitia "Tish" James - James has served Central Brooklyn on the City Council since 2003 and has opposed several major development and rezoning projects, including Atlantic Yards, which, for years, riled up residents around what is now the Barclays Center. Most recently, James joined progressive groups in calling for higher wages and a change in the city’s economic development policies, including more stringent requirements for banks and corporations that receive city subsidies.</span></p> <h1 class="c2">Borough-wide offices</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn District Attorney</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Kenneth P. Thompson -&nbsp;Thompson had to<a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php">beat incumbent Charles Hynes twice</a>&nbsp;- first, in the primary, when Hynes was a Democrat, and again when Hynes became a Republican for the general election. In an<a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race">acceptance speech</a>, the first black Brooklyn DA said voters had chosen him as an alternative to "false accusation, fear-mongering, and race-baiting." As a federal attorney, Thompson prosecuted<a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election">police brutality</a>&nbsp;in Brooklyn and now aims to reduce false arrests by<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">assigning prosecutors to police precincts</a>&nbsp;in East New York and Brownsville. “It is not right to have someone subjected to stop-and-frisk, snake through the system and spend two days in jail just to get out," he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">told the Daily News</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Brooklyn Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Eric Adams (D, WF)&nbsp;- Counted as an<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414">old friend</a>&nbsp;by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, Adams served 22 years in the NYPD before moving on to the State Senate, where he has represented Crown Heights, Flatbush, Sunset Park and Park Slope for the last eight years. A vocal critic of former Commissioner Ray Kelly when stop-and-frisk was on trial, Adams advocates for a "symbiotic relationship" between the police and the community.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Manhattan <span class="c3">Borough President</span></strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Gale Brewer (D)&nbsp;- Brewer has been a Council member for the Upper West Side and North Clinton since 2002. Her most recent political efforts include a push to<a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/">make food trucks greener</a>&nbsp;and to get the city to<a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding">seek federal funding</a>&nbsp;to expand CitiBike.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Queens</strong> <span class="c3"><strong>Borough President</strong></span><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Melinda Katz (D)&nbsp;- Katz represented Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and other pockets of Queens during her seven-year tenure on the City Council between 2002 and 2009. While on the Council, she was chair of the land use committee, and played a key role in moving forward the massive rezoning the city underwent during the Bloomberg administration.</span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Staten Island Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">James Oddo (R) - After 15 years on the City Council, Oddo is passing his title of Republican minority leader on to fellow Staten Island politician Vincent Ignizio. When it comes to Sandy relief, Oddo<a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html">supports an "acquisition for redevelopment" plan</a>&nbsp;that would buy out homeowners, open Midland Beach up to developers, and give former residents the option of moving back in.</span></span></p> <h1 class="c2">City Council</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Manhattan</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Corey Johnson (D) - D3 - Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea, West Village- Johnson, a prominent activist in the LGBT community, will take outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn's seat. Johnson most recently served as Chair of Community Board 4, which also made him a<a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml">board member</a>&nbsp;of the Hudson Yards Development Corp. Johnson built much of his campaign around affordable housing, but has been the<a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php">subject</a>&nbsp;of controversy as a former employee of GFI Development Co., which has erected its fair share of Brooklyn condos.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ben Kallos (D) - D5 - Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island - Kallos, a lawyer and lifelong Upper East Sider, advocated for state constitutional reform as the Executive Director of the group<a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/">EffectiveNY</a>&nbsp;and has put the issues of government accountability and transparency at the forefront of his campaign.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has also pledged to try to<a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction">aid local businesses</a>&nbsp;affected by the interminable Second Avenue subway construction.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Hellen Rosenthal (D) - D6 - Upper West Side and North Clinton - Rosenthal, who is coming from a post in the City Hall Budget Office, has been a<a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012">major supporter</a>&nbsp;of participatory budgeting and has advocated bringing it to her district, where, in the past, she served as Chair of Community Board 7.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Levine (D, WF) - D7 - parts of Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights/West Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Washington Heights, and part of UWS - Over the course of his uptown political career, Levine founded the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan and a credit union called the Neighborhood Trust. He also briefly ran the New York chapter of the controversial Teach for America program, of which he was an early participant. Levine's proposals for city schools include<a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education">expanding the curriculum</a>&nbsp;to teach about LGBT history, animal welfare, and environmental issues.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Laurie Cumbo (D) - D35 - Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and part of Bedford Stuyvesant - Cumbo is best known in Brooklyn for her leadership and expansion of<a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/">MoCADA</a>, the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts, and other cultural programs she has jump-started. But Cumbo has had a rough start as a Council member. She already had to<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments">apologize</a>&nbsp;to her new constituents for racially charged<a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html">comments she made</a>&nbsp;about the 'knockout attacks' in Crown Heights last month.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Robert Cornegy, Jr. (D) -D36- Bedford Stuvesant and parts of Crown Heights - Cornegy is transitioning from a position as Legislative Analyst for the Council's Aging and Veterans Committee. The former district leader and president of VIDA, Central Brooklyn's Vanguard Independent Democratic Association,<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137">eked out a primary win</a>&nbsp;in a race that ended with a highly contested recount.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rafael Espinal, Jr. (D) - D37- Cypress Hills, Bushwick, East New York, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville - Two years ago, Espinal, then 27, became the youngest member of the State Assembly, representing District 54. Most recently, he<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/">sponsored legislation</a>&nbsp;related to domestic abuse and, in the past, has sponsored bills that would require insurance companies to expand women's health coverage. Espinal has said he is determined to repair the infrastructure in neighborhoods that have been <a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148">"completely ignored"</a>&nbsp;by the city, like Cypress Hills, where he grew up.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Carlos Menchaca (D) - D38 - Bayridge Towers, Greenwood Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace - Menchaca's<a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/">relief efforts in Red Hook</a>&nbsp;following Hurricane Sandy helped him get the support he needed to beat his district's incumbent. Now, he and incoming Council Member Mark Treyger want to<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">start a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Proudly claiming the dual titles of "first Mexican-American on the City Council" and "first openly gay legislator in Brooklyn,"<span class="c3">&nbsp;Menchaca cut his teeth in the offices of outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz and outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Inez Barron (D) - D42 - NEIGHBORHOODS - In her five years representing State Assembly District 60, Barron has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Inez-D-Barron/sponsor/"></a>taken a progressive stance on issues from gun regulation to sex education. She also<a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/">fought to end mayoral control</a>&nbsp;of city schools after a decades-long career as a public school teacher and administrator. Barron's more incendiary husband, Charles, is passing her the torch in their Council district.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Alan Maisel (D) - D46 - Canarsie, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, part of Sheepshead Bay - Environmental issues and public safety, including 'fracking' regulation, have been prominent among the legislation Maisel has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/">sponsored</a>&nbsp;in his tenure serving State Assembly District 59. Much of Maisel's civic work in Brooklyn has been done through the international Jewish organization B'nai B'rith, although he has also served on his local school and community boards.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Treyger (D) - D47 - Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, and Sea Gate - After Superstorm Sandy hit, Treyger founded STRONG, the Sandy Task Force Recovery Organized by Neighborhood Groups, and is now joining forces with fellow incoming Council Member Carlos Menchaca to call for<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Treyger, long active in local politics, has been a high school teacher since 2005, with strong involvement in the United Federation of Teachers.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Chaim Deutsch (D) - D48 - Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach - Over the past 20 years, Deutsch, who has a strong foothold in Brooklyn's Jewish community, has taken community safety into his own hands as president of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol.<span class="c6">&nbsp;He founded the Patrol in the early 1990s in response to rising crime and has worked closely with both Commissioner Bill Bratton and outgoing police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Deutsch even held an appreciation ceremony for Kelly, during which he<a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">presented the city</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.brooklyneagle.com%2Farticles%2Ffelder-calls-kelly-city%25E2%2580%2599s-%25E2%2580%2598best-police-commissioner-ever%25E2%2580%2599-2013-12-12-153000&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGgvmwSpDHoPV0Ir4YaCJHvP26aHw">’s top cop </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">with a </a><span class="c0 c8"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">mezuzah</a>, which Jews hang in their doorways for protection. He also<a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html">praised Bratton</a>&nbsp;for having "excelled at police-community relations and law enforcement strategies" during his previous tenure on the NYPD.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c6"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0 c8"><span class="c0">Antonio Reynoso - D34 - Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn; Ridgewood in Queens - Reynoso is taking the seat of his former boss, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who he has been working for since 2007, most recently as her Chief of Staff. A Williamsburg native, Reynoso has made affordable housing his top issue, <a href="http://www.brooklynrail.org/2013/09/local/antonio-reynosos-fight-for-williamsburg">speaking out</a> frequently about the neighborhood's luxury makeover. He beat out a seasoned politician, former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who was forced out of the Assembly earlier this year following <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/11/nyregion/disgraced-assemblyman-loses-bid-for-council-seat.html?_r=0">a sexual harassment case.</a></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Queens</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Paul Vallone, Jr. (D) - D19 - College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, and Little Neck - Leaving his practice at Queens law firm Vallone and Vallone to take a seat on the City Council, Vallone seems to be leaving one<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651">family business</a>&nbsp;for another. His father, former Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., served on the City Council for 25 years, leaving in 2001, when his brother, Peter, Jr., was elected to represent the 22nd District (his term is up this year).<span class="c3">&nbsp;Beyond his family ties, Vallone has established thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for Queens high school students and based his campaign platform on a mix of progressive issues — such as women's access to birth control — and local issues like noise pollution from overhead flights.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Costa Constantinides (D) - D22 - Astoria, Long Island City, part of Jackson Heights, Rikers Island, Randalls Island, and Wards Island - In the district that includes the city's largest jail, Constantinides earned valuable campaign support from the Correctional Officers Benevolent Association. Constantinides aims to reduce both crime and unemployment by hiring more police officers. He has also been active in the fight for voter rights throughout the state as a member of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, and says it's time to dump the<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">hundreds of outdoor </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dnainfo.com%2Fnew-york%2F20120920%2Fnew-york-city%2Fthousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEtNcxYAHlbBnO1zKkeROqyeW9H9A">“</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">trailer classrooms</a>”&nbsp;that are disproportionately found in Queens schools.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rory Lancman (D) - D24 -&nbsp;<span class="c3">Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest Estates, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, and parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica and Rego Park&nbsp;- When Lancman attempted to run for Anthony Weiner's old seat in Congress last year,<a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/">WNYC reported</a>&nbsp;that he had made some enemies and that one source had even called him the "most hated member of the state Assembly." Lancman, a lawyer who served Assembly District 25 for six years, has also passed a significant volume of legislation, including the<a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/">Libel Terrorism Protection Act</a>, which aims to protect journalists writing about terrorism abroad from being hit with defamation lawsuits, and a host of bills related to equality and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262">safety in the workplace</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Daneek Miller (D) - D27 - St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Baisley Park, Addisleigh Park, and parts of Queens Village, Rosedale, and Springfield Gardens - In December, Miller<a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor">received a "Champion of Labor" Award</a>, along with Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James. In Southeast Queens, where subway service is spotty, Miller has championed bus drivers and riders as president of the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transportation Union. He also co-founded a mentor program called Brothers Unlimited.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Bronx</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Andrew Cohen (D) - D11 - Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, Norwood, and parts of Bedford Park, Wakefield, and Bronx Park East - Cohen, a Riverdale attorney, has had a long career in law, including several years as a court attorney to a Bronx Supreme Court Justice, legal counsel to State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, and a stint as an assistant adjunct at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has called for raising the minimum wage and has gained the support of the United Federation of Teachers.</span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ritchie Torres (D) - D15 - Bathgate, Belmont, Crotona, Fordham, East Tremont, Van Nest and West Farms - Torres, only 24, is one of many young Latino Democrats making their way into city politics.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has worked with Councilman James Vacca since his 2005 campaign and was named his housing director in 2011. Torres, who grew up in NYCHA housing, has worked to create tenants' associations and to advocate for basic rights of NYCHA residents in the Bronx, like building improvements and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981">heating</a>.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Vanessa Gibson (D) - D16 - West Bronx, Morrisania, Highbridge, and Melrose - A Bronx transplant from Brooklyn, Gibson was elected to State Assembly District 77 in 2009, where she has focused on housing and social services.<span class="c3">&nbsp;She began her political career as the Bronx district office manager for Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Staten Island</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Steven Matteo (R) - D50 - in Brooklyn, parts of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach; in Staten Island, Arrochar, Bulls Head, Concord, Dongan Hill, Emerson Hill, Fort Wadsworth, Grant City, Graniteville, Grasmere, Island of Meadows, Midland Beach, New Dorp, Prall's Island, Richmondtown, South Beach, Todt Hill, Travis, Westerleigh, Willowbrook - Sandy relief is still the number one priority in Staten Island, but Matteo has identified other issues affecting residents, including rampant<a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/">prescription drug use</a>. Matteo also said he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx">hopes to work with the mayor</a>&nbsp; "to wrestle toll setting authority” from the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority. </span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><em>This is an updated version which corrects the number of incoming City Council members to 21 and adds information on Councilman Antonio Reynoso. </em><br /></span></span></span></p> <p><img class="caption" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/CityHall2.jpg" alt="CityHall2" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span class="caption">Photo by Bill Alatriste/City Council</span></p> <p>NEW YORK —&nbsp;The historic overhaul of New York City government this year goes well beyond the mayor's office.</p> <p class="c2">There are 21 new members of the City Council, four new borough presidents, and fresh, yet familiar, faces in the offices of Brooklyn district attorney, comptroller, and public advocate. With the city’s politics taking an increasingly liberal turn, there are few outright conservatives left in city government.</p> <p class="c2">“Reapportionment and term limits combined to make the City Council younger, a little bit further to the left, perhaps less a product of traditional political organizations or machines, and demographically, a little more like the population of the city,” said Kenneth Sherrill, Chair of the Political Science Department at Hunter College.</p> <p class="c2">New city officials include the first Mexican-American on City Council; old friends of incoming Police Commissioner Bill Bratton from his tenure during the 1990s; yet another member of the Queens Vallone clan; and a progressive new Brooklyn D.A., who has said he wants to re-train the borough's police officers. We've rounded up the full list here.</p> <h1 class="c2">Citywide</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Mayor</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Bill de Blasio - De Blasio has been involved in New York City politics since he helped the last progressive mayor, David Dinkins, get elected in 1989.<span class="c3">&nbsp;Between that first campaign and his mayoral victory, De Blasio served as the regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helped Hillary Clinton get elected to the U.S. Senate, spent eight years representing some of Brooklyn’s wealthier neighborhoods on the City Council, and, most recently, served as the city’s public advocate. In an attempt to deliver on a key campaign promise early on, De Blasio has spent the last few weeks drumming up support in Albany for a small tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-K. Dinkins, somewhat ironically and <span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/nyregion/praised-by-de-blasio-dinkins-responds-with-an-arrow.html">extremely publicly</a>, recently told him to reconsider, saying “we might have more success” with a commuter tax.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Comptroller</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Scott Stringer - Stringer left his post as Manhattan Borough President and took on former Gov. Elliot Spitzer in order to ascend to this quietly powerful office overseeing city finances. He brings with him experience as a&nbsp;trustee of the massive<a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx">NYCERS pension fund</a>&nbsp;and a track record of spearheading<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511">populist economic initiatives</a>, including the New York City Taxpayer Receipt, a website that allows constituents to<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/">track their tax dollars</a>.</span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Public Advocate</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Letitia "Tish" James - James has served Central Brooklyn on the City Council since 2003 and has opposed several major development and rezoning projects, including Atlantic Yards, which, for years, riled up residents around what is now the Barclays Center. Most recently, James joined progressive groups in calling for higher wages and a change in the city’s economic development policies, including more stringent requirements for banks and corporations that receive city subsidies.</span></p> <h1 class="c2">Borough-wide offices</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn District Attorney</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Kenneth P. Thompson -&nbsp;Thompson had to<a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php">beat incumbent Charles Hynes twice</a>&nbsp;- first, in the primary, when Hynes was a Democrat, and again when Hynes became a Republican for the general election. In an<a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race">acceptance speech</a>, the first black Brooklyn DA said voters had chosen him as an alternative to "false accusation, fear-mongering, and race-baiting." As a federal attorney, Thompson prosecuted<a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election">police brutality</a>&nbsp;in Brooklyn and now aims to reduce false arrests by<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">assigning prosecutors to police precincts</a>&nbsp;in East New York and Brownsville. “It is not right to have someone subjected to stop-and-frisk, snake through the system and spend two days in jail just to get out," he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">told the Daily News</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Brooklyn Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Eric Adams (D, WF)&nbsp;- Counted as an<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414">old friend</a>&nbsp;by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, Adams served 22 years in the NYPD before moving on to the State Senate, where he has represented Crown Heights, Flatbush, Sunset Park and Park Slope for the last eight years. A vocal critic of former Commissioner Ray Kelly when stop-and-frisk was on trial, Adams advocates for a "symbiotic relationship" between the police and the community.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Manhattan <span class="c3">Borough President</span></strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Gale Brewer (D)&nbsp;- Brewer has been a Council member for the Upper West Side and North Clinton since 2002. Her most recent political efforts include a push to<a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/">make food trucks greener</a>&nbsp;and to get the city to<a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding">seek federal funding</a>&nbsp;to expand CitiBike.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Queens</strong> <span class="c3"><strong>Borough President</strong></span><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Melinda Katz (D)&nbsp;- Katz represented Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and other pockets of Queens during her seven-year tenure on the City Council between 2002 and 2009. While on the Council, she was chair of the land use committee, and played a key role in moving forward the massive rezoning the city underwent during the Bloomberg administration.</span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Staten Island Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">James Oddo (R) - After 15 years on the City Council, Oddo is passing his title of Republican minority leader on to fellow Staten Island politician Vincent Ignizio. When it comes to Sandy relief, Oddo<a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html">supports an "acquisition for redevelopment" plan</a>&nbsp;that would buy out homeowners, open Midland Beach up to developers, and give former residents the option of moving back in.</span></span></p> <h1 class="c2">City Council</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Manhattan</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Corey Johnson (D) - D3 - Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea, West Village- Johnson, a prominent activist in the LGBT community, will take outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn's seat. Johnson most recently served as Chair of Community Board 4, which also made him a<a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml">board member</a>&nbsp;of the Hudson Yards Development Corp. Johnson built much of his campaign around affordable housing, but has been the<a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php">subject</a>&nbsp;of controversy as a former employee of GFI Development Co., which has erected its fair share of Brooklyn condos.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ben Kallos (D) - D5 - Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island - Kallos, a lawyer and lifelong Upper East Sider, advocated for state constitutional reform as the Executive Director of the group<a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/">EffectiveNY</a>&nbsp;and has put the issues of government accountability and transparency at the forefront of his campaign.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has also pledged to try to<a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction">aid local businesses</a>&nbsp;affected by the interminable Second Avenue subway construction.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Hellen Rosenthal (D) - D6 - Upper West Side and North Clinton - Rosenthal, who is coming from a post in the City Hall Budget Office, has been a<a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012">major supporter</a>&nbsp;of participatory budgeting and has advocated bringing it to her district, where, in the past, she served as Chair of Community Board 7.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Levine (D, WF) - D7 - parts of Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights/West Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Washington Heights, and part of UWS - Over the course of his uptown political career, Levine founded the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan and a credit union called the Neighborhood Trust. He also briefly ran the New York chapter of the controversial Teach for America program, of which he was an early participant. Levine's proposals for city schools include<a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education">expanding the curriculum</a>&nbsp;to teach about LGBT history, animal welfare, and environmental issues.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Laurie Cumbo (D) - D35 - Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and part of Bedford Stuyvesant - Cumbo is best known in Brooklyn for her leadership and expansion of<a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/">MoCADA</a>, the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts, and other cultural programs she has jump-started. But Cumbo has had a rough start as a Council member. She already had to<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments">apologize</a>&nbsp;to her new constituents for racially charged<a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html">comments she made</a>&nbsp;about the 'knockout attacks' in Crown Heights last month.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Robert Cornegy, Jr. (D) -D36- Bedford Stuvesant and parts of Crown Heights - Cornegy is transitioning from a position as Legislative Analyst for the Council's Aging and Veterans Committee. The former district leader and president of VIDA, Central Brooklyn's Vanguard Independent Democratic Association,<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137">eked out a primary win</a>&nbsp;in a race that ended with a highly contested recount.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rafael Espinal, Jr. (D) - D37- Cypress Hills, Bushwick, East New York, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville - Two years ago, Espinal, then 27, became the youngest member of the State Assembly, representing District 54. Most recently, he<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/">sponsored legislation</a>&nbsp;related to domestic abuse and, in the past, has sponsored bills that would require insurance companies to expand women's health coverage. Espinal has said he is determined to repair the infrastructure in neighborhoods that have been <a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148">"completely ignored"</a>&nbsp;by the city, like Cypress Hills, where he grew up.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Carlos Menchaca (D) - D38 - Bayridge Towers, Greenwood Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace - Menchaca's<a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/">relief efforts in Red Hook</a>&nbsp;following Hurricane Sandy helped him get the support he needed to beat his district's incumbent. Now, he and incoming Council Member Mark Treyger want to<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">start a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Proudly claiming the dual titles of "first Mexican-American on the City Council" and "first openly gay legislator in Brooklyn,"<span class="c3">&nbsp;Menchaca cut his teeth in the offices of outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz and outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Inez Barron (D) - D42 - NEIGHBORHOODS - In her five years representing State Assembly District 60, Barron has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Inez-D-Barron/sponsor/"></a>taken a progressive stance on issues from gun regulation to sex education. She also<a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/">fought to end mayoral control</a>&nbsp;of city schools after a decades-long career as a public school teacher and administrator. Barron's more incendiary husband, Charles, is passing her the torch in their Council district.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Alan Maisel (D) - D46 - Canarsie, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, part of Sheepshead Bay - Environmental issues and public safety, including 'fracking' regulation, have been prominent among the legislation Maisel has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/">sponsored</a>&nbsp;in his tenure serving State Assembly District 59. Much of Maisel's civic work in Brooklyn has been done through the international Jewish organization B'nai B'rith, although he has also served on his local school and community boards.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Treyger (D) - D47 - Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, and Sea Gate - After Superstorm Sandy hit, Treyger founded STRONG, the Sandy Task Force Recovery Organized by Neighborhood Groups, and is now joining forces with fellow incoming Council Member Carlos Menchaca to call for<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Treyger, long active in local politics, has been a high school teacher since 2005, with strong involvement in the United Federation of Teachers.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Chaim Deutsch (D) - D48 - Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach - Over the past 20 years, Deutsch, who has a strong foothold in Brooklyn's Jewish community, has taken community safety into his own hands as president of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol.<span class="c6">&nbsp;He founded the Patrol in the early 1990s in response to rising crime and has worked closely with both Commissioner Bill Bratton and outgoing police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Deutsch even held an appreciation ceremony for Kelly, during which he<a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">presented the city</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.brooklyneagle.com%2Farticles%2Ffelder-calls-kelly-city%25E2%2580%2599s-%25E2%2580%2598best-police-commissioner-ever%25E2%2580%2599-2013-12-12-153000&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGgvmwSpDHoPV0Ir4YaCJHvP26aHw">’s top cop </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">with a </a><span class="c0 c8"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">mezuzah</a>, which Jews hang in their doorways for protection. He also<a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html">praised Bratton</a>&nbsp;for having "excelled at police-community relations and law enforcement strategies" during his previous tenure on the NYPD.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c6"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0 c8"><span class="c0">Antonio Reynoso - D34 - Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn; Ridgewood in Queens - Reynoso is taking the seat of his former boss, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who he has been working for since 2007, most recently as her Chief of Staff. A Williamsburg native, Reynoso has made affordable housing his top issue, <a href="http://www.brooklynrail.org/2013/09/local/antonio-reynosos-fight-for-williamsburg">speaking out</a> frequently about the neighborhood's luxury makeover. He beat out a seasoned politician, former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who was forced out of the Assembly earlier this year following <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/11/nyregion/disgraced-assemblyman-loses-bid-for-council-seat.html?_r=0">a sexual harassment case.</a></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Queens</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Paul Vallone, Jr. (D) - D19 - College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, and Little Neck - Leaving his practice at Queens law firm Vallone and Vallone to take a seat on the City Council, Vallone seems to be leaving one<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651">family business</a>&nbsp;for another. His father, former Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., served on the City Council for 25 years, leaving in 2001, when his brother, Peter, Jr., was elected to represent the 22nd District (his term is up this year).<span class="c3">&nbsp;Beyond his family ties, Vallone has established thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for Queens high school students and based his campaign platform on a mix of progressive issues — such as women's access to birth control — and local issues like noise pollution from overhead flights.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Costa Constantinides (D) - D22 - Astoria, Long Island City, part of Jackson Heights, Rikers Island, Randalls Island, and Wards Island - In the district that includes the city's largest jail, Constantinides earned valuable campaign support from the Correctional Officers Benevolent Association. Constantinides aims to reduce both crime and unemployment by hiring more police officers. He has also been active in the fight for voter rights throughout the state as a member of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, and says it's time to dump the<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">hundreds of outdoor </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dnainfo.com%2Fnew-york%2F20120920%2Fnew-york-city%2Fthousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEtNcxYAHlbBnO1zKkeROqyeW9H9A">“</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">trailer classrooms</a>”&nbsp;that are disproportionately found in Queens schools.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rory Lancman (D) - D24 -&nbsp;<span class="c3">Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest Estates, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, and parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica and Rego Park&nbsp;- When Lancman attempted to run for Anthony Weiner's old seat in Congress last year,<a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/">WNYC reported</a>&nbsp;that he had made some enemies and that one source had even called him the "most hated member of the state Assembly." Lancman, a lawyer who served Assembly District 25 for six years, has also passed a significant volume of legislation, including the<a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/">Libel Terrorism Protection Act</a>, which aims to protect journalists writing about terrorism abroad from being hit with defamation lawsuits, and a host of bills related to equality and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262">safety in the workplace</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Daneek Miller (D) - D27 - St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Baisley Park, Addisleigh Park, and parts of Queens Village, Rosedale, and Springfield Gardens - In December, Miller<a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor">received a "Champion of Labor" Award</a>, along with Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James. In Southeast Queens, where subway service is spotty, Miller has championed bus drivers and riders as president of the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transportation Union. He also co-founded a mentor program called Brothers Unlimited.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Bronx</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Andrew Cohen (D) - D11 - Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, Norwood, and parts of Bedford Park, Wakefield, and Bronx Park East - Cohen, a Riverdale attorney, has had a long career in law, including several years as a court attorney to a Bronx Supreme Court Justice, legal counsel to State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, and a stint as an assistant adjunct at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has called for raising the minimum wage and has gained the support of the United Federation of Teachers.</span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ritchie Torres (D) - D15 - Bathgate, Belmont, Crotona, Fordham, East Tremont, Van Nest and West Farms - Torres, only 24, is one of many young Latino Democrats making their way into city politics.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has worked with Councilman James Vacca since his 2005 campaign and was named his housing director in 2011. Torres, who grew up in NYCHA housing, has worked to create tenants' associations and to advocate for basic rights of NYCHA residents in the Bronx, like building improvements and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981">heating</a>.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Vanessa Gibson (D) - D16 - West Bronx, Morrisania, Highbridge, and Melrose - A Bronx transplant from Brooklyn, Gibson was elected to State Assembly District 77 in 2009, where she has focused on housing and social services.<span class="c3">&nbsp;She began her political career as the Bronx district office manager for Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Staten Island</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Steven Matteo (R) - D50 - in Brooklyn, parts of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach; in Staten Island, Arrochar, Bulls Head, Concord, Dongan Hill, Emerson Hill, Fort Wadsworth, Grant City, Graniteville, Grasmere, Island of Meadows, Midland Beach, New Dorp, Prall's Island, Richmondtown, South Beach, Todt Hill, Travis, Westerleigh, Willowbrook - Sandy relief is still the number one priority in Staten Island, but Matteo has identified other issues affecting residents, including rampant<a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/">prescription drug use</a>. Matteo also said he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx">hopes to work with the mayor</a>&nbsp; "to wrestle toll setting authority” from the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority. </span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><em>This is an updated version which corrects the number of incoming City Council members to 21 and adds information on Councilman Antonio Reynoso. </em><br /></span></span></span></p>