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/dan-garodnick 2017-12-12T00:38:23+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com 'Open Budget,' Economic Development Transparency Bills Become Law 2017-12-01T05:00:00+00:00 2017-12-01T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7346:open-budget-economic-development-transparency-bills-become-law Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/34230498096_8f776460b1_z.jpg" alt="de Blasio public hearing City Council bills" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>De Blasio at a public hearing (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Four government transparency bills that were passed by the City Council on October 31 aged into law on Friday, having gone 30 days without any action in favor or against them by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The bills all relate to increased disclosure by the administration of billions in city government spending and have been praised by good government advocates.</p> <p>Among the bills was one that <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2709949&amp;GUID=A23CF8CE-1F3D-45FA-8C20-7A787B22EEE8&amp;Options=&amp;Search=">requires</a> the administration to publish annual budget documents in a user-friendly, machine-readable format to the city’s online Open Data Portal, allowing the public easier access to information that is currently listed in thousands of line items in the $86 billion city budget. The bill’s lead sponsor was Council Member Ben Kallos.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7284-city-council-to-pass-bills-expanding-oversight-of-economic-development-spending" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The three other bills</a> -- with lead sponsors Council Members Helen Rosenthal, Dan Garodnick, and Corey Johnson -- formed a package aimed at improving transparency at the Economic Development Corporation, a city-run entity that manages and promotes the administration’s job-creation and business-development initiatives. The bills allow the City Council added oversight of EDC, which provides many millions of dollars in financial benefits to projects and businesses each year and also handles the sale and lease of city-owned land. They mandate that EDC provide fiscal impact statements and job creation estimates for projects receiving financial assistance; require EDC to detail their efforts to clawback funds from those agreements that fail to meet their goals; and allow the City Council time to review and comment on proposed economic development agreements.</p> <p>“These new City laws will make it much easier to understand both the big picture of how the City is spending money and the specifics of hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidy deals the City makes with businesses,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, a good government group, in a statement Friday. “It will be much easier to see if the taxpayer is getting a good deal. These new laws are a blueprint for what the state should do.”</p> <p>The City Charter provides that if the mayor takes no action on a bill after it is approved by the City Council, within 30 days, it automatically becomes law. In fact, it’s “pretty common” for bills to age into law without the mayor’s signature, said mayoral spokesperson Freddi Goldstein, in an email on Friday. She added that if the mayor signed every bill, “we’d be doing bill signings like every day.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Goldstein noted that out of the 25 bills passed by the Council on October 31, all but one aged into law. The only one the mayor signed was Council Member Rafael Espinal’s bill to repeal the city’s antiquated Cabaret Law, which used to require establishments to obtain licences from the city to allow dancing. De Blasio signed the bill on November 27 at Elsewhere, a popular nightclub in Brooklyn.</p> <p>Often, the mayor holds bill-signing ceremonies at City Hall, affixing his signature to numerous bills at a time. At one such ceremony on October 16, for instance, de Blasio signed a dozen bills into law. “It’s really just a timing thing,” Goldstein said in a later email, estimating that perhaps close to 100 bills have similarly lapsed into law in de Blasio’s first term.</p> <p>City Council spokesperson Robin Levine declined to comment for this article.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/34230498096_8f776460b1_z.jpg" alt="de Blasio public hearing City Council bills" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>De Blasio at a public hearing (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Four government transparency bills that were passed by the City Council on October 31 aged into law on Friday, having gone 30 days without any action in favor or against them by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The bills all relate to increased disclosure by the administration of billions in city government spending and have been praised by good government advocates.</p> <p>Among the bills was one that <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2709949&amp;GUID=A23CF8CE-1F3D-45FA-8C20-7A787B22EEE8&amp;Options=&amp;Search=">requires</a> the administration to publish annual budget documents in a user-friendly, machine-readable format to the city’s online Open Data Portal, allowing the public easier access to information that is currently listed in thousands of line items in the $86 billion city budget. The bill’s lead sponsor was Council Member Ben Kallos.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7284-city-council-to-pass-bills-expanding-oversight-of-economic-development-spending" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The three other bills</a> -- with lead sponsors Council Members Helen Rosenthal, Dan Garodnick, and Corey Johnson -- formed a package aimed at improving transparency at the Economic Development Corporation, a city-run entity that manages and promotes the administration’s job-creation and business-development initiatives. The bills allow the City Council added oversight of EDC, which provides many millions of dollars in financial benefits to projects and businesses each year and also handles the sale and lease of city-owned land. They mandate that EDC provide fiscal impact statements and job creation estimates for projects receiving financial assistance; require EDC to detail their efforts to clawback funds from those agreements that fail to meet their goals; and allow the City Council time to review and comment on proposed economic development agreements.</p> <p>“These new City laws will make it much easier to understand both the big picture of how the City is spending money and the specifics of hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidy deals the City makes with businesses,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, a good government group, in a statement Friday. “It will be much easier to see if the taxpayer is getting a good deal. These new laws are a blueprint for what the state should do.”</p> <p>The City Charter provides that if the mayor takes no action on a bill after it is approved by the City Council, within 30 days, it automatically becomes law. In fact, it’s “pretty common” for bills to age into law without the mayor’s signature, said mayoral spokesperson Freddi Goldstein, in an email on Friday. She added that if the mayor signed every bill, “we’d be doing bill signings like every day.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Goldstein noted that out of the 25 bills passed by the Council on October 31, all but one aged into law. The only one the mayor signed was Council Member Rafael Espinal’s bill to repeal the city’s antiquated Cabaret Law, which used to require establishments to obtain licences from the city to allow dancing. De Blasio signed the bill on November 27 at Elsewhere, a popular nightclub in Brooklyn.</p> <p>Often, the mayor holds bill-signing ceremonies at City Hall, affixing his signature to numerous bills at a time. At one such ceremony on October 16, for instance, de Blasio signed a dozen bills into law. “It’s really just a timing thing,” Goldstein said in a later email, estimating that perhaps close to 100 bills have similarly lapsed into law in de Blasio’s first term.</p> <p>City Council spokesperson Robin Levine declined to comment for this article.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
What's The [DATA] Point? 44, with City Council Member Dan Garodnick 2017-11-16T05:00:00+00:00 2017-11-16T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7320:what-s-the-data-point-44-with-city-council-member-dan-garodnick Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/whats-the-data-point.jpg" alt="whats the data point" width="600" height="600" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What's The Data Point? Episode 20</strong><strong> -- 44, with City Council Member Dan Garodnick [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes] </strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/ep20-garodnick-podcast.jpg" alt="ep20 garodnick podcast" width="277" height="143" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>City Council Member Dan Garodnick has represented his Manhattan district for the past 12 years. At the end of this year, he's leaving the Council due to term limits. He joined the podcast to discuss his time in office and a variety of issues that he has worked on and is continuing to work on in his final 44 days on the job. Garodnick discussed lessons learned, problems in city government, and whether or not he plans to run for elected office again down the road.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (<a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a>), Carol Kellerman of CBC (<a href="https://twitter.com/cbcny">@cbcny</a>), and guest Dan Garodnick (<a href="https://twitter.com/DanGarodnick" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@DanGarodnick</a>). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts!</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/356713463&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="300" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/whats-the-data-point.jpg" alt="whats the data point" width="600" height="600" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What's The Data Point? Episode 20</strong><strong> -- 44, with City Council Member Dan Garodnick [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes] </strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/ep20-garodnick-podcast.jpg" alt="ep20 garodnick podcast" width="277" height="143" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>City Council Member Dan Garodnick has represented his Manhattan district for the past 12 years. At the end of this year, he's leaving the Council due to term limits. He joined the podcast to discuss his time in office and a variety of issues that he has worked on and is continuing to work on in his final 44 days on the job. Garodnick discussed lessons learned, problems in city government, and whether or not he plans to run for elected office again down the road.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (<a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a>), Carol Kellerman of CBC (<a href="https://twitter.com/cbcny">@cbcny</a>), and guest Dan Garodnick (<a href="https://twitter.com/DanGarodnick" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@DanGarodnick</a>). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts!</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/356713463&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true&amp;visual=true" width="100%" height="300" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Ahead of Election Day, Comptroller Audit Highlights Board of Elections Dysfunction 2017-11-03T18:54:01+00:00 2017-11-03T18:54:01+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7296:ahead-of-election-day-comptroller-audit-highlights-board-of-elections-dysfunction Samar Khurshid <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/unnamed-6.jpg" alt="unnamed 6" width="600" /></p> <p>Comptroller Scott Stringer (photo courtesy of Comptroller's office)</p> <hr /> <p>Just four days before voters head to the polls on Tuesday, November 7, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a damning report highlighting the dysfunctional election operations of the New York City Board of Elections, a quasi-city agency that administers elections in the city.</p> <p>Stringer’s audit was launched in response to the BOE’s purge of more than 117,000 voters from the rolls in Brooklyn last year, ahead of the April presidential primary. The purge prompted widespread outrage, triggering an investigation by the state Attorney General’s office and a lawsuit by Common Cause New York, a good government advocacy group. The BOE <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/city-board-elections-admits-it-broke-law-accepts-reforms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently admitted</a> to violating federal and state law in the case and agreed to implement reforms.</p> <p>Following the purge, auditors from the comptroller’s office monitored 156 poll sites over the course of three subsequent elections in 2016 -- the congressional primary in June, the state legislative primary in September and the November general election -- and found that 90 percent of the sample sites showed significant problems ranging from severe violations of election law to inadequate poll worker training and lack of access for people with disabilities.</p> <p>“We have uncovered deep dysfunction,” Stringer said at a news conference Friday where he released the report.</p> <p>At 82 sites, about 53 percent, auditors witnessed violations of federal and state election laws and also of the BOE’s own rules. At 14 percent of sites, affidavit ballots were mishandled, and at 10 percent of sites, voters received no assistance when they faced issues. Some poll workers even engaged in electioneering, telling voters which candidate to vote for. Stringer even singled out an “outrageous instance” in which a poll worker failed to notify a voter that their valid ballot had been rejected by a scanning machine. The ballot was marked void.</p> <p>The BOE failed to adequately staff poll sites, Stringer said, leading to “organizational and logistical chaos” at about 118 sites, or 76 percent. At one site, 41 percent of assigned poll workers did not show up, he noted. Stringer did emphasize that the blame does not fall on poll workers who are “overworked, undertrained and underpaid” and must work nearly 17 hours straight on election days (the state launched a pilot program this year to allow half-day shifts for polling workers). “These are, at their core, the failures of the Board of Elections,” he said.</p> <p>The audit found that 45 out of 156 polling sites failed to provide adequate assistance to voters with disabilities, with one out of ten sites being inaccessible. “It’s time to own up and fix the voter purge we see in every election,” Stringer said. “This purge happens under the radar...If we’re gonna have participatory democracy, we’ve got to get rid of the barriers to participating in voting.”</p> <p>New York has notoriously antiquated election laws and consistently lags behind most other states in voter turnout. The state ranked 41 of 50 for turnout in the November general last year. (In the city, which has seen a relatively tame election season this year with many incumbents running for reelection, only about 440,000 voters cast a ballot in the September 12 Democratic primary for mayor, just 14% of registered voters.)</p> <p>“The right to vote is a bedrock of our democracy, unfortunately our own New York City Board of Elections too often makes it harder for us to exercise those fundamental rights,” said City Council Member Dan Garodnick at Friday’s news conference.</p> <p>Garodnick called attention to another BOE failing, one he attempted to fix through legislation. For the September 12 primary, the BOE changed poll sites from last year for more than 200,000 voters but did not post notices to inform voters, as required under a law sponsored by Garodnick and passed by the City Council last year. “The Board of Elections does not have the right to pick and choose which local laws it is going to follow,” Garodnick said. <br /> <br />Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause NY, said the comptroller’s audit “sadly confirms” problems over which good government organizations have long cried foul. “The barriers to voting which incompetence sets up, as the comptroller pointed out, are simply unacceptable,” she said.</p> <p>Stringer’s report recommended that the BOE implement broader reforms, particularly for poll workers, including more hours of poll worker training, increased poll worker pay, and evaluating the pilot program on half-day shifts. “We haven’t had a new idea on how to run an election in this town in a hundred years, it’s ridiculous, it’s not sustainable,” Stringer said.</p> <p>“The Comptroller’s audit report once again confirms that the Board of Elections consistently fails the voters in exercising their right to vote,” said Seth Stein, a City Hall spokesperson, in an email. Stein said it was “shameful” that the BOE had to be forced by the courts into accepting reforms, and insisted that the agency needs to be restructured. While the BOE has city jurisdiction, it is controlled by state law, and is not answerable to the mayor.</p> <p>Stein reiterated that the BOE had refused to accept an offer of $20 million from de Blasio last year as an incentive to reform its operations. “It is essential that they do so now,” he added.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/unnamed-6.jpg" alt="unnamed 6" width="600" /></p> <p>Comptroller Scott Stringer (photo courtesy of Comptroller's office)</p> <hr /> <p>Just four days before voters head to the polls on Tuesday, November 7, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a damning report highlighting the dysfunctional election operations of the New York City Board of Elections, a quasi-city agency that administers elections in the city.</p> <p>Stringer’s audit was launched in response to the BOE’s purge of more than 117,000 voters from the rolls in Brooklyn last year, ahead of the April presidential primary. The purge prompted widespread outrage, triggering an investigation by the state Attorney General’s office and a lawsuit by Common Cause New York, a good government advocacy group. The BOE <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/city-board-elections-admits-it-broke-law-accepts-reforms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently admitted</a> to violating federal and state law in the case and agreed to implement reforms.</p> <p>Following the purge, auditors from the comptroller’s office monitored 156 poll sites over the course of three subsequent elections in 2016 -- the congressional primary in June, the state legislative primary in September and the November general election -- and found that 90 percent of the sample sites showed significant problems ranging from severe violations of election law to inadequate poll worker training and lack of access for people with disabilities.</p> <p>“We have uncovered deep dysfunction,” Stringer said at a news conference Friday where he released the report.</p> <p>At 82 sites, about 53 percent, auditors witnessed violations of federal and state election laws and also of the BOE’s own rules. At 14 percent of sites, affidavit ballots were mishandled, and at 10 percent of sites, voters received no assistance when they faced issues. Some poll workers even engaged in electioneering, telling voters which candidate to vote for. Stringer even singled out an “outrageous instance” in which a poll worker failed to notify a voter that their valid ballot had been rejected by a scanning machine. The ballot was marked void.</p> <p>The BOE failed to adequately staff poll sites, Stringer said, leading to “organizational and logistical chaos” at about 118 sites, or 76 percent. At one site, 41 percent of assigned poll workers did not show up, he noted. Stringer did emphasize that the blame does not fall on poll workers who are “overworked, undertrained and underpaid” and must work nearly 17 hours straight on election days (the state launched a pilot program this year to allow half-day shifts for polling workers). “These are, at their core, the failures of the Board of Elections,” he said.</p> <p>The audit found that 45 out of 156 polling sites failed to provide adequate assistance to voters with disabilities, with one out of ten sites being inaccessible. “It’s time to own up and fix the voter purge we see in every election,” Stringer said. “This purge happens under the radar...If we’re gonna have participatory democracy, we’ve got to get rid of the barriers to participating in voting.”</p> <p>New York has notoriously antiquated election laws and consistently lags behind most other states in voter turnout. The state ranked 41 of 50 for turnout in the November general last year. (In the city, which has seen a relatively tame election season this year with many incumbents running for reelection, only about 440,000 voters cast a ballot in the September 12 Democratic primary for mayor, just 14% of registered voters.)</p> <p>“The right to vote is a bedrock of our democracy, unfortunately our own New York City Board of Elections too often makes it harder for us to exercise those fundamental rights,” said City Council Member Dan Garodnick at Friday’s news conference.</p> <p>Garodnick called attention to another BOE failing, one he attempted to fix through legislation. For the September 12 primary, the BOE changed poll sites from last year for more than 200,000 voters but did not post notices to inform voters, as required under a law sponsored by Garodnick and passed by the City Council last year. “The Board of Elections does not have the right to pick and choose which local laws it is going to follow,” Garodnick said. <br /> <br />Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause NY, said the comptroller’s audit “sadly confirms” problems over which good government organizations have long cried foul. “The barriers to voting which incompetence sets up, as the comptroller pointed out, are simply unacceptable,” she said.</p> <p>Stringer’s report recommended that the BOE implement broader reforms, particularly for poll workers, including more hours of poll worker training, increased poll worker pay, and evaluating the pilot program on half-day shifts. “We haven’t had a new idea on how to run an election in this town in a hundred years, it’s ridiculous, it’s not sustainable,” Stringer said.</p> <p>“The Comptroller’s audit report once again confirms that the Board of Elections consistently fails the voters in exercising their right to vote,” said Seth Stein, a City Hall spokesperson, in an email. Stein said it was “shameful” that the BOE had to be forced by the courts into accepting reforms, and insisted that the agency needs to be restructured. While the BOE has city jurisdiction, it is controlled by state law, and is not answerable to the mayor.</p> <p>Stein reiterated that the BOE had refused to accept an offer of $20 million from de Blasio last year as an incentive to reform its operations. “It is essential that they do so now,” he added.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
City Council Passes Bills Expanding Oversight of Economic Development Spending 2017-10-30T04:00:00+00:00 2017-10-30T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7284:city-council-to-pass-bills-expanding-oversight-of-economic-development-spending Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/dmw7vyeuqaayxfq.jpg-large.jpeg" alt="dmw7vyeuqaayxfq.jpg large" width="600" height="354" /></p> <p>CM Garodnick speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony (photo via @DanGarodnick)</p> <hr /> <p><em>[editor's note: the bills discussed in this story have passed the Council since its publish; the headline has been tweaked to indicate that fact, but the story remains unchanged from its publish]</em></p> <p>The New York City Council is set to pass a package of three bills that will expand its oversight of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, a city-affiliated non-profit that is instrumental in the city’s efforts to stimulate business and create jobs.</p> <p>The EDC handles a wide array of projects and initiatives from infrastructure and real estate development to cultural projects and parks and public spaces. The organization’s work is at the center of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to create 100,000 jobs over ten years that pay $50,000 annually, and it recently led the process for the city’s bid to host the second headquarters of retail giant Amazon. Hundreds of projects receive financial assistance each year from the city through EDC in the form of tax benefits, loans, grants, and even energy benefits</p> <p>But as of now, EDC is required to report little publicly about its operations and the benefits of its work to the city and New Yorkers. The City Council bills being passed this week, which are expected to be signed into law by the mayor, seek to increase those reporting requirements to add a layer of accountability and transparency to EDC’s work.</p> <p>“We spend an extraordinary sum every year on economic development and the goals are laudable: creation of jobs, the expansion of affordable housing or even the refurbishing of important cultural or historical sites,” said City Council Member Daniel Garodnick, chair of the economic development committee and prime sponsor of one of the three bills in the package, in a phone interview. “But, unfortunately it’s not always clear whether these dollars achieve their intended objectives.”</p> <p>Garodnick’s <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2867851&amp;GUID=FBAD71D2-798D-4D08-9650-B9786389121A&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bill</a> would require the EDC to provide fiscal impact statements for projects it sponsors, including estimates of the number of jobs being created. Another <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2867854&amp;GUID=9F91E653-ED3B-40EF-B20B-9FE099116853&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bill</a>, sponsored by Council Member Corey Johnson, would require EDC to report on its efforts to recover funds from any third party that received financial assistance but failed to live up to an economic development agreement. The <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2867876&amp;GUID=94241FF8-9F73-42A7-97B5-65380D2E7E6E&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">third bill</a>, sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would give the City Council an opportunity to comment on proposed economic development agreements by mandating that EDC provide project descriptions and budgets to the Council at least 30 days before the agreement is finalized. &nbsp;</p> <p>The three bills build on Garodnick’s efforts that he began in 2014 to improve oversight of EDC and how it utilizes taxpayer money. Last year, Garodnick and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, the Council’s finance chair, led a task force to examine the city’s economic development tax expenditures. The task force issued 10 <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/f/?id=00000157-4f76-dc77-a5ff-cfffa4040001" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommendations</a> including instituting regular reviews of tax expenditures and improved oversight. The three bills being passed on Wednesday were an outcome of those recommendations.</p> <p>“Through these bills, EDC will provide comprehensive fiscal impact statements and enhanced compliance reports for projects that receive our financial assistance,” said Shavone Williams, an EDC spokesperson, in a statement. “We look forward to this collaboration with the City Council as part of our larger efforts to remain as transparent as possible to the communities we serve.”</p> <p>Support from EDC indicates the mayor will sign into laws the bills, which have passed through Garodnick’s committee and will be voted on by the full City Council on Tuesday.</p> <p>Garodnick did acknowledge that EDC has improved its processes and that it already provides some information annually on its projects as required under city and state law. EDC puts out an Annual Investments Projects Report, in three volumes, on projects that receive financial assistance and details of the sales and leases of city-land. The <a href="https://www.nycedc.com/sites/default/files/filemanager/CityCharter_2016_Vol_I.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">last report</a>, issued January 30, notes that EDC provided some form of financial assistance to 554 projects in fiscal year 2016. The report included information on 46 sales of city-land that brought in $536.1 million and 89 leases of city-owned land with rents worth $126.1 million.</p> <p>The 554 projects accounted for 5.9 percent of the total private employment in the city; about $36.1 billion in private investment; they cost the city about $138 million in fiscal year 2016 (totalling $1.8 billion over the life of the projects) and brought in $5.2 billion in tax revenue (estimated to grow to $50.3 billion over the life of the projects).</p> <p>“I felt that more could be done to ensure that the public has a handle on how we are spending our money here and we want to give the public better access to this information,” said Garodnick, who is leaving the Council at the end of the year due to term limits. “We want to go further and be able to measure the upfront goals with the outcomes.”</p> <p>Indeed, in the context of numerous neighborhood rezonings proposed by the de Blasio administration across the city, advocacy groups have consistently called for more rigorous scrutiny of promises made by the city and keeping developers accountable if they receive any benefits from the administration. This also applies to singular projects, including the prominent example of the Bedford Union Armory redevelopment, a process that was spearheaded by EDC. The project is on city land but proposes a long-term lease to a private developer, raising concerns among community advocates.</p> <p>“There is a natural tension here between the need to activate economic development measures and local community perspectives,” Garodnick said, when Gotham Gazette ventured whether increased oversight was necessary in the aftermath of the Bloomberg years, when development went largely unchecked. “And part of this is ensuring that local needs are considered and that’s really what the Rosenthal bill is about. This is a very important agency that spends an extraordinary amount of money which does a lot of good work. We want to add these oversight measures to ensure the greatest transparency of taxpayer dollars.”</p> <p>Garodnick also agreed that there’s a need to ensure that the mayor’s plan to invest in burgeoning economic sectors to directly create 100,000 jobs receives the appropriate scrutiny. “This would always be important but with the commitment that is being made to find ways to create economic opportunities, this is even more important,” he said.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/dmw7vyeuqaayxfq.jpg-large.jpeg" alt="dmw7vyeuqaayxfq.jpg large" width="600" height="354" /></p> <p>CM Garodnick speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony (photo via @DanGarodnick)</p> <hr /> <p><em>[editor's note: the bills discussed in this story have passed the Council since its publish; the headline has been tweaked to indicate that fact, but the story remains unchanged from its publish]</em></p> <p>The New York City Council is set to pass a package of three bills that will expand its oversight of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, a city-affiliated non-profit that is instrumental in the city’s efforts to stimulate business and create jobs.</p> <p>The EDC handles a wide array of projects and initiatives from infrastructure and real estate development to cultural projects and parks and public spaces. The organization’s work is at the center of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to create 100,000 jobs over ten years that pay $50,000 annually, and it recently led the process for the city’s bid to host the second headquarters of retail giant Amazon. Hundreds of projects receive financial assistance each year from the city through EDC in the form of tax benefits, loans, grants, and even energy benefits</p> <p>But as of now, EDC is required to report little publicly about its operations and the benefits of its work to the city and New Yorkers. The City Council bills being passed this week, which are expected to be signed into law by the mayor, seek to increase those reporting requirements to add a layer of accountability and transparency to EDC’s work.</p> <p>“We spend an extraordinary sum every year on economic development and the goals are laudable: creation of jobs, the expansion of affordable housing or even the refurbishing of important cultural or historical sites,” said City Council Member Daniel Garodnick, chair of the economic development committee and prime sponsor of one of the three bills in the package, in a phone interview. “But, unfortunately it’s not always clear whether these dollars achieve their intended objectives.”</p> <p>Garodnick’s <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2867851&amp;GUID=FBAD71D2-798D-4D08-9650-B9786389121A&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bill</a> would require the EDC to provide fiscal impact statements for projects it sponsors, including estimates of the number of jobs being created. Another <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2867854&amp;GUID=9F91E653-ED3B-40EF-B20B-9FE099116853&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bill</a>, sponsored by Council Member Corey Johnson, would require EDC to report on its efforts to recover funds from any third party that received financial assistance but failed to live up to an economic development agreement. The <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2867876&amp;GUID=94241FF8-9F73-42A7-97B5-65380D2E7E6E&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">third bill</a>, sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would give the City Council an opportunity to comment on proposed economic development agreements by mandating that EDC provide project descriptions and budgets to the Council at least 30 days before the agreement is finalized. &nbsp;</p> <p>The three bills build on Garodnick’s efforts that he began in 2014 to improve oversight of EDC and how it utilizes taxpayer money. Last year, Garodnick and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, the Council’s finance chair, led a task force to examine the city’s economic development tax expenditures. The task force issued 10 <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/f/?id=00000157-4f76-dc77-a5ff-cfffa4040001" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommendations</a> including instituting regular reviews of tax expenditures and improved oversight. The three bills being passed on Wednesday were an outcome of those recommendations.</p> <p>“Through these bills, EDC will provide comprehensive fiscal impact statements and enhanced compliance reports for projects that receive our financial assistance,” said Shavone Williams, an EDC spokesperson, in a statement. “We look forward to this collaboration with the City Council as part of our larger efforts to remain as transparent as possible to the communities we serve.”</p> <p>Support from EDC indicates the mayor will sign into laws the bills, which have passed through Garodnick’s committee and will be voted on by the full City Council on Tuesday.</p> <p>Garodnick did acknowledge that EDC has improved its processes and that it already provides some information annually on its projects as required under city and state law. EDC puts out an Annual Investments Projects Report, in three volumes, on projects that receive financial assistance and details of the sales and leases of city-land. The <a href="https://www.nycedc.com/sites/default/files/filemanager/CityCharter_2016_Vol_I.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">last report</a>, issued January 30, notes that EDC provided some form of financial assistance to 554 projects in fiscal year 2016. The report included information on 46 sales of city-land that brought in $536.1 million and 89 leases of city-owned land with rents worth $126.1 million.</p> <p>The 554 projects accounted for 5.9 percent of the total private employment in the city; about $36.1 billion in private investment; they cost the city about $138 million in fiscal year 2016 (totalling $1.8 billion over the life of the projects) and brought in $5.2 billion in tax revenue (estimated to grow to $50.3 billion over the life of the projects).</p> <p>“I felt that more could be done to ensure that the public has a handle on how we are spending our money here and we want to give the public better access to this information,” said Garodnick, who is leaving the Council at the end of the year due to term limits. “We want to go further and be able to measure the upfront goals with the outcomes.”</p> <p>Indeed, in the context of numerous neighborhood rezonings proposed by the de Blasio administration across the city, advocacy groups have consistently called for more rigorous scrutiny of promises made by the city and keeping developers accountable if they receive any benefits from the administration. This also applies to singular projects, including the prominent example of the Bedford Union Armory redevelopment, a process that was spearheaded by EDC. The project is on city land but proposes a long-term lease to a private developer, raising concerns among community advocates.</p> <p>“There is a natural tension here between the need to activate economic development measures and local community perspectives,” Garodnick said, when Gotham Gazette ventured whether increased oversight was necessary in the aftermath of the Bloomberg years, when development went largely unchecked. “And part of this is ensuring that local needs are considered and that’s really what the Rosenthal bill is about. This is a very important agency that spends an extraordinary amount of money which does a lot of good work. We want to add these oversight measures to ensure the greatest transparency of taxpayer dollars.”</p> <p>Garodnick also agreed that there’s a need to ensure that the mayor’s plan to invest in burgeoning economic sectors to directly create 100,000 jobs receives the appropriate scrutiny. “This would always be important but with the commitment that is being made to find ways to create economic opportunities, this is even more important,” he said.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
A Rarity: City Council Candidate Releases Detailed Reform Agenda 2017-08-14T20:28:30+00:00 2017-08-14T20:28:30+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7127:a-rarity-city-council-candidate-releases-detailed-reform-agenda Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/powers_petitioning_stuytown_keithpowersnyc.jpg" alt="powers petitioning stuytown keithpowersnyc" width="600" height="471" /></p> <p>City Council candidate Keith Powers (photo: @KeithPowersNYC)</p> <hr /> <p>Candidates across the city this year are running for City Council on all sorts of issues, but only one has released a detailed list of government, campaign finance, and voting reform proposals. That agenda, called “<a href="https://www.keithpowers.nyc/Sunlight?utm_source=Friends+of+Keith+Powers&amp;utm_campaign=e348847a12-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_23&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_b8b0ccfe87-e348847a12-82283181" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sunlight in the City</a>,” has been put forward by Keith Powers, a Democrat competing in the crowded field to replace term-limited City Council Member Dan Garodnick on Manhattan’s East Side.</p> <p>At a time of widespread distrust in government, continued problems with public corruption and unethical conduct, and low voter turnout, especially here in New York, Powers’ agenda is especially noteworthy. The 22-point platform on government and electoral reform in New York City is something of an amalgamation of longtime goals for voting reform advocates and good government groups. Some of the measures have actually already been passed or implemented; some have to be approved at the state level.</p> <p>Powers’ reform agenda also comes as he is has been attacked by opponents for his work as a lobbyist -- he was until May a vice president at the firm Constantinople and Vallone. Sunlight in the City includes several planks directly related to lobbying, including more disclosure of lobbying meetings held by City Council members and more detailed lobbyist reporting to indicate, among other things, “who got lobbied, who did the lobbying, and the specific bill or subject matter.”</p> <p>Some of the mainstay priorities of electoral and government reform advocates that appear in Powers’ platform include a move to instant runoff voting for all city elections and lowering the number of City Council issue committees to diminish patronage and redundancy in the legislative body. These planks have been proposed in the Council and, in the case of instant runoff voting, at the state level, but have gone nowhere.</p> <p>Powers also calls for lowering the individual contribution limit to Council candidates campaigns from $2,750 to $1,225, “to make small donors and large donors equal in their donation capacity.” Ideally, his agenda says, he wants to see 100% publicly financed elections in the city to replace the city’s current matching funds mechanism, starting with a pilot program for special elections. Kallos introduced a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2637108&amp;GUID=11C13B83-99DB-4671-AA99-CF5B5827BBF4&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bill</a> to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6898:proposal-would-boost-public-campaign-matching-funds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">increase the matching funds payout</a> for Council races “to a full match with the expenditure limit,” which is currently in committee.</p> <p>A few planks in the platform are already in place, such as the closure of the “doing business loophole” that allows those doing business with the city to circumvent donation limits by giving to political nonprofits. The loophole was closed in a bill passed by the Council and signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2016, after the mayor himself was investigated for issues related to his own political nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, which was shuttered amid controversy.</p> <p>“I think it’s important we’re always sort of constantly evaluating our process by which we do government or help get people elected or otherwise,” Powers said in an interview, “we can always do better.” He indicated he believes the City Council is, in most cases, a model for transparent government, but that there’s still more that can be done.</p> <p>In part because of his reform agenda, Powers has received the endorsement of City Council Member Ben Kallos, himself an advocate of open and ethical government and the representative of a neighboring Council district to the one Powers hopes to represent. Kallos also chairs the Council’s government operations committee, which often hears bills related to government and campaign finance reform.</p> <p>“In terms of his Sunlight in the City report, it is a list of the 22 items that the City Council is currently working on or should be working on to really clean up government,” Kallos told Gotham Gazette. Kallos said that he hasn’t seen anything like it from anyone running this year.</p> <p>While few City Council candidates are talking about government and campaign finance reform, Democratic mayoral hopeful Sal Albanese has made the topic central to his attempt to unseat de Blasio. Albanese has proposed a significant campaign finance reform to completely eliminate private money from the system, something de Blasio has said he favors in theory, but has not advanced legislation on.</p> <p>Powers acknowledges the difficulties in getting some things on his list passed, but said that shouldn’t be a reason to not try.</p> <p>“I think the City Council reform, I think that is the one where I look at as there being a lot of really achievable ideas in there,” said Powers, citing the creation of an independent bill drafting unit as something that many legislators are clamoring for, despite the existence of such a unit. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5587-new-city-council-bill-drafting-unit-up-and-running-lander-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The unit</a> was part of a package of Council reforms passed in 2014, but Powers believes that these reforms can go further; regarding the drafting unit, Powers believes the current iteration is an improvement, but that it should be even more autonomous in instances such as the number of bills that can be introduced at a given time.</p> <p>Another Council reform Powers sees as achievable deals with bill aging. Currently, a bill ages seven days after introduction for public input, but Powers claims that it just sits in City Hall and is essentially unavailable to the public. He believes it should publicly age online.</p> <p>Powers said that the challenge of moving some of the reforms through the state government shouldn’t be a deterrent, that the city shouldn’t be “abdicating our authority to Albany.” Kallos said that the voting reform planks, other than ending patronage at the Board of Elections, don’t have to go through the state Legislature. Many of the other planks need city passage, some can be done through City Council rules.</p> <p>On closing doing business loophole, which already became law, Powers conceded to have not known the full extent of the legislative package that was passed. He also was largely nonspecific on his proposed additions to the 2014 member item reform, stating that there’s a lot to look at where the Council can “do better.”</p> <p>The Powers agenda received an enthusiastic response from democratic reform group Citizens Union, which interviews candidates and releases preferences in some city elections based on good government bona fides.</p> <p>“Keith Powers has put forward an ambitious and wide-ranging plan to increase transparency and accountability, and bring some needed sunlight to the New York City Council. While we do not support all of his proposed reforms, Citizens Union has long been advocating for several of them and will continue to do so in the upcoming session,” said Rachel Bloom, Citizens Union’s Public Policy director.</p> <p>For example, Citizens Union is not in support of the full public financing of city elections plank of Powers’ platform -- the organization “feel[s] that candidates should have to raise money in the districts they seek to represent,” Bloom said. However, it is supportive of Powers’ proposed pilot program in special elections. The organization has not yet made its preference in the Council District 4 race or any other.</p> <p>In the Democratic primary to be voted on September 12, Powers is competing against Marti Speranza, Jeff Mailman, Bessie Schachter, Maria Castro, Vanessa Aronson, Barry Shapiro, Rachel Honig, and Alec Hartman, none of whom have released government reform platforms, though Shapiro called for transparency in lobbying in a <a href="https://vimeo.com/216324768" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">campaign video</a>.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p> Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Citizens Union candidate interview and preference process is wholly separate from Gotham Gazette operations. Gotham Gazette does not endorse or support candidates for office.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/powers_petitioning_stuytown_keithpowersnyc.jpg" alt="powers petitioning stuytown keithpowersnyc" width="600" height="471" /></p> <p>City Council candidate Keith Powers (photo: @KeithPowersNYC)</p> <hr /> <p>Candidates across the city this year are running for City Council on all sorts of issues, but only one has released a detailed list of government, campaign finance, and voting reform proposals. That agenda, called “<a href="https://www.keithpowers.nyc/Sunlight?utm_source=Friends+of+Keith+Powers&amp;utm_campaign=e348847a12-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_23&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_b8b0ccfe87-e348847a12-82283181" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sunlight in the City</a>,” has been put forward by Keith Powers, a Democrat competing in the crowded field to replace term-limited City Council Member Dan Garodnick on Manhattan’s East Side.</p> <p>At a time of widespread distrust in government, continued problems with public corruption and unethical conduct, and low voter turnout, especially here in New York, Powers’ agenda is especially noteworthy. The 22-point platform on government and electoral reform in New York City is something of an amalgamation of longtime goals for voting reform advocates and good government groups. Some of the measures have actually already been passed or implemented; some have to be approved at the state level.</p> <p>Powers’ reform agenda also comes as he is has been attacked by opponents for his work as a lobbyist -- he was until May a vice president at the firm Constantinople and Vallone. Sunlight in the City includes several planks directly related to lobbying, including more disclosure of lobbying meetings held by City Council members and more detailed lobbyist reporting to indicate, among other things, “who got lobbied, who did the lobbying, and the specific bill or subject matter.”</p> <p>Some of the mainstay priorities of electoral and government reform advocates that appear in Powers’ platform include a move to instant runoff voting for all city elections and lowering the number of City Council issue committees to diminish patronage and redundancy in the legislative body. These planks have been proposed in the Council and, in the case of instant runoff voting, at the state level, but have gone nowhere.</p> <p>Powers also calls for lowering the individual contribution limit to Council candidates campaigns from $2,750 to $1,225, “to make small donors and large donors equal in their donation capacity.” Ideally, his agenda says, he wants to see 100% publicly financed elections in the city to replace the city’s current matching funds mechanism, starting with a pilot program for special elections. Kallos introduced a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2637108&amp;GUID=11C13B83-99DB-4671-AA99-CF5B5827BBF4&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bill</a> to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6898:proposal-would-boost-public-campaign-matching-funds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">increase the matching funds payout</a> for Council races “to a full match with the expenditure limit,” which is currently in committee.</p> <p>A few planks in the platform are already in place, such as the closure of the “doing business loophole” that allows those doing business with the city to circumvent donation limits by giving to political nonprofits. The loophole was closed in a bill passed by the Council and signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2016, after the mayor himself was investigated for issues related to his own political nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, which was shuttered amid controversy.</p> <p>“I think it’s important we’re always sort of constantly evaluating our process by which we do government or help get people elected or otherwise,” Powers said in an interview, “we can always do better.” He indicated he believes the City Council is, in most cases, a model for transparent government, but that there’s still more that can be done.</p> <p>In part because of his reform agenda, Powers has received the endorsement of City Council Member Ben Kallos, himself an advocate of open and ethical government and the representative of a neighboring Council district to the one Powers hopes to represent. Kallos also chairs the Council’s government operations committee, which often hears bills related to government and campaign finance reform.</p> <p>“In terms of his Sunlight in the City report, it is a list of the 22 items that the City Council is currently working on or should be working on to really clean up government,” Kallos told Gotham Gazette. Kallos said that he hasn’t seen anything like it from anyone running this year.</p> <p>While few City Council candidates are talking about government and campaign finance reform, Democratic mayoral hopeful Sal Albanese has made the topic central to his attempt to unseat de Blasio. Albanese has proposed a significant campaign finance reform to completely eliminate private money from the system, something de Blasio has said he favors in theory, but has not advanced legislation on.</p> <p>Powers acknowledges the difficulties in getting some things on his list passed, but said that shouldn’t be a reason to not try.</p> <p>“I think the City Council reform, I think that is the one where I look at as there being a lot of really achievable ideas in there,” said Powers, citing the creation of an independent bill drafting unit as something that many legislators are clamoring for, despite the existence of such a unit. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5587-new-city-council-bill-drafting-unit-up-and-running-lander-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The unit</a> was part of a package of Council reforms passed in 2014, but Powers believes that these reforms can go further; regarding the drafting unit, Powers believes the current iteration is an improvement, but that it should be even more autonomous in instances such as the number of bills that can be introduced at a given time.</p> <p>Another Council reform Powers sees as achievable deals with bill aging. Currently, a bill ages seven days after introduction for public input, but Powers claims that it just sits in City Hall and is essentially unavailable to the public. He believes it should publicly age online.</p> <p>Powers said that the challenge of moving some of the reforms through the state government shouldn’t be a deterrent, that the city shouldn’t be “abdicating our authority to Albany.” Kallos said that the voting reform planks, other than ending patronage at the Board of Elections, don’t have to go through the state Legislature. Many of the other planks need city passage, some can be done through City Council rules.</p> <p>On closing doing business loophole, which already became law, Powers conceded to have not known the full extent of the legislative package that was passed. He also was largely nonspecific on his proposed additions to the 2014 member item reform, stating that there’s a lot to look at where the Council can “do better.”</p> <p>The Powers agenda received an enthusiastic response from democratic reform group Citizens Union, which interviews candidates and releases preferences in some city elections based on good government bona fides.</p> <p>“Keith Powers has put forward an ambitious and wide-ranging plan to increase transparency and accountability, and bring some needed sunlight to the New York City Council. While we do not support all of his proposed reforms, Citizens Union has long been advocating for several of them and will continue to do so in the upcoming session,” said Rachel Bloom, Citizens Union’s Public Policy director.</p> <p>For example, Citizens Union is not in support of the full public financing of city elections plank of Powers’ platform -- the organization “feel[s] that candidates should have to raise money in the districts they seek to represent,” Bloom said. However, it is supportive of Powers’ proposed pilot program in special elections. The organization has not yet made its preference in the Council District 4 race or any other.</p> <p>In the Democratic primary to be voted on September 12, Powers is competing against Marti Speranza, Jeff Mailman, Bessie Schachter, Maria Castro, Vanessa Aronson, Barry Shapiro, Rachel Honig, and Alec Hartman, none of whom have released government reform platforms, though Shapiro called for transparency in lobbying in a <a href="https://vimeo.com/216324768" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">campaign video</a>.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p> Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Citizens Union candidate interview and preference process is wholly separate from Gotham Gazette operations. Gotham Gazette does not endorse or support candidates for office.</p>
Crowded Field Competes to Represent Manhattan City Council District 2017-07-10T04:00:00+00:00 2017-07-10T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7055:crowded-field-competes-to-represent-manhattan-city-council-district Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/garodnick_east_midtown_model.jpg" alt="garodnick east midtown model" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>City Council Member Dan Garodnick (photo: @DanGarodnick)</p> <hr /> <p>Due to term limits, popular City Council Member Dan Garodnick is not allowed to run for reelection this year, leading to a crowded field of competitors vying to replace him representing the politically active Manhattan district that includes East Midtown, Gramercy Park, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.</p> <p>Ten candidates, mostly Democrats like Garodnick, competed in a debate at Waterside Plaza on June 22. The event, hosted by news publication Town &amp; Village and Waterside Plaza Tenants Association, featured nine Democrats and two Republicans who made their pitches to over 150 attendees sitting outside along the East River. After delivering their opening statements, during which they gave biographical information and a sense of why they are running for elected office, the 11 candidates spoke predominantly on the topic of housing affordability, and touched upon senior citizen and small business related policies. While it did not come up during the candidate forum, the rezoning of East Midtown, a major focus for Garodnick in recent years, is likely to pass this year, with implementation one of the most pressing issues facing the next Council member.</p> <p>The crowded field includes both seasoned New York political operatives and political neophytes, all seeking to replace Garodnick, who has represented the district for nearly 12 years and whose constituents regularly push him to seek city- or state-wide office, which he may eventually do.</p> <p>The seat is one of eight “open” City Council races this year. While all 51 Council seats are on the ballot, there are 43 incumbents eligible and seeking reelection, partially a function of the one-time extension of term limits passed ahead of the 2009 elections, which is allowing some to seek a third and final term this year, while others, like Garodnick are now completing their third terms, and those elected in 2013 (and beyond) are only eligible for two terms.</p> <p>Several of the open seats are attracting deep fields of candidates, but the District 4 race is among the most crowded.</p> <p>Vanessa Aronson, a public school teacher on the Upper East Side, started the June 22 event by describing a student in her class who uses a wheelchair and is only able to attend class because the adjacent subway stop to the school and school itself are both handicap accessible. This situation, she contended, is unfortunately the exception, not the norm, throughout the city.</p> <p>“I'm running for City Council because I know New York can do better,” she said in her opening remarks. Aronson made education and her care for New York’s downtrodden central components of her message. The teacher, a Democrat, later referenced another student who lost a parent and subsequently became homeless due to a lack of immediate affordable housing, a topic at the forefront of the race, if the debate is any indication. In order to prevent such situations from occurring, “we need to make all the noise possible to put pressure on Albany,” she said, pointing to the fact that state law controls key city housing regulations.</p> <p>Fellow electoral politics novice Barry Shapiro presented a declinist view of the southern part of the district. Shapiro, a retired former American Express employee, said he entered the race as a response to these developments. “The reason I’m running is that for the past 10 years I’ve been pretty disappointed in what’s been happening in Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, the way our community has been treated, the way in which apartments have been partitioned, the way in which many aspect of quality of life has gone down,” he said.</p> <p>In addition to the political outsiders, Marti Speranza, who has served as director of Women Entrepreneurs NYC, and Democratic State Committeewoman for the overlapping 74th Assembly District, is also vying for the seat. Speranza is branding herself a staunch protector of low-income New Yorkers and progressive values in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. “Our city is a sanctuary for immigrants, for women, for the LGBT community, for working families, and we must spare no effort in keeping it that way,” she says on her <a href="http://www.martiforcouncil.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">campaign website</a>.</p> <p>As of the most recent filing period, which ended May 11, Speranza <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6946-the-may-money-race-in-open-city-council-seats" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">was atop the field in funds</a> after raising over $176,000, with over $111,000 cash on hand, giving her a financial advantage as the race heads into full swing leading to the September 12 primary. In a heavily Democratic district, the primary winner is highly likely to win the general election.</p> <p>Keith Powers, second to Speranza in total contributions as of late May, has also emerged as a leading Democratic candidate in the race, fusing a message of local activism and political savvy. “I believe that City Council candidates need to be vocal and be local,” he said at the candidate forum, adding that an effective City Council member is active and “walks the walk every single day.” Powers is well-connected in city and state politics, having been employed by former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone as a lobbyist and chief of staff for former Assemblymember Jonathan Bing, and <a href="https://www.keithpowers.nyc/endorsements" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">endorsed</a> by Bing and neighboring Upper East Side City Council Member Ben Kallos.</p> <p>“I think it's the right type of experience to bring to the job,“ Powers said of his political background. “I was proud to grow up in a rent stabilized apartment and to continue to fight for the tenants association,” Powers said, referring to his early residence in Stuyvesant Town.</p> <p>Jeff Mailman, a lifelong New Yorker and graduate of nearby Cardozo Law School,&nbsp;has spent most of his career in public service. The Democrat has worked in the Attorney General's office under Andrew Cuomo and served as attorney and legislative director for Queens-based City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. “Over these past six year I’ve gained extensive knowledge in a lot of issues,” Mailman said at the candidate forum.</p> <p>He suggested his experience, relationships, and political knowhow make him uniquely suited for the job of Council member. “I’m running to use my City Council experience to represent you best from the very first day on the job,” he said. ”I know most of the Council members and their staff members. I know how to get things done.”</p> <p>Mailman drew attention to his commitment to the city transit system, touting his endorsement from the Transport Workers Union, and voiced support for investing in mass transit. Once elected to office, he said one of his priorities would be to protect the safety of transit workers. “I really believe in supporting hardworking New Yorkers,” he said.</p> <p>Coming off a stint in state Senator Liz Krueger's office, activist and Democratic State Committeewoman Bessie Schacter articulated the anxieties she understands many in the area have been feeling. “Our communities are in transition,” the candidate said. “A lot of people are finding it difficult to live here.” She referenced rising costs of living and problems with education and transportation.</p> <p>“It's important to recognize that we reinvest in our housing, in our services, and education and transportation,” said Schachter. “I know exactly how to fix those problems. I know how to change the laws.” Schacter also plugged her endorsements from Upper West Side City Council Member Helen Rosenthal and East Side Assemblymember Dan Quart.</p> <p>Business consultant and Democratic hopeful Maria Castro, a late entry into the race, proudly proclaimed she was not a government operative nor a politician. “I have been a businesswoman for the past three decades,” she said. Given her outsider status, business acumen, and commitment to the community, Castro said she would take on the big-money interests and advocate only for her constituents. “The developers can no longer be allowed to be given all the tax credits,” she said of one problem she would seek to fix if elected. Instead of developers being given special favors to build luxury buildings, Castro said, Manhattan needs “affordable housing for the regular people, the working people that are not making Manhattan their playground and are going to live here like us full-time.”</p> <p>Similarly, Democrat Alec Hartman, CEO of five-year-old technology startup Tech Day, called affordable housing “the glue of our community” and floated the idea of having a uniform database New Yorkers would use to find affordable housing options. It was this type of tech-world outside-the-box thinking he says would make him an effective legislator. More conventionally, Hartman proposed repealing the Urstadt Law, a state law signed in 1971 barring city officials from enacting more stringent rent control laws.</p> <p>Aronson echoed calls for Urstadt Law repeal (a popular stance among many city Democrats) and vowed to crack down on illegal hotels she alleged have been driving up housing prices in the area. (Airbnb has been a frequent target of District 4 residents.)</p> <p>Sounding like Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speranza called affordable housing the “number one challenge” in New York City. “Communities that were havens for middle-class families are now at risk,” she said, referencing Stuyvesant Town. “We see seniors that are not longer being able to age in place.”</p> <p>“I think we need to think more boldly,” Speranza said. As a fix, she proposes to use city-owned vacant land to build additional affordable housing. “The Comptroller did a report and in his audit he found that there are over a thousand empty lots,” she said, referring to a report from Comptroller Scott Stringer that has been disputed by the de Blasio administration, which claims that the city-owned lots suited for housing are almost all in the development pipeline.</p> <p>In a similar vein, Schacter suggested picking through housing budget with a fine-tooth comb would unearth squandered funds that could be put to use elsewhere. “I’m talking first about an audit of our housing,” she said. “We’re actually spending $1.4 billion every year on affordable housing projects and we’re not checking to make sure those units are there.”</p> <p>Democrat and small business consultant Rachel Honig though she spoke favorably about her opponents’ housing plans, she had a different priorities on the issue. For Honig, pressuring city government to conduct enforcement of laws already on the books should be the top priority. “The first thing we have to do is hold City Hall accountable to the protections that are in place,” she said. “After which, then we can start, or on a parallel path, frankly, we can start building affordable housing,” she said.</p> <p>Honig also raised the issue of local, “mom-and-pop” stores being priced out of the expensive real estate in the heart of Manhattan. “We not only have a small business problem,” she said. “We have a small business crisis.” While she was complimentary of Garodnick’s work, Honig emphasized the need for the district’s next representative to push for change on issues such as small businesses, senior care and affordable housing. “We need quality leadership to carry the baton,” she said. (None of the candidates brought up Garodnick’s push to reform the commercial rent tax, a Manhattan-only tax that has been blamed for hurting many small businesses in the borough, especially below 96th Street where it applies.)</p> <p>In such a crowded Democratic primary with several candidates that have political experience, connections, and endorsements, the margin of victory could be quite small, with getting out the vote essential to winning.</p> <p>The pair of Republican hopefuls touched upon similar themes at the forum, putting their own spin on the topics at hand, though without the conservative orthodoxy one might hear from many GOP politicians.</p> <p>Rebecca Harary detailed her experience opening up schools for special needs students and her role in the Propel Network, an organization that helps women without formal job skills find employment. Harary, coming off an unsuccessful bid for State Assembly in the fall, told the audience about her large family including eight grandchildren. “You can say that I’ve been a mother my whole life which means that I’ve really become accustomed to putting other people before myself,” she said. “When I see problems, I like to solve them.”</p> <p>Harary’s opponent for the Republican nomination, Melissa Jane Kronfeld, a self-styled “progressive Republican” who promotes what she calls a “post-partisan agenda,” also described the importance of helping others. “Service is an obligation, it's simply not a choice,” she said. Kronfeld, who reported for the New York Post’s city desk while studying at New York University, according to her <a href="http://www.teammj2017.com/about-mj-4/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">website</a>, recently ran a social impact consultancy called Party For a Purpose that “empowers individuals, governments, and organizations to make the biggest impact that they can have on their communities,” she explained.</p> <p>Due to her recent work outside of politics, Kronfeld felt she would bring a necessary perspective and mentality to the City Council and City Hall. Kronfeld promised a take-no-prisoners approach to the issue of housing affordability, the most common topic discussed at the debate. "I have no problem shaking every tree to overhaul this system once I get into office,” she said.</p> <p> </p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/garodnick_east_midtown_model.jpg" alt="garodnick east midtown model" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>City Council Member Dan Garodnick (photo: @DanGarodnick)</p> <hr /> <p>Due to term limits, popular City Council Member Dan Garodnick is not allowed to run for reelection this year, leading to a crowded field of competitors vying to replace him representing the politically active Manhattan district that includes East Midtown, Gramercy Park, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.</p> <p>Ten candidates, mostly Democrats like Garodnick, competed in a debate at Waterside Plaza on June 22. The event, hosted by news publication Town &amp; Village and Waterside Plaza Tenants Association, featured nine Democrats and two Republicans who made their pitches to over 150 attendees sitting outside along the East River. After delivering their opening statements, during which they gave biographical information and a sense of why they are running for elected office, the 11 candidates spoke predominantly on the topic of housing affordability, and touched upon senior citizen and small business related policies. While it did not come up during the candidate forum, the rezoning of East Midtown, a major focus for Garodnick in recent years, is likely to pass this year, with implementation one of the most pressing issues facing the next Council member.</p> <p>The crowded field includes both seasoned New York political operatives and political neophytes, all seeking to replace Garodnick, who has represented the district for nearly 12 years and whose constituents regularly push him to seek city- or state-wide office, which he may eventually do.</p> <p>The seat is one of eight “open” City Council races this year. While all 51 Council seats are on the ballot, there are 43 incumbents eligible and seeking reelection, partially a function of the one-time extension of term limits passed ahead of the 2009 elections, which is allowing some to seek a third and final term this year, while others, like Garodnick are now completing their third terms, and those elected in 2013 (and beyond) are only eligible for two terms.</p> <p>Several of the open seats are attracting deep fields of candidates, but the District 4 race is among the most crowded.</p> <p>Vanessa Aronson, a public school teacher on the Upper East Side, started the June 22 event by describing a student in her class who uses a wheelchair and is only able to attend class because the adjacent subway stop to the school and school itself are both handicap accessible. This situation, she contended, is unfortunately the exception, not the norm, throughout the city.</p> <p>“I'm running for City Council because I know New York can do better,” she said in her opening remarks. Aronson made education and her care for New York’s downtrodden central components of her message. The teacher, a Democrat, later referenced another student who lost a parent and subsequently became homeless due to a lack of immediate affordable housing, a topic at the forefront of the race, if the debate is any indication. In order to prevent such situations from occurring, “we need to make all the noise possible to put pressure on Albany,” she said, pointing to the fact that state law controls key city housing regulations.</p> <p>Fellow electoral politics novice Barry Shapiro presented a declinist view of the southern part of the district. Shapiro, a retired former American Express employee, said he entered the race as a response to these developments. “The reason I’m running is that for the past 10 years I’ve been pretty disappointed in what’s been happening in Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, the way our community has been treated, the way in which apartments have been partitioned, the way in which many aspect of quality of life has gone down,” he said.</p> <p>In addition to the political outsiders, Marti Speranza, who has served as director of Women Entrepreneurs NYC, and Democratic State Committeewoman for the overlapping 74th Assembly District, is also vying for the seat. Speranza is branding herself a staunch protector of low-income New Yorkers and progressive values in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. “Our city is a sanctuary for immigrants, for women, for the LGBT community, for working families, and we must spare no effort in keeping it that way,” she says on her <a href="http://www.martiforcouncil.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">campaign website</a>.</p> <p>As of the most recent filing period, which ended May 11, Speranza <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6946-the-may-money-race-in-open-city-council-seats" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">was atop the field in funds</a> after raising over $176,000, with over $111,000 cash on hand, giving her a financial advantage as the race heads into full swing leading to the September 12 primary. In a heavily Democratic district, the primary winner is highly likely to win the general election.</p> <p>Keith Powers, second to Speranza in total contributions as of late May, has also emerged as a leading Democratic candidate in the race, fusing a message of local activism and political savvy. “I believe that City Council candidates need to be vocal and be local,” he said at the candidate forum, adding that an effective City Council member is active and “walks the walk every single day.” Powers is well-connected in city and state politics, having been employed by former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone as a lobbyist and chief of staff for former Assemblymember Jonathan Bing, and <a href="https://www.keithpowers.nyc/endorsements" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">endorsed</a> by Bing and neighboring Upper East Side City Council Member Ben Kallos.</p> <p>“I think it's the right type of experience to bring to the job,“ Powers said of his political background. “I was proud to grow up in a rent stabilized apartment and to continue to fight for the tenants association,” Powers said, referring to his early residence in Stuyvesant Town.</p> <p>Jeff Mailman, a lifelong New Yorker and graduate of nearby Cardozo Law School,&nbsp;has spent most of his career in public service. The Democrat has worked in the Attorney General's office under Andrew Cuomo and served as attorney and legislative director for Queens-based City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. “Over these past six year I’ve gained extensive knowledge in a lot of issues,” Mailman said at the candidate forum.</p> <p>He suggested his experience, relationships, and political knowhow make him uniquely suited for the job of Council member. “I’m running to use my City Council experience to represent you best from the very first day on the job,” he said. ”I know most of the Council members and their staff members. I know how to get things done.”</p> <p>Mailman drew attention to his commitment to the city transit system, touting his endorsement from the Transport Workers Union, and voiced support for investing in mass transit. Once elected to office, he said one of his priorities would be to protect the safety of transit workers. “I really believe in supporting hardworking New Yorkers,” he said.</p> <p>Coming off a stint in state Senator Liz Krueger's office, activist and Democratic State Committeewoman Bessie Schacter articulated the anxieties she understands many in the area have been feeling. “Our communities are in transition,” the candidate said. “A lot of people are finding it difficult to live here.” She referenced rising costs of living and problems with education and transportation.</p> <p>“It's important to recognize that we reinvest in our housing, in our services, and education and transportation,” said Schachter. “I know exactly how to fix those problems. I know how to change the laws.” Schacter also plugged her endorsements from Upper West Side City Council Member Helen Rosenthal and East Side Assemblymember Dan Quart.</p> <p>Business consultant and Democratic hopeful Maria Castro, a late entry into the race, proudly proclaimed she was not a government operative nor a politician. “I have been a businesswoman for the past three decades,” she said. Given her outsider status, business acumen, and commitment to the community, Castro said she would take on the big-money interests and advocate only for her constituents. “The developers can no longer be allowed to be given all the tax credits,” she said of one problem she would seek to fix if elected. Instead of developers being given special favors to build luxury buildings, Castro said, Manhattan needs “affordable housing for the regular people, the working people that are not making Manhattan their playground and are going to live here like us full-time.”</p> <p>Similarly, Democrat Alec Hartman, CEO of five-year-old technology startup Tech Day, called affordable housing “the glue of our community” and floated the idea of having a uniform database New Yorkers would use to find affordable housing options. It was this type of tech-world outside-the-box thinking he says would make him an effective legislator. More conventionally, Hartman proposed repealing the Urstadt Law, a state law signed in 1971 barring city officials from enacting more stringent rent control laws.</p> <p>Aronson echoed calls for Urstadt Law repeal (a popular stance among many city Democrats) and vowed to crack down on illegal hotels she alleged have been driving up housing prices in the area. (Airbnb has been a frequent target of District 4 residents.)</p> <p>Sounding like Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speranza called affordable housing the “number one challenge” in New York City. “Communities that were havens for middle-class families are now at risk,” she said, referencing Stuyvesant Town. “We see seniors that are not longer being able to age in place.”</p> <p>“I think we need to think more boldly,” Speranza said. As a fix, she proposes to use city-owned vacant land to build additional affordable housing. “The Comptroller did a report and in his audit he found that there are over a thousand empty lots,” she said, referring to a report from Comptroller Scott Stringer that has been disputed by the de Blasio administration, which claims that the city-owned lots suited for housing are almost all in the development pipeline.</p> <p>In a similar vein, Schacter suggested picking through housing budget with a fine-tooth comb would unearth squandered funds that could be put to use elsewhere. “I’m talking first about an audit of our housing,” she said. “We’re actually spending $1.4 billion every year on affordable housing projects and we’re not checking to make sure those units are there.”</p> <p>Democrat and small business consultant Rachel Honig though she spoke favorably about her opponents’ housing plans, she had a different priorities on the issue. For Honig, pressuring city government to conduct enforcement of laws already on the books should be the top priority. “The first thing we have to do is hold City Hall accountable to the protections that are in place,” she said. “After which, then we can start, or on a parallel path, frankly, we can start building affordable housing,” she said.</p> <p>Honig also raised the issue of local, “mom-and-pop” stores being priced out of the expensive real estate in the heart of Manhattan. “We not only have a small business problem,” she said. “We have a small business crisis.” While she was complimentary of Garodnick’s work, Honig emphasized the need for the district’s next representative to push for change on issues such as small businesses, senior care and affordable housing. “We need quality leadership to carry the baton,” she said. (None of the candidates brought up Garodnick’s push to reform the commercial rent tax, a Manhattan-only tax that has been blamed for hurting many small businesses in the borough, especially below 96th Street where it applies.)</p> <p>In such a crowded Democratic primary with several candidates that have political experience, connections, and endorsements, the margin of victory could be quite small, with getting out the vote essential to winning.</p> <p>The pair of Republican hopefuls touched upon similar themes at the forum, putting their own spin on the topics at hand, though without the conservative orthodoxy one might hear from many GOP politicians.</p> <p>Rebecca Harary detailed her experience opening up schools for special needs students and her role in the Propel Network, an organization that helps women without formal job skills find employment. Harary, coming off an unsuccessful bid for State Assembly in the fall, told the audience about her large family including eight grandchildren. “You can say that I’ve been a mother my whole life which means that I’ve really become accustomed to putting other people before myself,” she said. “When I see problems, I like to solve them.”</p> <p>Harary’s opponent for the Republican nomination, Melissa Jane Kronfeld, a self-styled “progressive Republican” who promotes what she calls a “post-partisan agenda,” also described the importance of helping others. “Service is an obligation, it's simply not a choice,” she said. Kronfeld, who reported for the New York Post’s city desk while studying at New York University, according to her <a href="http://www.teammj2017.com/about-mj-4/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">website</a>, recently ran a social impact consultancy called Party For a Purpose that “empowers individuals, governments, and organizations to make the biggest impact that they can have on their communities,” she explained.</p> <p>Due to her recent work outside of politics, Kronfeld felt she would bring a necessary perspective and mentality to the City Council and City Hall. Kronfeld promised a take-no-prisoners approach to the issue of housing affordability, the most common topic discussed at the debate. "I have no problem shaking every tree to overhaul this system once I get into office,” she said.</p> <p> </p> City Council Considers Subcontractors Bill of Rights 2017-06-22T04:00:00+00:00 2017-06-22T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7022:council-considers-bill-of-rights-for-subcontractors Samar Khurshid <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/12331075774_34a53d8c6d_z.jpg" alt="12331075774 34a53d8c6d z" width="600" height="411" /></p> <p>Council Member Helen Rosenthal (photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>The City Council’s Committee on Economic Development and the Committee on Contracts held a joint hearing on Thursday to discuss proposed legislation that would create a bill of rights for subcontractors working with the city.</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3055671&amp;GUID=B9076E52-649D-4461-A4B1-0A057750D97F&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Intro.1615</a>, sponsored by Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Robert Cornegy, Jr., and Helen Rosenthal, would require the Department of Small Business Services to create a bill of rights that clearly lays out expectations for prime contractors and subcontractors, and makes it easier for subcontractors to find out what services and resources are available to them should they have a problem or concern with their contract. The legislation would apply to any contracts worth more than $100,000.</p> <p>“[Contracting] is the heart of so much of what we do here -- construction of public infrastructure and affordable housing, a whole range of human services from pre-K all the way up to senior services,” said Rosenthal, chair of the contracts committee, in her opening statement. “The contracting process is an essential part of how New York City government works.”</p> <p>The city has registered 12,949 expense contracts worth $20.3 billion in the 2017 fiscal year, which runs through June 30, and subcontractors accounted for $558 million of that sum, according to data available on the comptroller’s <a href="http://www.checkbooknyc.com/contracts_landing/status/A/yeartype/B/year/118/dashboard/ss" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Checkbook NYC</a> website. These subcontractors often face a number of hurdles including a lack of access to adequate legal representation to navigate contracts, receiving late payments, and not being able to apply for loans. This is especially true for subcontractors working in human services.</p> <p>“Contractors often pay subcontractors late because they cannot disburse government funds prior to completion of the service they are paying for, and they themselves are paid late,” explained Tracie Robinson, a senior policy analyst at the Human Services Council of New York, in her testimony. HSC represents thousands of nonprofits in New York and advocates for human services providers as a whole. “[Subcontractors] operate in the context of a broken contracting system. Only if we address the underlying causes of subcontractor instability -- problems at the government-contractor level -- will we be able to set prime contractors and subcontractors alike up for success.”</p> <p>Many subcontractors are nonprofit organizations and small businesses that are overshadowed by larger entities and do not have the same access to credit and fundraising. Intro. 1615 would make sure that subcontractors get an overview of the payment process, know the points of contact between government agencies, and can get the appropriate documents necessary to get the information and assistance they need.</p> <p>“Many smaller nonprofit organizations do not have in-house attorneys or staff with experience understanding and administering government contracts,” said Laura Abel, senior policy counsel for Lawyers Alliance for New York, a provider of business and legal services for nonprofits. “City contracts are long, dense, and full of legalese. As a result, nonprofit organizations may take on obligations that they do not understand and cannot fulfill.”</p> <p>Abel also added, “I have asked clients dealing with an unexpected development what their contract says about that issue, only to hear, ‘Oh, it’s all boilerplate, it’s no help.’ A subcontractor bill of rights can help by encouraging subcontractors to consult counsel before entering into a contract, and whenever they have questions during the life of the contract.”</p> <p>In addition, subcontractors are frequently minority- and women-owned businesses, commonly referred to as M/WBEs. The city has been trying to encourage the growth and development of M/WBEs to ensure a more equitable distribution of city money. M/WBEs also tend to be more familiar with local community needs compared to larger contractors. M/WBEs accounted for $245.8 million in subcontracts registered in fiscal 2017. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s <a href="https://onenyc.cityofnewyork.us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">OneNYC plan</a> includes a commitment to award at least 30 percent of city contract dollars to M/WBEs by 2021 and to award $16 billion in city contracts to M/WBEs by 2025.</p> <p>Michael Owh, director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services and the city’s chief procurement officer, said the de Blasio administration supports the bill and that it “is a step in the right direction toward providing information to businesses and connecting them with resources.”</p> <p>When asked by Council Member Daniel Garodnick, the chair of the Committee on Economic Development, if the bill warranted any changes or edits, Owh emphasized that it would need input from all the stakeholders. “[We] want to make sure that we get enough feedback from not just our agencies but also the community, the contracting community, as well as the subcontracting community to make sure that we are able to take in all of the various factors,” Owh said.</p> <p> </p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/12331075774_34a53d8c6d_z.jpg" alt="12331075774 34a53d8c6d z" width="600" height="411" /></p> <p>Council Member Helen Rosenthal (photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>The City Council’s Committee on Economic Development and the Committee on Contracts held a joint hearing on Thursday to discuss proposed legislation that would create a bill of rights for subcontractors working with the city.</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3055671&amp;GUID=B9076E52-649D-4461-A4B1-0A057750D97F&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Intro.1615</a>, sponsored by Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Robert Cornegy, Jr., and Helen Rosenthal, would require the Department of Small Business Services to create a bill of rights that clearly lays out expectations for prime contractors and subcontractors, and makes it easier for subcontractors to find out what services and resources are available to them should they have a problem or concern with their contract. The legislation would apply to any contracts worth more than $100,000.</p> <p>“[Contracting] is the heart of so much of what we do here -- construction of public infrastructure and affordable housing, a whole range of human services from pre-K all the way up to senior services,” said Rosenthal, chair of the contracts committee, in her opening statement. “The contracting process is an essential part of how New York City government works.”</p> <p>The city has registered 12,949 expense contracts worth $20.3 billion in the 2017 fiscal year, which runs through June 30, and subcontractors accounted for $558 million of that sum, according to data available on the comptroller’s <a href="http://www.checkbooknyc.com/contracts_landing/status/A/yeartype/B/year/118/dashboard/ss" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Checkbook NYC</a> website. These subcontractors often face a number of hurdles including a lack of access to adequate legal representation to navigate contracts, receiving late payments, and not being able to apply for loans. This is especially true for subcontractors working in human services.</p> <p>“Contractors often pay subcontractors late because they cannot disburse government funds prior to completion of the service they are paying for, and they themselves are paid late,” explained Tracie Robinson, a senior policy analyst at the Human Services Council of New York, in her testimony. HSC represents thousands of nonprofits in New York and advocates for human services providers as a whole. “[Subcontractors] operate in the context of a broken contracting system. Only if we address the underlying causes of subcontractor instability -- problems at the government-contractor level -- will we be able to set prime contractors and subcontractors alike up for success.”</p> <p>Many subcontractors are nonprofit organizations and small businesses that are overshadowed by larger entities and do not have the same access to credit and fundraising. Intro. 1615 would make sure that subcontractors get an overview of the payment process, know the points of contact between government agencies, and can get the appropriate documents necessary to get the information and assistance they need.</p> <p>“Many smaller nonprofit organizations do not have in-house attorneys or staff with experience understanding and administering government contracts,” said Laura Abel, senior policy counsel for Lawyers Alliance for New York, a provider of business and legal services for nonprofits. “City contracts are long, dense, and full of legalese. As a result, nonprofit organizations may take on obligations that they do not understand and cannot fulfill.”</p> <p>Abel also added, “I have asked clients dealing with an unexpected development what their contract says about that issue, only to hear, ‘Oh, it’s all boilerplate, it’s no help.’ A subcontractor bill of rights can help by encouraging subcontractors to consult counsel before entering into a contract, and whenever they have questions during the life of the contract.”</p> <p>In addition, subcontractors are frequently minority- and women-owned businesses, commonly referred to as M/WBEs. The city has been trying to encourage the growth and development of M/WBEs to ensure a more equitable distribution of city money. M/WBEs also tend to be more familiar with local community needs compared to larger contractors. M/WBEs accounted for $245.8 million in subcontracts registered in fiscal 2017. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s <a href="https://onenyc.cityofnewyork.us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">OneNYC plan</a> includes a commitment to award at least 30 percent of city contract dollars to M/WBEs by 2021 and to award $16 billion in city contracts to M/WBEs by 2025.</p> <p>Michael Owh, director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services and the city’s chief procurement officer, said the de Blasio administration supports the bill and that it “is a step in the right direction toward providing information to businesses and connecting them with resources.”</p> <p>When asked by Council Member Daniel Garodnick, the chair of the Committee on Economic Development, if the bill warranted any changes or edits, Owh emphasized that it would need input from all the stakeholders. “[We] want to make sure that we get enough feedback from not just our agencies but also the community, the contracting community, as well as the subcontracting community to make sure that we are able to take in all of the various factors,” Owh said.</p> <p> </p> Where’s the Mayor’s Jobs Plan? 2017-05-30T04:00:00+00:00 2017-05-30T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6962:where-s-the-mayor-s-jobs-plan Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/34848928905_1c75a99343_z.jpg" alt="de blasio jobs tour" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio in the Bronx (photo:&nbsp;Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Kicking off his week in the Bronx, Mayor Bill de Blasio said May 22 that his administration’s efforts to fight inequality are working and that while unemployment has dropped significantly in the borough, there is more work to be done. “The Bronx has borne the brunt of that inequality crisis in many ways,” the mayor said, but what his administration is doing is “disproportionately benefiting the Bronx.”</p> <p>The mayor told those sitting with him -- senior administration officials and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. -- and any others paying attention that his administration is focused on “maximizing economic opportunity.” “[N]ot just any jobs,” the mayor said, “but in fact an increasing focus on good paying jobs, which is what I devoted the State of the City to.”</p> <p>De Blasio was referring to his February 13 speech, during which he announced that the city would invest in creating 100,000 permanent private sector jobs that pay more than $50,000 a year. It would be a ten-year plan, the mayor said, and while de Blasio offered a few examples of the economic sectors that would see some of that job growth -- tech, life sciences, renewable energy, manufacturing -- his announcement included few details. Soon after his State of the City, de Blasio explained that his administration would be releasing a detailed policy book, as it had done in 2014 with his 200,000-unit ten-year affordable housing plan and a few other major initiatives, to show where the jobs would come from and how.</p> <p>On and off for several weeks, the mayor defended setting the 100,000 goal without a roadmap to get there, saying that it was the target city experts could ambitiously but reasonably forecast and that the specifics would follow. He also found himself defending it as ambitious enough -- critics pointed out that the city has been adding jobs at a much more rapid pace over the last ten years, but the mayor explained that job growth was already slowing and that he is focused on the wage threshold.</p> <p>De Blasio has been asked about the plan, and when the public would see the details, at press conferences and his top aides were asked about it at multiple City Council budget hearings. At a late April news conference, Gotham Gazette asked when the jobs plan could be expected, whether it was imminent. “Not imminent in the sense of the next few weeks,” de Blasio said. “But, at some point this year I'll give you a better read on when."</p> <p>At a May 9 City Council budget hearing, the head of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, James Patchett, told Council members that de Blasio administration officials are working diligently on the plan.</p> <p>City Council Member Dan Garodnick, chair of the economic development committee, said, "We continue to have little clarity on the sources of jobs in the mayor's jobs plan.” Patchett said, “We can expect to have a plan very shortly,” but would not give an exact deadline, instead saying, “Certainly, I would love to have it come by the end of the summer. Hopefully sooner.”</p> <p>As Garodnick pressed for details and whether the 100,000 goal is the right one, Patchett said, “I think you’re right to ask for the plan, I think when you see it you’ll be able to better judge that. Broadly speaking, the 100,000 jobs target is focused on the specific ways the city is encouraging job growth, as opposed to more broadly in the economy.” Almost 300,000 jobs were created over the last three years, he added, but what the de Blasio administration is focused on is jobs created through city intervention and at the “good paying” threshold of $50,000 per year.</p> <p>According to City Hall, top de Blasio officials under Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who oversees housing and economic development, continue to meet weekly and a detailed jobs plan is indeed expected sometime this summer. Glen’s portfolio includes the Economic Development Corporation; Small Business Services, which runs workforce development programming; the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; and other agencies that will be integral to the jobs plan.</p> <p>“Senior leadership from across the administration has met weekly on the jobs plan for months now, and our work is in an advanced stage,” said Melissa Grace, a de Blasio spokesperson, in a statement. “This is a major undertaking that will improve the earning power and professional opportunities of thousands of New Yorkers. From Vision Zero to ThriveNYC to Housing New York, we’ve consistently delivered on these big multi-agency initiatives because we take the time to do them right.”</p> <p>The de Blasio administration has already released pieces of the plan, including an investment in the life sciences sector; manufacturing, garment, and fashion jobs in Brooklyn through enhanced use of both the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal; and a new technology hub in Union Square. As those pieces and others have indicated, the plan will include both industry-specific initiatives and place-based efforts, leveraging city-owned land.</p> <p>Another example was announced Tuesday, with the Economic Development Corporation releasing “the next phase of the Futureworks NYC advanced manufacturing initiative.” It will create more than 2,000 jobs over five years, the EDC announcement says, through “a series of partner networks and programs to increase access to advanced manufacturing technology, support startups, and help traditional manufacturing companies implement new technologies to help them remain competitive.”</p> <p>De Blasio has repeatedly stressed that his government is investing and intervening in order to help New Yorkers find good-paying jobs, part of the mayor’s fight against inequality, attempt to make the city more affordable, and efforts to lift hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers out of poverty. While de Blasio has celebrated that unemployment in the city is hovering around an impressively low 4%, there are not necessarily enough middle-income private-sector jobs. The mayor argues that the city must take action to spur important types of job growth that will benefit New Yorkers.</p> <p>But, as with many headline-grabbing announcements by de Blasio, the key will be planning, execution, return on city investment, and proper metrics for evaluating the program’s efficacy. It’s still not clear exactly how the 100,000 number was pegged.</p> <p>When Gotham Gazette asked the mayor <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/104-17/transcript-mayor-de-blasio-appoints-david-hansell-commissioner-the-administration-for" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at a February news conference</a>, he said, “The 100,000 plan emerged from looking at the strands that were already starting to move and asking how far we could take them, and what was a fair numerical stretch-goal to reach for. And that’s very consistent with how we did the affordable housing plan, how we did the pre-K plan – you name it. You know the question on the table is always what’s in motion, where can we take it, and then push it to its farthest extent. And I thought it was an important thing to focus on and really give people a sense of where we were going and what we could achieve.”</p> <p>Pushed on whether the 100,000 number over 10 years is really a big goal, de Blasio said that critics are not really looking at the last 10 years fairly, noting that the economic crisis that began nearly 10 years ago made the subsequent job growth numbers unsustainable for many years.</p> <p>“[W]e had huge job loss, and then we had impressive rebounding," de Blasio said. "We’ve gotten a little comfortable because we had such extraordinary success over the last couple of years. The first two years alone that I was in office was about 250,000 jobs. The difference now is the keep generating an intensive pace of job creation, but to focus more on the high-paying jobs. That’s going to take government stimulative effect, if you will. That’s going to take us doing smart, strategic things to keep growth high.”</p> <p>EDC’s Patchett at the May 9 City Council budget hearing said the plan won’t “identify every sub-initiative of like 17 jobs here and 14 jobs there, because it’s over the next 10 years and...we need to be aware of the fact that the plan will change and the economy will change over time. But we are going to go sector by sector and talk about specific job targets and a series of specific initiatives that we can announce right away that will make up a significant portion of those jobs.”</p> <p>“OK, we’ll look forward to seeing that,” Council Member Garodnick responded.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/34848928905_1c75a99343_z.jpg" alt="de blasio jobs tour" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio in the Bronx (photo:&nbsp;Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Kicking off his week in the Bronx, Mayor Bill de Blasio said May 22 that his administration’s efforts to fight inequality are working and that while unemployment has dropped significantly in the borough, there is more work to be done. “The Bronx has borne the brunt of that inequality crisis in many ways,” the mayor said, but what his administration is doing is “disproportionately benefiting the Bronx.”</p> <p>The mayor told those sitting with him -- senior administration officials and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. -- and any others paying attention that his administration is focused on “maximizing economic opportunity.” “[N]ot just any jobs,” the mayor said, “but in fact an increasing focus on good paying jobs, which is what I devoted the State of the City to.”</p> <p>De Blasio was referring to his February 13 speech, during which he announced that the city would invest in creating 100,000 permanent private sector jobs that pay more than $50,000 a year. It would be a ten-year plan, the mayor said, and while de Blasio offered a few examples of the economic sectors that would see some of that job growth -- tech, life sciences, renewable energy, manufacturing -- his announcement included few details. Soon after his State of the City, de Blasio explained that his administration would be releasing a detailed policy book, as it had done in 2014 with his 200,000-unit ten-year affordable housing plan and a few other major initiatives, to show where the jobs would come from and how.</p> <p>On and off for several weeks, the mayor defended setting the 100,000 goal without a roadmap to get there, saying that it was the target city experts could ambitiously but reasonably forecast and that the specifics would follow. He also found himself defending it as ambitious enough -- critics pointed out that the city has been adding jobs at a much more rapid pace over the last ten years, but the mayor explained that job growth was already slowing and that he is focused on the wage threshold.</p> <p>De Blasio has been asked about the plan, and when the public would see the details, at press conferences and his top aides were asked about it at multiple City Council budget hearings. At a late April news conference, Gotham Gazette asked when the jobs plan could be expected, whether it was imminent. “Not imminent in the sense of the next few weeks,” de Blasio said. “But, at some point this year I'll give you a better read on when."</p> <p>At a May 9 City Council budget hearing, the head of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, James Patchett, told Council members that de Blasio administration officials are working diligently on the plan.</p> <p>City Council Member Dan Garodnick, chair of the economic development committee, said, "We continue to have little clarity on the sources of jobs in the mayor's jobs plan.” Patchett said, “We can expect to have a plan very shortly,” but would not give an exact deadline, instead saying, “Certainly, I would love to have it come by the end of the summer. Hopefully sooner.”</p> <p>As Garodnick pressed for details and whether the 100,000 goal is the right one, Patchett said, “I think you’re right to ask for the plan, I think when you see it you’ll be able to better judge that. Broadly speaking, the 100,000 jobs target is focused on the specific ways the city is encouraging job growth, as opposed to more broadly in the economy.” Almost 300,000 jobs were created over the last three years, he added, but what the de Blasio administration is focused on is jobs created through city intervention and at the “good paying” threshold of $50,000 per year.</p> <p>According to City Hall, top de Blasio officials under Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who oversees housing and economic development, continue to meet weekly and a detailed jobs plan is indeed expected sometime this summer. Glen’s portfolio includes the Economic Development Corporation; Small Business Services, which runs workforce development programming; the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; and other agencies that will be integral to the jobs plan.</p> <p>“Senior leadership from across the administration has met weekly on the jobs plan for months now, and our work is in an advanced stage,” said Melissa Grace, a de Blasio spokesperson, in a statement. “This is a major undertaking that will improve the earning power and professional opportunities of thousands of New Yorkers. From Vision Zero to ThriveNYC to Housing New York, we’ve consistently delivered on these big multi-agency initiatives because we take the time to do them right.”</p> <p>The de Blasio administration has already released pieces of the plan, including an investment in the life sciences sector; manufacturing, garment, and fashion jobs in Brooklyn through enhanced use of both the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal; and a new technology hub in Union Square. As those pieces and others have indicated, the plan will include both industry-specific initiatives and place-based efforts, leveraging city-owned land.</p> <p>Another example was announced Tuesday, with the Economic Development Corporation releasing “the next phase of the Futureworks NYC advanced manufacturing initiative.” It will create more than 2,000 jobs over five years, the EDC announcement says, through “a series of partner networks and programs to increase access to advanced manufacturing technology, support startups, and help traditional manufacturing companies implement new technologies to help them remain competitive.”</p> <p>De Blasio has repeatedly stressed that his government is investing and intervening in order to help New Yorkers find good-paying jobs, part of the mayor’s fight against inequality, attempt to make the city more affordable, and efforts to lift hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers out of poverty. While de Blasio has celebrated that unemployment in the city is hovering around an impressively low 4%, there are not necessarily enough middle-income private-sector jobs. The mayor argues that the city must take action to spur important types of job growth that will benefit New Yorkers.</p> <p>But, as with many headline-grabbing announcements by de Blasio, the key will be planning, execution, return on city investment, and proper metrics for evaluating the program’s efficacy. It’s still not clear exactly how the 100,000 number was pegged.</p> <p>When Gotham Gazette asked the mayor <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/104-17/transcript-mayor-de-blasio-appoints-david-hansell-commissioner-the-administration-for" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at a February news conference</a>, he said, “The 100,000 plan emerged from looking at the strands that were already starting to move and asking how far we could take them, and what was a fair numerical stretch-goal to reach for. And that’s very consistent with how we did the affordable housing plan, how we did the pre-K plan – you name it. You know the question on the table is always what’s in motion, where can we take it, and then push it to its farthest extent. And I thought it was an important thing to focus on and really give people a sense of where we were going and what we could achieve.”</p> <p>Pushed on whether the 100,000 number over 10 years is really a big goal, de Blasio said that critics are not really looking at the last 10 years fairly, noting that the economic crisis that began nearly 10 years ago made the subsequent job growth numbers unsustainable for many years.</p> <p>“[W]e had huge job loss, and then we had impressive rebounding," de Blasio said. "We’ve gotten a little comfortable because we had such extraordinary success over the last couple of years. The first two years alone that I was in office was about 250,000 jobs. The difference now is the keep generating an intensive pace of job creation, but to focus more on the high-paying jobs. That’s going to take government stimulative effect, if you will. That’s going to take us doing smart, strategic things to keep growth high.”</p> <p>EDC’s Patchett at the May 9 City Council budget hearing said the plan won’t “identify every sub-initiative of like 17 jobs here and 14 jobs there, because it’s over the next 10 years and...we need to be aware of the fact that the plan will change and the economy will change over time. But we are going to go sector by sector and talk about specific job targets and a series of specific initiatives that we can announce right away that will make up a significant portion of those jobs.”</p> <p>“OK, we’ll look forward to seeing that,” Council Member Garodnick responded.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
For a More Accountable NYPD, Improve Information Sharing on Police Misconduct 2017-04-05T04:00:00+00:00 2017-04-05T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6854:for-a-more-accountable-nypd-improve-information-sharing-on-police-misconduct Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/32116852711_e2b336ce79_z.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="Garodnick City Council" /></p> <p>Council Member Dan Garodnick, the author (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>For decades, the New York City Police Department has had an early intervention system to identify officers prone to violence, based on their discipline and complaint history. Yet through <a href="https://thinkprogress.org/richard-haste-disciplinary-record-474f77eb8d19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">leaks</a> last month, we learned that the officers who killed Eric Garner and Ramarley Graham had extensive records of complaints against them. Despite so many documented problems, the officers remained in a position to harm the very people they were sworn to protect. In these cases, the early intervention system did not do its job.</p> <p>We must do better and hold the NYPD more accountable for ensuring that its officers and the public are receiving all the benefits of a robust early intervention system. Several city agencies, from the Law Department to the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), oversee the NYPD to some extent. Each of them should have complete access to the information that exists on police misconduct -- but today they do not. Officers with unusually high rates of alleged misconduct should be well known not only to the police department but also to all the entities that do oversight.</p> <p>To accomplish this, I have written <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2473915&amp;GUID=E358D9F7-5AF9-48D8-B03E-D5DF8C46BF0C&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a bill</a> that would require the Police Department, the Law Department, the Comptroller, the CCRB, and the Inspector General for the NYPD to share with each other information regarding civil actions, complaints, and other data points relating to allegations of police misconduct by officers.</p> <p>Such information-sharing is key. In the absence of reliable and consistent access to this information, these oversight entities cannot properly discharge their responsibilities. Ultimately, an early intervention system that fails to intervene is not much of a system at all.</p> <p>And we desperately need that system to work. <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/can-the-nypd-spot-the-abusive-cop/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies have found</a> that a very small percentage of officers are responsible for the overwhelming majority of problematic interactions with civilians. Identifying those officers, and correcting their behavior or removing them from interaction with the public, would go a long way to rooting out the problem of excessive use of force by the police.</p> <p>More eyes on police misconduct will mean greater accountability for the NYPD’s early intervention system. With a better system, we could ensure that the NYPD acts faster to address festering issues, and to protect the public. We would also ensure that our many talented and capable police officers do not have to be partnered with people who are going to put anyone’s life in danger.</p> <p>We could also save the city a lot of money. In Fiscal Year 2016, New York City <a href="http://gothamist.com/2016/09/21/nypd_misconduct_costs.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paid out $228 million</a> in settling and paying out police misconduct judgments. Effective interventions to remove or retrain the few officers who are responsible for the most problems would reduce the city’s exposure to litigation and consequently reduce the costs associated with police misconduct.</p> <p>Most importantly, this legislation could prevent tragedy. If a better information sharing system is in place, the NYPD will have to be more responsive to addressing misconduct of officers with histories of complaints. In the tragic case of Eric Garner, the NYPD knew Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s history, but did not take sufficient steps to address the underlying issues. In Pantaleo's previous disciplinary proceedings, the NYPD failed to follow the CCRB's recommendations for punishment. Further, they allowed him to continue to work on the street. If other oversight agencies also knew of the complaints and the recommended consequences, there might have been more pressure on the NYPD to heed these warning signs and work to prevent future incidents.</p> <p>Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill have made significant progress in bridging divides between communities and police. They have an opportunity to continue this progress by supporting <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2473915&amp;GUID=E358D9F7-5AF9-48D8-B03E-D5DF8C46BF0C&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this bill</a>, which will be the subject of a public hearing in front of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Thursday, a hearing chaired by bill co-sponsor Vanessa Gibson. If we want to better protect civil liberties and to better identify officers that have a history of violence, let’s give all the oversight bodies the tools they need to conduct real analysis. It very well may save lives.</p> <p>***<br />Daniel Garodnick has represented the fourth district in the New York City Council since 2006, and chairs the Economic Development Committee. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/DanGarodnick" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@DanGarodnick</a>.</p> <p>

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

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/32116852711_e2b336ce79_z.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="Garodnick City Council" /></p> <p>Council Member Dan Garodnick, the author (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>For decades, the New York City Police Department has had an early intervention system to identify officers prone to violence, based on their discipline and complaint history. Yet through <a href="https://thinkprogress.org/richard-haste-disciplinary-record-474f77eb8d19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">leaks</a> last month, we learned that the officers who killed Eric Garner and Ramarley Graham had extensive records of complaints against them. Despite so many documented problems, the officers remained in a position to harm the very people they were sworn to protect. In these cases, the early intervention system did not do its job.</p> <p>We must do better and hold the NYPD more accountable for ensuring that its officers and the public are receiving all the benefits of a robust early intervention system. Several city agencies, from the Law Department to the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), oversee the NYPD to some extent. Each of them should have complete access to the information that exists on police misconduct -- but today they do not. Officers with unusually high rates of alleged misconduct should be well known not only to the police department but also to all the entities that do oversight.</p> <p>To accomplish this, I have written <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2473915&amp;GUID=E358D9F7-5AF9-48D8-B03E-D5DF8C46BF0C&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a bill</a> that would require the Police Department, the Law Department, the Comptroller, the CCRB, and the Inspector General for the NYPD to share with each other information regarding civil actions, complaints, and other data points relating to allegations of police misconduct by officers.</p> <p>Such information-sharing is key. In the absence of reliable and consistent access to this information, these oversight entities cannot properly discharge their responsibilities. Ultimately, an early intervention system that fails to intervene is not much of a system at all.</p> <p>And we desperately need that system to work. <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/can-the-nypd-spot-the-abusive-cop/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies have found</a> that a very small percentage of officers are responsible for the overwhelming majority of problematic interactions with civilians. Identifying those officers, and correcting their behavior or removing them from interaction with the public, would go a long way to rooting out the problem of excessive use of force by the police.</p> <p>More eyes on police misconduct will mean greater accountability for the NYPD’s early intervention system. With a better system, we could ensure that the NYPD acts faster to address festering issues, and to protect the public. We would also ensure that our many talented and capable police officers do not have to be partnered with people who are going to put anyone’s life in danger.</p> <p>We could also save the city a lot of money. In Fiscal Year 2016, New York City <a href="http://gothamist.com/2016/09/21/nypd_misconduct_costs.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paid out $228 million</a> in settling and paying out police misconduct judgments. Effective interventions to remove or retrain the few officers who are responsible for the most problems would reduce the city’s exposure to litigation and consequently reduce the costs associated with police misconduct.</p> <p>Most importantly, this legislation could prevent tragedy. If a better information sharing system is in place, the NYPD will have to be more responsive to addressing misconduct of officers with histories of complaints. In the tragic case of Eric Garner, the NYPD knew Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s history, but did not take sufficient steps to address the underlying issues. In Pantaleo's previous disciplinary proceedings, the NYPD failed to follow the CCRB's recommendations for punishment. Further, they allowed him to continue to work on the street. If other oversight agencies also knew of the complaints and the recommended consequences, there might have been more pressure on the NYPD to heed these warning signs and work to prevent future incidents.</p> <p>Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill have made significant progress in bridging divides between communities and police. They have an opportunity to continue this progress by supporting <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2473915&amp;GUID=E358D9F7-5AF9-48D8-B03E-D5DF8C46BF0C&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this bill</a>, which will be the subject of a public hearing in front of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Thursday, a hearing chaired by bill co-sponsor Vanessa Gibson. If we want to better protect civil liberties and to better identify officers that have a history of violence, let’s give all the oversight bodies the tools they need to conduct real analysis. It very well may save lives.</p> <p>***<br />Daniel Garodnick has represented the fourth district in the New York City Council since 2006, and chairs the Economic Development Committee. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/DanGarodnick" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@DanGarodnick</a>.</p> <p>

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

</p>
Council to Hear Bill Mandating Publication of NYPD Patrol Guide 2016-09-06T04:00:00+00:00 2016-09-06T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6515:council-to-hear-bill-mandating-publication-of-nypd-patrol-guide Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Garodnick_NYPD.jpg" alt="Garodnick NYPD" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>City Council Member Garodnick, in NYPD hat, &amp; colleagues (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">A bill introduced by City Council Member Dan Garodnick to require the NYPD to publish its patrol guide online will be heard for the first time by the City Council&rsquo;s Committee on Public Safety next week. The hearing, <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">set for</a> Thursday, September 15, follows shortly on the recent controversy over the Right to Know Act, a package of police reform legislation that Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito put on the backburner in favor of related changes the NYPD agreed to implement through training and its patrol guide.</p> <p dir="ltr">The compromise struck between Mark-Viverito and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton upset some Council members and police reform activists, while also drawing renewed scrutiny to the NYPD patrol guide.</p> <p dir="ltr">While Mark-Viverito has insisted the Right to Know Act bills are not off the table permanently and some call for Council members to push for their passage without her agreement to schedule a vote, Garodnick&rsquo;s patrol guide bill is moving forward, and appears to have widespread support. After being heard in committee the bill can be amended and then voted through committee and the full Council - if it has enough support.</p> <p dir="ltr">While police and government reform advocates alike call for more transparency around police officer conduct, publishing the patrol guide online may be one fairly simple measure that most, if not all, stakeholders can agree on.</p> <p dir="ltr">The NYPD patrol guide lays out procedures and codes of conduct for police officers, including protocols for interactions with the public. Free but outdated versions of the guide are available online. In 2014, Shawn Musgrave, a reporter for MuckRock, <a href="https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2014/jul/02/nypd-has-freedom-information-handbook-after-all/" target="_blank">obtained a copy</a>&nbsp;through a Freedom of Information Law request, albeit after significant back and forth with the department. (Local writer and political organizer Keegan Stephan also posted <a href="http://keegan.nyc/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/NYPD-Patrol-Guide.pdf" target="_blank">the same version</a>&nbsp;on his blog in April this year.) The current guide can also apparently be purchased online, at <a href="http://www.meyersuniforms.com/ksa-pg/" target="_blank">this officer uniform store</a> and through <a href="http://www.looseleaflaw.com/catalog3/bookdetail.html?sku=1-932777-10-5" target="_blank">this publisher</a>, for between $55 and $70.&nbsp;<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2253285&amp;GUID=9AB6D2CA-2AC6-42A0-832A-45662D092016&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">Garodnick&rsquo;s bill</a>, introduced in March of 2015, would require the police department to make the full patrol guide available on their website free of cost, but would exclude portions on non-routine investigative techniques, confidential information or any information that would compromise an officer&rsquo;s safety or that of the public. The police department would have to update the guide each time an amendment is made, clearly noting the changes along with their effective dates. The bill would go into effect 90 days after it is signed into law.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The Police Commissioner supports posting the Patrol Guide on the Department's website,&rdquo; said an NYPD spokesperson in a statement to Gotham Gazette, also confirming that department personnel will testify at the Sept. 15 hearing. (Coincidentally, Bratton&rsquo;s last day at the NYPD is set for Sept. 16; he announced his retirement earlier this summer. Bratton has often clashed with the Council on police reform and oversight.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Garodnick called his bill an &ldquo;important transparency initiative&rdquo; for the police. &ldquo;This bill will help build the trust that some feel is lacking between the police and communities,&rdquo; he said in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;It will also add accountability because New Yorkers will be able to know what to expect in interactions with the police and be better equipped to speak up&rdquo; if there are any violations, he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">It will also help the police department, Garodnick said, in ensuring that the public understands the rules. Mark-Viverito appears to be backing the bill. &ldquo;This is part of our continued push to reform the NYPD to make it more transparent,&rdquo; said Eric Koch, spokesperson for the speaker, in a statement.</p> <p dir="ltr">Publishing the patrol guide is unlikely to quiet those calling for passage of the Right to Know Act, but it would bring more light to the new directives being given to officers for carrying out street stops, among other updates that have recently been agreed upon, such as the use of civil summonses instead of criminal summonses or arrests for a variety of non-violent, low-level offenses.</p> <p dir="ltr">Incoming Police Commissioner James O&rsquo;Neill, who will take over the department when Bratton departs, has said he is fully supportive of the Right to Know compromise.</p> <p dir="ltr">The legislation in the Right to Know Act would require police officers to identify themselves by name, rank, and command if a street stop does not result in an arrest and requires an officer to obtain consent to search a civilian, a vehicle or house and inform a civilian of their right to refuse consent for a search if there is no probable cause. The bills were strongly opposed by Bratton on behalf of the NYPD, and thus the de Blasio administration. Mark-Viverito did not agree to schedule a vote on the bills, which had a committee hearing on June 29, 2015.</p> <p dir="ltr">Instead, Mark-Viverito struck an administrative compromise with Bratton to implement aspects of the two bills through department training and the patrol guide. In <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6508-full-interview-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank">a recent interview</a> with Gotham Gazette, Mark-Viverito defended the compromise as progress, explaining that the Council had moved the NYPD from its strong opposition toward middle ground. Police reform advocates have criticized the agreement, pointing out that the NYPD is particularly opaque when it comes to its patrol guide.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Editing training and patrol guide language will never deliver real change on the ground to end the police abuses that the Right to Know Act would help end, and the Speaker&rsquo;s deal to gut and seek delay of the reforms certainly will not,&rdquo; said Anthonine Pierre, lead community organizer for Brooklyn Movement Center, in a statement.</p> <p dir="ltr">Brooklyn Movement Center is a part of Communities United for Police Reform, a coalition. &ldquo;Transparency is needed on a range of fronts with the NYPD and Council Member Garodnick&rsquo;s efforts to advance that regarding the patrol guide are positive, but it&rsquo;s troubling that this transparency bill was not provided with a hearing until public scrutiny of Speaker Mark-Viverito&rsquo;s deal that lacks transparency and deficiently relies on the patrol guide,&rdquo; Pierre said. There is no evidence that the hearing comes as a result of the Right to Know Act compromise.</p> <p>Amid the criticism of the deal, Politico New York <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/08/council-says-nypd-will-speed-up-implementation-of-right-to-know-act-protocols-104973" target="_blank">recently reported</a> that the NYPD was speeding up its estimated timeline for implementing the compromise by six months. According to Politico, NYPD sergeants were to receive training on updated search protocols as early as August 26 and would relay that to officers in the next few weeks. A second &ldquo;reinforcement&rdquo; training was planned for September, with the department expecting the patrol guide to be updated by October 15.</p> <p dir="ltr">At a <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/pols-ripped-handshake-agreement-nypd-reform-article-1.2752396" target="_blank">recent news conference</a> on the steps of City Hall, government reform group Citizens Union pointed to the lack of transparency with the patrol guide. The group released a set of <a href="https://echalk-slate-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/private/districts/466/resources/1d0cc10c-4223-4194-8e35-f069dec27777?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIZQPKIVDQVS7TUJA&amp;Expires=1473108823&amp;response-content-disposition=;filename=&quot;FINAL%20POLICE%20ACCOUNTABILITY%20PAPER%208%2015%20FRAMES.pdf&quot;&amp;response-content-type=application/pdf&amp;Signature=AoxKYRGjXH4NeaUIIUbjtJ6+sf4=" target="_blank">proposals</a> to improve police accountability; among them, making the patrol guide freely accessible to the public.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m surprised that it even takes a law,&rdquo; said Council Member Rory Lancman, a vocal proponent of police reform and a co-sponsor of the bill. &ldquo;It seems obvious that it should be available to the public except in rare circumstances where that compromises public safety.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Lancman said making the patrol guide public has been an issue for years, and not just since the Right to Know controversy. &ldquo;One would have thought that de Blasio, on taking office, would have published it without needing to be forced through legislation three years into his term, to do so.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Lancman expects the hearing to go smoothly and that the bill will receive overwhelming support. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no reason the NYPD shouldn&rsquo;t be transparent in this way,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Garodnick_NYPD.jpg" alt="Garodnick NYPD" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>City Council Member Garodnick, in NYPD hat, &amp; colleagues (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">A bill introduced by City Council Member Dan Garodnick to require the NYPD to publish its patrol guide online will be heard for the first time by the City Council&rsquo;s Committee on Public Safety next week. The hearing, <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">set for</a> Thursday, September 15, follows shortly on the recent controversy over the Right to Know Act, a package of police reform legislation that Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito put on the backburner in favor of related changes the NYPD agreed to implement through training and its patrol guide.</p> <p dir="ltr">The compromise struck between Mark-Viverito and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton upset some Council members and police reform activists, while also drawing renewed scrutiny to the NYPD patrol guide.</p> <p dir="ltr">While Mark-Viverito has insisted the Right to Know Act bills are not off the table permanently and some call for Council members to push for their passage without her agreement to schedule a vote, Garodnick&rsquo;s patrol guide bill is moving forward, and appears to have widespread support. After being heard in committee the bill can be amended and then voted through committee and the full Council - if it has enough support.</p> <p dir="ltr">While police and government reform advocates alike call for more transparency around police officer conduct, publishing the patrol guide online may be one fairly simple measure that most, if not all, stakeholders can agree on.</p> <p dir="ltr">The NYPD patrol guide lays out procedures and codes of conduct for police officers, including protocols for interactions with the public. Free but outdated versions of the guide are available online. In 2014, Shawn Musgrave, a reporter for MuckRock, <a href="https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2014/jul/02/nypd-has-freedom-information-handbook-after-all/" target="_blank">obtained a copy</a>&nbsp;through a Freedom of Information Law request, albeit after significant back and forth with the department. (Local writer and political organizer Keegan Stephan also posted <a href="http://keegan.nyc/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/NYPD-Patrol-Guide.pdf" target="_blank">the same version</a>&nbsp;on his blog in April this year.) The current guide can also apparently be purchased online, at <a href="http://www.meyersuniforms.com/ksa-pg/" target="_blank">this officer uniform store</a> and through <a href="http://www.looseleaflaw.com/catalog3/bookdetail.html?sku=1-932777-10-5" target="_blank">this publisher</a>, for between $55 and $70.&nbsp;<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2253285&amp;GUID=9AB6D2CA-2AC6-42A0-832A-45662D092016&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">Garodnick&rsquo;s bill</a>, introduced in March of 2015, would require the police department to make the full patrol guide available on their website free of cost, but would exclude portions on non-routine investigative techniques, confidential information or any information that would compromise an officer&rsquo;s safety or that of the public. The police department would have to update the guide each time an amendment is made, clearly noting the changes along with their effective dates. The bill would go into effect 90 days after it is signed into law.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The Police Commissioner supports posting the Patrol Guide on the Department's website,&rdquo; said an NYPD spokesperson in a statement to Gotham Gazette, also confirming that department personnel will testify at the Sept. 15 hearing. (Coincidentally, Bratton&rsquo;s last day at the NYPD is set for Sept. 16; he announced his retirement earlier this summer. Bratton has often clashed with the Council on police reform and oversight.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Garodnick called his bill an &ldquo;important transparency initiative&rdquo; for the police. &ldquo;This bill will help build the trust that some feel is lacking between the police and communities,&rdquo; he said in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;It will also add accountability because New Yorkers will be able to know what to expect in interactions with the police and be better equipped to speak up&rdquo; if there are any violations, he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">It will also help the police department, Garodnick said, in ensuring that the public understands the rules. Mark-Viverito appears to be backing the bill. &ldquo;This is part of our continued push to reform the NYPD to make it more transparent,&rdquo; said Eric Koch, spokesperson for the speaker, in a statement.</p> <p dir="ltr">Publishing the patrol guide is unlikely to quiet those calling for passage of the Right to Know Act, but it would bring more light to the new directives being given to officers for carrying out street stops, among other updates that have recently been agreed upon, such as the use of civil summonses instead of criminal summonses or arrests for a variety of non-violent, low-level offenses.</p> <p dir="ltr">Incoming Police Commissioner James O&rsquo;Neill, who will take over the department when Bratton departs, has said he is fully supportive of the Right to Know compromise.</p> <p dir="ltr">The legislation in the Right to Know Act would require police officers to identify themselves by name, rank, and command if a street stop does not result in an arrest and requires an officer to obtain consent to search a civilian, a vehicle or house and inform a civilian of their right to refuse consent for a search if there is no probable cause. The bills were strongly opposed by Bratton on behalf of the NYPD, and thus the de Blasio administration. Mark-Viverito did not agree to schedule a vote on the bills, which had a committee hearing on June 29, 2015.</p> <p dir="ltr">Instead, Mark-Viverito struck an administrative compromise with Bratton to implement aspects of the two bills through department training and the patrol guide. In <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6508-full-interview-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank">a recent interview</a> with Gotham Gazette, Mark-Viverito defended the compromise as progress, explaining that the Council had moved the NYPD from its strong opposition toward middle ground. Police reform advocates have criticized the agreement, pointing out that the NYPD is particularly opaque when it comes to its patrol guide.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Editing training and patrol guide language will never deliver real change on the ground to end the police abuses that the Right to Know Act would help end, and the Speaker&rsquo;s deal to gut and seek delay of the reforms certainly will not,&rdquo; said Anthonine Pierre, lead community organizer for Brooklyn Movement Center, in a statement.</p> <p dir="ltr">Brooklyn Movement Center is a part of Communities United for Police Reform, a coalition. &ldquo;Transparency is needed on a range of fronts with the NYPD and Council Member Garodnick&rsquo;s efforts to advance that regarding the patrol guide are positive, but it&rsquo;s troubling that this transparency bill was not provided with a hearing until public scrutiny of Speaker Mark-Viverito&rsquo;s deal that lacks transparency and deficiently relies on the patrol guide,&rdquo; Pierre said. There is no evidence that the hearing comes as a result of the Right to Know Act compromise.</p> <p>Amid the criticism of the deal, Politico New York <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/08/council-says-nypd-will-speed-up-implementation-of-right-to-know-act-protocols-104973" target="_blank">recently reported</a> that the NYPD was speeding up its estimated timeline for implementing the compromise by six months. According to Politico, NYPD sergeants were to receive training on updated search protocols as early as August 26 and would relay that to officers in the next few weeks. A second &ldquo;reinforcement&rdquo; training was planned for September, with the department expecting the patrol guide to be updated by October 15.</p> <p dir="ltr">At a <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/pols-ripped-handshake-agreement-nypd-reform-article-1.2752396" target="_blank">recent news conference</a> on the steps of City Hall, government reform group Citizens Union pointed to the lack of transparency with the patrol guide. The group released a set of <a href="https://echalk-slate-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/private/districts/466/resources/1d0cc10c-4223-4194-8e35-f069dec27777?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIZQPKIVDQVS7TUJA&amp;Expires=1473108823&amp;response-content-disposition=;filename=&quot;FINAL%20POLICE%20ACCOUNTABILITY%20PAPER%208%2015%20FRAMES.pdf&quot;&amp;response-content-type=application/pdf&amp;Signature=AoxKYRGjXH4NeaUIIUbjtJ6+sf4=" target="_blank">proposals</a> to improve police accountability; among them, making the patrol guide freely accessible to the public.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m surprised that it even takes a law,&rdquo; said Council Member Rory Lancman, a vocal proponent of police reform and a co-sponsor of the bill. &ldquo;It seems obvious that it should be available to the public except in rare circumstances where that compromises public safety.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Lancman said making the patrol guide public has been an issue for years, and not just since the Right to Know controversy. &ldquo;One would have thought that de Blasio, on taking office, would have published it without needing to be forced through legislation three years into his term, to do so.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Lancman expects the hearing to go smoothly and that the bill will receive overwhelming support. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no reason the NYPD shouldn&rsquo;t be transparent in this way,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.</p>