Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/180 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:51:43 +0000 en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Assembly Candidates Turn Down Televised Debates http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6519:assembly-candidates-turn-down-televised-debates http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6519:assembly-candidates-turn-down-televised-debates Errol No Debate

NY1 Anchor Errol Louis (NY1 screenshot)


New York City’s premiere political television news show, NY1’s Inside City Hall, has been hosting candidate debates in the weeks leading up to the September 13 state legislative primaries, as it has ahead of past elections.

NY1 has been home to many debates over the years, including earlier this year, when it hosted seven Democratic candidates seeking to replace retiring Rep. Charles Rangel and the NY1-CNN presidential primary debate between Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Moving toward the upcoming primaries for New York State Assembly and Senate, the network has, as of Thursday evening’s Inside City Hall program, hosted candidates from six primaries. Two of those, however, were solo candidate interviews when the second person running in each of two races declined NY1’s debate invitation.

On Thursday’s Inside City Hall, host Errol Louis moderated a four-candidate debate in the 31st state Senate District race. He also held two separate individual interviews with candidates: incumbent Assembly Member Latrice Walker spoke with Louis when her challenger, current City Council Member Darlene Mealy, declined to appear for a debate; and Tremaine Wright spoke with Louis when Karen Cherry, her competitor for the 56th Assembly District seat, which is being vacated by the long-term incumbent, opted not to appear.

When an Inside City Hall producer emailed the show’s press list to advise of Thursday night’s program line-up, it was noted that Mealy and Cherry had declined to accept debate invitations. Gotham Gazette attempted to reach Mealy through her City Council office, to no avail, despite talking with an aide. A spokesperson for Cherry indicated that the candidate had a scheduling conflict.

“Those were the only two candidates this cycle who declined to attend. We held four debates (Senate District 10, Senate District 33, Senate District 31 and Assembly District 46) in addition to these two,” said said Bob Hardt, NY1 political director, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “Generally, we try to give ample time before a debate but if space opens up at the last minute, we occasionally try to put together a debate within days in the interest of providing a service to our audience. In the case of the Mealy-Walker race, we reached out to both campaigns in the middle of August. In the case of the Cherry-Wright race, we reached out to both campaigns last week and Wright accepted but Cherry declined, indicating a desire to stay in the district.“

In local elections, an invitation to debate on NY1 is often candidates’ only opportunity to speak on television and reach a broader audience than typical campaigning allows. Inside City Hall is also watched by political insiders, the civic-minded public, and many New Yorkers interested in local political news. Debates offer candidates an opportunity for a performance to share by video afterward as well.

Cherry’s campaign communications director, Tony Herbert, told Gotham Gazette that the candidate was “meeting with seniors and other people in the community” at the time of the debate taping on Thursday. “The option that was given was a conflict with her schedule,” Herbert said. “There was no other option. We would’ve loved to have done it, but we couldn’t meet that timeframe.”

“We think she’s gonna do well,” he added. “But we can’t take anything for granted. We’ve gotta be out there with constituents.”

In Wright’s interview with Louis, the candidate discussed her pursuit of the Brooklyn Assembly seat, including her resume, which includes being a small business owner and chair of the local community board in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Wright said she wants to move to the Assembly in order to be a part of the budget process, provide legislative oversight, and bring resources back to her district. She did not mention the absence of her opponent, but Inside City Hall did have a graphic showing a map of the district with “No Debate” written above it.

AM WalkerAssembly Member Walker’s primary challenger in the 55th Assembly District, also in Brooklyn, City Council Member Darlene Mealy, is not known as an especially active Council member. Mealy, who is term-limited out of the Council at the end of 2017, is challenging Assembly Member Walker in an attempt to move to the state Legislature.

The Council member’s campaign committee has no clear contact information listed with the Board of Elections. An aide in her Council office did not make her available for an interview or send a statement explaining Mealy’s decision not to debate on NY1.

In Walker’s NY1 interview, the short-term incumbent (pictured) explained her roots in her district and what she described as the privilege of representing her community in Albany. She touted bringing millions of dollars back to the district for a hospital and NYCHA repairs and described introducing bills aimed at expanding voting rights and registration. The Assembly member also explained how she is attempting to restore her constituents’ trust in government after her predecessor wound up in prison on corruption charges.

While Louis, the Inside City Hall anchor, did lament the absence of Mealy, Walker did not discuss her opponent. The interview also featured a NY1 map of the district and the "No Debate" headline.

State legislative primaries are Tuesday, September 13.

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by William Fowler and Ben Max, with reporting from Samar Khurshid
@GothamGazette

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Assembly Candidates Turn Down Televised Debates Thu, 08 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Toward Progress on Equal Pay Day http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6275:toward-progress-on-equal-pay-day http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6275:toward-progress-on-equal-pay-day womens caucus council

The City Council Women's Caucus, including two authors (photo: William Alatriste)


Today - Tuesday, April 12 - New York City recognizes Equal Pay Day – a day to confront the challenges our mothers, daughters, and sisters still face in achieving workplace equality.

Significant progress has been made, but substantial discrepancies exist between women and men – most notably, a sizable wage gap. As of 2013, women still earned only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, with a median income over 27 percent lower than that of men. For women of color, the pay gap widens: black and Hispanic women earn 64 and 56 cents on the dollar, respectively. Stretched over a lifetime of work, this leaves women with much less money than the average man.

At S&P Fortune 500 companies, women hold less than 5 percent of CEO positions and only 16 percent of board seats. When women are top earners, the pay gap tends to close at a faster pace. But disappointingly, the numbers show that women are vastly underrepresented in these higher-level positions, resulting in a persistent pay gap and lack of diversity in board rooms big and small.

Yet, women are more educated and prepared for the workforce than ever before. Women now account for nearly 60 percent of annual four-year university graduates, 60 percent of master’s degrees, and 52 percent of doctorates being awarded in the United States.

Though the longstanding pay gap is an undeniable social injustice; it amounts to much more, and is actually hurting corporate bottom lines.

Study after study, particularly those from Catalyst, the global expert on accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion, has stated that when women hold leadership or board positions, it improves company financial performance, economic growth, productivity, and profitability. This makes it crystal clear that business is better and companies perform most effectively when they bring equal opportunity, allowing everyone a seat at the table.

The City of New York, as the global center of business and commerce, and proprietor of billions in private contracts, can play an important role in promoting the levels of diversity we need in the 21st century. Let’s make sure we get the best value for our own tax dollars, and promote businesses that promote equal opportunity.

Last week, the City Council voted and passed Introduction 704-A, a bill we sponsored to gather more information on the gender and racial makeup of the individuals who make up executive-level staff and boards of companies that do business with the City. Once signed into law, it will require the Department of Small Business Services to survey companies that do business with the City and obtain the demographics of companies’ executive-level staff and board members.

In 2015, the City procured $13.8 billion worth of goods and services through more than 60,000 transactions, yet we do not know who is running the companies that are conducting this business. Our new law will provide the City with the data it needs to ensure that city-contracted companies are promoting the diversity that makes this City so great, and could ultimately boost the economy.

It’s a small step that we believe will go a long way to help our City recognize inequities in our own front yard and create incentives for businesses throughout New York to promote diversity in their top ranks.

We hope you will all join us today in the fight for equal opportunity, equal pay, and a New York City where everyone can succeed.

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Elizabeth Crowley and Darlene Mealy are New York City Council Members; Deborah Gillis is President & CEO of Catalyst.

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

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Toward Progress on Equal Pay Day Tue, 12 Apr 2016 04:19:41 +0000
Council Passes Bill to Improve Diversity at Upper Levels of City-Contracted Businesses http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6271:council-passes-bill-to-improve-diversity-at-upper-levels-of-city-contracted-businesses http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6271:council-passes-bill-to-improve-diversity-at-upper-levels-of-city-contracted-businesses crowley johnson lean in

Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and colleagues (photo: William Alatriste) 


On Thursday, the City Council approved a bill requiring the Department of Small Business Services to survey and study the gender, ethnic, and racial makeup of executive-level staff and board members of companies that contract with the city. The bill, co-sponsored by Council Members Elizabeth Crowley and Darlene Mealy, came about while the two were co-chairs of the Council’s Women’s Caucus, and is an effort to “promote transparency,” Crowley says, and to gather information needed to make the city’s workplaces more equitable.

“This legislation is not only fair and smart, it promotes opportunity,” Crowley said in a press release following the Council’s vote. “Diversity matters in the corporate world and also impacts the bottom line. Studies have proven that diversity improves financial performance, with greater economic growth, increased productivity and increased profitability. This bill promotes diversity on boards and amongst senior-level staff, which benefits employers and makes a stronger, better New York City.”

Crowley and Mealy worked with organizations that advocate for diversity in the workplace to develop the bill, including Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that promotes inclusive workplaces for women. During the full Council vote, Crowley framed the bill as a means to help achieve greater equity for women in particular, calling the lack of women in board rooms something that is “more than an injustice to women - it’s actually hurting bottom lines.”

Recent studies show “that companies with more diversified boards do in fact yield better returns,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick, chair of the Committee on Economic Development, which unanimously approved the bill Wednesday, during an Oct. 22 hearing. A 2015 study by Credit Suisse found that the presence of at least one woman on the board of directors can make a difference.

“Companies with one woman on the board have seen an average return on equity of 14.1% since 2005, compared to 11.2% for all-male boards,” Garodnick said. “The benefits are clear, which is why the bill is crucial to help us understand how diverse our corporate boards are right now and how the city can create policies to encourage that moving forward.”

Should Mayor Bill de Blasio sign the bill, which he is expected to do, the Department of Small Business Services will be required to create a voluntary survey and have it ready to distribute to proposed city contractors and subcontractors by January 15, 2017. The survey will be distributed along with existing employment reports, and will collect information regarding the selection and employment practices, policies, and procedures related to the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of city-contracted companies’ directors, officers, and other executive-level staff.

By July 1, 2018, the Mayor or a designated agency will need to publish a report on the website of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) that analyzes the information collected and details companies’ plans for improving diversity in those positions, as well as their efforts to achieve those plans.

The bill is generally viewed as a win-win by Council members involved with the legislation, who say it will help all involved by facilitating diversity and equal opportunity while at the same time increasing the profitability and performance of companies.

While the administration is generally supportive of the bill, concerns have been raised about the onus fulfilling the mandate would put on SBS.

“The intention of this legislation is laudable and in line with the administration's efforts to fight inequality and promote the economic mobility of social inclusion of all New Yorkers,” Andrew Schwartz, then-acting commissioner of SBS said during the Oct. 22 hearing.

However, Schwartz continued, “The proposals would require significant additional work and analysis” and “many businesses may be reluctant to gather and provide this type of information. So the requirement may, in fact, deter some businesses from competing for contracts with the city.”

Additionally, Schwartz said, the new requirement could work against the city’s ongoing efforts to speed up the procurement process, and selecting vendors for contracts based on the diversity of their leadership “could raise issues that conflict with laws governing the city’s procurement process.”

Changes were made to the bill in response to those concerns. Responding to the survey was made voluntary for contractors, the deadline by which SBS must have the survey ready to distribute was extended, as was the date by which the administration has to publish a report analyzing the data collected. Notably, language was added to prohibit agencies from using information obtained by the survey as a basis for any procurement decisions.

“On it’s final version,” Garodnick told Gotham Gazette, “we have seen mostly support. We want to make sure that we encourage board room diversity among all businesses, and this bill will give us an understanding of where we stand.”

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by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Council Passes Bill to Improve Diversity at Upper Levels of City-Contracted Businesses Fri, 08 Apr 2016 03:38:05 +0000