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/department-of-small-business-services 2017-10-19T07:24:38+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com The City is Helping Small Businesses Now More Than Ever 2017-07-11T04:00:00+00:00 2017-07-11T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7057:the-city-is-helping-small-businesses-now-more-than-ever Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/bishop_mmv_nyccouncil.jpg" alt="bishop mmv nyccouncil" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>SBS Commissioner Bishop, the author, right (photo: @NYCCouncil)</p> <hr /> <p>Earlier this week, an op-ed appeared in Gotham Gazette entitled "<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7051-how-the-city-hurts-small-businesses" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How the City Hurts Small Businesses</a>." This column reminded me of a great saying by New York’s late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” The truth is that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Department of Small Business Services are working every day to support small, neighborhood businesses across the five boroughs. A few facts:</p> <ul> <li>Our Small Business Support Center has provided more than 12,000 services to small businesses since its launch last year.</li> <li>Small business fines are down 40% since the mayor took office.</li> <li>Since 2014, we’ve helped small business owners access $169 million in capital to grow their businesses.</li> <li>Restaurants that take advantage of our services open three months faster.</li> <li>We’ve served more than 12,000 foreign-born entrepreneurs.</li> <li>Over the last year alone, we’ve provided nearly 1,500 free, on-site consultations to help small business owners avoid costly fines and penalties.</li> </ul> <p>The City offers these, and many other services because we recognize that part of what makes New York City special is the diverse mix of small businesses that give our neighborhoods character. We care about the local hardware stores, beauty salons, and pizza shops where the owners know your name and are invested in their communities. We are moving government out of the way of small business owners, cutting red tape, providing new legal protections, and leveling the playing field for minority, women, and foreign-born business owners.</p> <p>Every year, our team at SBS reaches thousands of small businesses through an array of free, accessible services. We help small businesses in every phase of their development as they start, operate, and grow. This support helps small business owners cut costs and boost their bottom lines, offsetting some of the competitive pressures that exist in New York. &nbsp;</p> <p>We help small businesses to write business plans as they are starting up, learn how to negotiate a commercial lease, and understand City rules and regulations. We keep them running with free educational resources, legal consultations, and compliance services to avoid costly fines and penalties. And we help small businesses to grow through programs to help them secure financing, sell to the government, and other tailored services for minority, women, and immigrant-owned businesses.</p> <p>This year SBS also launched a citywide program called Love Your Local, which encourages New Yorkers to share their favorite independent small business through social media and on an interactive map on SBS’ website. So far, over 2,000 businesses were shared for other New Yorkers to discover. In addition to this free publicity, these businesses are eligible to apply for grant funding to help them better compete.</p> <p>The author of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7051-how-the-city-hurts-small-businesses" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the op-ed</a> also questions the value of the City’s work with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). At SBS, we provide technical assistance to communities that wish to form a BID. We help make sure that BIDs are accountable and formed through ground-up community engagement. There are BIDs across New York City that are both big and small, providing supplemental sanitation services, merchant organizing, and neighborhood beautification to strengthen existing small businesses. The 74 BIDs that operate across the city include 35 low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and each of them is governed by a locally-controlled nonprofit board of directors.</p> <p>The daily work of BIDs makes a difference for small businesses and local residents alike. If you drill down and look at the nuts and bolts of what BIDs are doing, it is work that benefits everyone. On an average day, BIDs across the city:</p> <ul> <li>Collect 10,800 bags of trash.</li> <li>Remove 233 incidents of graffiti.</li> <li>Distribute 10,036 marketing materials promoting small businesses.</li> <li>Interact with 5,752 visitors who keep shops bustling with activity.</li> </ul> <p>We are proud of the work we are doing each and every day to support stronger businesses and build stronger neighborhoods across the five boroughs. I encourage all small business owners to take advantage of the free services that SBS offers. We can help your business start, operate, and grow, and we are also here to provide assistance to communities that choose to form a BID. More information on our services can be found by visiting&nbsp;<a href="http://nyc.gov/sbs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">our website</a> or by calling 311.</p> <p>***<br />Gregg Bishop is the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. On Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/NYC_SBS" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@NYC_SBS</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/GreggBishopNYC" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@GreggBishopNYC</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/bishop_mmv_nyccouncil.jpg" alt="bishop mmv nyccouncil" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>SBS Commissioner Bishop, the author, right (photo: @NYCCouncil)</p> <hr /> <p>Earlier this week, an op-ed appeared in Gotham Gazette entitled "<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7051-how-the-city-hurts-small-businesses" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How the City Hurts Small Businesses</a>." This column reminded me of a great saying by New York’s late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” The truth is that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Department of Small Business Services are working every day to support small, neighborhood businesses across the five boroughs. A few facts:</p> <ul> <li>Our Small Business Support Center has provided more than 12,000 services to small businesses since its launch last year.</li> <li>Small business fines are down 40% since the mayor took office.</li> <li>Since 2014, we’ve helped small business owners access $169 million in capital to grow their businesses.</li> <li>Restaurants that take advantage of our services open three months faster.</li> <li>We’ve served more than 12,000 foreign-born entrepreneurs.</li> <li>Over the last year alone, we’ve provided nearly 1,500 free, on-site consultations to help small business owners avoid costly fines and penalties.</li> </ul> <p>The City offers these, and many other services because we recognize that part of what makes New York City special is the diverse mix of small businesses that give our neighborhoods character. We care about the local hardware stores, beauty salons, and pizza shops where the owners know your name and are invested in their communities. We are moving government out of the way of small business owners, cutting red tape, providing new legal protections, and leveling the playing field for minority, women, and foreign-born business owners.</p> <p>Every year, our team at SBS reaches thousands of small businesses through an array of free, accessible services. We help small businesses in every phase of their development as they start, operate, and grow. This support helps small business owners cut costs and boost their bottom lines, offsetting some of the competitive pressures that exist in New York. &nbsp;</p> <p>We help small businesses to write business plans as they are starting up, learn how to negotiate a commercial lease, and understand City rules and regulations. We keep them running with free educational resources, legal consultations, and compliance services to avoid costly fines and penalties. And we help small businesses to grow through programs to help them secure financing, sell to the government, and other tailored services for minority, women, and immigrant-owned businesses.</p> <p>This year SBS also launched a citywide program called Love Your Local, which encourages New Yorkers to share their favorite independent small business through social media and on an interactive map on SBS’ website. So far, over 2,000 businesses were shared for other New Yorkers to discover. In addition to this free publicity, these businesses are eligible to apply for grant funding to help them better compete.</p> <p>The author of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7051-how-the-city-hurts-small-businesses" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the op-ed</a> also questions the value of the City’s work with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). At SBS, we provide technical assistance to communities that wish to form a BID. We help make sure that BIDs are accountable and formed through ground-up community engagement. There are BIDs across New York City that are both big and small, providing supplemental sanitation services, merchant organizing, and neighborhood beautification to strengthen existing small businesses. The 74 BIDs that operate across the city include 35 low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and each of them is governed by a locally-controlled nonprofit board of directors.</p> <p>The daily work of BIDs makes a difference for small businesses and local residents alike. If you drill down and look at the nuts and bolts of what BIDs are doing, it is work that benefits everyone. On an average day, BIDs across the city:</p> <ul> <li>Collect 10,800 bags of trash.</li> <li>Remove 233 incidents of graffiti.</li> <li>Distribute 10,036 marketing materials promoting small businesses.</li> <li>Interact with 5,752 visitors who keep shops bustling with activity.</li> </ul> <p>We are proud of the work we are doing each and every day to support stronger businesses and build stronger neighborhoods across the five boroughs. I encourage all small business owners to take advantage of the free services that SBS offers. We can help your business start, operate, and grow, and we are also here to provide assistance to communities that choose to form a BID. More information on our services can be found by visiting&nbsp;<a href="http://nyc.gov/sbs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">our website</a> or by calling 311.</p> <p>***<br />Gregg Bishop is the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. On Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/NYC_SBS" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@NYC_SBS</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/GreggBishopNYC" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@GreggBishopNYC</a>.</p> <p>

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Part of Rezoning Plan, City Opens New Career Center in East New York 2016-12-11T05:00:00+00:00 2016-12-11T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6664:part-of-rezoning-plan-city-opens-new-career-help-center-in-east-new-york Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bdb_espinal_town_hall.jpg" alt="bdb espinal town hall" width="600" height="398" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio &amp; CM Espinal (photo: Jeffrey Reed for the City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>After serving jail time in 2014, Anthony McGlashan, a resident of East New York, Brooklyn, struggled to find employment for three years. While he had a certification from the Anthem Institute in the field of Information Technology, he continued to be rejected by employers due to his lack of experience and his criminal background. McGlashan then turned to one of New York City’s Workforce1 Centers, a city initiative that provides free career services by pairing employers with workers, holding workshops for resume and interview preparation, and other resources to aid the job search.</p> <p>In August 2015, McGlashan enrolled in Employment Works, a city program designed to match individuals with criminal histories with full-time, permanent positions in an attempt to reduce recidivism. Through workshops and the support of the program, McGlashan was able to secure an IT support position with the State of New York Unified Court System.</p> <p>“It’s been awhile, it was a struggle,” McGlashan said. “I almost felt like giving up at one time. It was only three years, but it felt much longer than that.”</p> <p>“The program pushed me to look for a more permanent, full-time position,” he added. “It shows you what you have to do in life to get something, to fight for it. Stay ambitious and determined.”</p> <p>Those previously involved with the criminal justice system often face significant difficulties when looking for permanent job opportunities. Despite serving their time, a criminal history makes employees much less likely to be hired. To eliminate this type of employment discrimination by employers, New York City passed <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/media/fair-chance-act-campaign.page" target="_blank">the Fair Chance Act</a> in October of 2015, forbidding employers from asking for the criminal records of job applicants until a job offer has been made.</p> <p>To help further break down barriers faced when looking for a job after a conviction, Mayor Bill de Blasio, working with City Council Member Rafael Espinal and Commissioner Gregg Bishop of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), is opening a new Workforce1 center in East New York, Brooklyn on Monday. The center, part of the East New York Neighborhood Plan that was <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6287-east-new-york-deal-sets-precedent-for-wave-of-rezonings" target="_blank">negotiated by Espinal and the de Blasio administration and passed through the City Council</a>, is tailored to the specific needs of this neighborhood.</p> <p>East New York has a high percentage of out-of-work, out-of-school youth and individuals with criminal backgrounds, according to the city. As part of the East New York rezoning that passed earlier this year, the career center is the nineteenth such center across the city. It will cost about $700,000 annually to run, according to SBS, with that money coming through a federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grant. The funding for creating the facility, about $165,000, came from the $276 million allocated for community development in the East New York plan, which encompasses a key stretch of Espinal’s district that will soon be home to new housing, retail, and other development, along with other community services, like a new school. It is an underdeveloped area with high concentrations of poverty and the first neighborhood rezoned under the de Blasio affordable housing plan.</p> <p>“We are investing in the people of East New York,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement accompanying the announcement of the new workforce center’s opening. “We are committed to providing the training, the education and the job-placements families need to work their way into the middle class.”</p> <p>Council Member Espinal, who <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6287-east-new-york-deal-sets-precedent-for-wave-of-rezonings" target="_blank">negotiated with the de Blasio administration</a> to pass the multi-faceted, “anti-gentrification” rezoning for his district in April, called the high unemployment rate in Brooklyn, especially in East New York, “unacceptable.”</p> <p>“The economic disparities in our city that have put a strain on so many New Yorker’s must be addressed,” Espinal said in a statement. “That is why I pushed so hard to secure this Workforce1 Center as part of the East New York Neighborhood Rezoning Plan. After all, a house is not affordable without a job.”</p> <p>Some of the debate centered on the East New York plan -- and other rezonings being considered around the city -- revolved around the levels of affordability for new rent-stabilized housing in the rezoned area. New housing in East New York will be deeply subsidized by the city, but there are still concerns of displacement. Relatedly, Espinal and others rallied on Saturday against predatory homeowner speculation that has been occurring in the area in anticipation of community improvements and rising property value.</p> <p>“All New Yorker’s should have access to good paying jobs and the tools they need to secure a bright future for their families,” Espinal said. “I am excited that the center has opened so quickly and look forward to the opportunities it will create for our community.”</p> <p>Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College sociology professor, said opening this career center in East New York reflects the mayor’s understanding of the biggest challenge facing young people of color: unemployment.</p> <p>“High levels of joblessness among these young people is a major contribution to participation in underground economies of drug dealing, property crime, and prostitution,” Vitale said in an email.</p> <p>While these centers provide job-searching resources, Vitale said the mayor should continue to identify more ways for unemployed youth to get jobs, increasing public and private sector opportunity.</p> <p>“The question is whether these centers will produce an overall increase in employment or merely rearrange who gets the few jobs that are out there,” Vitale said. “The mayor should also take steps to significantly increase the number of jobs for these young people, through public employment if the private sector is unable or unwilling to do it.”</p> <p>According to the city, the new East New York center includes partnerships with community-based organizations. Espinal points out that while the unemployment rate continues to drop nationally, it has remained higher in Brooklyn, and it is even higher in East New York.</p> <p>“A quality career opportunity can be a ticket out of poverty for all New Yorkers, including those who were formerly acquainted with the criminal justice system,” said Bishop, the city’s commissioner of small business services, in a statement. “This career center will be an asset for the entire East New York community.”</p> <p>

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by Devin Gannon for Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: details of the funding for the career center have been clarified from the original version of this article.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bdb_espinal_town_hall.jpg" alt="bdb espinal town hall" width="600" height="398" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio &amp; CM Espinal (photo: Jeffrey Reed for the City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>After serving jail time in 2014, Anthony McGlashan, a resident of East New York, Brooklyn, struggled to find employment for three years. While he had a certification from the Anthem Institute in the field of Information Technology, he continued to be rejected by employers due to his lack of experience and his criminal background. McGlashan then turned to one of New York City’s Workforce1 Centers, a city initiative that provides free career services by pairing employers with workers, holding workshops for resume and interview preparation, and other resources to aid the job search.</p> <p>In August 2015, McGlashan enrolled in Employment Works, a city program designed to match individuals with criminal histories with full-time, permanent positions in an attempt to reduce recidivism. Through workshops and the support of the program, McGlashan was able to secure an IT support position with the State of New York Unified Court System.</p> <p>“It’s been awhile, it was a struggle,” McGlashan said. “I almost felt like giving up at one time. It was only three years, but it felt much longer than that.”</p> <p>“The program pushed me to look for a more permanent, full-time position,” he added. “It shows you what you have to do in life to get something, to fight for it. Stay ambitious and determined.”</p> <p>Those previously involved with the criminal justice system often face significant difficulties when looking for permanent job opportunities. Despite serving their time, a criminal history makes employees much less likely to be hired. To eliminate this type of employment discrimination by employers, New York City passed <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/media/fair-chance-act-campaign.page" target="_blank">the Fair Chance Act</a> in October of 2015, forbidding employers from asking for the criminal records of job applicants until a job offer has been made.</p> <p>To help further break down barriers faced when looking for a job after a conviction, Mayor Bill de Blasio, working with City Council Member Rafael Espinal and Commissioner Gregg Bishop of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), is opening a new Workforce1 center in East New York, Brooklyn on Monday. The center, part of the East New York Neighborhood Plan that was <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6287-east-new-york-deal-sets-precedent-for-wave-of-rezonings" target="_blank">negotiated by Espinal and the de Blasio administration and passed through the City Council</a>, is tailored to the specific needs of this neighborhood.</p> <p>East New York has a high percentage of out-of-work, out-of-school youth and individuals with criminal backgrounds, according to the city. As part of the East New York rezoning that passed earlier this year, the career center is the nineteenth such center across the city. It will cost about $700,000 annually to run, according to SBS, with that money coming through a federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grant. The funding for creating the facility, about $165,000, came from the $276 million allocated for community development in the East New York plan, which encompasses a key stretch of Espinal’s district that will soon be home to new housing, retail, and other development, along with other community services, like a new school. It is an underdeveloped area with high concentrations of poverty and the first neighborhood rezoned under the de Blasio affordable housing plan.</p> <p>“We are investing in the people of East New York,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement accompanying the announcement of the new workforce center’s opening. “We are committed to providing the training, the education and the job-placements families need to work their way into the middle class.”</p> <p>Council Member Espinal, who <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6287-east-new-york-deal-sets-precedent-for-wave-of-rezonings" target="_blank">negotiated with the de Blasio administration</a> to pass the multi-faceted, “anti-gentrification” rezoning for his district in April, called the high unemployment rate in Brooklyn, especially in East New York, “unacceptable.”</p> <p>“The economic disparities in our city that have put a strain on so many New Yorker’s must be addressed,” Espinal said in a statement. “That is why I pushed so hard to secure this Workforce1 Center as part of the East New York Neighborhood Rezoning Plan. After all, a house is not affordable without a job.”</p> <p>Some of the debate centered on the East New York plan -- and other rezonings being considered around the city -- revolved around the levels of affordability for new rent-stabilized housing in the rezoned area. New housing in East New York will be deeply subsidized by the city, but there are still concerns of displacement. Relatedly, Espinal and others rallied on Saturday against predatory homeowner speculation that has been occurring in the area in anticipation of community improvements and rising property value.</p> <p>“All New Yorker’s should have access to good paying jobs and the tools they need to secure a bright future for their families,” Espinal said. “I am excited that the center has opened so quickly and look forward to the opportunities it will create for our community.”</p> <p>Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College sociology professor, said opening this career center in East New York reflects the mayor’s understanding of the biggest challenge facing young people of color: unemployment.</p> <p>“High levels of joblessness among these young people is a major contribution to participation in underground economies of drug dealing, property crime, and prostitution,” Vitale said in an email.</p> <p>While these centers provide job-searching resources, Vitale said the mayor should continue to identify more ways for unemployed youth to get jobs, increasing public and private sector opportunity.</p> <p>“The question is whether these centers will produce an overall increase in employment or merely rearrange who gets the few jobs that are out there,” Vitale said. “The mayor should also take steps to significantly increase the number of jobs for these young people, through public employment if the private sector is unable or unwilling to do it.”</p> <p>According to the city, the new East New York center includes partnerships with community-based organizations. Espinal points out that while the unemployment rate continues to drop nationally, it has remained higher in Brooklyn, and it is even higher in East New York.</p> <p>“A quality career opportunity can be a ticket out of poverty for all New Yorkers, including those who were formerly acquainted with the criminal justice system,” said Bishop, the city’s commissioner of small business services, in a statement. “This career center will be an asset for the entire East New York community.”</p> <p>

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by Devin Gannon for Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: details of the funding for the career center have been clarified from the original version of this article.</p>
Council Passes Bill to Improve Diversity at Upper Levels of City-Contracted Businesses 2016-04-08T03:38:05+00:00 2016-04-08T03:38:05+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6271:council-passes-bill-to-improve-diversity-at-upper-levels-of-city-contracted-businesses Super User <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/15535201386_efa1ae5968_z.jpg" alt="crowley johnson lean in" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and colleagues (photo: William Alatriste)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>On Thursday, the City Council approved a<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2240496&amp;GUID=43C2F69D-B671-4363-917F-3F8265961E93&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank"> bill</a> 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.</p> <p dir="ltr">“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.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Crowley and Mealy worked with organizations that advocate for diversity in the workplace to develop the bill, including <a href="http://www.catalyst.org/system/files/why_diversity_matters_catalyst_0.pdf" target="_blank">Catalyst</a>, 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.”</p> <p dir="ltr">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<a href="https://www.credit-suisse.com/us/en/news-and-expertise/banking/articles/news-and-expertise/2015/06/en/diveristy-on-board.html" target="_blank"> study</a> by Credit Suisse found that the presence of at least one woman on the board of directors can make a difference.</p> <p dir="ltr">“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.”</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the administration is generally supportive of the bill, concerns have been raised about the onus fulfilling the mandate would put on SBS.</p> <p dir="ltr">“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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.”</p> <p dir="ltr">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.”</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p>“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.”</p> <p>

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by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/15535201386_efa1ae5968_z.jpg" alt="crowley johnson lean in" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and colleagues (photo: William Alatriste)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>On Thursday, the City Council approved a<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2240496&amp;GUID=43C2F69D-B671-4363-917F-3F8265961E93&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank"> bill</a> 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.</p> <p dir="ltr">“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.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Crowley and Mealy worked with organizations that advocate for diversity in the workplace to develop the bill, including <a href="http://www.catalyst.org/system/files/why_diversity_matters_catalyst_0.pdf" target="_blank">Catalyst</a>, 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.”</p> <p dir="ltr">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<a href="https://www.credit-suisse.com/us/en/news-and-expertise/banking/articles/news-and-expertise/2015/06/en/diveristy-on-board.html" target="_blank"> study</a> by Credit Suisse found that the presence of at least one woman on the board of directors can make a difference.</p> <p dir="ltr">“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.”</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the administration is generally supportive of the bill, concerns have been raised about the onus fulfilling the mandate would put on SBS.</p> <p dir="ltr">“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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.”</p> <p dir="ltr">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.”</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p>“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.”</p> <p>

***
by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Why Don’t We Ever Hear About Commercial Rent Policy? 2015-07-01T05:01:01+00:00 2015-07-01T05:01:01+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5792:why-dont-we-ever-hear-about-commercial-rent-policy Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/levine_small_biz.jpg" alt="levine small biz" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Council Member Levine &amp; co outside an evicted business (photo: @MarkLevineNYC)</span>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>Mid-June, it was a block in Washington Heights that was poised to be the next to close up shop. The landlord, Coltown Properties, looked to evict the mostly Latino-owned stores on the street, which included a barbershop, restaurant, and income tax service. The store proprietors faced the same issue as many other small business owners in New York — there was nothing they could do.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Collectively, the businesses on this block have been in operation for over 80 years,” local City Council Member Mark Levine said at a press conference on 162nd Street and Broadway. “At a time when unemployment rates in our neighborhood are disproportionately high, these businesses are vital to the economic livelihood of this area.” Levine’s office is partnering with Legal Aid Society to provide legal assistance to small businesses in his district.</p> <p dir="ltr">This is New York today, the plight of the city’s small businesses is grumpily accepted like a late train. It’s perceived by many New Yorkers as a part of the city grind, the dog-eat-dog, if-you-can-afford-it-here-you-can-afford-it-anywhere reality of a town teeming with opportunity, but becoming evermore competitive - and expensive.</p> <p dir="ltr">Echoing all too quietly in the halls of both city and state government, the average retail rent in Manhattan has risen <a href="http://www.rebny.com/content/dam/rebny/Documents/PDF/News/Research/Retail%20Reports/Fall2014_Retail_Report.pdf" target="_blank">22 percent </a>over the past decade, causing a sprawl of small businesses to relocate or simply close. It is a disease that’s spread to Brooklyn too.</p> <p dir="ltr">As news and debate over residential rent regulation dominated Albany and New York City over the past several months, what happens on a daily basis to small businesses throughout the city tends to fall by the wayside. Commercial tenants have far less protection against sudden rent increases than residents do, and now, that deficit is playing out in pockets of the city at an increasingly rapid pace. In <a href="http://www.city-journal.org/2015/25_2_snd-small-businesses.html" target="_blank">comes another</a> Chase, next to the new Duane Reade.</p> <p dir="ltr">Depending on who you ask, the reasons vary as to why elected officials in New York and Albany have acted — or, to some advocates, failed — on reforming commercial rent policy.</p> <p dir="ltr">“No one is lobbying the state Legislature for commercial rent control, so obviously legislators are not thinking about the issue,” Michael McKee, the treasurer of Tenants PAC, says. “I am not even aware that there is a bill that would provide protections to small businesses.”</p> <p dir="ltr">As it stands, the only bill in the New York State government that pertains to commercial rent in New York City is the “Small Business Survival Act,” <a href="http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2013/26/smallbizbill_all_2013_06_28_q.html" target="_blank">first</a> proposed by Senator Tony Avella of Queens in 2013. It aims to level the playing field between tenant and landlord by mandating arbitration privileges to small businesses. Landlords must follow certain criteria when setting a lease, and the commercial tenant has more time in negotiations. “The current commercial rental market results in unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive leases for the payment of rent for commercial space in New York City,” the bill <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&amp;bn=S01040&amp;term=2015&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Actions=Y&amp;Text=Y" target="_blank">reads</a>. As of this legislative session, it has not seen a vote.</p> <p dir="ltr">The more common small business bills that do exist are like the resources offered by the city and state’s economic development agencies: they seek to provide clarity with forms, regulations, and other bureaucratic nuances that come attached to opening and operating a small business in a tax- and rule-heavy state. The same situation stands in the Business Council, the most prominent lobby for businesses in Albany. Providing commercial tenants with some sort of leverage in lease negotiations did not make its 2015 ‘Top Ten Objectives’ <a href="http://www.bcnys.org/inside/gac/2015/Fix-New-York-2015-Legislative-and-Regulatory-Agenda.pdf" target="_blank">list</a>, or the webpage for its <a href="http://www.bcnys.org/inside/smallbusiness.htm" target="_blank">subdivision</a> of small businesses. Rejecting a higher minimum wage did, though.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If there is ever to be any movement on this issue, folks have to organize,” McKee said, talking with Gotham Gazette while he was in the midst of yet another major push to influence tenant rent regulations being set by lawmakers in Albany and the city’s rent guidelines board.</p> <p dir="ltr">As many can attest, it is especially tough to compete against what is, without a doubt, the most powerful force in New York politics: real estate. This is a business community that spends millions every year on political campaigns; the contributions of one of its biggest entities, the Real Estate Board, made up a tenth of the entire state’s campaign money <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/04/8566024/rebny-members-gave-tenth-all-ny-campaign-money" target="_blank">last election cycle</a>. And that’s just one group.</p> <p dir="ltr">To James Parrott, the deputy director and chief economist of the Fiscal Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, that wealth of influence explains the radio silence both down- and up-state, among Democrats and Republicans, on an issue that directly threatens real estate hegemony. Reasoning seems to be that if small businesses had more protections against space-seeking developers, it would cut into the pace and profits of the city’s longstanding natural order. Landlords either want to charge more for commercial space or developers want tenants out so they can sell or demolish and build anew.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The real estate community has always been aggressive in campaign contributions,” Parrott explains. “And, by doing so, they’ve successfully prevented anything that would restrict them.”</p> <p dir="ltr">This, of course, includes commercial tenant rights. Parrott makes a key point: in a state government where the recently former Speaker of the Assembly and Majority Leader of the State Senate are both indicted for <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/07/nyregion/big-names-in-new-york-real-estate-figure-into-skelos-and-silver-cases.html" target="_blank">crimes involving real estate’s influence</a>, it’s hard to believe a bill called the Small Business Survival Act would even last a day. Not to mention the probe into the abrupt closing of the Moreland Commission by Governor Andrew Cuomo; an investigation that is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/nyregion/governor-andrew-cuomo-and-the-short-life-of-the-moreland-commission.html" target="_blank">specifically looking</a> into tax breaks for huge developers.</p> <p dir="ltr">City government is not excluded, either, Parrott argues.</p> <p dir="ltr">The tale of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (better known as the SBJSA) in the City Council is a long yet uneventful one. Basically, the bill — which, in structure, is very similar to its upstate counterpart — has been floating around the chambers of City Hall since 2008. (Last year, Gotham Gazette&nbsp;dove into its <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5155-new-york-city-small-business-crisis-continues" target="_blank">reintroduction</a>.) It would let commercial tenants have the right to lease renewal ten years or more. If a landlord wants to raise rent, mediation with the tenant would be mandated, and, if the parties don’t come to an agreement, an arbitrator would make the final decision.</p> <p dir="ltr">In essence, it is a flexing of New York City’s <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/nyregion/justices-cite-vague-rule-twice-this-month.html" target="_blank">municipal home rule</a>, which allows the Council to bypass Albany and regulate commercial code on its own turf. Similar proposals have existed in the Council for decades now, but all have met the same fate: failure. No surprise, Parrott says: the power of real estate is as strong in the city as it is upstate, if not stronger. Also, past mayors and council speakers have strongly sided with that community, meaning any bill is unlikely to ever see a vote, and even if passed by Council, likely vetoed.</p> <p dir="ltr">But, to <a href="http://thevillager.com/2015/03/12/forum-on-small-businesses-offers-a-solution-within-reach/" target="_blank">tenant advocates</a>, this time around offers hope. Finally, they argue, a legislative body and a mayor progressive enough to actually take up the issue. At least on paper.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Historically, the deference to Albany has served as a smokescreen/distraction for elected city officials to validate their appalling inaction on issues that they, in all actuality, have complete control over,” Kirsten Theodos, a spokesperson for Take Back NYC, a grassroots advocacy group for tenants and subset of the larger group Save NYC, told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">Right now, the SBJSA has <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1825175&amp;GUID=AFE9C183-5929-43FB-80AE-C7595CB610BD&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">19 City Council sponsors</a> in a 51-member boday. Seeing the bill heard at a committee hearing and then brought to a vote is unlikely, and would probably first require a number of additional sponors signing on (Council members can support a bill without co-sponsoring, but sponsorship levels show strength). To land those additional sponsors, Theodos hopes that situations like the eviction of businesses in Washington Heights will shed light on the issue. When asked if Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who endorsed the bill before becoming speaker, would support the bill now, a spokesperson pointed to remarks made by Mark-Viverito to <a href="http://thevillager.com/2015/06/04/speaker-commits-to-hold-a-hearing-on-s-b-j-s-a/" target="_blank">The Villager</a> in late May. She did not provide an endorsement of the bill then, but mentioned an argument that has been repeatedly made by the real estate community in the past: that the SBJSA is illegal.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The bill gets introduced once the [Council] staff do their due diligence,” the Speaker said. “Then there are hearings to hear from all sides. And then we figure out what the next steps will be — because sometimes options are being explored that legally we don’t have the ability to implement as a city or as a legislative council.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Last year, in&nbsp;Gotham Gazette, the president of the Real Estate Board, Steven Spinola, called the bill an “unconstitutional intrusion” on property owners. A spokesperson for the Board told me this position hasn’t changed. Essentially, the board believes it is not in the Council’s jurisdiction to regulate commercial tenants. Home rule doesn’t apply here, they say.</p> <p dir="ltr">Theodos stresses that this is not true; SBJSA would target the negotiations process, she says, and not install commercial rent control. The legal counsel to the Small Business Congress, a coalition of tenant advocates, supported this argument last year, citing Supreme Court decisions that enable local autonomy.</p> <p dir="ltr">As a member of the City Council, Mayor Bill de Blasio supported the SBJSA, but he has remained relatively mum on the bill since entering his current office. For many advocates, the hope is that he’ll extend <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/08/nyregion/de-blasio-prods-new-york-state-on-housing-laws.html?ref=topics" target="_blank">the drive</a> that he has recently demonstrated around housing rent regulations in Albany to the parallel issue for small businesses. However, although he was elected on a ‘helping the little guy’ message and a promise to embrace them, small business owners and their allies also worry that his <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/06/nyregion/mayor-bill-de-blasio-and-developer-rob-speyer-are-close-but-not-on-affordable-housing.html" target="_blank">tendency to meet</a> with representatives from the Real Estate Board and other commercial heavyweights threatens his adherence to their cause. Holding an office that naturally attracts real estate interests, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito has also <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2014/09/8552146/mark-viverito-introduces-herself-big-developers" target="_blank">met</a> with REBNY heads. While neither de Blasio nor Mark-Viverito appears especially cozy with real estate titans, neither has pushed directly on the commerical rent issue either.</p> <p dir="ltr">That isn’t to say nothing has been done by the de Blasio administration to help small business owners since he took office in January of 2014, though. His office’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS) is spending <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150217/BLOGS04/150219891/mayor-vows-again-to-cut-small-biz-red-tape" target="_blank">upwards of $27 million</a> to streamline and defuse the regulatory process and, with the Department of Consumer Affairs, made sure that fewer fines are handed out to small businesses that can barely afford rent. More importantly, SBS has rolled out initiatives aimed at providing pro bono legal services to small businesses in lease negotiations; a policy which will soon expand, SBS spokesperson Merideth Weber told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are working to roll out additional programs that span the range of supports we can provide including education, assistance, and tools that can help businesses avoid pitfalls in leases, and make the retail market more transparent,” Weber said in a statement.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked if the mayor supports SBJSA, Weber responded, “We’re reviewing the bill and this administration is working on a comprehensive plan to ensure that small businesses have the tools and resources they need to compete in an ever-changing marketplace.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, tenant advocates argue that these measures dance around the main issue: that small businesses have no legal powers against immediate evictions or rent gouging. In a hyper-developing environment reaching further into several boroughs, small business owners are often defenseless. With a state government not inclined to act on commercial rent policy in New York City, and a city bill that, for now at least, is on the back burner of the Council agenda, the urgency stressed by owners and advocates doesn’t seem to be resonating here nor there.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Mark Levine, who spoke out against the eviction of the small businesses on a block in Washington Heights, in his district, says that there are other options that can help stem the tide of closing small businesses. And these, he said, do not necessarily require either a dying bill or a dead government. “Albany is not acting in any domain, really,” he quickly noted.</p> <p dir="ltr">The city government, Levina argues, could set an example by not renting out its own real estate to chain stores. Also, zoning laws can be regulated in order to prevent chains and encourage small businesses — a policy that Columbia University has undertaken in Morningside Heights, Levine said. He added that the city should look into preventing developers who receive city subsidies from renting out to chains.</p> <p dir="ltr">One of the 19 sponsors of the SBJSA, Levine argues that the city needs to set out a structure in which commercial tenants can have enough time whereby they are properly notified of a lease change. He also referred to a bill recently introduced by Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Dan Garodnick that would raise the commercial rent tax exemption in Manhattan (<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/taxes/business-commercial-rent-tax-crt.page" target="_blank">below</a> 96th Street) from $250,000 to $500,000 per year. As of now, the bill has <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2324746&amp;GUID=5F1CB761-B063-4E8F-B72E-328714C639AF&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">16 sponsors</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">In terms of Albany attention, residential tenants supersede their commercial counterparts in numbers, Levine says, and the politics involved are different. But still, the council member describes challenges faced by small businesses in New York right now as a “crisis;” one that is perhaps even more alarming than the affordable housing problem, given the conditions. “There’s not much a tenant can do,” he says. “Therefore, we’re seeing dramatic changes in our streetscapes, and the scale of the problem is great.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It is the mom and pop stores that make this city,” Levine said. “And the city government should be doing much, much more to protect them.”</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br /><em><a href="https://twitter.com/JohnSurico" target="_blank">John Surico</a>&nbsp;is a freelance journalist. His reporting can be seen in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Village Voice, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.</em></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/levine_small_biz.jpg" alt="levine small biz" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Council Member Levine &amp; co outside an evicted business (photo: @MarkLevineNYC)</span>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>Mid-June, it was a block in Washington Heights that was poised to be the next to close up shop. The landlord, Coltown Properties, looked to evict the mostly Latino-owned stores on the street, which included a barbershop, restaurant, and income tax service. The store proprietors faced the same issue as many other small business owners in New York — there was nothing they could do.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Collectively, the businesses on this block have been in operation for over 80 years,” local City Council Member Mark Levine said at a press conference on 162nd Street and Broadway. “At a time when unemployment rates in our neighborhood are disproportionately high, these businesses are vital to the economic livelihood of this area.” Levine’s office is partnering with Legal Aid Society to provide legal assistance to small businesses in his district.</p> <p dir="ltr">This is New York today, the plight of the city’s small businesses is grumpily accepted like a late train. It’s perceived by many New Yorkers as a part of the city grind, the dog-eat-dog, if-you-can-afford-it-here-you-can-afford-it-anywhere reality of a town teeming with opportunity, but becoming evermore competitive - and expensive.</p> <p dir="ltr">Echoing all too quietly in the halls of both city and state government, the average retail rent in Manhattan has risen <a href="http://www.rebny.com/content/dam/rebny/Documents/PDF/News/Research/Retail%20Reports/Fall2014_Retail_Report.pdf" target="_blank">22 percent </a>over the past decade, causing a sprawl of small businesses to relocate or simply close. It is a disease that’s spread to Brooklyn too.</p> <p dir="ltr">As news and debate over residential rent regulation dominated Albany and New York City over the past several months, what happens on a daily basis to small businesses throughout the city tends to fall by the wayside. Commercial tenants have far less protection against sudden rent increases than residents do, and now, that deficit is playing out in pockets of the city at an increasingly rapid pace. In <a href="http://www.city-journal.org/2015/25_2_snd-small-businesses.html" target="_blank">comes another</a> Chase, next to the new Duane Reade.</p> <p dir="ltr">Depending on who you ask, the reasons vary as to why elected officials in New York and Albany have acted — or, to some advocates, failed — on reforming commercial rent policy.</p> <p dir="ltr">“No one is lobbying the state Legislature for commercial rent control, so obviously legislators are not thinking about the issue,” Michael McKee, the treasurer of Tenants PAC, says. “I am not even aware that there is a bill that would provide protections to small businesses.”</p> <p dir="ltr">As it stands, the only bill in the New York State government that pertains to commercial rent in New York City is the “Small Business Survival Act,” <a href="http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2013/26/smallbizbill_all_2013_06_28_q.html" target="_blank">first</a> proposed by Senator Tony Avella of Queens in 2013. It aims to level the playing field between tenant and landlord by mandating arbitration privileges to small businesses. Landlords must follow certain criteria when setting a lease, and the commercial tenant has more time in negotiations. “The current commercial rental market results in unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive leases for the payment of rent for commercial space in New York City,” the bill <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&amp;bn=S01040&amp;term=2015&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Actions=Y&amp;Text=Y" target="_blank">reads</a>. As of this legislative session, it has not seen a vote.</p> <p dir="ltr">The more common small business bills that do exist are like the resources offered by the city and state’s economic development agencies: they seek to provide clarity with forms, regulations, and other bureaucratic nuances that come attached to opening and operating a small business in a tax- and rule-heavy state. The same situation stands in the Business Council, the most prominent lobby for businesses in Albany. Providing commercial tenants with some sort of leverage in lease negotiations did not make its 2015 ‘Top Ten Objectives’ <a href="http://www.bcnys.org/inside/gac/2015/Fix-New-York-2015-Legislative-and-Regulatory-Agenda.pdf" target="_blank">list</a>, or the webpage for its <a href="http://www.bcnys.org/inside/smallbusiness.htm" target="_blank">subdivision</a> of small businesses. Rejecting a higher minimum wage did, though.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If there is ever to be any movement on this issue, folks have to organize,” McKee said, talking with Gotham Gazette while he was in the midst of yet another major push to influence tenant rent regulations being set by lawmakers in Albany and the city’s rent guidelines board.</p> <p dir="ltr">As many can attest, it is especially tough to compete against what is, without a doubt, the most powerful force in New York politics: real estate. This is a business community that spends millions every year on political campaigns; the contributions of one of its biggest entities, the Real Estate Board, made up a tenth of the entire state’s campaign money <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/04/8566024/rebny-members-gave-tenth-all-ny-campaign-money" target="_blank">last election cycle</a>. And that’s just one group.</p> <p dir="ltr">To James Parrott, the deputy director and chief economist of the Fiscal Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, that wealth of influence explains the radio silence both down- and up-state, among Democrats and Republicans, on an issue that directly threatens real estate hegemony. Reasoning seems to be that if small businesses had more protections against space-seeking developers, it would cut into the pace and profits of the city’s longstanding natural order. Landlords either want to charge more for commercial space or developers want tenants out so they can sell or demolish and build anew.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The real estate community has always been aggressive in campaign contributions,” Parrott explains. “And, by doing so, they’ve successfully prevented anything that would restrict them.”</p> <p dir="ltr">This, of course, includes commercial tenant rights. Parrott makes a key point: in a state government where the recently former Speaker of the Assembly and Majority Leader of the State Senate are both indicted for <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/07/nyregion/big-names-in-new-york-real-estate-figure-into-skelos-and-silver-cases.html" target="_blank">crimes involving real estate’s influence</a>, it’s hard to believe a bill called the Small Business Survival Act would even last a day. Not to mention the probe into the abrupt closing of the Moreland Commission by Governor Andrew Cuomo; an investigation that is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/nyregion/governor-andrew-cuomo-and-the-short-life-of-the-moreland-commission.html" target="_blank">specifically looking</a> into tax breaks for huge developers.</p> <p dir="ltr">City government is not excluded, either, Parrott argues.</p> <p dir="ltr">The tale of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (better known as the SBJSA) in the City Council is a long yet uneventful one. Basically, the bill — which, in structure, is very similar to its upstate counterpart — has been floating around the chambers of City Hall since 2008. (Last year, Gotham Gazette&nbsp;dove into its <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5155-new-york-city-small-business-crisis-continues" target="_blank">reintroduction</a>.) It would let commercial tenants have the right to lease renewal ten years or more. If a landlord wants to raise rent, mediation with the tenant would be mandated, and, if the parties don’t come to an agreement, an arbitrator would make the final decision.</p> <p dir="ltr">In essence, it is a flexing of New York City’s <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/nyregion/justices-cite-vague-rule-twice-this-month.html" target="_blank">municipal home rule</a>, which allows the Council to bypass Albany and regulate commercial code on its own turf. Similar proposals have existed in the Council for decades now, but all have met the same fate: failure. No surprise, Parrott says: the power of real estate is as strong in the city as it is upstate, if not stronger. Also, past mayors and council speakers have strongly sided with that community, meaning any bill is unlikely to ever see a vote, and even if passed by Council, likely vetoed.</p> <p dir="ltr">But, to <a href="http://thevillager.com/2015/03/12/forum-on-small-businesses-offers-a-solution-within-reach/" target="_blank">tenant advocates</a>, this time around offers hope. Finally, they argue, a legislative body and a mayor progressive enough to actually take up the issue. At least on paper.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Historically, the deference to Albany has served as a smokescreen/distraction for elected city officials to validate their appalling inaction on issues that they, in all actuality, have complete control over,” Kirsten Theodos, a spokesperson for Take Back NYC, a grassroots advocacy group for tenants and subset of the larger group Save NYC, told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">Right now, the SBJSA has <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1825175&amp;GUID=AFE9C183-5929-43FB-80AE-C7595CB610BD&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">19 City Council sponsors</a> in a 51-member boday. Seeing the bill heard at a committee hearing and then brought to a vote is unlikely, and would probably first require a number of additional sponors signing on (Council members can support a bill without co-sponsoring, but sponsorship levels show strength). To land those additional sponsors, Theodos hopes that situations like the eviction of businesses in Washington Heights will shed light on the issue. When asked if Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who endorsed the bill before becoming speaker, would support the bill now, a spokesperson pointed to remarks made by Mark-Viverito to <a href="http://thevillager.com/2015/06/04/speaker-commits-to-hold-a-hearing-on-s-b-j-s-a/" target="_blank">The Villager</a> in late May. She did not provide an endorsement of the bill then, but mentioned an argument that has been repeatedly made by the real estate community in the past: that the SBJSA is illegal.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The bill gets introduced once the [Council] staff do their due diligence,” the Speaker said. “Then there are hearings to hear from all sides. And then we figure out what the next steps will be — because sometimes options are being explored that legally we don’t have the ability to implement as a city or as a legislative council.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Last year, in&nbsp;Gotham Gazette, the president of the Real Estate Board, Steven Spinola, called the bill an “unconstitutional intrusion” on property owners. A spokesperson for the Board told me this position hasn’t changed. Essentially, the board believes it is not in the Council’s jurisdiction to regulate commercial tenants. Home rule doesn’t apply here, they say.</p> <p dir="ltr">Theodos stresses that this is not true; SBJSA would target the negotiations process, she says, and not install commercial rent control. The legal counsel to the Small Business Congress, a coalition of tenant advocates, supported this argument last year, citing Supreme Court decisions that enable local autonomy.</p> <p dir="ltr">As a member of the City Council, Mayor Bill de Blasio supported the SBJSA, but he has remained relatively mum on the bill since entering his current office. For many advocates, the hope is that he’ll extend <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/08/nyregion/de-blasio-prods-new-york-state-on-housing-laws.html?ref=topics" target="_blank">the drive</a> that he has recently demonstrated around housing rent regulations in Albany to the parallel issue for small businesses. However, although he was elected on a ‘helping the little guy’ message and a promise to embrace them, small business owners and their allies also worry that his <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/06/nyregion/mayor-bill-de-blasio-and-developer-rob-speyer-are-close-but-not-on-affordable-housing.html" target="_blank">tendency to meet</a> with representatives from the Real Estate Board and other commercial heavyweights threatens his adherence to their cause. Holding an office that naturally attracts real estate interests, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito has also <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2014/09/8552146/mark-viverito-introduces-herself-big-developers" target="_blank">met</a> with REBNY heads. While neither de Blasio nor Mark-Viverito appears especially cozy with real estate titans, neither has pushed directly on the commerical rent issue either.</p> <p dir="ltr">That isn’t to say nothing has been done by the de Blasio administration to help small business owners since he took office in January of 2014, though. His office’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS) is spending <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150217/BLOGS04/150219891/mayor-vows-again-to-cut-small-biz-red-tape" target="_blank">upwards of $27 million</a> to streamline and defuse the regulatory process and, with the Department of Consumer Affairs, made sure that fewer fines are handed out to small businesses that can barely afford rent. More importantly, SBS has rolled out initiatives aimed at providing pro bono legal services to small businesses in lease negotiations; a policy which will soon expand, SBS spokesperson Merideth Weber told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are working to roll out additional programs that span the range of supports we can provide including education, assistance, and tools that can help businesses avoid pitfalls in leases, and make the retail market more transparent,” Weber said in a statement.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked if the mayor supports SBJSA, Weber responded, “We’re reviewing the bill and this administration is working on a comprehensive plan to ensure that small businesses have the tools and resources they need to compete in an ever-changing marketplace.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, tenant advocates argue that these measures dance around the main issue: that small businesses have no legal powers against immediate evictions or rent gouging. In a hyper-developing environment reaching further into several boroughs, small business owners are often defenseless. With a state government not inclined to act on commercial rent policy in New York City, and a city bill that, for now at least, is on the back burner of the Council agenda, the urgency stressed by owners and advocates doesn’t seem to be resonating here nor there.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Mark Levine, who spoke out against the eviction of the small businesses on a block in Washington Heights, in his district, says that there are other options that can help stem the tide of closing small businesses. And these, he said, do not necessarily require either a dying bill or a dead government. “Albany is not acting in any domain, really,” he quickly noted.</p> <p dir="ltr">The city government, Levina argues, could set an example by not renting out its own real estate to chain stores. Also, zoning laws can be regulated in order to prevent chains and encourage small businesses — a policy that Columbia University has undertaken in Morningside Heights, Levine said. He added that the city should look into preventing developers who receive city subsidies from renting out to chains.</p> <p dir="ltr">One of the 19 sponsors of the SBJSA, Levine argues that the city needs to set out a structure in which commercial tenants can have enough time whereby they are properly notified of a lease change. He also referred to a bill recently introduced by Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Dan Garodnick that would raise the commercial rent tax exemption in Manhattan (<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/taxes/business-commercial-rent-tax-crt.page" target="_blank">below</a> 96th Street) from $250,000 to $500,000 per year. As of now, the bill has <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2324746&amp;GUID=5F1CB761-B063-4E8F-B72E-328714C639AF&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">16 sponsors</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">In terms of Albany attention, residential tenants supersede their commercial counterparts in numbers, Levine says, and the politics involved are different. But still, the council member describes challenges faced by small businesses in New York right now as a “crisis;” one that is perhaps even more alarming than the affordable housing problem, given the conditions. “There’s not much a tenant can do,” he says. “Therefore, we’re seeing dramatic changes in our streetscapes, and the scale of the problem is great.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It is the mom and pop stores that make this city,” Levine said. “And the city government should be doing much, much more to protect them.”</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br /><em><a href="https://twitter.com/JohnSurico" target="_blank">John Surico</a>&nbsp;is a freelance journalist. His reporting can be seen in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Village Voice, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.</em></p> The Week Ahead in New York Politics, June 22 2015-06-19T14:38:12+00:00 2015-06-19T14:38:12+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5778:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-june-22 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p><strong>ALBANY, ALBANY:</strong> Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie agreed on a short, retroactive extension of rent regulations through Tuesday. As negotiations continue on the rent regulations and other top of the agenda priority issues like mayoral control of city schools, legislators are due back in Albany on Tuesday. By the time they get there, leaders could already have new deals in place. How long will the extended legislative session continue? Unclear. But, it probably won't be long, especially since Senate Republicans are in no rush to get anything else done. It is looking more and more likely that tenants and their Democratic allies will not be seeing a strengthening of the rent laws and are <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/tenant-back-proposed-2-year-rent-law-extend-no-article-1.2265547?cid=bitly" target="_blank">becoming resigned</a> to the idea that a short-term extension of the current regulations might be the best they can do in the current climate. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5776-albany-lawmakers-putter-past-deadlines-surprising-no-one" target="_blank">our look at state lawmakers' blowing deadlines to no one's surprise</a>]</p> <p>Also: this weekend the manhunt for two prisoners who escaped June 6 from an upstate prison <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/nyregion/prison-escapees-new-york.html" target="_blank">zeroed in on</a> a southwestern New York area, Allegany County. The search continues and the situation is fluid.</p> <p><strong>TRACKING DE BLASIO:</strong> Mayor Bill de Blasio is no doubt uneasily watching Albany and in touch with key players in state government - he has said repeatedly of late that his staff is in consistent communication with the governor's office. The mayor is most concerned with the rent laws, mayoral control of city schools, the 421-a tax break, and perhaps a few other key issues related to the city (like the charter school cap and 'raise the age') that may get resolved as the extended session continues.</p> <p>On Saturday de Blasio delivered remarks at the street renaming ceremony for Detective Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn and then attended and gave remarks at "the #IamAME Rally and Response hosted by the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York [in Queens] to address the unparalleled tragedy at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina this week." De Blasio spoke about racism, terrorism, and the need for stronger gun control laws. On Sunday, de Blasio hosted a press conference in Harlem "to discuss the humanitarian situation concerning Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic."</p> <p>On Sunday evening, city leaders including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Public Advocate Letitia James, and others were set to gather outside Brooklyn's Barclays Center for a vigil honoring the victims of the Charleston shooting.</p> <p>On Monday, the mayor will appear on <a href="http://www.hot97.com/live/" target="_blank">Hot 97 radio</a> at about 7:30 a.m. (read <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/06/8570641/russell-simmons-de-blasio-bitch-policing" target="_blank">this for some context</a>) and, later in the day, he'll "attend the Department of Education's Renewal Schools Working Session" -&nbsp;all this while he and his team continue to negotiate a final city budget deal with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and her budget negotiating team.</p> <p><strong>CITY BUDGET WATCH:</strong> A fiscal year 2016 deal between the de Blasio administration and the City Council is due before July 1, when the fiscal year begins. Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced they had <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5116-mayor-city-council-agree-75-billion-dollar-budget-fiscal-year-2015-de-blasio-mark-viverito" target="_blank">reached a deal</a> on June 19, and there's good reason to think they could again reach a deal a before the deadline this year - which could mean an announcement this week. Stay tuned!</p> <p>The big issues still being negotiated include Council requests for additional funding for an additional 1,000 NYPD officers, senior citizen services, libraries, and more.</p> <p><strong>RIKERS DEAL?:</strong> The City and the US Attorney's Office <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/19/nyregion/accord-near-on-sweeping-reforms-at-rikers-jail-including-us-monitor.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=1" target="_blank">appear close</a> on a deal of reforms at Rikers Island jail complex, incuding a federal monitor to track changes in prisoner treatment and more. There has been more and more scrutiny on both Rikers and related criminal justice issues, like how the bail system works, or doesn't, leading to thousands of people locked up on Rikers who are accused of low-level, non-violent crimes but can't afford the bail set for them.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>The fourth and final public meeting of the Fast Food Wage Board called by Gov. Cuomo, through his labor department, will be at 10 a.m. Monday in the Legislative Office Building at Albany (<a href="http://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/wageboard2015.shtm" target="_blank">and webcast live</a>). "The Wage Board's recommendations are expected by July, and the commissioner will then have 45 days from its receipt to issue an order."</p> <p>Opposing views: The Business Council of New York State will "submit formal comments, and testify in person, at the June 22 meeting in Albany, NY." The Business Council first announced its objections to the fast food Wage Board on June 5. Meanwhile, hundreds of $15 per hour supporters, including fast food workers and their families, elected officials including State Senator Neil Breslin, and others will hold a 9:30 a.m. press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Albany.</p> <p>At 10 a.m. Monday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will be one of the commencement speakers at the Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn's first graduating class' commencement.</p> <p>At 10:30 a.m. Monday in Garden City, New York,&nbsp;"Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman will announce the start of a statewide advertising campaign to educate consumers about how to protect themselves against mortgage rescue scams."</p> <p>Monday morning Council Member Costa Constantinides, Public Advocate Letitia James, and others will be <a href="https://www.facebook.com/costaforastoria/posts/897469466992438" target="_blank">holding a press conference</a> urging a management company to make repairs on the lack of gas and hot water at a co-op complex in Astoria.</p> <p>Monday at the City Council:</p> <ul> <li>At 9:30 a.m. the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet to discuss three land use applications.</li> <li>At 10 a.m. the Committee on Youth Services <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=400831&amp;GUID=36CC51E7-79A2-4A5E-AB9A-2852656ADC99&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search" target="_blank">will meet</a> to have an oversight hearing on how to better address the issue of youth violence.</li> <li>At 11 a.m. the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses will meet to discuss three landmark land use applications.</li> <li>At noon, the Committees on Higher Education, Community Development, Youth Services and Immigration <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=410846&amp;GUID=A3A952CB-9DC5-4EE7-B631-2570AD8B17D1&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search" target="_blank">will have</a> a joint meeting to discuss how New York City is doing on educating its adult immigrant community.</li> <li>At 1 p.m. the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will have a meeting to discuss two land use applications.</li> </ul> <p>On Monday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer will&nbsp;deliver remarks at a 5th grade graduation ceremony at 9:30 a.m. and in the evening, at 7:30 p.m., he'll accept an award at the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island 48th Annual Dinner and Awards Reception.</p> <p>At 5:30 p.m. Monday there will be a public meeting of the Contracts Committee of the Panel for Educational Policy. The Contracts Committee meets before the Panel for Educational Policy meetings to "review specific contract items that are presented for review and approval."</p> <p>Monday evening, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer "speaks at the LGBT Community Center's 32nd annual garden party kick-off for Pride Week."</p> <p>On Monday a "Town Hall for Immigrant Businesses" <a href="http://www.eventbrite.com/e/town-hall-for-immigrant-businesses-tickets-17243159755" target="_blank">will be held</a> in Flushing, Queens by the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit starting at 6 p.m. Speakers will include Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services, Maria Torres-Springer; Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, Amit Bagga; and Magda Desdunes from the Department of Health.</p> <p>At 8 p.m. Monday in front of the Queens Museum, "Borough President Melinda Katz, District Attorney Richard A. Brown, elected officials, community leaders and advocates will host a borough-wide interfaith prayer vigil for the victims of the Charleston massacre and a lighting ceremony in solidarity with New York State gun violence awareness efforts. The ceremony will include a reading of names of New Yorkers in Queens lost to gun violence. Every night from June 22 through June 30 in "The World's Borough", the front exterior of the Queens Museum will be illuminated in orange, the official color of Gun Violence Awareness Month, and will be visible by all motorists along the stretch of the Grand Central Parkway in front of the Museum (approximately 168,000 motorists daily on average)."</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>The state Legislature is due back in Albany on Tuesday, which is when the brief retroactive rent laws extender will expire. Will there be deals in place by Tuesday whereby votes are a formality or will there still much negotiating to do?</p> <p>On Tuesday at 10 a.m., the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission will be holding a public hearing and might vote on designation of the Stonewall Inn at 51-53 Christopher Street. It would be the first "LGBT landmark" in New York City.</p> <p>Tuesday at the City Council:</p> <ul> <li>At 10 a.m. the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will have a meeting to discuss the establishment of a retirement security review board to study and report on recommendations for the city to establish a retirement security program for private sector workers.</li> <li>Also at 10 a.m. the Committee on Public Safety and the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services will have a joint meeting to discuss a bill that "would create the office of drug strategy to provide strategic leadership to coordinate a public health and safety approach to address problems associated to drug use and redresses the harms associated with past and current drug use." In addition, the committees will discuss examining NYC's response to heroin use and overdoses as well as a resolution recognizing and honoring the 25th anniversary of the 7/26/90 signing of "The Americans with Disabilities Act" of 1990.</li> </ul> <p>On Tuesday at 1 p.m. the New York City Bar and Public Advocate Letitia James <a href="http://pubadvocate.nyc.gov/news/events/policing-technology-new-york-city-privacy-law-and-future" target="_blank">will host a program</a>, "Policing Technology in New York City: Privacy, Law, and the Future," to discuss the technological advancements made available to New York City law enforcement and the importance of oversight and safety. Speakers will include Lawrence Byrne, Deputy Commissioner of Legal Affairs at the NYPD and Ben Rosenberg, General Counsel to Manhattan DA Cy Vance with Asim Rehman, General Counsel to the Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD as moderator.</p> <p>The New York City Campaign Finance Board <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/candidates/candidates/EC2017_Trainings.pdf" target="_blank">is offering</a> a "Compliance only" training session, which covers campaign finance laws and CFB rules for the 2017 election cycle, at 5:30 p.m on Tuesday. "The candidate, treasurer, campaign manager or other individual with significant managerial control over the campaign is legally required to attend both a Compliance and a C-SMART training."</p> <p>On Tuesday at 6 p.m. the Department of Education <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/leadership/PEP/publicnotice/2014-2015/June232015PEPMeeting.htm" target="_blank">will hold</a> a public meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy at Long Island City High School. The 2015-2019 five year capital plan amendment, the annual estimate and the list of contracts will be voted on.</p> <p>Also at 6 p.m. Comptroller Scott Stringer <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/event/lgbtq-pride-celebration-changemakers-award-ceremony/" target="_blank">will host</a> an "LGBTQ Pride Celebration and Changemakers Award Ceremony...honoring individuals for their outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ community" in Manhattan on Tuesday night.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>The University Neighborhood Housing Program <a href="http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-cost-of-water-balancing-fairness-affordability-and-water-conservation-tickets-17226658399?aff=mcivte" target="_blank">will host</a> its annual forum at 8:30 a.m. on "The Cost of Water: Balancing Fairness, Housing Affordability and Conservation." UNHP's report "Affordable Water for Affordable Housing" will be discussed by panelists including Jim Buckley of UNHP, Laurie Schoeman of Enterprise Community Partners and Jamie Stein of Stormwater Infrastructure Matters Coalition.</p> <p>On Wednesday morning at Baruch College the AARP <a href="http://cityandstateny.com/2/events/high-anxiety-nyc-gen-x-and-boomers-struggle-with-stress,-savings,-and-security.html#.VYGZ3lVVikp" target="_blank">will be releasing</a> a "groundbreaking NYC survey on the financial security and retirement savings crisis facing the city's Gen X and Baby Boomer generations," with City &amp; State NY. Speakers include: Joyce Rogers, Senior Vice President and AARP National Representative and John Adler, Director of Mayor's Office of Pensions.</p> <p>10 a.m. Wednesday morning, the New York City Campaign Finance Board will be having their next public meeting. An agenda will be made available on Tuesday and posted to its Twitter feed, <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCFB" target="_blank">@NYCCFB</a>.</p> <p>On Wednesday at the City Council:</p> <ul> <li>At 10 a.m. the Committee on General Welfare will meet for an oversight meeting over the services and policies at the HIV/AIDS Services Administration.</li> <li>At 11 a.m. the Committee on Land Use will meet to discuss land use applications.</li> <li>At 2 p.m. the Committee on Health will meet to discuss a new law that would require the department of Health and Mental Hygiene to conduct community air quality surveys and publish the results annually.</li> </ul> <p>The New York City Campaign Finance Board <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/candidates/candidates/EC2017_Trainings.pdf" target="_blank">is offering</a> a "C-SMART only" training session, which will provide "an overview of the CFB's web-based application which campaigns must use to manage and disclose financial activity" for the 2017 election cycle, at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. "The candidate, treasurer, campaign manager or other individual with significant managerial control over the campaign is legally required to attend both a Compliance and a C-SMART training."</p> <p>At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board <a href="http://www.nycrgb.org/html/about/meetings.html" target="_blank">will be</a> at Cooper Union for its last public meeting this cycle. After four previous meetings with public testimony a final vote on rent guidelines for October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016 will be taken at this public meeting.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>On Thursday at the City Council:&nbsp;At 1 p.m. the Committee on Environmental Protection will meet to discuss a bill that would mandate construction sites within 75 feet of any school (public, private, preschool primary or secondary) should not exceed 45 dB during normal school operating hours and that noise levels at school sites shall be continuously monitored during those hours.</p> <p>Empire State Pride Agenda <a href="http://www.prideagenda.org/events/equalitywork-awards#1" target="_blank">will host</a> "Equality @Work Awards" on Thursday at 6 p.m.&nbsp;"Through its Pride in My Workplace program, the Empire State Pride Agenda has been helping New York businesses establish policies and practices that support the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees."</p> <p>Thursday evening in Brooklyn, it is the 2015 Working Families Party Gala, celebrating "17 years of fighting inequality in New York and honor a rising generation of progressive leaders.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>Friday is the last day for the Fast Food Wage Board to receive oral or written testimony. Written testimony <a href="http://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/wageboard2015.shtm" target="_blank">can be mailed or emailed</a>.</p> <p>There will be a Manhattan Borough Service cabinet meeting on Friday at 9:30 a.m. The Borough Service Cabinet meetings focus "on city service delivery and agency responsiveness across the borough."</p> <p>On Saturday morning at 11 a.m. Citizenship Now! and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs <a href="http://events.cuny.edu/eventDetail.asp?EventId=61053" target="_blank">will assist</a> permanent residents with their citizenship applications. If all naturalization requirements are met then an experienced lawyer and other immigration professionals will provide assistance with filling out the forms.</p> <p>The New York City Pride parade will be Sunday at 11 a.m.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Bernard Agrest, Erika Wang, and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p><strong>ALBANY, ALBANY:</strong> Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie agreed on a short, retroactive extension of rent regulations through Tuesday. As negotiations continue on the rent regulations and other top of the agenda priority issues like mayoral control of city schools, legislators are due back in Albany on Tuesday. By the time they get there, leaders could already have new deals in place. How long will the extended legislative session continue? Unclear. But, it probably won't be long, especially since Senate Republicans are in no rush to get anything else done. It is looking more and more likely that tenants and their Democratic allies will not be seeing a strengthening of the rent laws and are <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/tenant-back-proposed-2-year-rent-law-extend-no-article-1.2265547?cid=bitly" target="_blank">becoming resigned</a> to the idea that a short-term extension of the current regulations might be the best they can do in the current climate. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5776-albany-lawmakers-putter-past-deadlines-surprising-no-one" target="_blank">our look at state lawmakers' blowing deadlines to no one's surprise</a>]</p> <p>Also: this weekend the manhunt for two prisoners who escaped June 6 from an upstate prison <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/nyregion/prison-escapees-new-york.html" target="_blank">zeroed in on</a> a southwestern New York area, Allegany County. The search continues and the situation is fluid.</p> <p><strong>TRACKING DE BLASIO:</strong> Mayor Bill de Blasio is no doubt uneasily watching Albany and in touch with key players in state government - he has said repeatedly of late that his staff is in consistent communication with the governor's office. The mayor is most concerned with the rent laws, mayoral control of city schools, the 421-a tax break, and perhaps a few other key issues related to the city (like the charter school cap and 'raise the age') that may get resolved as the extended session continues.</p> <p>On Saturday de Blasio delivered remarks at the street renaming ceremony for Detective Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn and then attended and gave remarks at "the #IamAME Rally and Response hosted by the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York [in Queens] to address the unparalleled tragedy at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina this week." De Blasio spoke about racism, terrorism, and the need for stronger gun control laws. On Sunday, de Blasio hosted a press conference in Harlem "to discuss the humanitarian situation concerning Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic."</p> <p>On Sunday evening, city leaders including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Public Advocate Letitia James, and others were set to gather outside Brooklyn's Barclays Center for a vigil honoring the victims of the Charleston shooting.</p> <p>On Monday, the mayor will appear on <a href="http://www.hot97.com/live/" target="_blank">Hot 97 radio</a> at about 7:30 a.m. (read <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/06/8570641/russell-simmons-de-blasio-bitch-policing" target="_blank">this for some context</a>) and, later in the day, he'll "attend the Department of Education's Renewal Schools Working Session" -&nbsp;all this while he and his team continue to negotiate a final city budget deal with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and her budget negotiating team.</p> <p><strong>CITY BUDGET WATCH:</strong> A fiscal year 2016 deal between the de Blasio administration and the City Council is due before July 1, when the fiscal year begins. Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced they had <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5116-mayor-city-council-agree-75-billion-dollar-budget-fiscal-year-2015-de-blasio-mark-viverito" target="_blank">reached a deal</a> on June 19, and there's good reason to think they could again reach a deal a before the deadline this year - which could mean an announcement this week. Stay tuned!</p> <p>The big issues still being negotiated include Council requests for additional funding for an additional 1,000 NYPD officers, senior citizen services, libraries, and more.</p> <p><strong>RIKERS DEAL?:</strong> The City and the US Attorney's Office <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/19/nyregion/accord-near-on-sweeping-reforms-at-rikers-jail-including-us-monitor.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=1" target="_blank">appear close</a> on a deal of reforms at Rikers Island jail complex, incuding a federal monitor to track changes in prisoner treatment and more. There has been more and more scrutiny on both Rikers and related criminal justice issues, like how the bail system works, or doesn't, leading to thousands of people locked up on Rikers who are accused of low-level, non-violent crimes but can't afford the bail set for them.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>The fourth and final public meeting of the Fast Food Wage Board called by Gov. Cuomo, through his labor department, will be at 10 a.m. Monday in the Legislative Office Building at Albany (<a href="http://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/wageboard2015.shtm" target="_blank">and webcast live</a>). "The Wage Board's recommendations are expected by July, and the commissioner will then have 45 days from its receipt to issue an order."</p> <p>Opposing views: The Business Council of New York State will "submit formal comments, and testify in person, at the June 22 meeting in Albany, NY." The Business Council first announced its objections to the fast food Wage Board on June 5. Meanwhile, hundreds of $15 per hour supporters, including fast food workers and their families, elected officials including State Senator Neil Breslin, and others will hold a 9:30 a.m. press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Albany.</p> <p>At 10 a.m. Monday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will be one of the commencement speakers at the Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn's first graduating class' commencement.</p> <p>At 10:30 a.m. Monday in Garden City, New York,&nbsp;"Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman will announce the start of a statewide advertising campaign to educate consumers about how to protect themselves against mortgage rescue scams."</p> <p>Monday morning Council Member Costa Constantinides, Public Advocate Letitia James, and others will be <a href="https://www.facebook.com/costaforastoria/posts/897469466992438" target="_blank">holding a press conference</a> urging a management company to make repairs on the lack of gas and hot water at a co-op complex in Astoria.</p> <p>Monday at the City Council:</p> <ul> <li>At 9:30 a.m. the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet to discuss three land use applications.</li> <li>At 10 a.m. the Committee on Youth Services <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=400831&amp;GUID=36CC51E7-79A2-4A5E-AB9A-2852656ADC99&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search" target="_blank">will meet</a> to have an oversight hearing on how to better address the issue of youth violence.</li> <li>At 11 a.m. the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses will meet to discuss three landmark land use applications.</li> <li>At noon, the Committees on Higher Education, Community Development, Youth Services and Immigration <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=410846&amp;GUID=A3A952CB-9DC5-4EE7-B631-2570AD8B17D1&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search" target="_blank">will have</a> a joint meeting to discuss how New York City is doing on educating its adult immigrant community.</li> <li>At 1 p.m. the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will have a meeting to discuss two land use applications.</li> </ul> <p>On Monday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer will&nbsp;deliver remarks at a 5th grade graduation ceremony at 9:30 a.m. and in the evening, at 7:30 p.m., he'll accept an award at the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island 48th Annual Dinner and Awards Reception.</p> <p>At 5:30 p.m. Monday there will be a public meeting of the Contracts Committee of the Panel for Educational Policy. The Contracts Committee meets before the Panel for Educational Policy meetings to "review specific contract items that are presented for review and approval."</p> <p>Monday evening, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer "speaks at the LGBT Community Center's 32nd annual garden party kick-off for Pride Week."</p> <p>On Monday a "Town Hall for Immigrant Businesses" <a href="http://www.eventbrite.com/e/town-hall-for-immigrant-businesses-tickets-17243159755" target="_blank">will be held</a> in Flushing, Queens by the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit starting at 6 p.m. Speakers will include Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services, Maria Torres-Springer; Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, Amit Bagga; and Magda Desdunes from the Department of Health.</p> <p>At 8 p.m. Monday in front of the Queens Museum, "Borough President Melinda Katz, District Attorney Richard A. Brown, elected officials, community leaders and advocates will host a borough-wide interfaith prayer vigil for the victims of the Charleston massacre and a lighting ceremony in solidarity with New York State gun violence awareness efforts. The ceremony will include a reading of names of New Yorkers in Queens lost to gun violence. Every night from June 22 through June 30 in "The World's Borough", the front exterior of the Queens Museum will be illuminated in orange, the official color of Gun Violence Awareness Month, and will be visible by all motorists along the stretch of the Grand Central Parkway in front of the Museum (approximately 168,000 motorists daily on average)."</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>The state Legislature is due back in Albany on Tuesday, which is when the brief retroactive rent laws extender will expire. Will there be deals in place by Tuesday whereby votes are a formality or will there still much negotiating to do?</p> <p>On Tuesday at 10 a.m., the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission will be holding a public hearing and might vote on designation of the Stonewall Inn at 51-53 Christopher Street. It would be the first "LGBT landmark" in New York City.</p> <p>Tuesday at the City Council:</p> <ul> <li>At 10 a.m. the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will have a meeting to discuss the establishment of a retirement security review board to study and report on recommendations for the city to establish a retirement security program for private sector workers.</li> <li>Also at 10 a.m. the Committee on Public Safety and the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services will have a joint meeting to discuss a bill that "would create the office of drug strategy to provide strategic leadership to coordinate a public health and safety approach to address problems associated to drug use and redresses the harms associated with past and current drug use." In addition, the committees will discuss examining NYC's response to heroin use and overdoses as well as a resolution recognizing and honoring the 25th anniversary of the 7/26/90 signing of "The Americans with Disabilities Act" of 1990.</li> </ul> <p>On Tuesday at 1 p.m. the New York City Bar and Public Advocate Letitia James <a href="http://pubadvocate.nyc.gov/news/events/policing-technology-new-york-city-privacy-law-and-future" target="_blank">will host a program</a>, "Policing Technology in New York City: Privacy, Law, and the Future," to discuss the technological advancements made available to New York City law enforcement and the importance of oversight and safety. Speakers will include Lawrence Byrne, Deputy Commissioner of Legal Affairs at the NYPD and Ben Rosenberg, General Counsel to Manhattan DA Cy Vance with Asim Rehman, General Counsel to the Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD as moderator.</p> <p>The New York City Campaign Finance Board <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/candidates/candidates/EC2017_Trainings.pdf" target="_blank">is offering</a> a "Compliance only" training session, which covers campaign finance laws and CFB rules for the 2017 election cycle, at 5:30 p.m on Tuesday. "The candidate, treasurer, campaign manager or other individual with significant managerial control over the campaign is legally required to attend both a Compliance and a C-SMART training."</p> <p>On Tuesday at 6 p.m. the Department of Education <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/leadership/PEP/publicnotice/2014-2015/June232015PEPMeeting.htm" target="_blank">will hold</a> a public meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy at Long Island City High School. The 2015-2019 five year capital plan amendment, the annual estimate and the list of contracts will be voted on.</p> <p>Also at 6 p.m. Comptroller Scott Stringer <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/event/lgbtq-pride-celebration-changemakers-award-ceremony/" target="_blank">will host</a> an "LGBTQ Pride Celebration and Changemakers Award Ceremony...honoring individuals for their outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ community" in Manhattan on Tuesday night.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>The University Neighborhood Housing Program <a href="http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-cost-of-water-balancing-fairness-affordability-and-water-conservation-tickets-17226658399?aff=mcivte" target="_blank">will host</a> its annual forum at 8:30 a.m. on "The Cost of Water: Balancing Fairness, Housing Affordability and Conservation." UNHP's report "Affordable Water for Affordable Housing" will be discussed by panelists including Jim Buckley of UNHP, Laurie Schoeman of Enterprise Community Partners and Jamie Stein of Stormwater Infrastructure Matters Coalition.</p> <p>On Wednesday morning at Baruch College the AARP <a href="http://cityandstateny.com/2/events/high-anxiety-nyc-gen-x-and-boomers-struggle-with-stress,-savings,-and-security.html#.VYGZ3lVVikp" target="_blank">will be releasing</a> a "groundbreaking NYC survey on the financial security and retirement savings crisis facing the city's Gen X and Baby Boomer generations," with City &amp; State NY. Speakers include: Joyce Rogers, Senior Vice President and AARP National Representative and John Adler, Director of Mayor's Office of Pensions.</p> <p>10 a.m. Wednesday morning, the New York City Campaign Finance Board will be having their next public meeting. An agenda will be made available on Tuesday and posted to its Twitter feed, <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCFB" target="_blank">@NYCCFB</a>.</p> <p>On Wednesday at the City Council:</p> <ul> <li>At 10 a.m. the Committee on General Welfare will meet for an oversight meeting over the services and policies at the HIV/AIDS Services Administration.</li> <li>At 11 a.m. the Committee on Land Use will meet to discuss land use applications.</li> <li>At 2 p.m. the Committee on Health will meet to discuss a new law that would require the department of Health and Mental Hygiene to conduct community air quality surveys and publish the results annually.</li> </ul> <p>The New York City Campaign Finance Board <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/candidates/candidates/EC2017_Trainings.pdf" target="_blank">is offering</a> a "C-SMART only" training session, which will provide "an overview of the CFB's web-based application which campaigns must use to manage and disclose financial activity" for the 2017 election cycle, at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. "The candidate, treasurer, campaign manager or other individual with significant managerial control over the campaign is legally required to attend both a Compliance and a C-SMART training."</p> <p>At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board <a href="http://www.nycrgb.org/html/about/meetings.html" target="_blank">will be</a> at Cooper Union for its last public meeting this cycle. After four previous meetings with public testimony a final vote on rent guidelines for October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016 will be taken at this public meeting.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>On Thursday at the City Council:&nbsp;At 1 p.m. the Committee on Environmental Protection will meet to discuss a bill that would mandate construction sites within 75 feet of any school (public, private, preschool primary or secondary) should not exceed 45 dB during normal school operating hours and that noise levels at school sites shall be continuously monitored during those hours.</p> <p>Empire State Pride Agenda <a href="http://www.prideagenda.org/events/equalitywork-awards#1" target="_blank">will host</a> "Equality @Work Awards" on Thursday at 6 p.m.&nbsp;"Through its Pride in My Workplace program, the Empire State Pride Agenda has been helping New York businesses establish policies and practices that support the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees."</p> <p>Thursday evening in Brooklyn, it is the 2015 Working Families Party Gala, celebrating "17 years of fighting inequality in New York and honor a rising generation of progressive leaders.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>Friday is the last day for the Fast Food Wage Board to receive oral or written testimony. Written testimony <a href="http://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/wageboard2015.shtm" target="_blank">can be mailed or emailed</a>.</p> <p>There will be a Manhattan Borough Service cabinet meeting on Friday at 9:30 a.m. The Borough Service Cabinet meetings focus "on city service delivery and agency responsiveness across the borough."</p> <p>On Saturday morning at 11 a.m. Citizenship Now! and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs <a href="http://events.cuny.edu/eventDetail.asp?EventId=61053" target="_blank">will assist</a> permanent residents with their citizenship applications. If all naturalization requirements are met then an experienced lawyer and other immigration professionals will provide assistance with filling out the forms.</p> <p>The New York City Pride parade will be Sunday at 11 a.m.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Bernard Agrest, Erika Wang, and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p>