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/i-daneek-miller 2017-10-21T10:03:00+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Vigilance in the Fight Against Islamophobia 2016-09-08T04:00:00+00:00 2016-09-08T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6517:vigilance-in-the-fight-against-islamophobia Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/IMG_2332_1.jpg" alt="MMV Daneek Miller" width="600" height="457" /></p> <p>Daneek Miller, left, &amp; Melissa Mark-Viverito, the authors (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>In New York, we have always embraced diversity. We strive to make sure that everyone feels welcome&mdash;no matter their race, faith, or background. This has never been more important for Muslim Americans, who have been the target of vicious political attacks during this election cycle.</p> <p>This month, Muslim Americans across the country and in New York City will be celebrating Eid al-Adha. As our fellow community members observe this important religious holiday amidst a rising trend of Islamophobia, we must be mindful of their safety. Let us continue to set an example for strengthening our community and promoting open-mindedness.</p> <p>Recently, Muslims have been the target of hate speech and violence in their homes, schools, neighborhoods, and places of worship. These verbal and physical attacks represent a broader trend of discrimination against Muslims.</p> <p><a href="http://bridge.georgetown.edu/when-islamophobia-turns-violent-the-2016-u-s-presidential-elections/" target="_blank">According to</a> the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University, anti-Islam rhetoric in the United States has increased significantly during the current presidential election cycle. In fact, anti-Muslim attacks surged in the days and weeks after Donald Trump made anti-Muslim statements, suggested instituting a database to track Muslim Americans, and called for shutting down mosques. In recent months, organized, sometimes armed, protests against mosques have increased, as well as the targeting of Muslims for bullying or hate crimes.</p> <p>This year&rsquo;s presidential election has seen the candidate of a major political party not only endorse bigoted views, but also encourage the spread of these attitudes among his followers. Donald Trump&rsquo;s message of bigotry has created a hostile climate against Muslims, immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, and women, dividing and weakening our communities. This marked increase in Islamophobia in the United States means that every day Muslims are unable to go about their daily lives without worrying about their personal safety. As we have seen with Imam Alauddin Akonjee and most recently with Nazma Khanam, Muslims are frequent targets of hate and violence. As a Latina legislator, as an African-American Muslim, we will not let any hateful rhetoric go unchecked and unchallenged. We have and will continue to stand up and speak out.</p> <p>When an individual&rsquo;s ability to publicly practice his or her faith is threatened, all of our liberties are at stake. We need to protect the freedom to practice faiths of all kinds and to educate others about diversity. That&rsquo;s why the City added two Muslim holy days to the public school calendar in 2015, to ensure that all Muslim-American students can celebrate holidays together with friends and family.</p> <p>Our fellow City Council members have also been very vocal about protecting the rights of Muslims in New York to practice their faith in peace and safety. Just last December, we helped organize a large interfaith rally on the steps of City Hall in coordination with other elected officials and faith leaders to denounce Donald Trump&rsquo;s anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant remarks.</p> <p>Despite challenges, our city will stand strong against these messages meant to divide us. Muslims continue to play important roles in our communities, contributing to the multicultural fabric of our city and our nation. Muslims are important figures in New York City arts, sciences, and businesses, as well as in public service &ndash; like Congressmen Keith Ellison and Andre Carson. Muslims are artists, teachers, doctors; mothers, fathers, and cherished members of their neighborhoods.</p> <p>Institutionalizing Islamophobia only causes our communities to live in fear. This month, in the spirit of Eid, we must reject bigotry and collectively work together to spread awareness and hope. We have a responsibility to denounce discrimination and violence and to ensure that all communities can feel safe and respected in New York City. That is why, this Eid, we ask everyone in our broader community to do what they can to spread kindness instead of hatred, understanding instead of suspicion, and acceptance instead of close-mindedness.</p> <p>Traveling across this city, whether to Bay Ridge or Midland Beach or Astoria, to connect with New Yorkers of all backgrounds and faiths has always been a highlight of serving in elected office. All of us are part of the New York City community, and we look forward to celebrating Eid together.</p> <p>New York City is home to one of the most vibrant Muslim communities in the country. In order to continue preserving the values that make this city so special, we need to make sure that we are listening to the needs of Muslim-American New Yorkers.</p> <p>Islamophobia has no place in New York City. Instead of embracing hateful rhetoric, we should be lifting up Muslim voices and sharing the stories of Muslim-Americans.</p> <p>New Yorkers have always been stronger together. Together, we can work to protect and promote diversity and defeat Islamophobia.</p> <p>***<br />Melissa Mark-Viverito is the Speaker of the City Council and Daneek Miller represents parts of Queens and is the only African-American Muslim City Council Member. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MMViverito" target="_blank">@MMViverito</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/IDaneekMiller" target="_blank">@IDaneekMiller</a>.</p> <p>

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/IMG_2332_1.jpg" alt="MMV Daneek Miller" width="600" height="457" /></p> <p>Daneek Miller, left, &amp; Melissa Mark-Viverito, the authors (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>In New York, we have always embraced diversity. We strive to make sure that everyone feels welcome&mdash;no matter their race, faith, or background. This has never been more important for Muslim Americans, who have been the target of vicious political attacks during this election cycle.</p> <p>This month, Muslim Americans across the country and in New York City will be celebrating Eid al-Adha. As our fellow community members observe this important religious holiday amidst a rising trend of Islamophobia, we must be mindful of their safety. Let us continue to set an example for strengthening our community and promoting open-mindedness.</p> <p>Recently, Muslims have been the target of hate speech and violence in their homes, schools, neighborhoods, and places of worship. These verbal and physical attacks represent a broader trend of discrimination against Muslims.</p> <p><a href="http://bridge.georgetown.edu/when-islamophobia-turns-violent-the-2016-u-s-presidential-elections/" target="_blank">According to</a> the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University, anti-Islam rhetoric in the United States has increased significantly during the current presidential election cycle. In fact, anti-Muslim attacks surged in the days and weeks after Donald Trump made anti-Muslim statements, suggested instituting a database to track Muslim Americans, and called for shutting down mosques. In recent months, organized, sometimes armed, protests against mosques have increased, as well as the targeting of Muslims for bullying or hate crimes.</p> <p>This year&rsquo;s presidential election has seen the candidate of a major political party not only endorse bigoted views, but also encourage the spread of these attitudes among his followers. Donald Trump&rsquo;s message of bigotry has created a hostile climate against Muslims, immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, and women, dividing and weakening our communities. This marked increase in Islamophobia in the United States means that every day Muslims are unable to go about their daily lives without worrying about their personal safety. As we have seen with Imam Alauddin Akonjee and most recently with Nazma Khanam, Muslims are frequent targets of hate and violence. As a Latina legislator, as an African-American Muslim, we will not let any hateful rhetoric go unchecked and unchallenged. We have and will continue to stand up and speak out.</p> <p>When an individual&rsquo;s ability to publicly practice his or her faith is threatened, all of our liberties are at stake. We need to protect the freedom to practice faiths of all kinds and to educate others about diversity. That&rsquo;s why the City added two Muslim holy days to the public school calendar in 2015, to ensure that all Muslim-American students can celebrate holidays together with friends and family.</p> <p>Our fellow City Council members have also been very vocal about protecting the rights of Muslims in New York to practice their faith in peace and safety. Just last December, we helped organize a large interfaith rally on the steps of City Hall in coordination with other elected officials and faith leaders to denounce Donald Trump&rsquo;s anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant remarks.</p> <p>Despite challenges, our city will stand strong against these messages meant to divide us. Muslims continue to play important roles in our communities, contributing to the multicultural fabric of our city and our nation. Muslims are important figures in New York City arts, sciences, and businesses, as well as in public service &ndash; like Congressmen Keith Ellison and Andre Carson. Muslims are artists, teachers, doctors; mothers, fathers, and cherished members of their neighborhoods.</p> <p>Institutionalizing Islamophobia only causes our communities to live in fear. This month, in the spirit of Eid, we must reject bigotry and collectively work together to spread awareness and hope. We have a responsibility to denounce discrimination and violence and to ensure that all communities can feel safe and respected in New York City. That is why, this Eid, we ask everyone in our broader community to do what they can to spread kindness instead of hatred, understanding instead of suspicion, and acceptance instead of close-mindedness.</p> <p>Traveling across this city, whether to Bay Ridge or Midland Beach or Astoria, to connect with New Yorkers of all backgrounds and faiths has always been a highlight of serving in elected office. All of us are part of the New York City community, and we look forward to celebrating Eid together.</p> <p>New York City is home to one of the most vibrant Muslim communities in the country. In order to continue preserving the values that make this city so special, we need to make sure that we are listening to the needs of Muslim-American New Yorkers.</p> <p>Islamophobia has no place in New York City. Instead of embracing hateful rhetoric, we should be lifting up Muslim voices and sharing the stories of Muslim-Americans.</p> <p>New Yorkers have always been stronger together. Together, we can work to protect and promote diversity and defeat Islamophobia.</p> <p>***<br />Melissa Mark-Viverito is the Speaker of the City Council and Daneek Miller represents parts of Queens and is the only African-American Muslim City Council Member. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MMViverito" target="_blank">@MMViverito</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/IDaneekMiller" target="_blank">@IDaneekMiller</a>.</p> <p>

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City Council Skips Executive Budget Hearings for Several Committees 2016-06-06T04:00:00+00:00 2016-06-06T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6379:city-council-skips-executive-budget-hearings-for-several-committees-2016 Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/26743884850_db8d999c67_z.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="city council budget hearing" /></p> <p dir="ltr">A City Council hearing (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council appear to be on the verge of a budget agreement, establishing the city’s spending plan for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1.</p> <p dir="ltr">On May 24, the City Council held its final hearing on de Blasio’s $82.2 billion executive budget for fiscal 2017. The series of executive budget hearings was another step in the lengthy and detailed budget process that includes the mayor’s preliminary budget, a month of preliminary budget hearings, and the Council’s preliminary budget response. After executive budget hearings, final negotiations have been taking place between the de Blasio administration and Council leadership while Council members and advocates make their final public and private pitches for more funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">During the budget process, though, there was one City Council committee with oversight of a city agency that did not hold either an executive budget hearing or a preliminary budget hearing, and six other Council committees held preliminary budget hearings, but did not have executive budget hearings. Declining to hold a hearing signals that there are no related budget issues to address.</p> <p dir="ltr">The decision whether to hold an executive budget hearing is at the discretion of the City Council Speaker’s office and the Council Finance Division, which typically decide not to bring mayoral agencies back for an executive budget hearing if there were no major changes from the preliminary to the executive budget for those agencies. All agencies have preliminary budget hearings, a spokesperson for Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Of the six committees that held a preliminary budget hearing but not an executive budget hearing, a few have oversight of agencies with budget issues. The Committee on Standards and Ethics, for example, has oversight of the Conflicts of Interest Board, which had three 2015&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6343-mayor-pledges-to-re-examine-conflicts-of-interest-board-funding" target="_blank">requests for additional funding denied</a> by the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget (the requests were for about $200,000 in additional funding to hire more ethics trainers and give raises aimed at employee retention).</p> <p dir="ltr">The unfulfilled requests were discussed at the March 8 preliminary budget hearing for COIB. After that hearing held by the Committee on Standards and Ethics, COIB sent a letter on March 10 to the city budget office requesting about $26,000 in additional funds for its most “critical budgetary needs,” which was met. However, COIB made it clear at the preliminary budget hearing that it was struggling to retain staff and to meet its charter-mandated role due to a lack of funding, and that senior management staff had even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6215-underfunded-conflicts-of-interest-board-struggles-to-meet-mandates" target="_blank">taken pay cuts</a> in order to hire new staff. COIB settled for requesting what it saw as a minimum in additional funding after having several requests denied, something which could have been readdressed at an executive budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked why the Committee on Standards and Ethics did not have an executive budget hearing, chair of the committee, Council Member Alan Maisel, told Gotham Gazette, “I can’t answer that…I have no idea, call the budget office.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Council Committee on Contracts also did not hold an executive budget hearing. On May 26, after executive budget hearings had ended, 47 Council members&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6364-push-continues-for-budget-boost-to-city-contracted-nonprofits" target="_blank">signed a letter</a> to the mayor asking the administration to fund a 2.5 percent increase for the administrative costs of nonprofits that contract with the city. Dozens of nonprofit workers and several Council members&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6364-push-continues-for-budget-boost-to-city-contracted-nonprofits" target="_blank">rallied</a> on the steps of City Hall,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6266-city-approach-to-nonprofit-contracting-questioned" target="_blank">raising the same issues</a> that these nonprofits, like the Human Services Council and the New York Immigration Coalition, had brought up during the relevant preliminary budget hearing. The letter from nearly the entire City Council made it clear that the funding needs of nonprofits that contract with the city remained unaddressed.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Helen Rosenthal, chair of the contracts committee, said she believes that no executive budget hearing was held because “It’s not really for the director of the Office of Contracts to respond to this. It’s the OMB who is responsible for allocating these funds to the agencies. But I was asking and other Council members were asking at each of the agency hearings as well, what are we doing to cover these costs?”</p> <p dir="ltr">Rosenthal did indeed raise the issue with OMB during the first executive budget hearing on May 6.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Committee on Consumer Affairs, which oversees the Department of Consumer Affairs, also did not hold an executive budget hearing, despite the agency’s growth under the de Blasio administration. Chair of the committee, Council Member Rafael Espinal, said in a statement to Gotham Gazette that his committee did not have an executive budget hearing “because there was a very minimal change in the agency’s executive budget from the preliminary budget,” as “the agency’s only new need was for $180,000 in personnel services costs and other adjustments totaled less than $500,000.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The mayor’s office did not respond for comment regarding those agencies not asked back to the Council for executive budget hearings.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Committee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Council Member Vincent Gentile with oversight of the Department of Investigation, also did not hold an executive budget hearing, “because the DOI agency requests were unchanged from the Mayor’s preliminary budget and were fully met in the FY’17 executive budget,” said Travis Lamprecht, communications director for Gentile.</p> <p dir="ltr">Neither the Committee on Civil Rights nor the Committee on Courts and Legal Services have direct oversight of specific city agencies, and neither held an executive budget hearing. Chair of the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, Council Member Rory Lancman, told Gotham Gazette, "There were no substantial changes in our area of jurisdiction between the preliminary and executive budget, so the Committee instead held an oversight hearing on court record accuracy."</p> <p dir="ltr">One committee, the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, chaired by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, did not hold a preliminary or executive budget hearing, and has no hearings scheduled before a budget deal is due. A spokesperson for Miller said that his committee “does not have a preliminary budget hearing because it does not oversee a City Department or Agency. The closest one it oversees is the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, but that is only over City employees.”</p> <p dir="ltr">DCAS is the principal administrative support agency for the city of New York and has been allocated $1.1 billion in this year’s executive budget. According to its website, DCAS “supports City agencies' workforce needs in recruiting, hiring and training City employees; provides overall facilities management for 55 public buildings; and purchases, sells and leases real property,” among other functions.</p> <p dir="ltr">Four other committees (of the City Council’s 37) did not hold preliminary or executive budget hearings - those committees do not have direct oversight of any specific city agency.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, chaired by Council Member Mark Treyger, has oversight of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, the Build it Back Program, and the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability. All within the Mayor’s Office, none is an official city department.</p> <p dir="ltr">Strangely, the recovery and resiliency committee twice had an executive budget hearing&nbsp;<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">scheduled</a> in May, but both were deferred, and no preliminary budget hearing took place. Instead, Treyger, told Gotham Gazette, the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency <a href="http://www.bensonhurstbean.com/2016/05/treyger-passes-bill-protect-sandy-victims-sanitation-dob-fines/#.V1XuzJMrKgQ" target="_blank">held an oversight hearing on June 6</a> on “budget items with regard to the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, Build it Back, and all of the Sandy recovery applications, and whether there's equity on resiliency spending.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I was very insistent in making sure that my committee holds an oversight hearing with regard to budget matters before budget adoption,” Treyger added.</p> <p>Another of those four is the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Elections, which has oversight of Council structure and organization as well as appointments to city boards. The rules committee <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6216-city-council-deletes-one-committee-but-no-further-reforms-planned" target="_blank">deleted a committee</a> that the Council had deemed unnecessary during a March hearing, in part citing that it did not have oversight of a city agency. The Committee on State and Federal Legislation, which rarely meets and mainly does so to pass resolutions, also did not hold a budget hearing. And, the Committee on Waterfronts has met just once this year.</p> <p>

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by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/26743884850_db8d999c67_z.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="city council budget hearing" /></p> <p dir="ltr">A City Council hearing (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council appear to be on the verge of a budget agreement, establishing the city’s spending plan for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1.</p> <p dir="ltr">On May 24, the City Council held its final hearing on de Blasio’s $82.2 billion executive budget for fiscal 2017. The series of executive budget hearings was another step in the lengthy and detailed budget process that includes the mayor’s preliminary budget, a month of preliminary budget hearings, and the Council’s preliminary budget response. After executive budget hearings, final negotiations have been taking place between the de Blasio administration and Council leadership while Council members and advocates make their final public and private pitches for more funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">During the budget process, though, there was one City Council committee with oversight of a city agency that did not hold either an executive budget hearing or a preliminary budget hearing, and six other Council committees held preliminary budget hearings, but did not have executive budget hearings. Declining to hold a hearing signals that there are no related budget issues to address.</p> <p dir="ltr">The decision whether to hold an executive budget hearing is at the discretion of the City Council Speaker’s office and the Council Finance Division, which typically decide not to bring mayoral agencies back for an executive budget hearing if there were no major changes from the preliminary to the executive budget for those agencies. All agencies have preliminary budget hearings, a spokesperson for Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Of the six committees that held a preliminary budget hearing but not an executive budget hearing, a few have oversight of agencies with budget issues. The Committee on Standards and Ethics, for example, has oversight of the Conflicts of Interest Board, which had three 2015&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6343-mayor-pledges-to-re-examine-conflicts-of-interest-board-funding" target="_blank">requests for additional funding denied</a> by the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget (the requests were for about $200,000 in additional funding to hire more ethics trainers and give raises aimed at employee retention).</p> <p dir="ltr">The unfulfilled requests were discussed at the March 8 preliminary budget hearing for COIB. After that hearing held by the Committee on Standards and Ethics, COIB sent a letter on March 10 to the city budget office requesting about $26,000 in additional funds for its most “critical budgetary needs,” which was met. However, COIB made it clear at the preliminary budget hearing that it was struggling to retain staff and to meet its charter-mandated role due to a lack of funding, and that senior management staff had even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6215-underfunded-conflicts-of-interest-board-struggles-to-meet-mandates" target="_blank">taken pay cuts</a> in order to hire new staff. COIB settled for requesting what it saw as a minimum in additional funding after having several requests denied, something which could have been readdressed at an executive budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked why the Committee on Standards and Ethics did not have an executive budget hearing, chair of the committee, Council Member Alan Maisel, told Gotham Gazette, “I can’t answer that…I have no idea, call the budget office.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Council Committee on Contracts also did not hold an executive budget hearing. On May 26, after executive budget hearings had ended, 47 Council members&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6364-push-continues-for-budget-boost-to-city-contracted-nonprofits" target="_blank">signed a letter</a> to the mayor asking the administration to fund a 2.5 percent increase for the administrative costs of nonprofits that contract with the city. Dozens of nonprofit workers and several Council members&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6364-push-continues-for-budget-boost-to-city-contracted-nonprofits" target="_blank">rallied</a> on the steps of City Hall,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6266-city-approach-to-nonprofit-contracting-questioned" target="_blank">raising the same issues</a> that these nonprofits, like the Human Services Council and the New York Immigration Coalition, had brought up during the relevant preliminary budget hearing. The letter from nearly the entire City Council made it clear that the funding needs of nonprofits that contract with the city remained unaddressed.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Helen Rosenthal, chair of the contracts committee, said she believes that no executive budget hearing was held because “It’s not really for the director of the Office of Contracts to respond to this. It’s the OMB who is responsible for allocating these funds to the agencies. But I was asking and other Council members were asking at each of the agency hearings as well, what are we doing to cover these costs?”</p> <p dir="ltr">Rosenthal did indeed raise the issue with OMB during the first executive budget hearing on May 6.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Committee on Consumer Affairs, which oversees the Department of Consumer Affairs, also did not hold an executive budget hearing, despite the agency’s growth under the de Blasio administration. Chair of the committee, Council Member Rafael Espinal, said in a statement to Gotham Gazette that his committee did not have an executive budget hearing “because there was a very minimal change in the agency’s executive budget from the preliminary budget,” as “the agency’s only new need was for $180,000 in personnel services costs and other adjustments totaled less than $500,000.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The mayor’s office did not respond for comment regarding those agencies not asked back to the Council for executive budget hearings.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Committee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Council Member Vincent Gentile with oversight of the Department of Investigation, also did not hold an executive budget hearing, “because the DOI agency requests were unchanged from the Mayor’s preliminary budget and were fully met in the FY’17 executive budget,” said Travis Lamprecht, communications director for Gentile.</p> <p dir="ltr">Neither the Committee on Civil Rights nor the Committee on Courts and Legal Services have direct oversight of specific city agencies, and neither held an executive budget hearing. Chair of the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, Council Member Rory Lancman, told Gotham Gazette, "There were no substantial changes in our area of jurisdiction between the preliminary and executive budget, so the Committee instead held an oversight hearing on court record accuracy."</p> <p dir="ltr">One committee, the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, chaired by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, did not hold a preliminary or executive budget hearing, and has no hearings scheduled before a budget deal is due. A spokesperson for Miller said that his committee “does not have a preliminary budget hearing because it does not oversee a City Department or Agency. The closest one it oversees is the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, but that is only over City employees.”</p> <p dir="ltr">DCAS is the principal administrative support agency for the city of New York and has been allocated $1.1 billion in this year’s executive budget. According to its website, DCAS “supports City agencies' workforce needs in recruiting, hiring and training City employees; provides overall facilities management for 55 public buildings; and purchases, sells and leases real property,” among other functions.</p> <p dir="ltr">Four other committees (of the City Council’s 37) did not hold preliminary or executive budget hearings - those committees do not have direct oversight of any specific city agency.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, chaired by Council Member Mark Treyger, has oversight of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, the Build it Back Program, and the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability. All within the Mayor’s Office, none is an official city department.</p> <p dir="ltr">Strangely, the recovery and resiliency committee twice had an executive budget hearing&nbsp;<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">scheduled</a> in May, but both were deferred, and no preliminary budget hearing took place. Instead, Treyger, told Gotham Gazette, the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency <a href="http://www.bensonhurstbean.com/2016/05/treyger-passes-bill-protect-sandy-victims-sanitation-dob-fines/#.V1XuzJMrKgQ" target="_blank">held an oversight hearing on June 6</a> on “budget items with regard to the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, Build it Back, and all of the Sandy recovery applications, and whether there's equity on resiliency spending.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I was very insistent in making sure that my committee holds an oversight hearing with regard to budget matters before budget adoption,” Treyger added.</p> <p>Another of those four is the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Elections, which has oversight of Council structure and organization as well as appointments to city boards. The rules committee <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6216-city-council-deletes-one-committee-but-no-further-reforms-planned" target="_blank">deleted a committee</a> that the Council had deemed unnecessary during a March hearing, in part citing that it did not have oversight of a city agency. The Committee on State and Federal Legislation, which rarely meets and mainly does so to pass resolutions, also did not hold a budget hearing. And, the Committee on Waterfronts has met just once this year.</p> <p>

***
by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent 2016-01-20T20:05:18+00:00 2016-01-20T20:05:18+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6103:grocery-worker-bill-provokes-rare-level-of-council-dissent Carmen Russo <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/18846091244_5601781e86_z.jpg" alt="MMV pathmark" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>Speaker Mark-Viverito on 125th Street (photo: William Alatriste)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>When a bill comes to the floor of the New York City Council, it is guaranteed to pass. And so it was on Tuesday, when the Council voted through the Grocery Worker Retention Act, which mandates that new owners of large grocery stores maintain employment of the store workforce for 90 days. But while most bills pass unanimously and some garner only two or three dissenting votes from the Council's three-member Republican caucus, the GWRA garnered seven "no" votes.</p> <p>Five of the Council's 47 Democrats and two of the three Republicans voted against the bill, which passed 40-7 as three members were absent and there is one vacant Council seat after a recent resignation. (A Gotham Gazette <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5473-the-new-city-council-whats-changed-and-what-hasnt-in-2014" target="_blank">report</a> previously found that in 2014, six was the most "no" votes received by any bill passing through the Council.)</p> <p>The fact that several Council members took time to explain opposition to the bill during the vote gave a rare semblance of debate to what is typically an atmosphere of near or full unanimity. Even among the dissenters, reasons varied, though most called the bill government overreach into the private sector. For the overwhelming majority who voted in favor of the bill, the rationale is that the grocery industry is in the midst of an especially volatile period that has had severe consequences for many working class New Yorkers and their families.</p> <p>"I believe this is a well-intentioned effort and I have great respect for the bill's sponsor," Council Member Dan Garodnick said Wednesday, leading to his "no" vote, and referring to Council Member Daneek Miller. "But with this bill we are interjecting local government into private enterprise in a way that we should not be doing. We are going too far."</p> <p>Council members supporting the bill, led by Miller, explained and defended the bill as necessary and pointed to the fact that the city has taken such measures before, namely to protect building service workers.</p> <p>After defending the bill on the Council floor Tuesday, Council Member Brad Lander took to Twitter Wednesday morning to respond to criticism of the GWRA by grocery store owners in a Crain's New York Business <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160119/BLOGS04/160119848" target="_blank">article</a>. Lander <a href="https://twitter.com/bradlander/status/689806467436826624" target="_blank">wrote</a>, "We have the same modest "worker retention" law in place for building service workers, and no business collapses have been reported."</p> <p>During a press conference before the vote, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito pointed to that precedent and said that the Council may be looking at other industries as well. "There is a similar bill that we passed several years ago when it comes to service workers," she said. "And we wanted to move this very quickly and that doesn't mean we're not looking at other industries as well."</p> <p>"We needed to move this very quickly because of the recent closures and bankruptcy and what some of these workers were going through," Mark-Viverito continued, pointing to examples in her northern Manhattan district. She added that just because this grocery store bill was being passed, "doesn't mean that we're not looking at other industries, 'cause we are."</p> <p>On the Council floor, Garodnick said that all workers should have rights, including the right to unionize, and that the Council should support efforts to unionize and fight for fair wages and benefits. He went on, though, to analyze the bill's provisions, asking rhetorically, "Why...would we protect workers only for 90 days? Why not six months? Or a year? Or more? Why are we limiting ourselves to this industry? Why not protect the workers in our local pizza shop? Or even the financial services industry? If you buy a supermarket with 100 workers and you believe that you can make it survive and make a profit, and you only need 90 workers, we should let you do that, without interference."</p> <p>Joining Garodnick in casting "no" votes were fellow Democratic Council Members David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, James Vacca, and Antonio Reynoso; as well as Republicans Joseph Borelli and Steven Matteo. The Council's other Republican member, Eric Ulrich, was a co-sponsor of the bill and voted in favor. Reynoso said that the bill did little for people in his district, where the "supermarkets" are local bodegas, often owned by immigrants struggling to get by.</p> <p>While Garodnick's 'overreach' critiques were echoed by others who voted against the bill - and even acknowledged by some who voted for it - 40 Council members supported the bill. Council members from Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx spoke of the negative consequences of losing supermarkets in their districts or from the mass layoffs that disrupted communities after a supermarket sale.</p> <p>Council Member Danny Dromm, of Queens, said, "I have seen what happens when these small supermarkets are closed...we had this situation in Jackson Heights about two years ago when one day, two weeks before Christmas, employees arrived to find out they had been locked out of the door, and when the new owner came in and took over the supermarket, he would not rehire the workers, even though they had not done anything wrong. I totally agree with this legislation, nothing in this law says that the workers have to stay on beyond the 90 days."</p> <p>At the press conference before the full Council meeting, Mark-Viverito and Miller positioned the bill as an important step in the Council's ongoing work to protect workers. "This City Council is committed to protecting the rights and dignity of all workers in our city," Mark-Viverito said, "and with this legislation, we're taking another step toward that goal. Grocery store employees provide a valuable service to their community - we still have too many food deserts across the city of New York, my community is one of them. And at a minimum, these workers should have an opportunity to prove their worth before losing their jobs to changes in ownership."</p> <p>The Council has taken an aggressive stance in regulating workplace and workforce issues, including expanding paid sick leave and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5971-city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy" target="_blank">moving through legislation to protect freelancers</a>.</p> <p>In outlining the GWRA, Council Member Miller said, "Now keep in mind these are not small bodegas or smaller stores, these are at least 10,000 feet of sales, not storage, not parking. So this is significant space and we need to protect workers, but more importantly, protect communities."</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2141270&amp;GUID=6ADF3A0F-DBC3-43F1-99A6-6159FD716898&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">The language of the bill</a> defines which employees and what stores are covered:</p> <p>"The term "eligible grocery employee" means any person employed by a grocery establishment subject to a change in control, and who has been employed by such establishment on a full-time or a part-time basis for a period of at least six months prior to the effective date of the change in control; provided that such term shall not include persons who are managerial, supervisory or confidential employees or persons who on average regularly worked fewer than eight hours per week during such period."</p> <p>"The term "grocery establishment" means any retail store in the city of New York in which the sale of food for off-site consumption comprises fifty percent or more of store sales and that exceeds 10,000 square feet in size, exclusive of any storage space, loading dock, food preparation space or eating area designated for the consumption of prepared food."</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill at an upcoming ceremony.</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/18846091244_5601781e86_z.jpg" alt="MMV pathmark" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>Speaker Mark-Viverito on 125th Street (photo: William Alatriste)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>When a bill comes to the floor of the New York City Council, it is guaranteed to pass. And so it was on Tuesday, when the Council voted through the Grocery Worker Retention Act, which mandates that new owners of large grocery stores maintain employment of the store workforce for 90 days. But while most bills pass unanimously and some garner only two or three dissenting votes from the Council's three-member Republican caucus, the GWRA garnered seven "no" votes.</p> <p>Five of the Council's 47 Democrats and two of the three Republicans voted against the bill, which passed 40-7 as three members were absent and there is one vacant Council seat after a recent resignation. (A Gotham Gazette <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5473-the-new-city-council-whats-changed-and-what-hasnt-in-2014" target="_blank">report</a> previously found that in 2014, six was the most "no" votes received by any bill passing through the Council.)</p> <p>The fact that several Council members took time to explain opposition to the bill during the vote gave a rare semblance of debate to what is typically an atmosphere of near or full unanimity. Even among the dissenters, reasons varied, though most called the bill government overreach into the private sector. For the overwhelming majority who voted in favor of the bill, the rationale is that the grocery industry is in the midst of an especially volatile period that has had severe consequences for many working class New Yorkers and their families.</p> <p>"I believe this is a well-intentioned effort and I have great respect for the bill's sponsor," Council Member Dan Garodnick said Wednesday, leading to his "no" vote, and referring to Council Member Daneek Miller. "But with this bill we are interjecting local government into private enterprise in a way that we should not be doing. We are going too far."</p> <p>Council members supporting the bill, led by Miller, explained and defended the bill as necessary and pointed to the fact that the city has taken such measures before, namely to protect building service workers.</p> <p>After defending the bill on the Council floor Tuesday, Council Member Brad Lander took to Twitter Wednesday morning to respond to criticism of the GWRA by grocery store owners in a Crain's New York Business <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160119/BLOGS04/160119848" target="_blank">article</a>. Lander <a href="https://twitter.com/bradlander/status/689806467436826624" target="_blank">wrote</a>, "We have the same modest "worker retention" law in place for building service workers, and no business collapses have been reported."</p> <p>During a press conference before the vote, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito pointed to that precedent and said that the Council may be looking at other industries as well. "There is a similar bill that we passed several years ago when it comes to service workers," she said. "And we wanted to move this very quickly and that doesn't mean we're not looking at other industries as well."</p> <p>"We needed to move this very quickly because of the recent closures and bankruptcy and what some of these workers were going through," Mark-Viverito continued, pointing to examples in her northern Manhattan district. She added that just because this grocery store bill was being passed, "doesn't mean that we're not looking at other industries, 'cause we are."</p> <p>On the Council floor, Garodnick said that all workers should have rights, including the right to unionize, and that the Council should support efforts to unionize and fight for fair wages and benefits. He went on, though, to analyze the bill's provisions, asking rhetorically, "Why...would we protect workers only for 90 days? Why not six months? Or a year? Or more? Why are we limiting ourselves to this industry? Why not protect the workers in our local pizza shop? Or even the financial services industry? If you buy a supermarket with 100 workers and you believe that you can make it survive and make a profit, and you only need 90 workers, we should let you do that, without interference."</p> <p>Joining Garodnick in casting "no" votes were fellow Democratic Council Members David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, James Vacca, and Antonio Reynoso; as well as Republicans Joseph Borelli and Steven Matteo. The Council's other Republican member, Eric Ulrich, was a co-sponsor of the bill and voted in favor. Reynoso said that the bill did little for people in his district, where the "supermarkets" are local bodegas, often owned by immigrants struggling to get by.</p> <p>While Garodnick's 'overreach' critiques were echoed by others who voted against the bill - and even acknowledged by some who voted for it - 40 Council members supported the bill. Council members from Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx spoke of the negative consequences of losing supermarkets in their districts or from the mass layoffs that disrupted communities after a supermarket sale.</p> <p>Council Member Danny Dromm, of Queens, said, "I have seen what happens when these small supermarkets are closed...we had this situation in Jackson Heights about two years ago when one day, two weeks before Christmas, employees arrived to find out they had been locked out of the door, and when the new owner came in and took over the supermarket, he would not rehire the workers, even though they had not done anything wrong. I totally agree with this legislation, nothing in this law says that the workers have to stay on beyond the 90 days."</p> <p>At the press conference before the full Council meeting, Mark-Viverito and Miller positioned the bill as an important step in the Council's ongoing work to protect workers. "This City Council is committed to protecting the rights and dignity of all workers in our city," Mark-Viverito said, "and with this legislation, we're taking another step toward that goal. Grocery store employees provide a valuable service to their community - we still have too many food deserts across the city of New York, my community is one of them. And at a minimum, these workers should have an opportunity to prove their worth before losing their jobs to changes in ownership."</p> <p>The Council has taken an aggressive stance in regulating workplace and workforce issues, including expanding paid sick leave and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5971-city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy" target="_blank">moving through legislation to protect freelancers</a>.</p> <p>In outlining the GWRA, Council Member Miller said, "Now keep in mind these are not small bodegas or smaller stores, these are at least 10,000 feet of sales, not storage, not parking. So this is significant space and we need to protect workers, but more importantly, protect communities."</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2141270&amp;GUID=6ADF3A0F-DBC3-43F1-99A6-6159FD716898&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">The language of the bill</a> defines which employees and what stores are covered:</p> <p>"The term "eligible grocery employee" means any person employed by a grocery establishment subject to a change in control, and who has been employed by such establishment on a full-time or a part-time basis for a period of at least six months prior to the effective date of the change in control; provided that such term shall not include persons who are managerial, supervisory or confidential employees or persons who on average regularly worked fewer than eight hours per week during such period."</p> <p>"The term "grocery establishment" means any retail store in the city of New York in which the sale of food for off-site consumption comprises fifty percent or more of store sales and that exceeds 10,000 square feet in size, exclusive of any storage space, loading dock, food preparation space or eating area designated for the consumption of prepared food."</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill at an upcoming ceremony.</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> All Aboard the BRT Express? 2015-11-16T19:06:12+00:00 2015-11-16T19:06:12+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5991:all-aboard-the-brt-express Super User <p><img alt="bus mta photo m86" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/19667315725_424a50b309_z.jpg" width="600" height="421" /></p> <p>(photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)</p> <hr /> <p>Google Maps estimated an hour-and-a-half for a trip from near City Hall to a location in Southeast Queens, leaving at 5:30 p.m. on a recent Tuesday. On the E train to its final stop and a bus crawling along jam-packed Merrick Boulevard, the trip took about an hour longer, two-and-a-half hours from door to door.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Now you know what we go through every day,“ City Council Member I. Daneek Miller told Gotham Gazette following that night’s event, which he co-hosted with Council Member Donovan Richards and focused on, what else, transportation.</p> <p dir="ltr">The commute to and from downtown Manhattan that the Council members and some of their constituents face was part of the motivation behind the town hall, set in the outer reaches of the city and called to examine the challenging state of public transit in St. Albans, Laurelton, and surrounding neighborhoods - often referred to as a “transportation desert.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a recent <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20151104/OPINION/151029806/how-to-end-those-endless-commutes" target="_blank">op-ed</a> for Crain’s New York Business, Miller laid out the extent of the problem: people from Southeast Queens spend roughly 15 hours a week commuting, 238 percent more time than the average New Yorker.</p> <p dir="ltr">The residents of the area share this plight with several other neighborhoods considered transportation deserts because of their lack of public transit options - places including the Rockaways, the North Bronx, and the South Shore of Staten Island.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the subway map sure to stay mostly as it is, communities in greatest need of good transportation options that can get residents to the city’s main jobs centers are reliant on a bus system lacking in capacity and dependability. Even though 97 percent of the city‘s population lives within a quarter mile of a bus stop, the collective problems with the service--it is one of the slowest systems in the nation and the slowest among big <a href="http://www.straphangers.org/buscams/" target="_blank">cities</a>--render residents far removed from subway lines and feeling helpless.</p> <p dir="ltr">With increased scrutiny of transportation deserts and lengthy New York City commutes come increasing calls for creative bus solutions: with more selective bus service (SBS) and bus rapid transit (BRT) at the forefront.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="transpo deserts" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Screen_Shot_2015-11-04_at_21.04.49.jpg" width="400" height="307" />[NYC "subway deserts" - <a href="https://team.cartodb.com/u/chriswhong/viz/e60e7660-3982-11e5-9997-0e853d047bba/public_map" target="_blank">map by Chris Whong</a>)</p> <p dir="ltr">According to an <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/comptroller-stringer-audit-reveals-nearly-one-third-of-mta-express-buses-not-on-time/" target="_blank">audit</a> released by Comptroller Scott Stringer in April, buses are not just slow, they are also often late: Stringer‘s study revealed that more than 30 percent of the city’s express buses do not run on schedule. Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island are hit the hardest, the comptroller said. The report also found that the MTA had inconsistent inspection standards for wheelchair lifts across their bus fleet, which, in addition to failing disabled riders, also slows bus time.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is more than just a statistic,“ Stringer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOTCewSGawk" target="_blank">said</a> at the press conference unveiling his audit, “a late bus could mean a missed job opportunity, missed wages, or missed time with children.“</p> <p dir="ltr">One possible antidote for lagging buses and transit hungry commuters is Bus Rapid Transit, and the idea is gaining momentum, as the Miller-Richards town hall showed. The questions ahead are about political will and community buy-in toward expanding BRT in New York City. BRT was a piece of a recent City Council hearing on transportation deserts, but the city’s Department of Transportation has already been made to study BRT through a law passed in the Council and signed by Mayor de Blasio that will lead to a report on areas where BRT should be implemented.</p> <p dir="ltr">Started in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974, BRT was originally formulated as a cheaper alternative for a city that didn‘t have the money to build a subway. In its fullest form BRT combines a variety of features to make it operate at a speed comparable to light rail (an option also talked about for Queens and Staten Island). Long accordion style buses--in Curitiba they hold up to 250 people--shoot up and down bus-only lanes of large streets, stopping at intervals akin to a subway line (rather than the shorter ones of typical bus service).</p> <p dir="ltr">Traffic signals have sensors in order to hold green lights for buses approaching intersections. People pay their fare before they board the bus and stations often feature elevated platforms or curbsides that coincide with the floor of the bus, making it quick and easy for elderly or disabled people to board. All this amounts to more on time, reliable, and efficient bus service.</p> <p dir="ltr">Since the turn of the century cities across the globe including Paris, Istanbul, Bogata, and Los Angeles have all adopted BRT to curb car use and improve public transit overall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to bring BRT to New York as part of his efforts to help the city’s lower and middle classes. The argument also goes, of course, that if workers have shorter and easier commutes they are more productive when they’re at work.</p> <p dir="ltr">”Bus riders are the most neglected part of our transportation system,” de Blasio’s <a href="http://b.3cdn.net/deblasio/d193f478cdba70ac0e_2jm6bkaxk.pdf" target="_blank">policy book</a> from his 2013 mayoral campaign reads. “Bus Rapid Transit has the potential to save outer-borough commuters hours off their commute times every week and stimulate economic activity in neighborhoods the subway system doesn’t reach.”</p> <p dir="ltr">While it’s been somewhat slow to materialize, de Blasio’s pledge to bring New York City a “world-class bus rapid transit system” has been gaining steam. When signing the BRT study bill in May, de Blasio <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya8d5_TmViI" target="_blank">reminded</a> that, “We all know that mass transit is particularly critical for those New Yorkers for whom resources are very tight, whose incomes are very tight - mass transit is their lifeline. It connects them to jobs, schools, everything.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In March the state-run MTA and the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the official plan for the city‘s first full-scale BRT route on Woodhaven Boulevard, in Queens. The project will stretch 14.4 miles, cost around $200 million, and be fully operational by 2017. (By contrast, the Second Avenue subway is supposed to cover 8.5 miles, cost upwards of $17 billion, and be done at a to-be-determined date.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Previously the two organizations’ efforts to speed up bus time came in the form of Select Bus Service, a paired down version of BRT that also utilizes off-board fare collection, along with traffic signal priority, semi-exclusive bus lanes, and longer distances between stations. The first SBS route was launched in 2008 on the Bx12 on Fordham Road in the Bronx, and has enjoyed relative success. According to statistics collected by the MTA one year after the launch, running times increased up to 19 percent, ridership by 8 percent.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over the past seven years the MTA and the DOT have added seven other SBS routes, including ones going up First Avenue and down Second Avenue in Manhattan. All routes have enjoyed faster service and a 2013 DOT <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/brt/downloads/pdf/brt-routes-fullreport.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> claimed that SBS had saved eight million hours of travel time.</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, SBS is not BRT. The former appears more suited for the busier sections for the city, the latter for moving people from the city’s outer reaches to its transit and business hubs.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the Woodhaven route, which will have exclusive lanes and robust, fully-outfitted stations with shelters, seats, and real-time information on bus arrivals (along with off-board fare collection and transit signal priority) the city is setting a new standard for its above-ground transportation. The fully exclusive bus lanes, which will also allow traffic signal priority to be more effective, are particularly exciting given that Kevin Ortiz, spokesperson for the MTA, told Gotham Gazette that traffic congestion and red lights are the top two causes for bus delays.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="woodhaven2 int" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/woodhaven2_int.jpg" width="500" height="332" />[Woodhaven BRT rendering, via NYC DOT]</p> <p dir="ltr">The line, which will run north-south, perpendicular to the A, E, F, J, M, R, and 7 trains, is indicative of the type of improvements BRT could offer in the so-called “outer boroughs.” Joan Byron, Director of Policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development and a member of the advocacy group BRT for NYC, sees this improvement as imperative to the economic empowerment of New York’s outer-borough residents.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have a problem right now of people not being able to get to their jobs and employers not being able to get to their workforce. Work locations are shifting. Job growth is much faster in the boroughs than it is in Manhattan…and the subway system isn‘t set up to serve them. You can do things with BRT that would take decades to do with rail,“ Byron told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">As it stands, she explains, “if you live some place like Far Rockaway…the number of jobs that are within a reasonable commute range for you are much smaller than if you live someplace like Park Slope.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The Woodhaven line plans to change that for its service area. BRT lines along the North Shore of Staten Island (something City Council Member Debbie Rose <a href="https://www.facebook.com/CouncilwomanDebiRose/" target="_blank">called</a> “a necessity, not an amenity”) and Southern Brooklyn—two possible routes the MTA and DOT are investigating—would also serve similar purposes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Donovan Richards, who represents part of the area the new BRT route will serve, sees this project as only the beginning. Ultimately, he wants a full-scale BRT network throughout the city, viewing the issue as one that is also key to environmental justice.</p> <p dir="ltr">“[BRT] needs to become as natural as breathing air,“ he said to Gotham Gazette after the town hall. “We have got to remember that if we don’t get cars off the road, climate change is going to wipe out communities in New York City. Overall the city needs to adopt it,” he said, referring to BRT.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="Car Ownership blog" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Car_Ownership_blog.jpg" width="450" height="450" />[Rates of car ownership, via NYC EDC]</p> <p dir="ltr">Richards, along with city DOT officials, recently had lunch with and gave a tour of the planned Woodhaven route to a federal transportation secretary. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has promised to push for federal funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">The excitement continued into May when the mayor signed into law the new BRT-related <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#/0" target="_blank">bill</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1687958&amp;GUID=C4CBC081-829F-4A83-9036-1F942F6A91EF&amp;Options=ID|Text|&amp;Search=211-A" target="_blank">According to</a> the City Council website, “Under the bill, DOT would work with the MTA and gather input with the public to develop a citywide BRT plan, due to the Council no later than September 1, 2017. The plan would consider areas of the City in need of additional rapid transit options, strategies for serving growing neighborhoods, potential intra-borough and inter-borough BRT corridors DOT plans to establish by 2027, strategies for integrating BRT with other transit routes, and the anticipated operating costs of additional BRT lines.”</p> <p dir="ltr">SBS may continue to expand, and many note that it is a version of BRT, but the extent to which a strong BRT system will be implemented is unclear. In several other cities where the system has achieved success, says Joan Byron of Pratt, the build of these cities naturally accommodated the necessary BRT infrastructure.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The places where that has been done, places like Bogota, Columbia, that model was implemented exactly in the parts of the city that have kind of a post-World War II physical fabric and development pattern. The street there for the main bus line, the Transmillenial, is twelve lanes wide. Pedestrians cross that street on over-passes. It wasn’t a big jump to put dedicated lanes in the center region and to have physical stations that are actually enclosed.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Woodhaven Boulevard, eight lanes wide and notoriously hazardous for pedestrians (the station islands to be installed in the middle of the avenue also act as a <a href="http://qns.com/story/2015/10/09/bus-rapid-transit-advocates-release-woodhaven-boulevard-crash-study-numbers/" target="_blank">safety measure</a>), is at least somewhat similar.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Brad Lander, the lead sponsor of the BRT bill, sees Manhattan’s First and Second Avenues as streets also appropriate for the full BRT service, especially given the MTA‘s <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/nyregion/mayor-de-blasiojoins-in-criticism-of-2nd-avenue-subway-cuts.html?_r=1" target="_blank">recent announcement</a> to forgo $1 billion in funding for the Second Avenue Subway project.</p> <p dir="ltr">Most buses, though, don‘t operate on streets the width of a small highway (even dedicating a full lane of First or Second Avenue could prove quite contentious). For these routes Lander and Byron see smaller BRT-like features being incorporated into bus operation citywide on a case-by-case basis.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The simple idea of off-board fare payment, that’s something we want to get to on every city bus,” Lander told Gotham Gazette. After that, he said, what is doable will depend on infrastructure features and funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lander cited the SBS M86 route, the MTA‘s latest SBS addition, as a prime example. Even though there is not enough room for a dedicated bus lane (the bus runs crosstown on 86th Street in Manhattan), the MTA has already installed off-board fare collection and plans to add bus bulbs - protruding, bulges of sidewalk in front of bus stops, constructed so that the bus doesn‘t have to pull over when it picks up passengers. Stations are also equipped with real-time bus arrival information. A similar approach could be effective on smaller streets in the outer boroughs as well.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="imgres" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/imgres.jpg" width="328" height="153" />[A bus bulb, via Streetsblog.org]</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Daneek Miller is impatient, saying that his transit-starved constituents can’t wait a decade for BRT lines.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There are 300,000 people in Southeast Queens who it’s talking an hour-and-a-half, an hour-and-forty-five minutes to get to their job in the city, who can’t wait 20 years for a change,” Miller said after his town hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Miller, who ran a transportation workers union before joining the Council, takes a slightly more cynical view of SBS. He says the recent buzz around BRT has led the city to overlook basic adaptations that could yield considerable results, like those he outlined in his op-ed, such as <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2271101&amp;GUID=C0E2BACA-89E7-47EE-8684-8DD0495D4E1A&amp;Options=Advanced&amp;Search=" target="_blank">fare reform</a> on the LIRR. For his constituents, Miller said, “BRT might be the second best answer. I can get to City Hall in 50 [minutes] on the LIRR; it takes me an hour-and-40-minutes using public transportation.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, Miller certainly wants to see extended express bus service to Downtown Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. He acknowledges infrastructure challenges of implementing BRT in some places, saying “We don‘t want to put square pegs in a round hole,” and that it is essential to have all the components, otherwise it won’t be BRT, but a “glorified express bus service.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With an eye toward communities like those represented by his colleagues Miller and Richards, Lander points to the need for more options for commuters. Citing “low-income New Yorkers and communities of color” that “have disproportionately long commute times,” Lander said at the May bill-signing that “New Yorkers across the city – especially in transit-starved, outer-borough neighborhoods – need more mass-transit options. This law, and subsequent exploration of a Bus Rapid Transit network, will significantly improve public transportation access in the parts of NYC that need it most, at a cost we can afford, and help insure a more sustainable future.”</p> <p dir="ltr">BRT and SBS advocates, like Lander, stand confident that their plan will deliver, and sooner than projected.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I think it’s going to accelerate,“ said Byron. “For every elected official that will stand up and say ‘I want BRT in my district now,’ which all the Council members along the Q52, Q53 routes have said, you’ll get others that say, ‘Forget it, my constituents ride the bus,‘” Byron said, referring to hesitant Council members who she thinks will acquiesce.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked about the twelve year timeline in his BRT bill, a charged Lander replied, “the city - the DOT with the MTA - is already rolling out BRT at a pretty rapid rate...we are not waiting.“</p> <p dir="ltr">****<br />by Colin O’Connor<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/colinqoconnor93" target="_blank">@colinqoconnor93</a></p> <p><img alt="bus mta photo m86" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/19667315725_424a50b309_z.jpg" width="600" height="421" /></p> <p>(photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)</p> <hr /> <p>Google Maps estimated an hour-and-a-half for a trip from near City Hall to a location in Southeast Queens, leaving at 5:30 p.m. on a recent Tuesday. On the E train to its final stop and a bus crawling along jam-packed Merrick Boulevard, the trip took about an hour longer, two-and-a-half hours from door to door.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Now you know what we go through every day,“ City Council Member I. Daneek Miller told Gotham Gazette following that night’s event, which he co-hosted with Council Member Donovan Richards and focused on, what else, transportation.</p> <p dir="ltr">The commute to and from downtown Manhattan that the Council members and some of their constituents face was part of the motivation behind the town hall, set in the outer reaches of the city and called to examine the challenging state of public transit in St. Albans, Laurelton, and surrounding neighborhoods - often referred to as a “transportation desert.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a recent <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20151104/OPINION/151029806/how-to-end-those-endless-commutes" target="_blank">op-ed</a> for Crain’s New York Business, Miller laid out the extent of the problem: people from Southeast Queens spend roughly 15 hours a week commuting, 238 percent more time than the average New Yorker.</p> <p dir="ltr">The residents of the area share this plight with several other neighborhoods considered transportation deserts because of their lack of public transit options - places including the Rockaways, the North Bronx, and the South Shore of Staten Island.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the subway map sure to stay mostly as it is, communities in greatest need of good transportation options that can get residents to the city’s main jobs centers are reliant on a bus system lacking in capacity and dependability. Even though 97 percent of the city‘s population lives within a quarter mile of a bus stop, the collective problems with the service--it is one of the slowest systems in the nation and the slowest among big <a href="http://www.straphangers.org/buscams/" target="_blank">cities</a>--render residents far removed from subway lines and feeling helpless.</p> <p dir="ltr">With increased scrutiny of transportation deserts and lengthy New York City commutes come increasing calls for creative bus solutions: with more selective bus service (SBS) and bus rapid transit (BRT) at the forefront.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="transpo deserts" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Screen_Shot_2015-11-04_at_21.04.49.jpg" width="400" height="307" />[NYC "subway deserts" - <a href="https://team.cartodb.com/u/chriswhong/viz/e60e7660-3982-11e5-9997-0e853d047bba/public_map" target="_blank">map by Chris Whong</a>)</p> <p dir="ltr">According to an <a href="http://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/comptroller-stringer-audit-reveals-nearly-one-third-of-mta-express-buses-not-on-time/" target="_blank">audit</a> released by Comptroller Scott Stringer in April, buses are not just slow, they are also often late: Stringer‘s study revealed that more than 30 percent of the city’s express buses do not run on schedule. Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island are hit the hardest, the comptroller said. The report also found that the MTA had inconsistent inspection standards for wheelchair lifts across their bus fleet, which, in addition to failing disabled riders, also slows bus time.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is more than just a statistic,“ Stringer <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOTCewSGawk" target="_blank">said</a> at the press conference unveiling his audit, “a late bus could mean a missed job opportunity, missed wages, or missed time with children.“</p> <p dir="ltr">One possible antidote for lagging buses and transit hungry commuters is Bus Rapid Transit, and the idea is gaining momentum, as the Miller-Richards town hall showed. The questions ahead are about political will and community buy-in toward expanding BRT in New York City. BRT was a piece of a recent City Council hearing on transportation deserts, but the city’s Department of Transportation has already been made to study BRT through a law passed in the Council and signed by Mayor de Blasio that will lead to a report on areas where BRT should be implemented.</p> <p dir="ltr">Started in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974, BRT was originally formulated as a cheaper alternative for a city that didn‘t have the money to build a subway. In its fullest form BRT combines a variety of features to make it operate at a speed comparable to light rail (an option also talked about for Queens and Staten Island). Long accordion style buses--in Curitiba they hold up to 250 people--shoot up and down bus-only lanes of large streets, stopping at intervals akin to a subway line (rather than the shorter ones of typical bus service).</p> <p dir="ltr">Traffic signals have sensors in order to hold green lights for buses approaching intersections. People pay their fare before they board the bus and stations often feature elevated platforms or curbsides that coincide with the floor of the bus, making it quick and easy for elderly or disabled people to board. All this amounts to more on time, reliable, and efficient bus service.</p> <p dir="ltr">Since the turn of the century cities across the globe including Paris, Istanbul, Bogata, and Los Angeles have all adopted BRT to curb car use and improve public transit overall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to bring BRT to New York as part of his efforts to help the city’s lower and middle classes. The argument also goes, of course, that if workers have shorter and easier commutes they are more productive when they’re at work.</p> <p dir="ltr">”Bus riders are the most neglected part of our transportation system,” de Blasio’s <a href="http://b.3cdn.net/deblasio/d193f478cdba70ac0e_2jm6bkaxk.pdf" target="_blank">policy book</a> from his 2013 mayoral campaign reads. “Bus Rapid Transit has the potential to save outer-borough commuters hours off their commute times every week and stimulate economic activity in neighborhoods the subway system doesn’t reach.”</p> <p dir="ltr">While it’s been somewhat slow to materialize, de Blasio’s pledge to bring New York City a “world-class bus rapid transit system” has been gaining steam. When signing the BRT study bill in May, de Blasio <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya8d5_TmViI" target="_blank">reminded</a> that, “We all know that mass transit is particularly critical for those New Yorkers for whom resources are very tight, whose incomes are very tight - mass transit is their lifeline. It connects them to jobs, schools, everything.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In March the state-run MTA and the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the official plan for the city‘s first full-scale BRT route on Woodhaven Boulevard, in Queens. The project will stretch 14.4 miles, cost around $200 million, and be fully operational by 2017. (By contrast, the Second Avenue subway is supposed to cover 8.5 miles, cost upwards of $17 billion, and be done at a to-be-determined date.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Previously the two organizations’ efforts to speed up bus time came in the form of Select Bus Service, a paired down version of BRT that also utilizes off-board fare collection, along with traffic signal priority, semi-exclusive bus lanes, and longer distances between stations. The first SBS route was launched in 2008 on the Bx12 on Fordham Road in the Bronx, and has enjoyed relative success. According to statistics collected by the MTA one year after the launch, running times increased up to 19 percent, ridership by 8 percent.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over the past seven years the MTA and the DOT have added seven other SBS routes, including ones going up First Avenue and down Second Avenue in Manhattan. All routes have enjoyed faster service and a 2013 DOT <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/brt/downloads/pdf/brt-routes-fullreport.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> claimed that SBS had saved eight million hours of travel time.</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, SBS is not BRT. The former appears more suited for the busier sections for the city, the latter for moving people from the city’s outer reaches to its transit and business hubs.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the Woodhaven route, which will have exclusive lanes and robust, fully-outfitted stations with shelters, seats, and real-time information on bus arrivals (along with off-board fare collection and transit signal priority) the city is setting a new standard for its above-ground transportation. The fully exclusive bus lanes, which will also allow traffic signal priority to be more effective, are particularly exciting given that Kevin Ortiz, spokesperson for the MTA, told Gotham Gazette that traffic congestion and red lights are the top two causes for bus delays.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="woodhaven2 int" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/woodhaven2_int.jpg" width="500" height="332" />[Woodhaven BRT rendering, via NYC DOT]</p> <p dir="ltr">The line, which will run north-south, perpendicular to the A, E, F, J, M, R, and 7 trains, is indicative of the type of improvements BRT could offer in the so-called “outer boroughs.” Joan Byron, Director of Policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development and a member of the advocacy group BRT for NYC, sees this improvement as imperative to the economic empowerment of New York’s outer-borough residents.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have a problem right now of people not being able to get to their jobs and employers not being able to get to their workforce. Work locations are shifting. Job growth is much faster in the boroughs than it is in Manhattan…and the subway system isn‘t set up to serve them. You can do things with BRT that would take decades to do with rail,“ Byron told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">As it stands, she explains, “if you live some place like Far Rockaway…the number of jobs that are within a reasonable commute range for you are much smaller than if you live someplace like Park Slope.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The Woodhaven line plans to change that for its service area. BRT lines along the North Shore of Staten Island (something City Council Member Debbie Rose <a href="https://www.facebook.com/CouncilwomanDebiRose/" target="_blank">called</a> “a necessity, not an amenity”) and Southern Brooklyn—two possible routes the MTA and DOT are investigating—would also serve similar purposes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Donovan Richards, who represents part of the area the new BRT route will serve, sees this project as only the beginning. Ultimately, he wants a full-scale BRT network throughout the city, viewing the issue as one that is also key to environmental justice.</p> <p dir="ltr">“[BRT] needs to become as natural as breathing air,“ he said to Gotham Gazette after the town hall. “We have got to remember that if we don’t get cars off the road, climate change is going to wipe out communities in New York City. Overall the city needs to adopt it,” he said, referring to BRT.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="Car Ownership blog" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Car_Ownership_blog.jpg" width="450" height="450" />[Rates of car ownership, via NYC EDC]</p> <p dir="ltr">Richards, along with city DOT officials, recently had lunch with and gave a tour of the planned Woodhaven route to a federal transportation secretary. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has promised to push for federal funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">The excitement continued into May when the mayor signed into law the new BRT-related <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#/0" target="_blank">bill</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1687958&amp;GUID=C4CBC081-829F-4A83-9036-1F942F6A91EF&amp;Options=ID|Text|&amp;Search=211-A" target="_blank">According to</a> the City Council website, “Under the bill, DOT would work with the MTA and gather input with the public to develop a citywide BRT plan, due to the Council no later than September 1, 2017. The plan would consider areas of the City in need of additional rapid transit options, strategies for serving growing neighborhoods, potential intra-borough and inter-borough BRT corridors DOT plans to establish by 2027, strategies for integrating BRT with other transit routes, and the anticipated operating costs of additional BRT lines.”</p> <p dir="ltr">SBS may continue to expand, and many note that it is a version of BRT, but the extent to which a strong BRT system will be implemented is unclear. In several other cities where the system has achieved success, says Joan Byron of Pratt, the build of these cities naturally accommodated the necessary BRT infrastructure.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The places where that has been done, places like Bogota, Columbia, that model was implemented exactly in the parts of the city that have kind of a post-World War II physical fabric and development pattern. The street there for the main bus line, the Transmillenial, is twelve lanes wide. Pedestrians cross that street on over-passes. It wasn’t a big jump to put dedicated lanes in the center region and to have physical stations that are actually enclosed.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Woodhaven Boulevard, eight lanes wide and notoriously hazardous for pedestrians (the station islands to be installed in the middle of the avenue also act as a <a href="http://qns.com/story/2015/10/09/bus-rapid-transit-advocates-release-woodhaven-boulevard-crash-study-numbers/" target="_blank">safety measure</a>), is at least somewhat similar.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Brad Lander, the lead sponsor of the BRT bill, sees Manhattan’s First and Second Avenues as streets also appropriate for the full BRT service, especially given the MTA‘s <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/nyregion/mayor-de-blasiojoins-in-criticism-of-2nd-avenue-subway-cuts.html?_r=1" target="_blank">recent announcement</a> to forgo $1 billion in funding for the Second Avenue Subway project.</p> <p dir="ltr">Most buses, though, don‘t operate on streets the width of a small highway (even dedicating a full lane of First or Second Avenue could prove quite contentious). For these routes Lander and Byron see smaller BRT-like features being incorporated into bus operation citywide on a case-by-case basis.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The simple idea of off-board fare payment, that’s something we want to get to on every city bus,” Lander told Gotham Gazette. After that, he said, what is doable will depend on infrastructure features and funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lander cited the SBS M86 route, the MTA‘s latest SBS addition, as a prime example. Even though there is not enough room for a dedicated bus lane (the bus runs crosstown on 86th Street in Manhattan), the MTA has already installed off-board fare collection and plans to add bus bulbs - protruding, bulges of sidewalk in front of bus stops, constructed so that the bus doesn‘t have to pull over when it picks up passengers. Stations are also equipped with real-time bus arrival information. A similar approach could be effective on smaller streets in the outer boroughs as well.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="imgres" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/imgres.jpg" width="328" height="153" />[A bus bulb, via Streetsblog.org]</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Daneek Miller is impatient, saying that his transit-starved constituents can’t wait a decade for BRT lines.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There are 300,000 people in Southeast Queens who it’s talking an hour-and-a-half, an hour-and-forty-five minutes to get to their job in the city, who can’t wait 20 years for a change,” Miller said after his town hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Miller, who ran a transportation workers union before joining the Council, takes a slightly more cynical view of SBS. He says the recent buzz around BRT has led the city to overlook basic adaptations that could yield considerable results, like those he outlined in his op-ed, such as <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2271101&amp;GUID=C0E2BACA-89E7-47EE-8684-8DD0495D4E1A&amp;Options=Advanced&amp;Search=" target="_blank">fare reform</a> on the LIRR. For his constituents, Miller said, “BRT might be the second best answer. I can get to City Hall in 50 [minutes] on the LIRR; it takes me an hour-and-40-minutes using public transportation.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, Miller certainly wants to see extended express bus service to Downtown Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. He acknowledges infrastructure challenges of implementing BRT in some places, saying “We don‘t want to put square pegs in a round hole,” and that it is essential to have all the components, otherwise it won’t be BRT, but a “glorified express bus service.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With an eye toward communities like those represented by his colleagues Miller and Richards, Lander points to the need for more options for commuters. Citing “low-income New Yorkers and communities of color” that “have disproportionately long commute times,” Lander said at the May bill-signing that “New Yorkers across the city – especially in transit-starved, outer-borough neighborhoods – need more mass-transit options. This law, and subsequent exploration of a Bus Rapid Transit network, will significantly improve public transportation access in the parts of NYC that need it most, at a cost we can afford, and help insure a more sustainable future.”</p> <p dir="ltr">BRT and SBS advocates, like Lander, stand confident that their plan will deliver, and sooner than projected.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I think it’s going to accelerate,“ said Byron. “For every elected official that will stand up and say ‘I want BRT in my district now,’ which all the Council members along the Q52, Q53 routes have said, you’ll get others that say, ‘Forget it, my constituents ride the bus,‘” Byron said, referring to hesitant Council members who she thinks will acquiesce.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked about the twelve year timeline in his BRT bill, a charged Lander replied, “the city - the DOT with the MTA - is already rolling out BRT at a pretty rapid rate...we are not waiting.“</p> <p dir="ltr">****<br />by Colin O’Connor<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/colinqoconnor93" target="_blank">@colinqoconnor93</a></p> City Council Developing New Protections for Workers in ‘Gig’ Economy 2015-11-04T23:08:43+00:00 2015-11-04T23:08:43+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5971:city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy Super User <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/lander_car_wash_workers.jpg" alt="lander car wash workers" width="600" height="429" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Council Member Lander with carwash workers (<a href="https://twitter.com/willalatriste/status/573135755742203904" target="_blank">photo</a>: William Alatriste)</span></p> <hr /> <p>There are more than 1.3 million freelancers working in New York City and with the help of the City Council, these workers may soon be afforded certain protections on par with full-time workers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Initially focused on wage protection and health benefits, Council members and advocates are also looking at legislation to expand collective bargaining rights to certain groups of workers in the “gig” economy.</p> <p dir="ltr">The on-demand economy of such workers has mushroomed in the city with Uber and Lyft drivers, Handy.com cleaners, and the more traditional writers, graphic designers, and other artists. These temporary, “for-hire” workers largely perform their various efforts without the benefits of job security, health insurance, pension buy-in, or paid sick leave. Even their wages are regularly not guaranteed. Eight out of ten freelancers have complained of being victims of late payment or non-payment of wages according to <a href="https://fu-web-storage-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/pdf/nonpayment-factsheet.pdf" target="_blank">reports</a> compiled by the Freelancers Union.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the City Council aggressively tackling workforce issues, Council Member Brad Lander, a Democrat who represents part of Brooklyn, has taken the lead in developing legislation to help people in the gig economy.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lander is working with the New York City-based Freelancers Union to create a legislative framework for wage protection for freelance employees. In September, He appeared at a Brooklyn town hall hosted by the Freelancers Union to launch the #FreelanceIsntFree <a href="https://www.freelancersunion.org/advocacy/" target="_blank">campaign</a>, seeking to raise awareness and push for legislation.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It has very real dark sides to it,” Lander said in a recent phone interview with Gotham Gazette, referring to freelancing and the company payment cycles that cause hardships for freelancers. “The rent is due and you still gotta put groceries on the table,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lander believes that the best possible scenario would be a “cutting edge,” enforceable administrative solution, similar to protections guaranteed by the state Department of Labor and the Attorney General. Currently, the only legal recourse freelancers have is civil court, an expensive and time-consuming option. Lander wants to introduce a bill within the next two months.</p> <p dir="ltr">But worker protections go beyond simply wages and Lander has found support from his colleagues for other ideas. Lander and Council Member Corey Johnson are working closely with the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance on a <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/how-to-build-the-movement-for-progressive-power-the-urban-way/" target="_blank">“drivers benefit fund”</a> that would use a small fare surcharge to provide health benefits to for-hire drivers. After wage protections for freelancers, drafting this legislation is Lander’s next priority; and with the city looking at rules reform for the Taxi and Limousine Commission, he said this “is a good time to move it forward.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Inevitably, workforce issues revolve in some important way around organized labor. On-demand gig workers are by their very nature unorganized. That’s where the Freelancers Union stepped in and now the City Council is moving toward creating new worker protections.</p> <p dir="ltr">Eyeing Seattle, where a City Council member is <a href="http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seattle-lawmaker-plans-to-help-for-hire-drivers-unionize/" target="_blank">pushing a bill</a> to allow taxi drivers, for-hire drivers, and those from ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to unionize and exercise collective bargaining, Lander is considering a similar path in New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">Uber’s success in the city, and its disruption of the long-standing taxi/black car marketplace, has garnered the for-hire industry new attention. The ability for drivers, who are seen as independent contractors, to unionize would change the game for thousands, and the company, of course.</p> <p dir="ltr">Uber has added more than 20,000 cars to their service in the last three years and also <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-logs-major-gains-in-new-york-city-figures-show-1445821132" target="_blank">handled</a> more than 100,000 rides each day in July, four times its record from last year. &nbsp;During a summer face-off between city lawmakers and Uber, the Mayor de Blasio and the City Council brought about a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/nyregion/de-blasio-administration-dropping-plan-for-uber-cap-for-now.html" target="_blank">temporary detente</a> by landing on a four-month study of the effects of ride-sharing companies like Uber (and no cap on the growth of the industry). The results of that study are due soon and will likely play an important role in the future of ride-sharing in the city.</p> <p dir="ltr">An Uber representative declined to comment for this story.</p> <p dir="ltr">The city’s efforts to create space for independent contractors to unionize may run up against federal law. The <a href="https://www.nlrb.gov/resources/national-labor-relations-act" target="_blank">National Labor Relations Act of 1935</a> protects the right of employees to collectively bargain with their employers. It lays down specific definitions for employees and employers which could preempt local jurisdictions from taking action since independent contractors do not qualify under the law’s criteria.</p> <p dir="ltr">A <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-appeals-class-action-ruling-for-drivers-suit-1442362190" target="_blank">class-action lawsuit</a> brought by three drivers in California against Uber highlights this basic issue. The drivers are arguing for benefits as employees of the company while Uber maintains they are independent contractors who are not eligible for these benefits, and therefore should not <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/02/436820824/california-court-grants-uber-drivers-class-action-status" target="_blank">have received</a> class-action status.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">“Seattle’s leading the way,” said Council Member Lander. The proposed legislation in Seattle would create a precedent and likely face numerous legal challenges. Lander recognizes this fact. Even though the NLRA preempts the City Council from legislating, he believes there is room for cities to take action for workers not covered under the federal legislation. Currently there is no draft legislation but Lander said any proposal would attempt to protect workers across the on-demand economy and not just specific companies.</p> <p dir="ltr">(He also talked of changes to the city’s human rights laws to clarify the workers covered. He said this could happen in the next few months after these initial bills.)</p> <p dir="ltr">The Council recently took controversial action to help car wash workers unionize, but that is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/19/nyregion/carwash-owners-in-new-york-sue-city-over-unionization-rules.html?_r=0" target="_blank">being challenged in court</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member I. Daneek Miller is firmly in support of any proposal that would help on-demand drivers organize. As a former labor union leader, Miller’s perspective on the issue is decidedly pro-labor, and his position as chair of the Council's civil service and labor committee puts him at the front lines in addressing it.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">“The whole concept of the shared economy has to be put into perspective,” Miller told Gotham Gazette. “I don’t think it’s a sustainable model.”</p> <p dir="ltr">He said the “irony” of the situation is that the shared, gig economy is contributing to its own demise and disempowerment -- a younger generation with few responsibilities finds flexibility and mobility attractive and then later on when people want security, they find themselves left out in the cold.</p> <p dir="ltr">For the system to work, he said, there need to be checks and balances in the form of collective bargaining and the right to organize.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’m less inclined to create public policy legislation around this,” he said about the issue of unionization, perhaps recognizing the challenges involved. “We’ll let them do their job and give them the tools to support them. We’ve got our finger on the pulse of organized labor.”</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Samark Khurshid<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/lander_car_wash_workers.jpg" alt="lander car wash workers" width="600" height="429" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Council Member Lander with carwash workers (<a href="https://twitter.com/willalatriste/status/573135755742203904" target="_blank">photo</a>: William Alatriste)</span></p> <hr /> <p>There are more than 1.3 million freelancers working in New York City and with the help of the City Council, these workers may soon be afforded certain protections on par with full-time workers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Initially focused on wage protection and health benefits, Council members and advocates are also looking at legislation to expand collective bargaining rights to certain groups of workers in the “gig” economy.</p> <p dir="ltr">The on-demand economy of such workers has mushroomed in the city with Uber and Lyft drivers, Handy.com cleaners, and the more traditional writers, graphic designers, and other artists. These temporary, “for-hire” workers largely perform their various efforts without the benefits of job security, health insurance, pension buy-in, or paid sick leave. Even their wages are regularly not guaranteed. Eight out of ten freelancers have complained of being victims of late payment or non-payment of wages according to <a href="https://fu-web-storage-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/pdf/nonpayment-factsheet.pdf" target="_blank">reports</a> compiled by the Freelancers Union.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the City Council aggressively tackling workforce issues, Council Member Brad Lander, a Democrat who represents part of Brooklyn, has taken the lead in developing legislation to help people in the gig economy.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lander is working with the New York City-based Freelancers Union to create a legislative framework for wage protection for freelance employees. In September, He appeared at a Brooklyn town hall hosted by the Freelancers Union to launch the #FreelanceIsntFree <a href="https://www.freelancersunion.org/advocacy/" target="_blank">campaign</a>, seeking to raise awareness and push for legislation.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It has very real dark sides to it,” Lander said in a recent phone interview with Gotham Gazette, referring to freelancing and the company payment cycles that cause hardships for freelancers. “The rent is due and you still gotta put groceries on the table,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lander believes that the best possible scenario would be a “cutting edge,” enforceable administrative solution, similar to protections guaranteed by the state Department of Labor and the Attorney General. Currently, the only legal recourse freelancers have is civil court, an expensive and time-consuming option. Lander wants to introduce a bill within the next two months.</p> <p dir="ltr">But worker protections go beyond simply wages and Lander has found support from his colleagues for other ideas. Lander and Council Member Corey Johnson are working closely with the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance on a <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/how-to-build-the-movement-for-progressive-power-the-urban-way/" target="_blank">“drivers benefit fund”</a> that would use a small fare surcharge to provide health benefits to for-hire drivers. After wage protections for freelancers, drafting this legislation is Lander’s next priority; and with the city looking at rules reform for the Taxi and Limousine Commission, he said this “is a good time to move it forward.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Inevitably, workforce issues revolve in some important way around organized labor. On-demand gig workers are by their very nature unorganized. That’s where the Freelancers Union stepped in and now the City Council is moving toward creating new worker protections.</p> <p dir="ltr">Eyeing Seattle, where a City Council member is <a href="http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seattle-lawmaker-plans-to-help-for-hire-drivers-unionize/" target="_blank">pushing a bill</a> to allow taxi drivers, for-hire drivers, and those from ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to unionize and exercise collective bargaining, Lander is considering a similar path in New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">Uber’s success in the city, and its disruption of the long-standing taxi/black car marketplace, has garnered the for-hire industry new attention. The ability for drivers, who are seen as independent contractors, to unionize would change the game for thousands, and the company, of course.</p> <p dir="ltr">Uber has added more than 20,000 cars to their service in the last three years and also <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-logs-major-gains-in-new-york-city-figures-show-1445821132" target="_blank">handled</a> more than 100,000 rides each day in July, four times its record from last year. &nbsp;During a summer face-off between city lawmakers and Uber, the Mayor de Blasio and the City Council brought about a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/nyregion/de-blasio-administration-dropping-plan-for-uber-cap-for-now.html" target="_blank">temporary detente</a> by landing on a four-month study of the effects of ride-sharing companies like Uber (and no cap on the growth of the industry). The results of that study are due soon and will likely play an important role in the future of ride-sharing in the city.</p> <p dir="ltr">An Uber representative declined to comment for this story.</p> <p dir="ltr">The city’s efforts to create space for independent contractors to unionize may run up against federal law. The <a href="https://www.nlrb.gov/resources/national-labor-relations-act" target="_blank">National Labor Relations Act of 1935</a> protects the right of employees to collectively bargain with their employers. It lays down specific definitions for employees and employers which could preempt local jurisdictions from taking action since independent contractors do not qualify under the law’s criteria.</p> <p dir="ltr">A <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-appeals-class-action-ruling-for-drivers-suit-1442362190" target="_blank">class-action lawsuit</a> brought by three drivers in California against Uber highlights this basic issue. The drivers are arguing for benefits as employees of the company while Uber maintains they are independent contractors who are not eligible for these benefits, and therefore should not <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/02/436820824/california-court-grants-uber-drivers-class-action-status" target="_blank">have received</a> class-action status.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">“Seattle’s leading the way,” said Council Member Lander. The proposed legislation in Seattle would create a precedent and likely face numerous legal challenges. Lander recognizes this fact. Even though the NLRA preempts the City Council from legislating, he believes there is room for cities to take action for workers not covered under the federal legislation. Currently there is no draft legislation but Lander said any proposal would attempt to protect workers across the on-demand economy and not just specific companies.</p> <p dir="ltr">(He also talked of changes to the city’s human rights laws to clarify the workers covered. He said this could happen in the next few months after these initial bills.)</p> <p dir="ltr">The Council recently took controversial action to help car wash workers unionize, but that is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/19/nyregion/carwash-owners-in-new-york-sue-city-over-unionization-rules.html?_r=0" target="_blank">being challenged in court</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member I. Daneek Miller is firmly in support of any proposal that would help on-demand drivers organize. As a former labor union leader, Miller’s perspective on the issue is decidedly pro-labor, and his position as chair of the Council's civil service and labor committee puts him at the front lines in addressing it.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">“The whole concept of the shared economy has to be put into perspective,” Miller told Gotham Gazette. “I don’t think it’s a sustainable model.”</p> <p dir="ltr">He said the “irony” of the situation is that the shared, gig economy is contributing to its own demise and disempowerment -- a younger generation with few responsibilities finds flexibility and mobility attractive and then later on when people want security, they find themselves left out in the cold.</p> <p dir="ltr">For the system to work, he said, there need to be checks and balances in the form of collective bargaining and the right to organize.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’m less inclined to create public policy legislation around this,” he said about the issue of unionization, perhaps recognizing the challenges involved. “We’ll let them do their job and give them the tools to support them. We’ve got our finger on the pulse of organized labor.”</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Samark Khurshid<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> City Council Takes Aggressive Role in Workplace Issues 2015-10-08T01:14:52+00:00 2015-10-08T01:14:52+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5927:city-council-takes-aggressive-role-in-workplace-issues Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/Miller_UFCW.jpg" alt="Miller UFCW" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p>Council Member Miller &amp; union workers (photo: @IDaneekMiller)</p> <hr /> <p>A slate of recent bills introduced in the New York City Council have a lofty objective indicative of the progressive streak running through city government and raising eyebrows in the business community. Through legislation, the Council is addressing the city's widespread economic disparities by incrementally tackling workforce issues such as wages, workers rights, and access to employment.</p> <p>Since Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito both came to power, there has been one big picture aim: to address income and other forms of inequality. Headline-making moves such as an expansion of paid sick leave came within a few months. Less flashy yet crucial bills followed. In August 2014, the Council passed the mayor's proposal to supplement the wages of school bus drivers employed by private contractors.</p> <p>De Blasio and Mark-Viverito have both been called anti-business, and there have been claims of overreach by the mayor and the Council. Business leaders are often loathe to see the hand of government reach further into industry.</p> <p>In recent months, the Council's formidable progressive caucus has done just that, pushing bills that address large-scale and nitty gritty workplace issues, including others in specific industries. The Council <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5907-city-council-considers-regulation-of-grocery-personnel-decisions" target="_blank">recently heard a bill </a>aimed at regulating personnel decision in the grocery industry.</p> <p>Council Member Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat, has been closely involved. He is currently working with the Freelancers Union to develop legislation that would protect freelancers, and by extension other workers in the on-demand "gig" economy, from wage theft. Modelled on similar protections provided by the state Department of Labor and the Attorney General, this "administrative solution with an enforcement option" would protect the likes of writers, graphic designers, Uber drivers, and Handy.com cleaners from being denied their wages and having to go to court to redress grievances.</p> <p>"The economy is constantly evolving," Lander told Gotham Gazette. "Unfortunately it's doing so in the direction of inequality. And it's not only the Council but also the State which is fighting to level the playing field and lift up the floor in terms of wages for workers." (Governor Andrew Cuomo recently <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5923-progressive-critics-largely-convinced-by-cuomos-wage-push" target="_blank">came out </a>with a plan for an eventual $15 per hour minimum wage.)</p> <p>At the city level, Lander called the Council's efforts a "thumb on the scale" to help workers have paying jobs. Of course, Lander expects this rebalancing of the relationship between employers and workers to be debated and contested. But he insists that the Council wants to be responsible in implementing changes rather than run roughshod over industry and business interests.</p> <p>For instance, in April this year, the Council passed a bill co-sponsored by Lander that bans employers from discriminating in hiring decisions on the basis of credit checks. But the Council did make accommodations, Lander said, after consulting with business owners and advocates.</p> <p>From a business perspective, however, the Council's efforts have uncomfortable connotations of government intervention in private enterprise.</p> <p>Late last month, two bills were discussed at a hearing of the Council's Committee on Civil Rights but received little attention. The bills aim at prohibiting employment discrimination based on a person's status as a caregiver and at clarifying reasonable accommodations that businesses could make for applicants with disabilities.</p> <p>At the hearing, President and CEO of Partnership for New York City Kathryn Wylde provided written testimony opposing the bills. She stated that the Council was proposing more mandates on employers, driven by special interest advocacy groups that argue based on anecdotal evidence that discrimination and mistreatment of employees and applicants is widespread.</p> <p>"There is no data that justifies new and costly laws and regulations that make it even more difficult to create jobs and grow a business in New York City," Wylde wrote. She also asserted that the bills would drain resources from businesses and make the city less competitive, and that additional Council mandates would accelerate the loss of middle class jobs (she said the city lost 100,000 middle class jobs in the last five years).</p> <p>Data consistently shows that inequality has only risen in the city over the last many years. A report last year by The Graduate Center of the City University of New York showed that there was a significant uptick in the concentration of wealth among the richest 20 percent of New Yorkers between 1990 and 2010. According to the study, the median income of the upper one percent of all household income earned in New York City jumped from $452,000 in 1990 to $717,000 in 2010 while the lower 20 percent of New York City households' earned median income rose from $13,000 in 1990 to $14,000 in 2010.</p> <p>James Parrott, deputy director and chief economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute, approaches any analysis of labor markets from a historical perspective. He said changes in the labor market in recent years have been unproductive and harmful to workers and to the economy. So there is definitely a need for regulation, he believes.</p> <p>Ideally, he said, regulation would be at the national level and enforced by federal compliance officials. But, with federal action being hampered by an inactive Congress, it has fallen to state and local governments. He called the Council's bent in addressing these issues "reasonable and appropriate."</p> <p>"Businesses tend to oppose any regulation at all. But a lot of history and analysis shows us that informed regulation is good for businesses," Parrott said, insisting that it keeps the competition honest as well.</p> <p>In particular, he referenced the Grocery Worker Retention Act (GWRA), introduced by Council Member I. Daneek Miller. Miller, a former labor union leader, is now chair of the Council's civil service and labor committee. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5907-city-council-considers-regulation-of-grocery-personnel-decisions" target="_blank">The bill would require</a> large grocery chains to at least temporarily retain the workforce when an ownership change occurs, and then handle any personnel moves on an individual basis after three months.</p> <p>Parrott testified years ago when a similar bill (Local Law 39 from 2002) dealing with building service workers was passed. "I don't see how one could oppose doing that in concept," he said, referring to the opposition from industry representatives who argued feverishly against the GWRA at a hearing two weeks ago.</p> <p>For Council Member Miller, a Queens Democrat, the bill is just another of many measures to remedy an economic imbalance created by three successive Bloomberg terms.<br />"To a certain degree, we have come through 12 years of an administration that for all intents and purposes undermined the value of workers," Miller told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>His bill mandates personnel practice and grants workers legal remedies against unfair termination. It would help both union and non-union workers, he says, and create transparency and protect employees in an industry with a history of exploitation.</p> <p>"Organized or unorganized, in order for the middle class to thrive, we need for people to have a voice," Miller said. "Without that, we see the wage disparity and wage suppression that we've seen in the last decade or two."</p> <p>As expected, industry officials criticized the proposed bill for what they see as an overreaching mandate and even questioned the legal implications of the Council's intervention. But Miller said these objections are not supported by certifiable data and that he is confident the bill will be voted out of the labor committee and brought to a full Council vote.</p> <p>(On a related note, Miller also sponsored a resolution that was approved by the Council in June calling on the state legislature to extend labor protections to farm workers statewide.)</p> <p>"My personal preference is that we can educate and we don't have to legislate," he said.</p> <p>Most of the workforce measures have received wide support from Council members and the mayor. Some have even come from de Blasio or Mark-Viverito themselves.</p> <p>Last year, de Blasio issued an executive order that expanded the city's living wage law to thousands of individuals. Mark-Viverito successfully sponsored a bill that passed in June this year requiring car wash businesses to operate under licenses and enforcing stronger safeguards for employees. Another employment bill goes into effect by the end of October: the Fair Chance Act prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants based on their arrest record or criminal convictions.</p> <p>But wide support does not mean unanimous. There are concerns even within the Council about the scope of legislation. Council minority leader Steve Matteo, a Republican from Staten Island, shares his colleagues' interest in improving working conditions but worries about possible harmful unintended consequences.</p> <p>Matteo said he is a "firm believer" in the free market's ability to self-correct and adapt whether in response to consumer demands for healthier food or safer products, or to compete for better employees with higher pay, more benefits, and a better work environment. "Over-reaching government mandates, on the other hand, as many economic studies have shown, can be financially devastating to small businesses and lead to job cuts and fewer new hires," he said.</p> <p>On the other hand, some question how easily workers can adapt to the free market.</p> <p>"Businesses have a better ability to shift their economic resources to adapt to changing economic conditions, more so than workers, especially low-income workers who lack access to education, child care, the basic necessities of life," said Christian Gonzalez-Rivera, research associate at the Center for an Urban Future, who believes that the balance of resources has tilted towards businesses.</p> <p>Gonzalez-Rivera said more people than ever before are working low-wage jobs in the city; even those working full-time are not able to make ends meet and are being treated as if they are expendable.</p> <p>Gonzalez-Rivera praised the City's increased support for worker cooperatives. The Council announced in its budget this year that it will invest an additional $2.1 million in its Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative and create 22 new worker cooperatives.</p> <p>"Government does need to step in and provide protection," he said. It's a sentiment that Council Member Lander echoes: "Looking to give people a fair shot is part of our job," he said.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/Miller_UFCW.jpg" alt="Miller UFCW" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p>Council Member Miller &amp; union workers (photo: @IDaneekMiller)</p> <hr /> <p>A slate of recent bills introduced in the New York City Council have a lofty objective indicative of the progressive streak running through city government and raising eyebrows in the business community. Through legislation, the Council is addressing the city's widespread economic disparities by incrementally tackling workforce issues such as wages, workers rights, and access to employment.</p> <p>Since Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito both came to power, there has been one big picture aim: to address income and other forms of inequality. Headline-making moves such as an expansion of paid sick leave came within a few months. Less flashy yet crucial bills followed. In August 2014, the Council passed the mayor's proposal to supplement the wages of school bus drivers employed by private contractors.</p> <p>De Blasio and Mark-Viverito have both been called anti-business, and there have been claims of overreach by the mayor and the Council. Business leaders are often loathe to see the hand of government reach further into industry.</p> <p>In recent months, the Council's formidable progressive caucus has done just that, pushing bills that address large-scale and nitty gritty workplace issues, including others in specific industries. The Council <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5907-city-council-considers-regulation-of-grocery-personnel-decisions" target="_blank">recently heard a bill </a>aimed at regulating personnel decision in the grocery industry.</p> <p>Council Member Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat, has been closely involved. He is currently working with the Freelancers Union to develop legislation that would protect freelancers, and by extension other workers in the on-demand "gig" economy, from wage theft. Modelled on similar protections provided by the state Department of Labor and the Attorney General, this "administrative solution with an enforcement option" would protect the likes of writers, graphic designers, Uber drivers, and Handy.com cleaners from being denied their wages and having to go to court to redress grievances.</p> <p>"The economy is constantly evolving," Lander told Gotham Gazette. "Unfortunately it's doing so in the direction of inequality. And it's not only the Council but also the State which is fighting to level the playing field and lift up the floor in terms of wages for workers." (Governor Andrew Cuomo recently <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5923-progressive-critics-largely-convinced-by-cuomos-wage-push" target="_blank">came out </a>with a plan for an eventual $15 per hour minimum wage.)</p> <p>At the city level, Lander called the Council's efforts a "thumb on the scale" to help workers have paying jobs. Of course, Lander expects this rebalancing of the relationship between employers and workers to be debated and contested. But he insists that the Council wants to be responsible in implementing changes rather than run roughshod over industry and business interests.</p> <p>For instance, in April this year, the Council passed a bill co-sponsored by Lander that bans employers from discriminating in hiring decisions on the basis of credit checks. But the Council did make accommodations, Lander said, after consulting with business owners and advocates.</p> <p>From a business perspective, however, the Council's efforts have uncomfortable connotations of government intervention in private enterprise.</p> <p>Late last month, two bills were discussed at a hearing of the Council's Committee on Civil Rights but received little attention. The bills aim at prohibiting employment discrimination based on a person's status as a caregiver and at clarifying reasonable accommodations that businesses could make for applicants with disabilities.</p> <p>At the hearing, President and CEO of Partnership for New York City Kathryn Wylde provided written testimony opposing the bills. She stated that the Council was proposing more mandates on employers, driven by special interest advocacy groups that argue based on anecdotal evidence that discrimination and mistreatment of employees and applicants is widespread.</p> <p>"There is no data that justifies new and costly laws and regulations that make it even more difficult to create jobs and grow a business in New York City," Wylde wrote. She also asserted that the bills would drain resources from businesses and make the city less competitive, and that additional Council mandates would accelerate the loss of middle class jobs (she said the city lost 100,000 middle class jobs in the last five years).</p> <p>Data consistently shows that inequality has only risen in the city over the last many years. A report last year by The Graduate Center of the City University of New York showed that there was a significant uptick in the concentration of wealth among the richest 20 percent of New Yorkers between 1990 and 2010. According to the study, the median income of the upper one percent of all household income earned in New York City jumped from $452,000 in 1990 to $717,000 in 2010 while the lower 20 percent of New York City households' earned median income rose from $13,000 in 1990 to $14,000 in 2010.</p> <p>James Parrott, deputy director and chief economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute, approaches any analysis of labor markets from a historical perspective. He said changes in the labor market in recent years have been unproductive and harmful to workers and to the economy. So there is definitely a need for regulation, he believes.</p> <p>Ideally, he said, regulation would be at the national level and enforced by federal compliance officials. But, with federal action being hampered by an inactive Congress, it has fallen to state and local governments. He called the Council's bent in addressing these issues "reasonable and appropriate."</p> <p>"Businesses tend to oppose any regulation at all. But a lot of history and analysis shows us that informed regulation is good for businesses," Parrott said, insisting that it keeps the competition honest as well.</p> <p>In particular, he referenced the Grocery Worker Retention Act (GWRA), introduced by Council Member I. Daneek Miller. Miller, a former labor union leader, is now chair of the Council's civil service and labor committee. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5907-city-council-considers-regulation-of-grocery-personnel-decisions" target="_blank">The bill would require</a> large grocery chains to at least temporarily retain the workforce when an ownership change occurs, and then handle any personnel moves on an individual basis after three months.</p> <p>Parrott testified years ago when a similar bill (Local Law 39 from 2002) dealing with building service workers was passed. "I don't see how one could oppose doing that in concept," he said, referring to the opposition from industry representatives who argued feverishly against the GWRA at a hearing two weeks ago.</p> <p>For Council Member Miller, a Queens Democrat, the bill is just another of many measures to remedy an economic imbalance created by three successive Bloomberg terms.<br />"To a certain degree, we have come through 12 years of an administration that for all intents and purposes undermined the value of workers," Miller told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>His bill mandates personnel practice and grants workers legal remedies against unfair termination. It would help both union and non-union workers, he says, and create transparency and protect employees in an industry with a history of exploitation.</p> <p>"Organized or unorganized, in order for the middle class to thrive, we need for people to have a voice," Miller said. "Without that, we see the wage disparity and wage suppression that we've seen in the last decade or two."</p> <p>As expected, industry officials criticized the proposed bill for what they see as an overreaching mandate and even questioned the legal implications of the Council's intervention. But Miller said these objections are not supported by certifiable data and that he is confident the bill will be voted out of the labor committee and brought to a full Council vote.</p> <p>(On a related note, Miller also sponsored a resolution that was approved by the Council in June calling on the state legislature to extend labor protections to farm workers statewide.)</p> <p>"My personal preference is that we can educate and we don't have to legislate," he said.</p> <p>Most of the workforce measures have received wide support from Council members and the mayor. Some have even come from de Blasio or Mark-Viverito themselves.</p> <p>Last year, de Blasio issued an executive order that expanded the city's living wage law to thousands of individuals. Mark-Viverito successfully sponsored a bill that passed in June this year requiring car wash businesses to operate under licenses and enforcing stronger safeguards for employees. Another employment bill goes into effect by the end of October: the Fair Chance Act prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants based on their arrest record or criminal convictions.</p> <p>But wide support does not mean unanimous. There are concerns even within the Council about the scope of legislation. Council minority leader Steve Matteo, a Republican from Staten Island, shares his colleagues' interest in improving working conditions but worries about possible harmful unintended consequences.</p> <p>Matteo said he is a "firm believer" in the free market's ability to self-correct and adapt whether in response to consumer demands for healthier food or safer products, or to compete for better employees with higher pay, more benefits, and a better work environment. "Over-reaching government mandates, on the other hand, as many economic studies have shown, can be financially devastating to small businesses and lead to job cuts and fewer new hires," he said.</p> <p>On the other hand, some question how easily workers can adapt to the free market.</p> <p>"Businesses have a better ability to shift their economic resources to adapt to changing economic conditions, more so than workers, especially low-income workers who lack access to education, child care, the basic necessities of life," said Christian Gonzalez-Rivera, research associate at the Center for an Urban Future, who believes that the balance of resources has tilted towards businesses.</p> <p>Gonzalez-Rivera said more people than ever before are working low-wage jobs in the city; even those working full-time are not able to make ends meet and are being treated as if they are expendable.</p> <p>Gonzalez-Rivera praised the City's increased support for worker cooperatives. The Council announced in its budget this year that it will invest an additional $2.1 million in its Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative and create 22 new worker cooperatives.</p> <p>"Government does need to step in and provide protection," he said. It's a sentiment that Council Member Lander echoes: "Looking to give people a fair shot is part of our job," he said.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid</a></p> City Council Considers Regulation of Grocery Personnel Decisions 2015-09-25T18:27:21+00:00 2015-09-25T18:27:21+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5907:city-council-considers-regulation-of-grocery-personnel-decisions Super User <p><img alt="daneek miller presser" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/daneek_miller_presser.jpg" height="401" width="600" /></p> <p>Council Member Miller (photo <a href="https://twitter.com/John_McCarten" target="_blank">by John McCarten</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>The City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor saw heated debate at a Friday hearing on a proposed law to protect grocery and retail store workers from job volatility. The bill, known as the Grocery Worker Retention Act, aims to regulate personnel decision-making during store ownership transitions.</p> <p>Introduced by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, chair of the labor committee, the act (<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2141270&amp;GUID=6ADF3A0F-DBC3-43F1-99A6-6159FD716898&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">Intro. 632</a>) would require grocery stores that undergo a change in ownership to retain employees for a 90-day period and to review their performance on an individual basis thereafter, keeping employed those who've performed satisfactorily. In case of employee cutbacks, those with seniority or experience would be required to be retained. The act also affords these employees legal recourse in case any conditions are violated.</p> <p>Although the bill drafting process began over a year ago, said Council Member Miller, a former labor leader himself, now may be the time to maximize the benefits envisioned. In July, supermarket giant A&amp;P declared bankruptcy and will be selling dozens of its stores, which would stand to have an effect across the five boroughs. Many locations will be up for auction, with thousands of employees facing job insecurity.</p> <p>The unions that altogether represent roughly 50,000 grocery workers in New York City -- around one-fourth of the city's retail workforce -- are heavily in favor of the bill.</p> <p>The law is beneficial to workers, owners, and customers, said David Mertz, New York City Director for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. "A worker retention policy such as in this legislation protects working families, provides a stable and experiences workforce for owners and thus maintains a safe and reliable service to customers," he said at Friday's hearing.</p> <p>Others who testified in the law's favor included union representatives, non-profit health and safety groups, and individual grocery store employees.</p> <p>Representatives of the retail and grocery industry are displeased with the bill, viewing it as an overreach by the Council. Employers see the liberal legislative body as trying to impose excessive regulation of employment decisions by private entities.</p> <p>Jay Peltz, general counsel and vice president of government relations for the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, questioned the legal authority of the City in passing the bill in so far as it aims to maintain health and safety standards at stores. Peltz was insistent Friday that the bill would do more harm than good, disincentivizing investors from purchasing supermarkets, which means "the neighborhood around [a store] would be deprived of a better store with wider assortments, healthier choices, and more jobs. This would hurt the health and well-being of an area, not help it."</p> <p>The hearing saw a thorough back-and-forth between industry representatives and Council Members Ben Kallos and Daniel Dromm, who refused to accept the opposing arguments being made. Dromm personally recounted the predatory practices of a supermarket owner in his district and repeatedly refuted and dismissed counter-arguments.</p> <p>The bill is not the first of its kind. Local Law 39 from 2002 gave protections to building service workers in much the same vein as this law would do for grocery store employees. A more parallel example is a law passed statewide in California earlier this year that even withstood a challenge at the State Supreme Court.</p> <p>The Council labor committee also quickly discussed and unanimously approved Intro. 903 which would provide health insurance coverage to the family members of deceased employees of the Department of Sanitation. The law was requested by Mayor de Blasio in response to the on-duty death of a sergeant from the Department of Sanitation in July this year.</p> <p>The Grocery Worker Retention Act currently has 20 sponsors in the 51-member Council. After Friday's hearing it could be tweaked, or not, before being voted on in a subsequent committee hearing before heading to the full Council for approval - if it has enough support.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid<br /></a><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img alt="daneek miller presser" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/daneek_miller_presser.jpg" height="401" width="600" /></p> <p>Council Member Miller (photo <a href="https://twitter.com/John_McCarten" target="_blank">by John McCarten</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>The City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor saw heated debate at a Friday hearing on a proposed law to protect grocery and retail store workers from job volatility. The bill, known as the Grocery Worker Retention Act, aims to regulate personnel decision-making during store ownership transitions.</p> <p>Introduced by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, chair of the labor committee, the act (<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2141270&amp;GUID=6ADF3A0F-DBC3-43F1-99A6-6159FD716898&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">Intro. 632</a>) would require grocery stores that undergo a change in ownership to retain employees for a 90-day period and to review their performance on an individual basis thereafter, keeping employed those who've performed satisfactorily. In case of employee cutbacks, those with seniority or experience would be required to be retained. The act also affords these employees legal recourse in case any conditions are violated.</p> <p>Although the bill drafting process began over a year ago, said Council Member Miller, a former labor leader himself, now may be the time to maximize the benefits envisioned. In July, supermarket giant A&amp;P declared bankruptcy and will be selling dozens of its stores, which would stand to have an effect across the five boroughs. Many locations will be up for auction, with thousands of employees facing job insecurity.</p> <p>The unions that altogether represent roughly 50,000 grocery workers in New York City -- around one-fourth of the city's retail workforce -- are heavily in favor of the bill.</p> <p>The law is beneficial to workers, owners, and customers, said David Mertz, New York City Director for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. "A worker retention policy such as in this legislation protects working families, provides a stable and experiences workforce for owners and thus maintains a safe and reliable service to customers," he said at Friday's hearing.</p> <p>Others who testified in the law's favor included union representatives, non-profit health and safety groups, and individual grocery store employees.</p> <p>Representatives of the retail and grocery industry are displeased with the bill, viewing it as an overreach by the Council. Employers see the liberal legislative body as trying to impose excessive regulation of employment decisions by private entities.</p> <p>Jay Peltz, general counsel and vice president of government relations for the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, questioned the legal authority of the City in passing the bill in so far as it aims to maintain health and safety standards at stores. Peltz was insistent Friday that the bill would do more harm than good, disincentivizing investors from purchasing supermarkets, which means "the neighborhood around [a store] would be deprived of a better store with wider assortments, healthier choices, and more jobs. This would hurt the health and well-being of an area, not help it."</p> <p>The hearing saw a thorough back-and-forth between industry representatives and Council Members Ben Kallos and Daniel Dromm, who refused to accept the opposing arguments being made. Dromm personally recounted the predatory practices of a supermarket owner in his district and repeatedly refuted and dismissed counter-arguments.</p> <p>The bill is not the first of its kind. Local Law 39 from 2002 gave protections to building service workers in much the same vein as this law would do for grocery store employees. A more parallel example is a law passed statewide in California earlier this year that even withstood a challenge at the State Supreme Court.</p> <p>The Council labor committee also quickly discussed and unanimously approved Intro. 903 which would provide health insurance coverage to the family members of deceased employees of the Department of Sanitation. The law was requested by Mayor de Blasio in response to the on-duty death of a sergeant from the Department of Sanitation in July this year.</p> <p>The Grocery Worker Retention Act currently has 20 sponsors in the 51-member Council. After Friday's hearing it could be tweaked, or not, before being voted on in a subsequent committee hearing before heading to the full Council for approval - if it has enough support.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid<br /></a><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 16 2015-03-15T19:15:54+00:00 2015-03-15T19:15:54+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5632:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-march-16 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>This week will again be dominated by budget negotiations - especially in Albany, where a budget is due by the end of the month, which is rapidly approaching. In New York City, City Council hearings will continue on Mayor Bill de Blasio's preliminary fiscal year 2016 budget - once those hearings wrap up at the end of the month, the Council will craft its response to de Blasio, negotiations will continue, and the mayor will present his Executive Budget, leading to another round of council hearings. Key portions of the city budget are, of course, dependent upon the state budget, so much anticipation (and lobbying) surrounds negotiations in Albany, where Governor Andrew Cuomo is attempting to push through his spending plan, with major education and ethics reforms, despite significant disagreement from both Democrats (who control the State Assembly) and Republicans (who control the State Senate). Cuomo is also right in the middle on <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5627-on-minimum-wage-cuomo-again-finds-the-not-so-happy-middle" target="_blank">the minimum wage increase he's pushing</a> and other issues.</p> <p>While there will be a lot of action in Albany this week, this weekend is <a href="http://www.somosnewyork.org/" target="_blank">the annual Somos el Futuro Conference in Albany</a>, at which there is always plenty of networking, negotiating, and more.</p> <p>Speaking of budget negotiations, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (a former State Senator) launched <a href="http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/let-her-in?source=c.tw&amp;r_by=12690944" target="_blank">a petition</a> on Sunday to put additional pressure on the governor and other legislative leaders to include Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in budget negotiations. "Despite comprising over half of New York State's population, no woman has ever had a seat in statewide budget negotiations," it begins.</p> <p>As for de Blasio, he <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5600-in-albany-de-blasio-critiques-cuomos-budget-defines-citys-needs" target="_blank">made his case in Albany</a> a few weeks ago and continues to lobby behind the scenes, while also praising the Assembly and its new Speaker, Carl Heastie of the Bronx, for <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5624-assembly-budget-champions-de-blasio-agenda" target="_blank">its one-house budget outline</a>. A key aspect of state funding for de Blasio is that for his universal pre-kindergarten program. On Sunday de Blasio held an event to kick off enrollment for pre-K for the 2015-2016 school year - enrollment officially opens on Monday. The City is hoping to expand pre-K enrollment from year one's 53,000-plus to all 73,000-or-so four-year-olds in the city. Monday is the start of pre-K enrollment and the end of the application period to be on one of the city's Community Education Councils. CECs are the local representative bodies that help inform education policy decision making and have been highlighted during the "Mayoral Control Forums" <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5630-theme-of-james-mayoral-control-forums-more-local-say" target="_blank">held by Public Advocate Letitia James in recent weeks.</a></p> <p>James held a rally at City Hall on Sunday to call on the State to fully fund city schools in line with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and to criticize Gov. Cuomo's education reform policies. She starts her week with one event on her public schedule: a Howard University alumni affair.</p> <p>Along with James, environmental activists and others, Comptroller Scott Stringer begins his week at a City Hall press conference to&nbsp;voice opposition to the Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas export facility.</p> <p>The mayor starts his week with a busy Monday:&nbsp;he'll "host a breakfast for City Council Leadership in Manhattan...meet with Congressman Jerry Nadler and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez in City Hall," host an afternoon press conference with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to make an announcement; and, at 11 p.m. "appear on Tavis Smiley" on PBS, according to his public schedule.</p> <p>On Thursday evening, the mayor is expected to speak at a fundraiser in Manhattan to support City Council Member Vincent Gentile's congressional campaign. By the way, if you want to register to vote in that special election or the other one (Assembly District 43) happening May 5, you have until April 10 to register.</p> <p>On Monday evening, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will speak at a Citizens Union event on solving Albany's corruption probably. He is <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ag-schneiderman-legislators-accounts-spending-article-1.2150476?cid=bitly" target="_blank">expected</a> to unveil new plans to expand his role in doing so and new proposals pushing state lawmakers further in ethics reforms. Details below.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening at&nbsp;<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">the City Council</a>&nbsp;and all over the city, with many events to be aware of. See 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>Monday <a href="http://nownyc.org/violence-against-women/rallyinalbanymarch16/" target="_blank">in Albany</a>, National Organization for Women NYC will rally to end human trafficking: “For the last three years NOW-NYC has been fighting for the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA). Consensus is growing that the problem of trafficking can be tackled by legislators ensuring survivors-especially children-get help not punishment. TVPJA does that and more, and its passage would make New York a national leader in the fight against human trafficking.” [Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinions/5538-new-york-must-strengthen-sex-trafficking-laws-manhattan-da-cy-vance" target="_blank">read Manhattan DA Cy Vance's recent op-ed on the need to strengthen New York's sex trafficking laws</a>]</p> <p>On Monday afternoon, Assembly Speaker Heastie will hold a "news conference announcing comprehensive legislation to combat human trafficking. He will be joined by members of the Assembly Majority and advocates," according to his public schedule.</p> <p>Both the State Senate and the State Assembly are in session in Albany on Monday afternoon.</p> <p dir="ltr">Monday’s City Council schedule will include a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=385696&amp;GUID=260C9114-0F81-4779-B83E-4B383BB578C9&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Civil Rights for its preliminary budget hearing and a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=385698&amp;GUID=1A73698D-9724-4C47-8199-FD57FC4D5F52&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Oversight and Investigations for its preliminary budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday morning,&nbsp;"New York Law School hosts "A Bold Step for New York's Children: A Symposium on Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility" featuring Jeremy Creelan, Soffiyah Elijah, Jacqueline Greene, Sheriff Allen Riley, Joel Copperman, Richard Aborn, Laurie Parise and others," according to City &amp; State NY. [Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5583-with-raise-the-age-cuomo-continues-push-to-reform-juvenile-justice" target="_blank">read our report on Governor Cuomo's much-praised effort to "Raise the Age"</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">Also according to City &amp; State NY,&nbsp;on Monday at 11:30 a.m. "State Sen. IDC Leader Jeff Klein, state Sens. Diane Savino and Adriano Espaillat, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres and others gather for a rally calling for funding in state budget to repair and upgrade NYCHA developments, Million Dollar Staircase, State Capitol, Albany."</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is holding a TB Day of Action on Monday, in which Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and others are participating to raise awareness.</p> <p dir="ltr">Monday at <a href="https://twitter.com/IDaneekMiller/status/575757148933656576" target="_blank">5:30 p.m</a>., New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Brad Lander will host a “Celebration of Bangladesh Independence,” at the Council Chambers inside City Hall. Other Council Members in attendance will include Rafael Espinal Jr., Rory Lancman, Daniel Dromm, I. Daneek Miller, Annabel Palma, Mark Weprin, Jimmy Van Bramer, among others.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday evening, BP Brewer will attend the opening of the new Hunter College faculty/laboratory research space at Weill Cornell Medical College.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Monday&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/about/agencyplan.shtml" target="_blank">evening</a>, NYCHA will host its Manhattan town hall meeting at Johnson Houses CC, in East Harlem.</p> <p dir="ltr">Monday <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/442968339186343/?notif_t=plan_user_invited" target="_blank">evening</a>, good government group Citizens Union will host “Can New Yorkers Fix Albany’s Corruption Problem?” - its first Civic Conversation of the year, featuring Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and an esteemed panel. “Join Citizens Union for our first Civic Conversation of the year. This educational forum will bring expert panelists and the public together to discuss why there is a crime wave of corruption in Albany and what can be done to fight back and change the capitol's ethics.” After Schneiderman delivers remarks, panelists will include Richard Briffault, Professor of Legislation at Columbia Law School, Chair of NYC Conflicts of Interest Board and Former Moreland Commissioner; Richard Brodsky, Senior Fellow at Demos, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Policy at NYU Wagner Graduate School, and Former NYS Assemblymember for the 92nd District; Jennifer Rodgers, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity, Former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The panel will be moderated by Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Tuesday <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/events-calendar/details/4/3226462" target="_blank">morning</a>, “Join Crain’s and New York real estate's most impressive players to explore the next stage in the city’s development. Chairman of the NYC Planning Commission Carl Weisbrod will unveil the de Blasio administration’s latest zoning policies and urban-planning initiatives. A panel of experts will assess City Hall’s ambitious efforts to create and maintain 200,000 units of affordable housing. The conference will conclude with the sharpest minds in the business debating how best to reform a broken tax system that must pay for it all.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Tuesday <a href="http://www.ywcanyc.org/events/womens-history-month-breakfast-panel-young-women-leaders/" target="_blank">morning</a>, the Young Women’s Christian Association of New York will host a discussion on Leadership and Generosity: A Call to Action: “We will look at ‘Young Women Leaders’ featuring Aissata M.B. Camara, Elizabeth Plank, Carmen Perez, Maria Naggaga, Yuh-Line Niou, and Candace Simpson.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday’s City Council schedule will include a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=385702&amp;GUID=0671640C-5EBD-479B-8DB8-5C795B75621B&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Juvenile Justice, jointly with the Committee on General Welfare and the Committee on Women’s Issues for a preliminary budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday at <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/event/democracys-problems-and-prospects-book-talk-douglas-e-schoen" target="_blank">noon</a>, The Brennan Center for Justice will present Democracy's Problems and Prospects: A Book Talk with Douglas E. Schoen: “America’s democracy is floundering, Congress is hopelessly gridlocked, and millions remain without gainful employment. Despite all this, longtime political strategist and polling expert Douglas E. Schoen remains optimistic.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday <a href="https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07eaajuht65bf65114&amp;oseq=&amp;c=&amp;ch=" target="_blank">evening</a>, CUNY Institute for Education Policy (CIEP) will host a one-on-one conversation with the President of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Michael Mulgrew: “This unscripted conversation will cover a wide range of pressing issues facing New York State's teachers and their students.” Mulgrew will be speaking with CIEP Director David Steiner, who is also Dean of the Hunter College School of Education and former State Commissioner of Education.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">Explore the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette for something you may have missed</a>]</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Wednesday <a href="https://medicalmarijuanany.eventfarm.com/" target="_blank">morning</a>&nbsp;in Albany, Capital New York will host “Medical Marijuana: Is N.Y. Doing it Right?”, an in-depth conversation on the topic of New York’s medical marijuana law "covering regulation, accessibility, barriers to entry into the local market, program costs and more.” Featured speakers will include the incoming Counsel to the Governor of New York, Alphonso David; Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried; State Senator Diane Savino; and others.</p> <p>On Wednesday, City Council Member Andy King and the Riverbay Corporation will host the "2015 Veterans Job and Resource Fair" in Co-op City in the Bronx. "Employers as well as non-profit resource organizations and city agencies will be present, including JP Morgan Chase &amp; Co., which, with other founding corporations, launched the 100,000 Jobs Mission in 2011 with the goal of hiring 100,000 military veterans by 2020."</p> <p dir="ltr">Wednesday <a href="http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Public-Programming/Calendar/Detail?id=29936" target="_blank">afternoon</a>, the Graduate Center at CUNY will host another public lecture in the Immigration Seminar Series: “Everyday Illegal: When Policies Undermine Immigrant Families.” Among the speakers will be Joanna Dreby, Associate Professor of Sociology at University at Albany, SUNY.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wednesday <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/03/8563512/join-us-albany-capital-pro-trivia-night" target="_blank">evening</a>, “Albany Capital Pro Trivia Night!...Albany Bureau Chief Jimmy Vielkind tees up questions on all things policy, politics and media."</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Wednesday <a href="http://www.meetup.com/betanyc/events/219676070/" target="_blank">evening</a>, Beta NYC is hosting a Civic Hacknight in Queens with Coalition 4 Queens.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wednesday at <a href="https://twitter.com/JimmyVanBramer/status/574995625818865665" target="_blank">6:30 p.m</a>. at MoMA PS1, New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer will host a Cultural Town Hall event featuring special remarks from the Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Tom Finkelpearl.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also in Queens Wednesday evening, BP Katz is <a href="http://queensbp.org/parent-advisory-board-meeting-on-common-core/" target="_blank">hosting</a> a "parent advisory board meeting on common core" that will include reps from the city DOE.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>All day Thursday,&nbsp;the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development <a href="http://www.anhd.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ANHD-Equitable-City-3-19-15-conference-draft-agenda-@-2-4-15.pdf?utm_source=Copy+of+Copy+of+Save+the+Date-+2015+Conference-12-22-14&amp;utm_campaign=Conference-2-18-15&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank">will host</a> its Annual Community Development Conference. The morning keynote speaker will be Thomas J. Curry, Federal Comptroller of the Currency. The afternoon keynote speaker will be Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of New York City Council.</p> <p>Thursday morning,&nbsp;Manhattan BP Brewer hosts a meeting of the Manhattan Borough Board.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday at City Hall, there will be a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/nycvotes" target="_blank">Student Voter Registration Day</a> press conference held by elected officials, advocacy groups, and school representatives.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Thursday <a href="http://queensbp.org/event/queens-borough-presidents-land-use-hearing-2-2/?instance_id=704" target="_blank">morning</a>, Queens BP Melinda Katz will hold a land use meeting at Queens Borough Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday’s City Council schedule will include a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=386662&amp;GUID=47F6C384-09FB-45A1-9104-FF65F5C5EE18&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Governmental Operations for its preliminary budget oversight hearing; a&nbsp;<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=387530&amp;GUID=C12461F6-CE27-4DAA-8B3B-CE5B37A8F0C5&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a>&nbsp;of the Committee on Veterans to consider a resolution "calling upon the New York State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign S.752, the Veterans' Education Through SUNY Credits Act";&nbsp;and a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=388796&amp;GUID=0A445A3A-EA51-4CE1-8E4B-60D5DBBBAFE8&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Education to consider multiple resolutions, including one "calling upon the New York State Legislature to reject any attempt to raise the cap on the number of charter schools,"&nbsp;one&nbsp;"calling upon the Department of Education to amend its Parent's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities to include information about opting out of high-stakes testing and distribute this document at the beginning of every school year, to every family, in every grade,"&nbsp;and one "calling upon the New York State Legislature to eliminate the Governor's receivership proposal in the executive budget for New York City."&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://observer.com/2015/03/bill-de-blasio-will-raise-cash-for-vincent-gentile/" target="_blank">Thursday</a>, Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to speak at a fundraiser for the Democratic candidate in the special election to fill the vacant 11th Congressional District seat, Brooklyn City Council Member Vincent Gentile. Democratic activist Bill Samuels and Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos will host the event at Mr. Samuels’ Manhattan home.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Thursday <a href="http://salsa.ridersny.org/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=81335" target="_blank">evening</a>, the Department of Transportation and the MTA are hosting a town hall to unveil plans around the Utica Avenue B46 SBS Project, according to Riders Alliance, which is encouraging its members to attend and make their voices heard.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/owners/outreach-education.page" target="_blank">evening</a>, at 6:30 p.m., Housing Preservation and Development will host a Owner Outreach and Education Forum with Council Members Inez Barron and Rafael Espinal and Cypress Hills Development Corporation in East New York, Brooklyn.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Thursday at <a href="http://manhattanbp.nyc.gov/html/news/events.shtml" target="_blank">6:30 p.m</a>., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will host East Side Coastal Resiliency Project's Community Engagement Session: “Following on HUD's Rebuild by Design competition, New York City is working to reduce the risk of extreme weather and climate change, as well as improve quality of life. This project focuses on neighborhoods near the East River between Montgomery and 23rd Streets.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday at <a href="http://www.meetup.com/NYYRCInc/events/220671231/" target="_blank">7 p.m</a>., the NYC Young Republican Club will host its monthly meetup at the Women's National Republican Club.</p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: center;">[</span><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank" style="text-align: center;">Explore the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette for something you may have missed</a><span style="text-align: center;">]</span></p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong><a href="https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/cc/event.jsp?event=7&amp;" target="_blank">All day Friday,</a>&nbsp;Common Cause NY, Citizens Union, the New York City Council, and other partners will host Student Voter Registration Day “to increase youth voter registration and excite young people about being involved in the democratic process. Through interactive discussion SVRD encourages youth to see how issues at the polls affect their everyday lives.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Friday’s City Council schedule will include a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=385723&amp;GUID=0DE8ACAF-40B0-4C9C-99E7-403C2AE93B87&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations, jointly with the Subcommittee on Libraries, for a preliminary budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Friday <a href="https://donate.amnestyusa.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1839&amp;ea.campaign.id=35248&amp;ac=TKAGM" target="_blank">morning</a>, Amnesty International USA will have its weekend-long 2015 Human Rights Conference and Annual General Meetings, in Brooklyn: “The 2015 Annual General Meeting will bring over a thousand human rights activists from around the world together to engage in networking opportunities, human rights actions, inspiring plenaries, outstanding key notes, and hands-on workshops." Speakers will include Harry Belafonte, Ann Burroughs, Rosa Alicia Clemente, Nusrat Durrani, Steven Hawkins, Thomas Jagow-Schultz, Benjamin Jealous, Linda Sarsour, Ciara Taylor, Vincent Warren, Jesse Williams, and Jie-Song Zhang.</p> <p dir="ltr">Friday <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/member_files/076/20150227a/index.pdf" target="_blank">afternoon</a>, Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright will host a Women’s History Month celebration, at which the Assembly Member is also set to give out Women of Distinction Awards to recognize “remarkable women and their efforts to improve our community.”</p> <p dir="ltr">On Friday at 5:30 p.m., to commemorate women's history month, Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams "<a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/shirley-chisholm-women-of-distinction-awards-celebration-registration-16097197150" target="_blank">will host</a> the second annual Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Celebration &amp; Award Ceremony" at Brooklyn Public Library-Central Branch. "This event will honor seven extraordinary women from New York City who are making tremendous strides in their fields by using their skills and expertise to strengthen our communities. Two young community leaders will also be honored during the event and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will serve as the event's keynote speaker."</p> <p dir="ltr">Friday <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#.VP3LUNBWrWB" target="_blank">evening</a> in Albany, City &amp; State NY will host a Somos Albany Kickoff Cocktail Reception. The event will feature New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and New York State Assemblyman &amp; Somos el Futuro Chair Marcos Crespo.</p> <p dir="ltr">Saturday <a href="http://manhattanbp.nyc.gov/html/news/events.shtml" target="_blank">morning</a>, The Office of Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, together with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will host "Tuberculosis Awareness Walk and Rally."&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Saturday <a href="http://events.cuny.edu/EventDetail.asp?EventId=59780" target="_blank">morning</a>, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) will host a CUNY Citizenship Application Assistance Event in Brooklyn.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Sunday <a href="https://twitter.com/inwoodgovt/status/575724090482388992/photo/1" target="_blank">afternoon</a>, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez will give his State of the District speech at George Washington Educational Campus.</p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: center;">[</span><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank" style="text-align: center;">Explore the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette for something you may have missed</a><span style="text-align: center;">]</span></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 Rati Mukhuradze, Marco Poggio, 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>This week will again be dominated by budget negotiations - especially in Albany, where a budget is due by the end of the month, which is rapidly approaching. In New York City, City Council hearings will continue on Mayor Bill de Blasio's preliminary fiscal year 2016 budget - once those hearings wrap up at the end of the month, the Council will craft its response to de Blasio, negotiations will continue, and the mayor will present his Executive Budget, leading to another round of council hearings. Key portions of the city budget are, of course, dependent upon the state budget, so much anticipation (and lobbying) surrounds negotiations in Albany, where Governor Andrew Cuomo is attempting to push through his spending plan, with major education and ethics reforms, despite significant disagreement from both Democrats (who control the State Assembly) and Republicans (who control the State Senate). Cuomo is also right in the middle on <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5627-on-minimum-wage-cuomo-again-finds-the-not-so-happy-middle" target="_blank">the minimum wage increase he's pushing</a> and other issues.</p> <p>While there will be a lot of action in Albany this week, this weekend is <a href="http://www.somosnewyork.org/" target="_blank">the annual Somos el Futuro Conference in Albany</a>, at which there is always plenty of networking, negotiating, and more.</p> <p>Speaking of budget negotiations, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (a former State Senator) launched <a href="http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/let-her-in?source=c.tw&amp;r_by=12690944" target="_blank">a petition</a> on Sunday to put additional pressure on the governor and other legislative leaders to include Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in budget negotiations. "Despite comprising over half of New York State's population, no woman has ever had a seat in statewide budget negotiations," it begins.</p> <p>As for de Blasio, he <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5600-in-albany-de-blasio-critiques-cuomos-budget-defines-citys-needs" target="_blank">made his case in Albany</a> a few weeks ago and continues to lobby behind the scenes, while also praising the Assembly and its new Speaker, Carl Heastie of the Bronx, for <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5624-assembly-budget-champions-de-blasio-agenda" target="_blank">its one-house budget outline</a>. A key aspect of state funding for de Blasio is that for his universal pre-kindergarten program. On Sunday de Blasio held an event to kick off enrollment for pre-K for the 2015-2016 school year - enrollment officially opens on Monday. The City is hoping to expand pre-K enrollment from year one's 53,000-plus to all 73,000-or-so four-year-olds in the city. Monday is the start of pre-K enrollment and the end of the application period to be on one of the city's Community Education Councils. CECs are the local representative bodies that help inform education policy decision making and have been highlighted during the "Mayoral Control Forums" <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5630-theme-of-james-mayoral-control-forums-more-local-say" target="_blank">held by Public Advocate Letitia James in recent weeks.</a></p> <p>James held a rally at City Hall on Sunday to call on the State to fully fund city schools in line with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and to criticize Gov. Cuomo's education reform policies. She starts her week with one event on her public schedule: a Howard University alumni affair.</p> <p>Along with James, environmental activists and others, Comptroller Scott Stringer begins his week at a City Hall press conference to&nbsp;voice opposition to the Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas export facility.</p> <p>The mayor starts his week with a busy Monday:&nbsp;he'll "host a breakfast for City Council Leadership in Manhattan...meet with Congressman Jerry Nadler and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez in City Hall," host an afternoon press conference with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to make an announcement; and, at 11 p.m. "appear on Tavis Smiley" on PBS, according to his public schedule.</p> <p>On Thursday evening, the mayor is expected to speak at a fundraiser in Manhattan to support City Council Member Vincent Gentile's congressional campaign. By the way, if you want to register to vote in that special election or the other one (Assembly District 43) happening May 5, you have until April 10 to register.</p> <p>On Monday evening, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will speak at a Citizens Union event on solving Albany's corruption probably. He is <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ag-schneiderman-legislators-accounts-spending-article-1.2150476?cid=bitly" target="_blank">expected</a> to unveil new plans to expand his role in doing so and new proposals pushing state lawmakers further in ethics reforms. Details below.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening at&nbsp;<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">the City Council</a>&nbsp;and all over the city, with many events to be aware of. See 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>Monday <a href="http://nownyc.org/violence-against-women/rallyinalbanymarch16/" target="_blank">in Albany</a>, National Organization for Women NYC will rally to end human trafficking: “For the last three years NOW-NYC has been fighting for the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA). Consensus is growing that the problem of trafficking can be tackled by legislators ensuring survivors-especially children-get help not punishment. TVPJA does that and more, and its passage would make New York a national leader in the fight against human trafficking.” [Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinions/5538-new-york-must-strengthen-sex-trafficking-laws-manhattan-da-cy-vance" target="_blank">read Manhattan DA Cy Vance's recent op-ed on the need to strengthen New York's sex trafficking laws</a>]</p> <p>On Monday afternoon, Assembly Speaker Heastie will hold a "news conference announcing comprehensive legislation to combat human trafficking. He will be joined by members of the Assembly Majority and advocates," according to his public schedule.</p> <p>Both the State Senate and the State Assembly are in session in Albany on Monday afternoon.</p> <p dir="ltr">Monday’s City Council schedule will include a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=385696&amp;GUID=260C9114-0F81-4779-B83E-4B383BB578C9&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Civil Rights for its preliminary budget hearing and a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=385698&amp;GUID=1A73698D-9724-4C47-8199-FD57FC4D5F52&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Oversight and Investigations for its preliminary budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday morning,&nbsp;"New York Law School hosts "A Bold Step for New York's Children: A Symposium on Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility" featuring Jeremy Creelan, Soffiyah Elijah, Jacqueline Greene, Sheriff Allen Riley, Joel Copperman, Richard Aborn, Laurie Parise and others," according to City &amp; State NY. [Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5583-with-raise-the-age-cuomo-continues-push-to-reform-juvenile-justice" target="_blank">read our report on Governor Cuomo's much-praised effort to "Raise the Age"</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">Also according to City &amp; State NY,&nbsp;on Monday at 11:30 a.m. "State Sen. IDC Leader Jeff Klein, state Sens. Diane Savino and Adriano Espaillat, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres and others gather for a rally calling for funding in state budget to repair and upgrade NYCHA developments, Million Dollar Staircase, State Capitol, Albany."</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is holding a TB Day of Action on Monday, in which Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and others are participating to raise awareness.</p> <p dir="ltr">Monday at <a href="https://twitter.com/IDaneekMiller/status/575757148933656576" target="_blank">5:30 p.m</a>., New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Brad Lander will host a “Celebration of Bangladesh Independence,” at the Council Chambers inside City Hall. Other Council Members in attendance will include Rafael Espinal Jr., Rory Lancman, Daniel Dromm, I. Daneek Miller, Annabel Palma, Mark Weprin, Jimmy Van Bramer, among others.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday evening, BP Brewer will attend the opening of the new Hunter College faculty/laboratory research space at Weill Cornell Medical College.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Monday&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/about/agencyplan.shtml" target="_blank">evening</a>, NYCHA will host its Manhattan town hall meeting at Johnson Houses CC, in East Harlem.</p> <p dir="ltr">Monday <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/442968339186343/?notif_t=plan_user_invited" target="_blank">evening</a>, good government group Citizens Union will host “Can New Yorkers Fix Albany’s Corruption Problem?” - its first Civic Conversation of the year, featuring Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and an esteemed panel. “Join Citizens Union for our first Civic Conversation of the year. This educational forum will bring expert panelists and the public together to discuss why there is a crime wave of corruption in Albany and what can be done to fight back and change the capitol's ethics.” After Schneiderman delivers remarks, panelists will include Richard Briffault, Professor of Legislation at Columbia Law School, Chair of NYC Conflicts of Interest Board and Former Moreland Commissioner; Richard Brodsky, Senior Fellow at Demos, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Policy at NYU Wagner Graduate School, and Former NYS Assemblymember for the 92nd District; Jennifer Rodgers, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity, Former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The panel will be moderated by Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Tuesday <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/events-calendar/details/4/3226462" target="_blank">morning</a>, “Join Crain’s and New York real estate's most impressive players to explore the next stage in the city’s development. Chairman of the NYC Planning Commission Carl Weisbrod will unveil the de Blasio administration’s latest zoning policies and urban-planning initiatives. A panel of experts will assess City Hall’s ambitious efforts to create and maintain 200,000 units of affordable housing. The conference will conclude with the sharpest minds in the business debating how best to reform a broken tax system that must pay for it all.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Tuesday <a href="http://www.ywcanyc.org/events/womens-history-month-breakfast-panel-young-women-leaders/" target="_blank">morning</a>, the Young Women’s Christian Association of New York will host a discussion on Leadership and Generosity: A Call to Action: “We will look at ‘Young Women Leaders’ featuring Aissata M.B. Camara, Elizabeth Plank, Carmen Perez, Maria Naggaga, Yuh-Line Niou, and Candace Simpson.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday’s City Council schedule will include a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=385702&amp;GUID=0671640C-5EBD-479B-8DB8-5C795B75621B&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Juvenile Justice, jointly with the Committee on General Welfare and the Committee on Women’s Issues for a preliminary budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday at <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/event/democracys-problems-and-prospects-book-talk-douglas-e-schoen" target="_blank">noon</a>, The Brennan Center for Justice will present Democracy's Problems and Prospects: A Book Talk with Douglas E. Schoen: “America’s democracy is floundering, Congress is hopelessly gridlocked, and millions remain without gainful employment. Despite all this, longtime political strategist and polling expert Douglas E. Schoen remains optimistic.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday <a href="https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07eaajuht65bf65114&amp;oseq=&amp;c=&amp;ch=" target="_blank">evening</a>, CUNY Institute for Education Policy (CIEP) will host a one-on-one conversation with the President of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Michael Mulgrew: “This unscripted conversation will cover a wide range of pressing issues facing New York State's teachers and their students.” Mulgrew will be speaking with CIEP Director David Steiner, who is also Dean of the Hunter College School of Education and former State Commissioner of Education.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">Explore the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette for something you may have missed</a>]</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Wednesday <a href="https://medicalmarijuanany.eventfarm.com/" target="_blank">morning</a>&nbsp;in Albany, Capital New York will host “Medical Marijuana: Is N.Y. Doing it Right?”, an in-depth conversation on the topic of New York’s medical marijuana law "covering regulation, accessibility, barriers to entry into the local market, program costs and more.” Featured speakers will include the incoming Counsel to the Governor of New York, Alphonso David; Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried; State Senator Diane Savino; and others.</p> <p>On Wednesday, City Council Member Andy King and the Riverbay Corporation will host the "2015 Veterans Job and Resource Fair" in Co-op City in the Bronx. "Employers as well as non-profit resource organizations and city agencies will be present, including JP Morgan Chase &amp; Co., which, with other founding corporations, launched the 100,000 Jobs Mission in 2011 with the goal of hiring 100,000 military veterans by 2020."</p> <p dir="ltr">Wednesday <a href="http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Public-Programming/Calendar/Detail?id=29936" target="_blank">afternoon</a>, the Graduate Center at CUNY will host another public lecture in the Immigration Seminar Series: “Everyday Illegal: When Policies Undermine Immigrant Families.” Among the speakers will be Joanna Dreby, Associate Professor of Sociology at University at Albany, SUNY.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wednesday <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/03/8563512/join-us-albany-capital-pro-trivia-night" target="_blank">evening</a>, “Albany Capital Pro Trivia Night!...Albany Bureau Chief Jimmy Vielkind tees up questions on all things policy, politics and media."</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Wednesday <a href="http://www.meetup.com/betanyc/events/219676070/" target="_blank">evening</a>, Beta NYC is hosting a Civic Hacknight in Queens with Coalition 4 Queens.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wednesday at <a href="https://twitter.com/JimmyVanBramer/status/574995625818865665" target="_blank">6:30 p.m</a>. at MoMA PS1, New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer will host a Cultural Town Hall event featuring special remarks from the Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Tom Finkelpearl.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also in Queens Wednesday evening, BP Katz is <a href="http://queensbp.org/parent-advisory-board-meeting-on-common-core/" target="_blank">hosting</a> a "parent advisory board meeting on common core" that will include reps from the city DOE.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>All day Thursday,&nbsp;the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development <a href="http://www.anhd.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ANHD-Equitable-City-3-19-15-conference-draft-agenda-@-2-4-15.pdf?utm_source=Copy+of+Copy+of+Save+the+Date-+2015+Conference-12-22-14&amp;utm_campaign=Conference-2-18-15&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank">will host</a> its Annual Community Development Conference. The morning keynote speaker will be Thomas J. Curry, Federal Comptroller of the Currency. The afternoon keynote speaker will be Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of New York City Council.</p> <p>Thursday morning,&nbsp;Manhattan BP Brewer hosts a meeting of the Manhattan Borough Board.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday at City Hall, there will be a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/nycvotes" target="_blank">Student Voter Registration Day</a> press conference held by elected officials, advocacy groups, and school representatives.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Thursday <a href="http://queensbp.org/event/queens-borough-presidents-land-use-hearing-2-2/?instance_id=704" target="_blank">morning</a>, Queens BP Melinda Katz will hold a land use meeting at Queens Borough Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday’s City Council schedule will include a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=386662&amp;GUID=47F6C384-09FB-45A1-9104-FF65F5C5EE18&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Governmental Operations for its preliminary budget oversight hearing; a&nbsp;<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=387530&amp;GUID=C12461F6-CE27-4DAA-8B3B-CE5B37A8F0C5&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a>&nbsp;of the Committee on Veterans to consider a resolution "calling upon the New York State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign S.752, the Veterans' Education Through SUNY Credits Act";&nbsp;and a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=388796&amp;GUID=0A445A3A-EA51-4CE1-8E4B-60D5DBBBAFE8&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Education to consider multiple resolutions, including one "calling upon the New York State Legislature to reject any attempt to raise the cap on the number of charter schools,"&nbsp;one&nbsp;"calling upon the Department of Education to amend its Parent's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities to include information about opting out of high-stakes testing and distribute this document at the beginning of every school year, to every family, in every grade,"&nbsp;and one "calling upon the New York State Legislature to eliminate the Governor's receivership proposal in the executive budget for New York City."&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://observer.com/2015/03/bill-de-blasio-will-raise-cash-for-vincent-gentile/" target="_blank">Thursday</a>, Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to speak at a fundraiser for the Democratic candidate in the special election to fill the vacant 11th Congressional District seat, Brooklyn City Council Member Vincent Gentile. Democratic activist Bill Samuels and Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos will host the event at Mr. Samuels’ Manhattan home.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Thursday <a href="http://salsa.ridersny.org/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=81335" target="_blank">evening</a>, the Department of Transportation and the MTA are hosting a town hall to unveil plans around the Utica Avenue B46 SBS Project, according to Riders Alliance, which is encouraging its members to attend and make their voices heard.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/owners/outreach-education.page" target="_blank">evening</a>, at 6:30 p.m., Housing Preservation and Development will host a Owner Outreach and Education Forum with Council Members Inez Barron and Rafael Espinal and Cypress Hills Development Corporation in East New York, Brooklyn.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Thursday at <a href="http://manhattanbp.nyc.gov/html/news/events.shtml" target="_blank">6:30 p.m</a>., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will host East Side Coastal Resiliency Project's Community Engagement Session: “Following on HUD's Rebuild by Design competition, New York City is working to reduce the risk of extreme weather and climate change, as well as improve quality of life. This project focuses on neighborhoods near the East River between Montgomery and 23rd Streets.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday at <a href="http://www.meetup.com/NYYRCInc/events/220671231/" target="_blank">7 p.m</a>., the NYC Young Republican Club will host its monthly meetup at the Women's National Republican Club.</p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: center;">[</span><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank" style="text-align: center;">Explore the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette for something you may have missed</a><span style="text-align: center;">]</span></p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong><a href="https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/cc/event.jsp?event=7&amp;" target="_blank">All day Friday,</a>&nbsp;Common Cause NY, Citizens Union, the New York City Council, and other partners will host Student Voter Registration Day “to increase youth voter registration and excite young people about being involved in the democratic process. Through interactive discussion SVRD encourages youth to see how issues at the polls affect their everyday lives.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Friday’s City Council schedule will include a <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=385723&amp;GUID=0DE8ACAF-40B0-4C9C-99E7-403C2AE93B87&amp;Options=info|&amp;Search=" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations, jointly with the Subcommittee on Libraries, for a preliminary budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Friday <a href="https://donate.amnestyusa.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1839&amp;ea.campaign.id=35248&amp;ac=TKAGM" target="_blank">morning</a>, Amnesty International USA will have its weekend-long 2015 Human Rights Conference and Annual General Meetings, in Brooklyn: “The 2015 Annual General Meeting will bring over a thousand human rights activists from around the world together to engage in networking opportunities, human rights actions, inspiring plenaries, outstanding key notes, and hands-on workshops." Speakers will include Harry Belafonte, Ann Burroughs, Rosa Alicia Clemente, Nusrat Durrani, Steven Hawkins, Thomas Jagow-Schultz, Benjamin Jealous, Linda Sarsour, Ciara Taylor, Vincent Warren, Jesse Williams, and Jie-Song Zhang.</p> <p dir="ltr">Friday <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/member_files/076/20150227a/index.pdf" target="_blank">afternoon</a>, Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright will host a Women’s History Month celebration, at which the Assembly Member is also set to give out Women of Distinction Awards to recognize “remarkable women and their efforts to improve our community.”</p> <p dir="ltr">On Friday at 5:30 p.m., to commemorate women's history month, Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams "<a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/shirley-chisholm-women-of-distinction-awards-celebration-registration-16097197150" target="_blank">will host</a> the second annual Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Celebration &amp; Award Ceremony" at Brooklyn Public Library-Central Branch. "This event will honor seven extraordinary women from New York City who are making tremendous strides in their fields by using their skills and expertise to strengthen our communities. Two young community leaders will also be honored during the event and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will serve as the event's keynote speaker."</p> <p dir="ltr">Friday <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#.VP3LUNBWrWB" target="_blank">evening</a> in Albany, City &amp; State NY will host a Somos Albany Kickoff Cocktail Reception. The event will feature New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and New York State Assemblyman &amp; Somos el Futuro Chair Marcos Crespo.</p> <p dir="ltr">Saturday <a href="http://manhattanbp.nyc.gov/html/news/events.shtml" target="_blank">morning</a>, The Office of Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, together with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will host "Tuberculosis Awareness Walk and Rally."&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Also Saturday <a href="http://events.cuny.edu/EventDetail.asp?EventId=59780" target="_blank">morning</a>, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) will host a CUNY Citizenship Application Assistance Event in Brooklyn.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Sunday <a href="https://twitter.com/inwoodgovt/status/575724090482388992/photo/1" target="_blank">afternoon</a>, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez will give his State of the District speech at George Washington Educational Campus.</p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: center;">[</span><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank" style="text-align: center;">Explore the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette for something you may have missed</a><span style="text-align: center;">]</span></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 Rati Mukhuradze, Marco Poggio, and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> The New Yorker's Guide To The New City Government 2013-12-31T16:55:08+00:00 2013-12-31T16:55:08+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=4792:the-guide-to-new-york-citys-new-government Super User <p><img class="caption" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/CityHall2.jpg" alt="CityHall2" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span class="caption">Photo by Bill Alatriste/City Council</span></p> <p>NEW YORK —&nbsp;The historic overhaul of New York City government this year goes well beyond the mayor's office.</p> <p class="c2">There are 21 new members of the City Council, four new borough presidents, and fresh, yet familiar, faces in the offices of Brooklyn district attorney, comptroller, and public advocate. With the city’s politics taking an increasingly liberal turn, there are few outright conservatives left in city government.</p> <p class="c2">“Reapportionment and term limits combined to make the City Council younger, a little bit further to the left, perhaps less a product of traditional political organizations or machines, and demographically, a little more like the population of the city,” said Kenneth Sherrill, Chair of the Political Science Department at Hunter College.</p> <p class="c2">New city officials include the first Mexican-American on City Council; old friends of incoming Police Commissioner Bill Bratton from his tenure during the 1990s; yet another member of the Queens Vallone clan; and a progressive new Brooklyn D.A., who has said he wants to re-train the borough's police officers. We've rounded up the full list here.</p> <h1 class="c2">Citywide</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Mayor</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Bill de Blasio - De Blasio has been involved in New York City politics since he helped the last progressive mayor, David Dinkins, get elected in 1989.<span class="c3">&nbsp;Between that first campaign and his mayoral victory, De Blasio served as the regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helped Hillary Clinton get elected to the U.S. Senate, spent eight years representing some of Brooklyn’s wealthier neighborhoods on the City Council, and, most recently, served as the city’s public advocate. In an attempt to deliver on a key campaign promise early on, De Blasio has spent the last few weeks drumming up support in Albany for a small tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-K. Dinkins, somewhat ironically and <span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/nyregion/praised-by-de-blasio-dinkins-responds-with-an-arrow.html">extremely publicly</a>, recently told him to reconsider, saying “we might have more success” with a commuter tax.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Comptroller</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Scott Stringer - Stringer left his post as Manhattan Borough President and took on former Gov. Elliot Spitzer in order to ascend to this quietly powerful office overseeing city finances. He brings with him experience as a&nbsp;trustee of the massive<a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx">NYCERS pension fund</a>&nbsp;and a track record of spearheading<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511">populist economic initiatives</a>, including the New York City Taxpayer Receipt, a website that allows constituents to<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/">track their tax dollars</a>.</span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Public Advocate</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Letitia "Tish" James - James has served Central Brooklyn on the City Council since 2003 and has opposed several major development and rezoning projects, including Atlantic Yards, which, for years, riled up residents around what is now the Barclays Center. Most recently, James joined progressive groups in calling for higher wages and a change in the city’s economic development policies, including more stringent requirements for banks and corporations that receive city subsidies.</span></p> <h1 class="c2">Borough-wide offices</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn District Attorney</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Kenneth P. Thompson -&nbsp;Thompson had to<a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php">beat incumbent Charles Hynes twice</a>&nbsp;- first, in the primary, when Hynes was a Democrat, and again when Hynes became a Republican for the general election. In an<a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race">acceptance speech</a>, the first black Brooklyn DA said voters had chosen him as an alternative to "false accusation, fear-mongering, and race-baiting." As a federal attorney, Thompson prosecuted<a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election">police brutality</a>&nbsp;in Brooklyn and now aims to reduce false arrests by<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">assigning prosecutors to police precincts</a>&nbsp;in East New York and Brownsville. “It is not right to have someone subjected to stop-and-frisk, snake through the system and spend two days in jail just to get out," he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">told the Daily News</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Brooklyn Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Eric Adams (D, WF)&nbsp;- Counted as an<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414">old friend</a>&nbsp;by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, Adams served 22 years in the NYPD before moving on to the State Senate, where he has represented Crown Heights, Flatbush, Sunset Park and Park Slope for the last eight years. A vocal critic of former Commissioner Ray Kelly when stop-and-frisk was on trial, Adams advocates for a "symbiotic relationship" between the police and the community.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Manhattan <span class="c3">Borough President</span></strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Gale Brewer (D)&nbsp;- Brewer has been a Council member for the Upper West Side and North Clinton since 2002. Her most recent political efforts include a push to<a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/">make food trucks greener</a>&nbsp;and to get the city to<a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding">seek federal funding</a>&nbsp;to expand CitiBike.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Queens</strong> <span class="c3"><strong>Borough President</strong></span><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Melinda Katz (D)&nbsp;- Katz represented Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and other pockets of Queens during her seven-year tenure on the City Council between 2002 and 2009. While on the Council, she was chair of the land use committee, and played a key role in moving forward the massive rezoning the city underwent during the Bloomberg administration.</span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Staten Island Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">James Oddo (R) - After 15 years on the City Council, Oddo is passing his title of Republican minority leader on to fellow Staten Island politician Vincent Ignizio. When it comes to Sandy relief, Oddo<a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html">supports an "acquisition for redevelopment" plan</a>&nbsp;that would buy out homeowners, open Midland Beach up to developers, and give former residents the option of moving back in.</span></span></p> <h1 class="c2">City Council</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Manhattan</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Corey Johnson (D) - D3 - Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea, West Village- Johnson, a prominent activist in the LGBT community, will take outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn's seat. Johnson most recently served as Chair of Community Board 4, which also made him a<a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml">board member</a>&nbsp;of the Hudson Yards Development Corp. Johnson built much of his campaign around affordable housing, but has been the<a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php">subject</a>&nbsp;of controversy as a former employee of GFI Development Co., which has erected its fair share of Brooklyn condos.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ben Kallos (D) - D5 - Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island - Kallos, a lawyer and lifelong Upper East Sider, advocated for state constitutional reform as the Executive Director of the group<a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/">EffectiveNY</a>&nbsp;and has put the issues of government accountability and transparency at the forefront of his campaign.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has also pledged to try to<a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction">aid local businesses</a>&nbsp;affected by the interminable Second Avenue subway construction.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Hellen Rosenthal (D) - D6 - Upper West Side and North Clinton - Rosenthal, who is coming from a post in the City Hall Budget Office, has been a<a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012">major supporter</a>&nbsp;of participatory budgeting and has advocated bringing it to her district, where, in the past, she served as Chair of Community Board 7.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Levine (D, WF) - D7 - parts of Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights/West Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Washington Heights, and part of UWS - Over the course of his uptown political career, Levine founded the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan and a credit union called the Neighborhood Trust. He also briefly ran the New York chapter of the controversial Teach for America program, of which he was an early participant. Levine's proposals for city schools include<a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education">expanding the curriculum</a>&nbsp;to teach about LGBT history, animal welfare, and environmental issues.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Laurie Cumbo (D) - D35 - Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and part of Bedford Stuyvesant - Cumbo is best known in Brooklyn for her leadership and expansion of<a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/">MoCADA</a>, the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts, and other cultural programs she has jump-started. But Cumbo has had a rough start as a Council member. She already had to<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments">apologize</a>&nbsp;to her new constituents for racially charged<a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html">comments she made</a>&nbsp;about the 'knockout attacks' in Crown Heights last month.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Robert Cornegy, Jr. (D) -D36- Bedford Stuvesant and parts of Crown Heights - Cornegy is transitioning from a position as Legislative Analyst for the Council's Aging and Veterans Committee. The former district leader and president of VIDA, Central Brooklyn's Vanguard Independent Democratic Association,<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137">eked out a primary win</a>&nbsp;in a race that ended with a highly contested recount.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rafael Espinal, Jr. (D) - D37- Cypress Hills, Bushwick, East New York, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville - Two years ago, Espinal, then 27, became the youngest member of the State Assembly, representing District 54. Most recently, he<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/">sponsored legislation</a>&nbsp;related to domestic abuse and, in the past, has sponsored bills that would require insurance companies to expand women's health coverage. Espinal has said he is determined to repair the infrastructure in neighborhoods that have been <a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148">"completely ignored"</a>&nbsp;by the city, like Cypress Hills, where he grew up.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Carlos Menchaca (D) - D38 - Bayridge Towers, Greenwood Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace - Menchaca's<a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/">relief efforts in Red Hook</a>&nbsp;following Hurricane Sandy helped him get the support he needed to beat his district's incumbent. Now, he and incoming Council Member Mark Treyger want to<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">start a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Proudly claiming the dual titles of "first Mexican-American on the City Council" and "first openly gay legislator in Brooklyn,"<span class="c3">&nbsp;Menchaca cut his teeth in the offices of outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz and outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Inez Barron (D) - D42 - NEIGHBORHOODS - In her five years representing State Assembly District 60, Barron has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Inez-D-Barron/sponsor/"></a>taken a progressive stance on issues from gun regulation to sex education. She also<a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/">fought to end mayoral control</a>&nbsp;of city schools after a decades-long career as a public school teacher and administrator. Barron's more incendiary husband, Charles, is passing her the torch in their Council district.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Alan Maisel (D) - D46 - Canarsie, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, part of Sheepshead Bay - Environmental issues and public safety, including 'fracking' regulation, have been prominent among the legislation Maisel has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/">sponsored</a>&nbsp;in his tenure serving State Assembly District 59. Much of Maisel's civic work in Brooklyn has been done through the international Jewish organization B'nai B'rith, although he has also served on his local school and community boards.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Treyger (D) - D47 - Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, and Sea Gate - After Superstorm Sandy hit, Treyger founded STRONG, the Sandy Task Force Recovery Organized by Neighborhood Groups, and is now joining forces with fellow incoming Council Member Carlos Menchaca to call for<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Treyger, long active in local politics, has been a high school teacher since 2005, with strong involvement in the United Federation of Teachers.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Chaim Deutsch (D) - D48 - Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach - Over the past 20 years, Deutsch, who has a strong foothold in Brooklyn's Jewish community, has taken community safety into his own hands as president of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol.<span class="c6">&nbsp;He founded the Patrol in the early 1990s in response to rising crime and has worked closely with both Commissioner Bill Bratton and outgoing police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Deutsch even held an appreciation ceremony for Kelly, during which he<a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">presented the city</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.brooklyneagle.com%2Farticles%2Ffelder-calls-kelly-city%25E2%2580%2599s-%25E2%2580%2598best-police-commissioner-ever%25E2%2580%2599-2013-12-12-153000&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGgvmwSpDHoPV0Ir4YaCJHvP26aHw">’s top cop </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">with a </a><span class="c0 c8"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">mezuzah</a>, which Jews hang in their doorways for protection. He also<a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html">praised Bratton</a>&nbsp;for having "excelled at police-community relations and law enforcement strategies" during his previous tenure on the NYPD.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c6"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0 c8"><span class="c0">Antonio Reynoso - D34 - Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn; Ridgewood in Queens - Reynoso is taking the seat of his former boss, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who he has been working for since 2007, most recently as her Chief of Staff. A Williamsburg native, Reynoso has made affordable housing his top issue, <a href="http://www.brooklynrail.org/2013/09/local/antonio-reynosos-fight-for-williamsburg">speaking out</a> frequently about the neighborhood's luxury makeover. He beat out a seasoned politician, former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who was forced out of the Assembly earlier this year following <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/11/nyregion/disgraced-assemblyman-loses-bid-for-council-seat.html?_r=0">a sexual harassment case.</a></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Queens</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Paul Vallone, Jr. (D) - D19 - College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, and Little Neck - Leaving his practice at Queens law firm Vallone and Vallone to take a seat on the City Council, Vallone seems to be leaving one<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651">family business</a>&nbsp;for another. His father, former Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., served on the City Council for 25 years, leaving in 2001, when his brother, Peter, Jr., was elected to represent the 22nd District (his term is up this year).<span class="c3">&nbsp;Beyond his family ties, Vallone has established thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for Queens high school students and based his campaign platform on a mix of progressive issues — such as women's access to birth control — and local issues like noise pollution from overhead flights.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Costa Constantinides (D) - D22 - Astoria, Long Island City, part of Jackson Heights, Rikers Island, Randalls Island, and Wards Island - In the district that includes the city's largest jail, Constantinides earned valuable campaign support from the Correctional Officers Benevolent Association. Constantinides aims to reduce both crime and unemployment by hiring more police officers. He has also been active in the fight for voter rights throughout the state as a member of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, and says it's time to dump the<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">hundreds of outdoor </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dnainfo.com%2Fnew-york%2F20120920%2Fnew-york-city%2Fthousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEtNcxYAHlbBnO1zKkeROqyeW9H9A">“</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">trailer classrooms</a>”&nbsp;that are disproportionately found in Queens schools.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rory Lancman (D) - D24 -&nbsp;<span class="c3">Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest Estates, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, and parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica and Rego Park&nbsp;- When Lancman attempted to run for Anthony Weiner's old seat in Congress last year,<a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/">WNYC reported</a>&nbsp;that he had made some enemies and that one source had even called him the "most hated member of the state Assembly." Lancman, a lawyer who served Assembly District 25 for six years, has also passed a significant volume of legislation, including the<a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/">Libel Terrorism Protection Act</a>, which aims to protect journalists writing about terrorism abroad from being hit with defamation lawsuits, and a host of bills related to equality and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262">safety in the workplace</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Daneek Miller (D) - D27 - St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Baisley Park, Addisleigh Park, and parts of Queens Village, Rosedale, and Springfield Gardens - In December, Miller<a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor">received a "Champion of Labor" Award</a>, along with Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James. In Southeast Queens, where subway service is spotty, Miller has championed bus drivers and riders as president of the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transportation Union. He also co-founded a mentor program called Brothers Unlimited.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Bronx</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Andrew Cohen (D) - D11 - Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, Norwood, and parts of Bedford Park, Wakefield, and Bronx Park East - Cohen, a Riverdale attorney, has had a long career in law, including several years as a court attorney to a Bronx Supreme Court Justice, legal counsel to State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, and a stint as an assistant adjunct at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has called for raising the minimum wage and has gained the support of the United Federation of Teachers.</span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ritchie Torres (D) - D15 - Bathgate, Belmont, Crotona, Fordham, East Tremont, Van Nest and West Farms - Torres, only 24, is one of many young Latino Democrats making their way into city politics.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has worked with Councilman James Vacca since his 2005 campaign and was named his housing director in 2011. Torres, who grew up in NYCHA housing, has worked to create tenants' associations and to advocate for basic rights of NYCHA residents in the Bronx, like building improvements and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981">heating</a>.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Vanessa Gibson (D) - D16 - West Bronx, Morrisania, Highbridge, and Melrose - A Bronx transplant from Brooklyn, Gibson was elected to State Assembly District 77 in 2009, where she has focused on housing and social services.<span class="c3">&nbsp;She began her political career as the Bronx district office manager for Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Staten Island</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Steven Matteo (R) - D50 - in Brooklyn, parts of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach; in Staten Island, Arrochar, Bulls Head, Concord, Dongan Hill, Emerson Hill, Fort Wadsworth, Grant City, Graniteville, Grasmere, Island of Meadows, Midland Beach, New Dorp, Prall's Island, Richmondtown, South Beach, Todt Hill, Travis, Westerleigh, Willowbrook - Sandy relief is still the number one priority in Staten Island, but Matteo has identified other issues affecting residents, including rampant<a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/">prescription drug use</a>. Matteo also said he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx">hopes to work with the mayor</a>&nbsp; "to wrestle toll setting authority” from the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority. </span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><em>This is an updated version which corrects the number of incoming City Council members to 21 and adds information on Councilman Antonio Reynoso. </em><br /></span></span></span></p> <p><img class="caption" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/CityHall2.jpg" alt="CityHall2" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span class="caption">Photo by Bill Alatriste/City Council</span></p> <p>NEW YORK —&nbsp;The historic overhaul of New York City government this year goes well beyond the mayor's office.</p> <p class="c2">There are 21 new members of the City Council, four new borough presidents, and fresh, yet familiar, faces in the offices of Brooklyn district attorney, comptroller, and public advocate. With the city’s politics taking an increasingly liberal turn, there are few outright conservatives left in city government.</p> <p class="c2">“Reapportionment and term limits combined to make the City Council younger, a little bit further to the left, perhaps less a product of traditional political organizations or machines, and demographically, a little more like the population of the city,” said Kenneth Sherrill, Chair of the Political Science Department at Hunter College.</p> <p class="c2">New city officials include the first Mexican-American on City Council; old friends of incoming Police Commissioner Bill Bratton from his tenure during the 1990s; yet another member of the Queens Vallone clan; and a progressive new Brooklyn D.A., who has said he wants to re-train the borough's police officers. We've rounded up the full list here.</p> <h1 class="c2">Citywide</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Mayor</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Bill de Blasio - De Blasio has been involved in New York City politics since he helped the last progressive mayor, David Dinkins, get elected in 1989.<span class="c3">&nbsp;Between that first campaign and his mayoral victory, De Blasio served as the regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helped Hillary Clinton get elected to the U.S. Senate, spent eight years representing some of Brooklyn’s wealthier neighborhoods on the City Council, and, most recently, served as the city’s public advocate. In an attempt to deliver on a key campaign promise early on, De Blasio has spent the last few weeks drumming up support in Albany for a small tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-K. Dinkins, somewhat ironically and <span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/nyregion/praised-by-de-blasio-dinkins-responds-with-an-arrow.html">extremely publicly</a>, recently told him to reconsider, saying “we might have more success” with a commuter tax.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Comptroller</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Scott Stringer - Stringer left his post as Manhattan Borough President and took on former Gov. Elliot Spitzer in order to ascend to this quietly powerful office overseeing city finances. He brings with him experience as a&nbsp;trustee of the massive<a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx">NYCERS pension fund</a>&nbsp;and a track record of spearheading<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511">populist economic initiatives</a>, including the New York City Taxpayer Receipt, a website that allows constituents to<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/">track their tax dollars</a>.</span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Public Advocate</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Letitia "Tish" James - James has served Central Brooklyn on the City Council since 2003 and has opposed several major development and rezoning projects, including Atlantic Yards, which, for years, riled up residents around what is now the Barclays Center. Most recently, James joined progressive groups in calling for higher wages and a change in the city’s economic development policies, including more stringent requirements for banks and corporations that receive city subsidies.</span></p> <h1 class="c2">Borough-wide offices</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn District Attorney</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Kenneth P. Thompson -&nbsp;Thompson had to<a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php">beat incumbent Charles Hynes twice</a>&nbsp;- first, in the primary, when Hynes was a Democrat, and again when Hynes became a Republican for the general election. In an<a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race">acceptance speech</a>, the first black Brooklyn DA said voters had chosen him as an alternative to "false accusation, fear-mongering, and race-baiting." As a federal attorney, Thompson prosecuted<a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election">police brutality</a>&nbsp;in Brooklyn and now aims to reduce false arrests by<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">assigning prosecutors to police precincts</a>&nbsp;in East New York and Brownsville. “It is not right to have someone subjected to stop-and-frisk, snake through the system and spend two days in jail just to get out," he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">told the Daily News</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Brooklyn Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Eric Adams (D, WF)&nbsp;- Counted as an<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414">old friend</a>&nbsp;by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, Adams served 22 years in the NYPD before moving on to the State Senate, where he has represented Crown Heights, Flatbush, Sunset Park and Park Slope for the last eight years. A vocal critic of former Commissioner Ray Kelly when stop-and-frisk was on trial, Adams advocates for a "symbiotic relationship" between the police and the community.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Manhattan <span class="c3">Borough President</span></strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Gale Brewer (D)&nbsp;- Brewer has been a Council member for the Upper West Side and North Clinton since 2002. Her most recent political efforts include a push to<a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/">make food trucks greener</a>&nbsp;and to get the city to<a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding">seek federal funding</a>&nbsp;to expand CitiBike.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Queens</strong> <span class="c3"><strong>Borough President</strong></span><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Melinda Katz (D)&nbsp;- Katz represented Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and other pockets of Queens during her seven-year tenure on the City Council between 2002 and 2009. While on the Council, she was chair of the land use committee, and played a key role in moving forward the massive rezoning the city underwent during the Bloomberg administration.</span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Staten Island Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">James Oddo (R) - After 15 years on the City Council, Oddo is passing his title of Republican minority leader on to fellow Staten Island politician Vincent Ignizio. When it comes to Sandy relief, Oddo<a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html">supports an "acquisition for redevelopment" plan</a>&nbsp;that would buy out homeowners, open Midland Beach up to developers, and give former residents the option of moving back in.</span></span></p> <h1 class="c2">City Council</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Manhattan</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Corey Johnson (D) - D3 - Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea, West Village- Johnson, a prominent activist in the LGBT community, will take outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn's seat. Johnson most recently served as Chair of Community Board 4, which also made him a<a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml">board member</a>&nbsp;of the Hudson Yards Development Corp. Johnson built much of his campaign around affordable housing, but has been the<a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php">subject</a>&nbsp;of controversy as a former employee of GFI Development Co., which has erected its fair share of Brooklyn condos.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ben Kallos (D) - D5 - Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island - Kallos, a lawyer and lifelong Upper East Sider, advocated for state constitutional reform as the Executive Director of the group<a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/">EffectiveNY</a>&nbsp;and has put the issues of government accountability and transparency at the forefront of his campaign.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has also pledged to try to<a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction">aid local businesses</a>&nbsp;affected by the interminable Second Avenue subway construction.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Hellen Rosenthal (D) - D6 - Upper West Side and North Clinton - Rosenthal, who is coming from a post in the City Hall Budget Office, has been a<a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012">major supporter</a>&nbsp;of participatory budgeting and has advocated bringing it to her district, where, in the past, she served as Chair of Community Board 7.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Levine (D, WF) - D7 - parts of Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights/West Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Washington Heights, and part of UWS - Over the course of his uptown political career, Levine founded the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan and a credit union called the Neighborhood Trust. He also briefly ran the New York chapter of the controversial Teach for America program, of which he was an early participant. Levine's proposals for city schools include<a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education">expanding the curriculum</a>&nbsp;to teach about LGBT history, animal welfare, and environmental issues.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Laurie Cumbo (D) - D35 - Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and part of Bedford Stuyvesant - Cumbo is best known in Brooklyn for her leadership and expansion of<a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/">MoCADA</a>, the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts, and other cultural programs she has jump-started. But Cumbo has had a rough start as a Council member. She already had to<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments">apologize</a>&nbsp;to her new constituents for racially charged<a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html">comments she made</a>&nbsp;about the 'knockout attacks' in Crown Heights last month.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Robert Cornegy, Jr. (D) -D36- Bedford Stuvesant and parts of Crown Heights - Cornegy is transitioning from a position as Legislative Analyst for the Council's Aging and Veterans Committee. The former district leader and president of VIDA, Central Brooklyn's Vanguard Independent Democratic Association,<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137">eked out a primary win</a>&nbsp;in a race that ended with a highly contested recount.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rafael Espinal, Jr. (D) - D37- Cypress Hills, Bushwick, East New York, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville - Two years ago, Espinal, then 27, became the youngest member of the State Assembly, representing District 54. Most recently, he<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/">sponsored legislation</a>&nbsp;related to domestic abuse and, in the past, has sponsored bills that would require insurance companies to expand women's health coverage. Espinal has said he is determined to repair the infrastructure in neighborhoods that have been <a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148">"completely ignored"</a>&nbsp;by the city, like Cypress Hills, where he grew up.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Carlos Menchaca (D) - D38 - Bayridge Towers, Greenwood Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace - Menchaca's<a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/">relief efforts in Red Hook</a>&nbsp;following Hurricane Sandy helped him get the support he needed to beat his district's incumbent. Now, he and incoming Council Member Mark Treyger want to<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">start a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Proudly claiming the dual titles of "first Mexican-American on the City Council" and "first openly gay legislator in Brooklyn,"<span class="c3">&nbsp;Menchaca cut his teeth in the offices of outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz and outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Inez Barron (D) - D42 - NEIGHBORHOODS - In her five years representing State Assembly District 60, Barron has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Inez-D-Barron/sponsor/"></a>taken a progressive stance on issues from gun regulation to sex education. She also<a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/">fought to end mayoral control</a>&nbsp;of city schools after a decades-long career as a public school teacher and administrator. Barron's more incendiary husband, Charles, is passing her the torch in their Council district.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Alan Maisel (D) - D46 - Canarsie, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, part of Sheepshead Bay - Environmental issues and public safety, including 'fracking' regulation, have been prominent among the legislation Maisel has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/">sponsored</a>&nbsp;in his tenure serving State Assembly District 59. Much of Maisel's civic work in Brooklyn has been done through the international Jewish organization B'nai B'rith, although he has also served on his local school and community boards.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Treyger (D) - D47 - Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, and Sea Gate - After Superstorm Sandy hit, Treyger founded STRONG, the Sandy Task Force Recovery Organized by Neighborhood Groups, and is now joining forces with fellow incoming Council Member Carlos Menchaca to call for<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Treyger, long active in local politics, has been a high school teacher since 2005, with strong involvement in the United Federation of Teachers.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Chaim Deutsch (D) - D48 - Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach - Over the past 20 years, Deutsch, who has a strong foothold in Brooklyn's Jewish community, has taken community safety into his own hands as president of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol.<span class="c6">&nbsp;He founded the Patrol in the early 1990s in response to rising crime and has worked closely with both Commissioner Bill Bratton and outgoing police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Deutsch even held an appreciation ceremony for Kelly, during which he<a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">presented the city</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.brooklyneagle.com%2Farticles%2Ffelder-calls-kelly-city%25E2%2580%2599s-%25E2%2580%2598best-police-commissioner-ever%25E2%2580%2599-2013-12-12-153000&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGgvmwSpDHoPV0Ir4YaCJHvP26aHw">’s top cop </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">with a </a><span class="c0 c8"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">mezuzah</a>, which Jews hang in their doorways for protection. He also<a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html">praised Bratton</a>&nbsp;for having "excelled at police-community relations and law enforcement strategies" during his previous tenure on the NYPD.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c6"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0 c8"><span class="c0">Antonio Reynoso - D34 - Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn; Ridgewood in Queens - Reynoso is taking the seat of his former boss, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who he has been working for since 2007, most recently as her Chief of Staff. A Williamsburg native, Reynoso has made affordable housing his top issue, <a href="http://www.brooklynrail.org/2013/09/local/antonio-reynosos-fight-for-williamsburg">speaking out</a> frequently about the neighborhood's luxury makeover. He beat out a seasoned politician, former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who was forced out of the Assembly earlier this year following <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/11/nyregion/disgraced-assemblyman-loses-bid-for-council-seat.html?_r=0">a sexual harassment case.</a></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Queens</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Paul Vallone, Jr. (D) - D19 - College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, and Little Neck - Leaving his practice at Queens law firm Vallone and Vallone to take a seat on the City Council, Vallone seems to be leaving one<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651">family business</a>&nbsp;for another. His father, former Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., served on the City Council for 25 years, leaving in 2001, when his brother, Peter, Jr., was elected to represent the 22nd District (his term is up this year).<span class="c3">&nbsp;Beyond his family ties, Vallone has established thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for Queens high school students and based his campaign platform on a mix of progressive issues — such as women's access to birth control — and local issues like noise pollution from overhead flights.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Costa Constantinides (D) - D22 - Astoria, Long Island City, part of Jackson Heights, Rikers Island, Randalls Island, and Wards Island - In the district that includes the city's largest jail, Constantinides earned valuable campaign support from the Correctional Officers Benevolent Association. Constantinides aims to reduce both crime and unemployment by hiring more police officers. He has also been active in the fight for voter rights throughout the state as a member of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, and says it's time to dump the<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">hundreds of outdoor </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dnainfo.com%2Fnew-york%2F20120920%2Fnew-york-city%2Fthousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEtNcxYAHlbBnO1zKkeROqyeW9H9A">“</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">trailer classrooms</a>”&nbsp;that are disproportionately found in Queens schools.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rory Lancman (D) - D24 -&nbsp;<span class="c3">Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest Estates, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, and parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica and Rego Park&nbsp;- When Lancman attempted to run for Anthony Weiner's old seat in Congress last year,<a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/">WNYC reported</a>&nbsp;that he had made some enemies and that one source had even called him the "most hated member of the state Assembly." Lancman, a lawyer who served Assembly District 25 for six years, has also passed a significant volume of legislation, including the<a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/">Libel Terrorism Protection Act</a>, which aims to protect journalists writing about terrorism abroad from being hit with defamation lawsuits, and a host of bills related to equality and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262">safety in the workplace</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Daneek Miller (D) - D27 - St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Baisley Park, Addisleigh Park, and parts of Queens Village, Rosedale, and Springfield Gardens - In December, Miller<a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor">received a "Champion of Labor" Award</a>, along with Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James. In Southeast Queens, where subway service is spotty, Miller has championed bus drivers and riders as president of the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transportation Union. He also co-founded a mentor program called Brothers Unlimited.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Bronx</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Andrew Cohen (D) - D11 - Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, Norwood, and parts of Bedford Park, Wakefield, and Bronx Park East - Cohen, a Riverdale attorney, has had a long career in law, including several years as a court attorney to a Bronx Supreme Court Justice, legal counsel to State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, and a stint as an assistant adjunct at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has called for raising the minimum wage and has gained the support of the United Federation of Teachers.</span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ritchie Torres (D) - D15 - Bathgate, Belmont, Crotona, Fordham, East Tremont, Van Nest and West Farms - Torres, only 24, is one of many young Latino Democrats making their way into city politics.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has worked with Councilman James Vacca since his 2005 campaign and was named his housing director in 2011. Torres, who grew up in NYCHA housing, has worked to create tenants' associations and to advocate for basic rights of NYCHA residents in the Bronx, like building improvements and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981">heating</a>.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Vanessa Gibson (D) - D16 - West Bronx, Morrisania, Highbridge, and Melrose - A Bronx transplant from Brooklyn, Gibson was elected to State Assembly District 77 in 2009, where she has focused on housing and social services.<span class="c3">&nbsp;She began her political career as the Bronx district office manager for Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Staten Island</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Steven Matteo (R) - D50 - in Brooklyn, parts of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach; in Staten Island, Arrochar, Bulls Head, Concord, Dongan Hill, Emerson Hill, Fort Wadsworth, Grant City, Graniteville, Grasmere, Island of Meadows, Midland Beach, New Dorp, Prall's Island, Richmondtown, South Beach, Todt Hill, Travis, Westerleigh, Willowbrook - Sandy relief is still the number one priority in Staten Island, but Matteo has identified other issues affecting residents, including rampant<a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/">prescription drug use</a>. Matteo also said he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx">hopes to work with the mayor</a>&nbsp; "to wrestle toll setting authority” from the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority. </span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><em>This is an updated version which corrects the number of incoming City Council members to 21 and adds information on Councilman Antonio Reynoso. </em><br /></span></span></span></p>