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/joe-borelli 2018-04-26T05:36:39+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com In Run for Governor, Marc Molinaro Will Make a Character Argument 2018-03-30T04:00:00+00:00 2018-03-30T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7581:in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/molinaro_w_dollar_unfundated_mandates.jpg" alt="molinaro w dollar unfundated mandates" width="600" height="490" /></p> <p>Marc Molinaro (photo: @MarcMolinaro)</p> <hr /> <p>Marc Molinaro wants you to believe in government again. In order to do so, he will argue, you must elect him to be the next governor of New York, eschewing the cutthroat, divisive, corrupt politics of Andrew Cuomo and opting for unity, dignity, and bipartisan problem-solving.</p> <p>The 42-year-old Republican is in his second term as Dutchess County Executive; on Monday he will officially launch his gubernatorial campaign from the town of Tivoli, where he grew up and was elected mayor at 18, in 1994. In part, he is going to run for governor on the concept that Andrew Cuomo is a bad guy and that he, Marc Molinaro, is a good guy -- a man with good values, good character, and the right approach to government. Many will vouch for him; and loud will be the chorus decrying Cuomo, who, despite not being particularly well-liked by people in politics, has many of his own advantages as he seeks a third term.</p> <p>While Molinaro has been a declared gubernatorial candidate for weeks now -- appearing at candidate forums, racking up endorsements from party leaders across the state, and emerging as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination -- Monday will mark a new beginning, setting off a seven-month push to become the first Republican elected statewide since Gov. George Pataki won a third term in 2002.</p> <p>“We’ve elected state leaders who don’t understand how government is supposed to function,” Molinaro said in an interview earlier this year, “who don’t think they are truly responsible and accountable and ought to be accessible to the voters. And I have done all of that.” In order to inspire more confidence in government, Molinaro will argue, leadership must be more worthy of respect, more attentive, and more competent.</p> <p>“[W]hen you look to Albany and Washington, you realize all of a sudden that they have one thing in common: they’re divided,” Molinaro says in <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/978654485730996224" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the campaign video</a> he released last week. “[T[he politics of today seems to be focused on tearing others down instead of lifting up the people we serve. We seek to bring people together, to work together, to overcome our challenges, and I know that the people working together can solve any problem, confront any challenge, and overcome any obstacle."</p> <p>Though there will be plenty of lofty rhetoric, Molinaro will not be running a purely positive campaign, as he has already fired off acerbic attacks on Cuomo, the Democratic incumbent who must survive his own primary challenge before worrying about the Republican nominee. Molinaro is the heavy favorite to leave his party’s May convention as the nominee -- Republicans are aiming to avoid a contentious primary, while Cuomo is likely to have to battle actor and activist Cynthia Nixon through the September 13 Democratic vote in what is shaping up to be a scorched-earth contest.</p> <p>Part of the reason Molinaro is favored by many of his partymates is that he is something of an Albany outsider -- though he did spend five years in the state Assembly minority -- who is able to run on executive and legislative experience and a believable platform of changing the way business is done in a state capital known for secretive negotiations, pay-to-play politics, and other legal and illegal ethical breaches. Molinaro’s main competition for the nomination is state Senator John DeFrancisco, the deputy majority leader who has been in the Senate since 1992.</p> <p>Molinaro is folksy but assertive. He is self-deprecating -- “my mom still thinks I should get a real job” -- with a honed sense of himself and ready ability to talk about what he sees as the strengths of his record, having spent virtually his entire adult life in elected office. He talks about his family a lot - he has three young children, including one with special needs, which has helped inform one of his focus areas as county executive. He talks about growing up with a single mother, eating free lunch at school -- “we struggled quite a bit” -- and is quick to show empathy. He is a people-person; Andrew Cuomo is not.</p> <p>“I wasn’t born into politics,” Molinaro said in the interview, “nobody anointed me anything.”</p> <p>There are a variety of clear reasons why Molinaro was recruited to run, even after he said in early January that he had decided against it, leading him to change his mind and answer the call from fellow Republicans. But, he’ll face some daunting challenges if he does indeed win his party nomination and face the incumbent in the general election: raising money, especially enough to compete with Cuomo, who has shown tremendous skill at exploiting New York’s porous campaign finance rules to accumulate a massive $30 million war chest; building name recognition across the state; and appealing to the more conservative Republican base as well as moderates from both major parties and independents.</p> <p>“There are real people in the State of New York of all backgrounds who I think do want a competent, capable, caring leader, and who are willing to cross party lines to be supportive,” Molinaro said.</p> <p>Alongside character, he’ll have to compete with Cuomo’s record, which boasts a number of high-profile accomplishments, and the support for the incumbent from the Democratic establishment, including many labor unions, and, perhaps, an activist base that decides Cuomo is preferable to anyone with an “R” next to their name, especially in the Donald Trump era.</p> <p>New York is a blue state, with a significant Democratic enrollment advantage, and November is expected to usher in the full impact of a blue wave building across the country, including in New York. But, there are many parts of the state that lean Republican and some signs of Cuomo fatigue. Seeking a third term in 2018 may be like seeking a fourth term in earlier eras that didn’t have today’s news cycles and social media. Mario Cuomo, Andrew’s father, lost his attempt at a fourth term to Pataki in 1994.</p> <p>Andrew Cuomo is likely to be damaged by what is already a bruising primary challenge from Nixon, who, if she doesn’t win, is cutting powerful ads for use against the incumbent in the general. While Nixon is challenging Cuomo from the left flank, her criticisms of him as “corrupt Cuomo,” “Andrew the bully,” a poor steward of the MTA, and more, are all ones that will be tenets of any Republican campaign against the governor.</p> <p>Though polls and campaign accounts show Cuomo in good position as the campaign season gets moving, and he is a famously crafty political operative, the amount of apparent vitriol from the governor’s left and right should not be underestimated. Nixon launched her campaign less than two weeks ago, many prominent Democrats have sidestepped questions about endorsing the party’s most powerful New York player, and anti-Trump and anti-Senate Independent Democratic Conference fervor may take major bites out of Cuomo’s margins in the primary.</p> <p>As the calendar turns to April and Nixon throws haymakers, enter Molinaro.</p> <p>The county executive will talk “purpose” and “service” a lot, he’ll talk about civic responsibility, shared values across political lines, family, and opportunity. He will continue to criticize Cuomo on ethical, management, and leadership lines. He will point to the struggling economies of upstate towns, the floundering New York City subway system, the high property taxes and unfunded mandates on localities, the corruption trials of top Cuomo aides, the secretive Albany budget negotiations, and the vengeful nature of an incumbent with few friends but many allies.</p> <p>That will take him only so far.</p> <p>Molinaro will need a clear platform, and his positions on a variety of issues will be vetted carefully. He’ll need to secure votes across upstate New York and break through in the suburban counties surrounding New York City, including the areas around his own home in Dutchess and onto Long Island. He’ll have to make himself exempt from the apparent suburban revolt against Trump’s Republican Party.</p> <p>Votes from the five boroughs would also be helpful, if not essential -- can he secure the Giuliani and Bloomberg Democrats and independents and hit the “magic 30 percent” that <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7543-molinaro-emerges-on-top-after-manhattan-gop-gubernatorial-candidate-forum" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Republicans believe</a> they need in the city to win statewide?</p> <p>How will Molinaro tailor his campaign in the different regions of the state? How will he talk about Trump? Who will be his lieutenant governor candidate running mate?</p> <p>As he seeks to mostly take the high road, Molinaro has been critical of the tone and tenor of the 2016 presidential campaign, and said at a recent candidate forum in Manhattan that he will support Trump when he works to help the middle class, but speak up when he disagrees with the president. “You’ll always hear me say it the way I see it, just like I think many people admire the way he says it the way he sees it,” <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7543-molinaro-emerges-on-top-after-manhattan-gop-gubernatorial-candidate-forum" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Molinaro said</a>.</p> <p>Molinaro has said he did not vote for Trump in 2016, instead writing in former Congressional Rep. Chris Gibson, who at one time was many New York Republicans’ hope to challenge Cuomo this year. Gibson decided against running. Molinaro’s opposition to Trump has not stopped many Republican leaders from supporting him.</p> <p>While some Republicans throughout the state will want to hear Molinaro back Trump’s presidency, Democrats will surely use the president against whoever the GOP nominee is, especially in the state’s large cities and suburbs around New York City.</p> <p>When asked by Gotham Gazette if he calls himself a moderate, Molinaro said no.</p> <p>“I have some strongly held beliefs,” he said. “I have had to vote on them from time to time. You could consider me a communitarian. I know it’s not a real term, but it was one. Everyone who has a stake in the game, everyone who has something to win or lose deserves a seat at the table and the leader needs to set the tone. In this case, a governor, a mayor, or a county executive sets the tone that gets people who may be on opposite sides of the issue to find some commonality so that we solve the problem, confront the challenge, and provide the outcome.”</p> <p>“We have to come to conclusions that don't divide people,” he added. “This governor is often too happy to divide people. If you're too far right, you don't deserve to live in the state of New York. If you’re too far left well then, he suggests, I don’t have to listen to you. The truth of the matter is, everybody who calls the state home has to know that their leader is listening to them.”</p> <p>Molinaro said he has friends and colleagues who will vouch for him who are Democrats and Republicans. In Dutchess, he said with a laugh, “most of the Democratic leaders hate that they like me.” He said that he would work better with Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio than Cuomo has.</p> <p>Molinaro is a fiscal conservative, promising job growth based on smart development, lower taxes, fewer regulations, and tighter government spending. “Driving down the costs of doing business and the cost of living is, I think, paramount,” he said.</p> <p>He will have his record to run on. “Under Marc's leadership, [Dutchess] County saw a transformation into a community where businesses and families thrive,” said New York City Council Member Joe Borelli, a former Assembly colleague of Molinaro’s who lived in Dutchess for several years and knows Molinaro well. “He is a pragmatic executive, willing to work with all sides, and has a reputation as a problem-solver. Most importantly, he has good character and a strong moral compass that guides his decisions.”</p> <p>In the interview with Gotham Gazette, Molinaro expressed concerns about the minimum wage hike that Cuomo orchestrated in 2016, which will see the wage hit $15 in many parts of the state over the course of several years. He said that especially outside of New York City, “I don't necessarily think it was a smart move and certainly hasn’t produced, I think, the outcomes outside of the city. I didn’t support it at the time. I’m all for indexing a minimum wage to growth, but I think that frankly it was a decision defined by political expediency. It is not necessarily defined by molding consensus and trying to come up with a policy that was in the best interest of taxpayers and employers and of people struggling to find any job.”</p> <p>Molinaro believes in targeted support for industries or sectors to help encourage growth, saying that power has become too concentrated in Albany and he wants to return much of it to counties, cities, and towns. Molinaro noted his endorsement from The Sierra Club, saying he was one of the “few Republicans in the state Assembly” to earn the environmental group’s backing. He stressed that he’s not easily labeled.</p> <p>He promises to make education a priority if elected governor. “I think a wholesale look and review as to how we fund education and how we distribute funding,” he said, adding, “it’s important that we look at the delivery of special education in the state.”</p> <p>Molinaro may face challenges establishing broad-based appeal on social issues. He appears poised to run with a moderate, inclusive message on immigration, but on gun regulations, LGBT rights, and women’s reproductive freedoms he may struggle to find the constituency needed to win in New York, especially given the attacks that Cuomo would level against him on those issues.</p> <p>“When I was in the Assembly I did vote against same-sex marriage,” he said of the 2011 vote that moved through what is perhaps Cuomo’s signature policy achievement of his tenure. “I think that we’ve moved along. Everyone now enjoys and has the right to enjoy marriage. To celebrate whoever, with whomever they love. I accept that and as an elected official it’s my job to uphold the laws of the state of New York. I don’t have any reservations about the vote. I also accept that time has passed. As a society we’ve moved forward.”</p> <p>On abortion rights Molinaro said somewhat similarly. He believes in “preserving life,” he said, “but I accept that there are certain situations where individuals need to be able to make that decision, but I also accept that this is settled law in the state.”</p> <p>“I’d like us to work as a society, as a community, to reduce the numbers and times that abortion is chosen,” he added. “It’s not something that I could support personally, and I don’t, but I acknowledge that as a society we need to do our very best to help people make as many responsible decisions as possible and there are certain situations, obviously, where women are put into a position having to make that decision. As a government we need to be sure that individuals have access to affordable healthcare to ensure that they’re as safe and healthy as possible.”</p> <p>On gun regulations, Molinaro echoed what many Republicans across New York believe: “Frankly, I do have concerns with how aggressive this governor has been. I think in some ways irresponsibly ignoring those that do support, as I do, the Second Amendment and forcing legislation without having the kind of local robust conversation necessary. I believe the constitution is as it’s written.” Molinaro is <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/721503512643899392" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a regular</a> at Friends of NRA events, something Cuomo -- who pushed through the SAFE Act gun regulations in early 2013 -- would likely seek to use against him.</p> <p>Molinaro has been a steady critic of Cuomo’s ethics, and been among many asking questions about a pay-to-play culture where campaign donors appear to be favored and massive amounts of cash flow into the governor’s coffers from entities that have or hope to win state business. These issues were brought into sharp relief during the recent corruption trial of Cuomo’s top former aide, Joseph Percoco, and others. They will again be on display during <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">another trial</a> set to begin in June that features Cuomo allies, projects, and donors.</p> <p>The county executive said he’d “like to engage in a comprehensive reform of campaign finance.” He said he’s in favor of closing the LLC loophole, but only in combination with other reforms.</p> <p>Calling for “wholesale review and reform of campaign finance in the state” that is informed by many perspectives, he said, “I’m one of the people that only thinks people should be able to contribute money.”</p> <p>“[T]hose are individual rights, those rights extend to individuals,” he said, raising questions about donations from businesses and labor. “[U]nions have a great deal of influence, corporations have a great deal of influence; the state contribution limits are astronomically out of line to other states, independent expenditure opportunities are pretty broad in the state. There are a lot of those reforms that I think should go hand-in-hand,” he said.</p> <p>The endorsements of Molinaro that have steadily flowed in over the past few weeks speak to faith in him as a leader and as a person.</p> <p>J.C. Polanco, a Bronxite who works for the Assembly minority and has known Molinaro for over a decade, believes he is the type of candidate Republicans need to run more in New York. “His youth and moderate positions on immigration, criminal justice, taxes and widening the tent of our party is one of the main reasons I'm excited to support my friend Marc,” said Polanco, who unsuccessfully ran for New York City Public Advocate last year. “At a time when many moderate Republicans like me feel unwelcomed he's one of the few guys that has made it a point to include me and others like me into the conversation.”</p> <p>Many of those offering their backing cite different reasons, namely reigning in state spending, improving the economy, lowering taxes, and leading a more ethical government.</p> <p>In his endorsement of Molinaro, Suffolk County Republican Committee Chair John J. LaValle called him “a proven leader” who “has both the executive and legislative experience, together with the energy and enthusiasm to lead our ticket to victory this November.”</p> <p>LaValle said that New Yorkers “are desperate for a Governor that is truly committed to cleaning up our government and fighting for our overburdened taxpayers. It's time to replace the Governor who has led New York to the bottom of virtually every economic category, while focusing on self-promotion.”</p> <p>As he formally launches his campaign, Molinaro will have to start proving that he can raise the money to compete, and that he has a sense of the path to victory. Much will depend on who emerges from the Democratic primary, but Cuomo is the obvious favorite at this point, no matter the state of the New York City subways, the recent corruption conviction of his former top aide, or <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the upcoming trial</a> of his former economic development czar.</p> <p>Molinaro’s campaign believes that the stage is set for a competitive race, though, in large part because of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">those corruption trials</a>, which have helped sink Cuomo’s standing in and around Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester, and the primary challenge from Nixon, which could damage Cuomo badly downstate.</p> <p>“I’ve thought about what a roadmap looks like and how one as a Republican in this state can win,” Molinaro said. “We know it takes a lot of messaging and action in New York City to allay fear.” To find a Republican governor acceptable, he said, would mean building trust in and around the five boroughs, but that he would be aided by the fact that Cuomo has “eroded” a significant portion of the progressive base of the party.</p> <p>“And frankly upstate it’s community by community,” Molinaro said. “It just is. You have to be willing to commit every day until Election Day to go to, to get to the VFWs and fire houses and the community organizations, and as many voters as possible and make that connection.”</p> <p>“I'm not naive, I've worked on campaigns, I've run for office, it’s a lot of work,” he said. “[O]utside of the city it’s district by district. It’s neighborhood by neighborhood. Building the network to send your message over and over again so that we not only, not only earn the support but get the turnout.”</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/molinaro_w_dollar_unfundated_mandates.jpg" alt="molinaro w dollar unfundated mandates" width="600" height="490" /></p> <p>Marc Molinaro (photo: @MarcMolinaro)</p> <hr /> <p>Marc Molinaro wants you to believe in government again. In order to do so, he will argue, you must elect him to be the next governor of New York, eschewing the cutthroat, divisive, corrupt politics of Andrew Cuomo and opting for unity, dignity, and bipartisan problem-solving.</p> <p>The 42-year-old Republican is in his second term as Dutchess County Executive; on Monday he will officially launch his gubernatorial campaign from the town of Tivoli, where he grew up and was elected mayor at 18, in 1994. In part, he is going to run for governor on the concept that Andrew Cuomo is a bad guy and that he, Marc Molinaro, is a good guy -- a man with good values, good character, and the right approach to government. Many will vouch for him; and loud will be the chorus decrying Cuomo, who, despite not being particularly well-liked by people in politics, has many of his own advantages as he seeks a third term.</p> <p>While Molinaro has been a declared gubernatorial candidate for weeks now -- appearing at candidate forums, racking up endorsements from party leaders across the state, and emerging as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination -- Monday will mark a new beginning, setting off a seven-month push to become the first Republican elected statewide since Gov. George Pataki won a third term in 2002.</p> <p>“We’ve elected state leaders who don’t understand how government is supposed to function,” Molinaro said in an interview earlier this year, “who don’t think they are truly responsible and accountable and ought to be accessible to the voters. And I have done all of that.” In order to inspire more confidence in government, Molinaro will argue, leadership must be more worthy of respect, more attentive, and more competent.</p> <p>“[W]hen you look to Albany and Washington, you realize all of a sudden that they have one thing in common: they’re divided,” Molinaro says in <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/978654485730996224" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the campaign video</a> he released last week. “[T[he politics of today seems to be focused on tearing others down instead of lifting up the people we serve. We seek to bring people together, to work together, to overcome our challenges, and I know that the people working together can solve any problem, confront any challenge, and overcome any obstacle."</p> <p>Though there will be plenty of lofty rhetoric, Molinaro will not be running a purely positive campaign, as he has already fired off acerbic attacks on Cuomo, the Democratic incumbent who must survive his own primary challenge before worrying about the Republican nominee. Molinaro is the heavy favorite to leave his party’s May convention as the nominee -- Republicans are aiming to avoid a contentious primary, while Cuomo is likely to have to battle actor and activist Cynthia Nixon through the September 13 Democratic vote in what is shaping up to be a scorched-earth contest.</p> <p>Part of the reason Molinaro is favored by many of his partymates is that he is something of an Albany outsider -- though he did spend five years in the state Assembly minority -- who is able to run on executive and legislative experience and a believable platform of changing the way business is done in a state capital known for secretive negotiations, pay-to-play politics, and other legal and illegal ethical breaches. Molinaro’s main competition for the nomination is state Senator John DeFrancisco, the deputy majority leader who has been in the Senate since 1992.</p> <p>Molinaro is folksy but assertive. He is self-deprecating -- “my mom still thinks I should get a real job” -- with a honed sense of himself and ready ability to talk about what he sees as the strengths of his record, having spent virtually his entire adult life in elected office. He talks about his family a lot - he has three young children, including one with special needs, which has helped inform one of his focus areas as county executive. He talks about growing up with a single mother, eating free lunch at school -- “we struggled quite a bit” -- and is quick to show empathy. He is a people-person; Andrew Cuomo is not.</p> <p>“I wasn’t born into politics,” Molinaro said in the interview, “nobody anointed me anything.”</p> <p>There are a variety of clear reasons why Molinaro was recruited to run, even after he said in early January that he had decided against it, leading him to change his mind and answer the call from fellow Republicans. But, he’ll face some daunting challenges if he does indeed win his party nomination and face the incumbent in the general election: raising money, especially enough to compete with Cuomo, who has shown tremendous skill at exploiting New York’s porous campaign finance rules to accumulate a massive $30 million war chest; building name recognition across the state; and appealing to the more conservative Republican base as well as moderates from both major parties and independents.</p> <p>“There are real people in the State of New York of all backgrounds who I think do want a competent, capable, caring leader, and who are willing to cross party lines to be supportive,” Molinaro said.</p> <p>Alongside character, he’ll have to compete with Cuomo’s record, which boasts a number of high-profile accomplishments, and the support for the incumbent from the Democratic establishment, including many labor unions, and, perhaps, an activist base that decides Cuomo is preferable to anyone with an “R” next to their name, especially in the Donald Trump era.</p> <p>New York is a blue state, with a significant Democratic enrollment advantage, and November is expected to usher in the full impact of a blue wave building across the country, including in New York. But, there are many parts of the state that lean Republican and some signs of Cuomo fatigue. Seeking a third term in 2018 may be like seeking a fourth term in earlier eras that didn’t have today’s news cycles and social media. Mario Cuomo, Andrew’s father, lost his attempt at a fourth term to Pataki in 1994.</p> <p>Andrew Cuomo is likely to be damaged by what is already a bruising primary challenge from Nixon, who, if she doesn’t win, is cutting powerful ads for use against the incumbent in the general. While Nixon is challenging Cuomo from the left flank, her criticisms of him as “corrupt Cuomo,” “Andrew the bully,” a poor steward of the MTA, and more, are all ones that will be tenets of any Republican campaign against the governor.</p> <p>Though polls and campaign accounts show Cuomo in good position as the campaign season gets moving, and he is a famously crafty political operative, the amount of apparent vitriol from the governor’s left and right should not be underestimated. Nixon launched her campaign less than two weeks ago, many prominent Democrats have sidestepped questions about endorsing the party’s most powerful New York player, and anti-Trump and anti-Senate Independent Democratic Conference fervor may take major bites out of Cuomo’s margins in the primary.</p> <p>As the calendar turns to April and Nixon throws haymakers, enter Molinaro.</p> <p>The county executive will talk “purpose” and “service” a lot, he’ll talk about civic responsibility, shared values across political lines, family, and opportunity. He will continue to criticize Cuomo on ethical, management, and leadership lines. He will point to the struggling economies of upstate towns, the floundering New York City subway system, the high property taxes and unfunded mandates on localities, the corruption trials of top Cuomo aides, the secretive Albany budget negotiations, and the vengeful nature of an incumbent with few friends but many allies.</p> <p>That will take him only so far.</p> <p>Molinaro will need a clear platform, and his positions on a variety of issues will be vetted carefully. He’ll need to secure votes across upstate New York and break through in the suburban counties surrounding New York City, including the areas around his own home in Dutchess and onto Long Island. He’ll have to make himself exempt from the apparent suburban revolt against Trump’s Republican Party.</p> <p>Votes from the five boroughs would also be helpful, if not essential -- can he secure the Giuliani and Bloomberg Democrats and independents and hit the “magic 30 percent” that <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7543-molinaro-emerges-on-top-after-manhattan-gop-gubernatorial-candidate-forum" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Republicans believe</a> they need in the city to win statewide?</p> <p>How will Molinaro tailor his campaign in the different regions of the state? How will he talk about Trump? Who will be his lieutenant governor candidate running mate?</p> <p>As he seeks to mostly take the high road, Molinaro has been critical of the tone and tenor of the 2016 presidential campaign, and said at a recent candidate forum in Manhattan that he will support Trump when he works to help the middle class, but speak up when he disagrees with the president. “You’ll always hear me say it the way I see it, just like I think many people admire the way he says it the way he sees it,” <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7543-molinaro-emerges-on-top-after-manhattan-gop-gubernatorial-candidate-forum" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Molinaro said</a>.</p> <p>Molinaro has said he did not vote for Trump in 2016, instead writing in former Congressional Rep. Chris Gibson, who at one time was many New York Republicans’ hope to challenge Cuomo this year. Gibson decided against running. Molinaro’s opposition to Trump has not stopped many Republican leaders from supporting him.</p> <p>While some Republicans throughout the state will want to hear Molinaro back Trump’s presidency, Democrats will surely use the president against whoever the GOP nominee is, especially in the state’s large cities and suburbs around New York City.</p> <p>When asked by Gotham Gazette if he calls himself a moderate, Molinaro said no.</p> <p>“I have some strongly held beliefs,” he said. “I have had to vote on them from time to time. You could consider me a communitarian. I know it’s not a real term, but it was one. Everyone who has a stake in the game, everyone who has something to win or lose deserves a seat at the table and the leader needs to set the tone. In this case, a governor, a mayor, or a county executive sets the tone that gets people who may be on opposite sides of the issue to find some commonality so that we solve the problem, confront the challenge, and provide the outcome.”</p> <p>“We have to come to conclusions that don't divide people,” he added. “This governor is often too happy to divide people. If you're too far right, you don't deserve to live in the state of New York. If you’re too far left well then, he suggests, I don’t have to listen to you. The truth of the matter is, everybody who calls the state home has to know that their leader is listening to them.”</p> <p>Molinaro said he has friends and colleagues who will vouch for him who are Democrats and Republicans. In Dutchess, he said with a laugh, “most of the Democratic leaders hate that they like me.” He said that he would work better with Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio than Cuomo has.</p> <p>Molinaro is a fiscal conservative, promising job growth based on smart development, lower taxes, fewer regulations, and tighter government spending. “Driving down the costs of doing business and the cost of living is, I think, paramount,” he said.</p> <p>He will have his record to run on. “Under Marc's leadership, [Dutchess] County saw a transformation into a community where businesses and families thrive,” said New York City Council Member Joe Borelli, a former Assembly colleague of Molinaro’s who lived in Dutchess for several years and knows Molinaro well. “He is a pragmatic executive, willing to work with all sides, and has a reputation as a problem-solver. Most importantly, he has good character and a strong moral compass that guides his decisions.”</p> <p>In the interview with Gotham Gazette, Molinaro expressed concerns about the minimum wage hike that Cuomo orchestrated in 2016, which will see the wage hit $15 in many parts of the state over the course of several years. He said that especially outside of New York City, “I don't necessarily think it was a smart move and certainly hasn’t produced, I think, the outcomes outside of the city. I didn’t support it at the time. I’m all for indexing a minimum wage to growth, but I think that frankly it was a decision defined by political expediency. It is not necessarily defined by molding consensus and trying to come up with a policy that was in the best interest of taxpayers and employers and of people struggling to find any job.”</p> <p>Molinaro believes in targeted support for industries or sectors to help encourage growth, saying that power has become too concentrated in Albany and he wants to return much of it to counties, cities, and towns. Molinaro noted his endorsement from The Sierra Club, saying he was one of the “few Republicans in the state Assembly” to earn the environmental group’s backing. He stressed that he’s not easily labeled.</p> <p>He promises to make education a priority if elected governor. “I think a wholesale look and review as to how we fund education and how we distribute funding,” he said, adding, “it’s important that we look at the delivery of special education in the state.”</p> <p>Molinaro may face challenges establishing broad-based appeal on social issues. He appears poised to run with a moderate, inclusive message on immigration, but on gun regulations, LGBT rights, and women’s reproductive freedoms he may struggle to find the constituency needed to win in New York, especially given the attacks that Cuomo would level against him on those issues.</p> <p>“When I was in the Assembly I did vote against same-sex marriage,” he said of the 2011 vote that moved through what is perhaps Cuomo’s signature policy achievement of his tenure. “I think that we’ve moved along. Everyone now enjoys and has the right to enjoy marriage. To celebrate whoever, with whomever they love. I accept that and as an elected official it’s my job to uphold the laws of the state of New York. I don’t have any reservations about the vote. I also accept that time has passed. As a society we’ve moved forward.”</p> <p>On abortion rights Molinaro said somewhat similarly. He believes in “preserving life,” he said, “but I accept that there are certain situations where individuals need to be able to make that decision, but I also accept that this is settled law in the state.”</p> <p>“I’d like us to work as a society, as a community, to reduce the numbers and times that abortion is chosen,” he added. “It’s not something that I could support personally, and I don’t, but I acknowledge that as a society we need to do our very best to help people make as many responsible decisions as possible and there are certain situations, obviously, where women are put into a position having to make that decision. As a government we need to be sure that individuals have access to affordable healthcare to ensure that they’re as safe and healthy as possible.”</p> <p>On gun regulations, Molinaro echoed what many Republicans across New York believe: “Frankly, I do have concerns with how aggressive this governor has been. I think in some ways irresponsibly ignoring those that do support, as I do, the Second Amendment and forcing legislation without having the kind of local robust conversation necessary. I believe the constitution is as it’s written.” Molinaro is <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/721503512643899392" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a regular</a> at Friends of NRA events, something Cuomo -- who pushed through the SAFE Act gun regulations in early 2013 -- would likely seek to use against him.</p> <p>Molinaro has been a steady critic of Cuomo’s ethics, and been among many asking questions about a pay-to-play culture where campaign donors appear to be favored and massive amounts of cash flow into the governor’s coffers from entities that have or hope to win state business. These issues were brought into sharp relief during the recent corruption trial of Cuomo’s top former aide, Joseph Percoco, and others. They will again be on display during <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">another trial</a> set to begin in June that features Cuomo allies, projects, and donors.</p> <p>The county executive said he’d “like to engage in a comprehensive reform of campaign finance.” He said he’s in favor of closing the LLC loophole, but only in combination with other reforms.</p> <p>Calling for “wholesale review and reform of campaign finance in the state” that is informed by many perspectives, he said, “I’m one of the people that only thinks people should be able to contribute money.”</p> <p>“[T]hose are individual rights, those rights extend to individuals,” he said, raising questions about donations from businesses and labor. “[U]nions have a great deal of influence, corporations have a great deal of influence; the state contribution limits are astronomically out of line to other states, independent expenditure opportunities are pretty broad in the state. There are a lot of those reforms that I think should go hand-in-hand,” he said.</p> <p>The endorsements of Molinaro that have steadily flowed in over the past few weeks speak to faith in him as a leader and as a person.</p> <p>J.C. Polanco, a Bronxite who works for the Assembly minority and has known Molinaro for over a decade, believes he is the type of candidate Republicans need to run more in New York. “His youth and moderate positions on immigration, criminal justice, taxes and widening the tent of our party is one of the main reasons I'm excited to support my friend Marc,” said Polanco, who unsuccessfully ran for New York City Public Advocate last year. “At a time when many moderate Republicans like me feel unwelcomed he's one of the few guys that has made it a point to include me and others like me into the conversation.”</p> <p>Many of those offering their backing cite different reasons, namely reigning in state spending, improving the economy, lowering taxes, and leading a more ethical government.</p> <p>In his endorsement of Molinaro, Suffolk County Republican Committee Chair John J. LaValle called him “a proven leader” who “has both the executive and legislative experience, together with the energy and enthusiasm to lead our ticket to victory this November.”</p> <p>LaValle said that New Yorkers “are desperate for a Governor that is truly committed to cleaning up our government and fighting for our overburdened taxpayers. It's time to replace the Governor who has led New York to the bottom of virtually every economic category, while focusing on self-promotion.”</p> <p>As he formally launches his campaign, Molinaro will have to start proving that he can raise the money to compete, and that he has a sense of the path to victory. Much will depend on who emerges from the Democratic primary, but Cuomo is the obvious favorite at this point, no matter the state of the New York City subways, the recent corruption conviction of his former top aide, or <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the upcoming trial</a> of his former economic development czar.</p> <p>Molinaro’s campaign believes that the stage is set for a competitive race, though, in large part because of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">those corruption trials</a>, which have helped sink Cuomo’s standing in and around Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester, and the primary challenge from Nixon, which could damage Cuomo badly downstate.</p> <p>“I’ve thought about what a roadmap looks like and how one as a Republican in this state can win,” Molinaro said. “We know it takes a lot of messaging and action in New York City to allay fear.” To find a Republican governor acceptable, he said, would mean building trust in and around the five boroughs, but that he would be aided by the fact that Cuomo has “eroded” a significant portion of the progressive base of the party.</p> <p>“And frankly upstate it’s community by community,” Molinaro said. “It just is. You have to be willing to commit every day until Election Day to go to, to get to the VFWs and fire houses and the community organizations, and as many voters as possible and make that connection.”</p> <p>“I'm not naive, I've worked on campaigns, I've run for office, it’s a lot of work,” he said. “[O]utside of the city it’s district by district. It’s neighborhood by neighborhood. Building the network to send your message over and over again so that we not only, not only earn the support but get the turnout.”</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
City Landmarks Brooklyn Home Against Owner’s Wishes 2018-03-01T05:00:00+00:00 2018-03-01T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7503:city-landmarks-brooklyn-home-against-owner-s-wishes Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/peter-rosa-huberty-google-earth.jpg" alt="peter rosa huberty google earth" width="600" height="383" /></p> <p>1019 Bushwick Avenue (via Google Maps)</p> <hr /> <p>In October, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Peter P. and Rosa M. Huberty House, at 1019 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, as a city landmark.</p> <p>“The designation of the Huberty House honors both the historic character of Bushwick Avenue as it developed in the early 20th century, as well as the contributions of architect Ulrich Huberty to the borough of Brooklyn," LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said at the time. “Today's landmark designation will preserve this splendid Colonial Revival for future generations of New Yorkers to enjoy."</p> <p>A little more than three months later, on February 6, the item passed the City Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses. It then passed the Council’s Land Use Committee on February 8, and finally the full City Council on February 15. The landmarking has the support of the LPC, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who represents the district the house sits in, Reynoso’s predecessor, Diana Reyna, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the Historic Districts Council, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy, to name a few.</p> <p>The problem: the owner of the house, Virginia Giovinco, is staunchly against it.</p> <p>Giovinco testified at a January 23 meeting of the Council’s Landmarks Subcommittee, when the landmarking of the house was being considered.</p> <p>“It’s a terrible burden on me,” she told the subcommittee. “I just cannot live with that idea. So I strongly oppose this designation for that moment that I don’t have control over my house.”</p> <p>The home has been in Giovinco’s family since 1937, when it was purchased by her grandfather, Luciano Giovinco, a tailor who had immigrated from Italy at the beginning of the 1900s. The house, a 4,000 square foot colonial revival mansion, was originally built in 1900 by the architect Ulrich Huberty for his parents, Peter and Rosa. Huberty also designed buildings such as the landmarked Williamsburgh Savings Bank, Hotel Bossert, and the Prospect Park Boathouse.</p> <p>Giovinco, now in her eighties, claimed at the hearing that the city has been attempting to landmark the house for at least 15 years. Her main worry appeared to be losing the autonomy of regular homeownership. She testified that, over the course of the Giovinco family’s 81-year ownership of the house, it had been kept in immaculate condition and any improvements had not deviated from the original colonial style of the home.</p> <p>“The old-timers did not need an outside agency to tell them they should preserve the appearance of this house,” she said. “And I don’t need an outside agency either.”</p> <p>Virginia Giovinco’s cousin Paul Giovinco also testified at the hearing, attesting that the house was not just within Virginia’s immediate family but rather a focal point for the entire extended family. Paul called out the city for not being supportive, saying that they had not received an offer from the city to cover a fixed portion of maintenance costs required by the landmarking.</p> <p>“We’re not gonna go ahead and throw down some tar paper, and some shingles,” Paul said. “We’re gonna maintain it the same way. But I don’t see no compensation or help. So what is the landmark giving us?”</p> <p>In response to testimony from the Giovincos, Council Members Daneek Miller and Mark Treyger discussed the need to strike a balance between the issues of homeowner autonomy and the need to preserve historic structures and communities through the landmarking process. Council Member Peter Koo recommended that the committee lay over the matter until further study.</p> <p>At the February 15 meeting of the full City Council, Miller, Treyger, and Koo all voted to advance the landmarking.</p> <p>Seven Council members voted against the designation: Joe Borelli, Ruben Diaz, Sr., Mark Gjonaj, Bob Holden, Steven Matteo, Eric Ulrich, and Kalman Yeger -- the Council’s three Republicans and several more conservative Democrats. Giovinco’s objections to the landmarking were on their mind.</p> <p>“It is my understanding that the property owner was not in favor of the landmark designation,” Ulrich told Gotham Gazette. “Therefore I voted against it.”</p> <p>Borelli went even further in his objections, suggesting that the landmarking is a violation of the owner’s personal liberties.</p> <p>“No owner is treated fairly if their rights are taken away without compensation,” Borelli said in an email. “There is no other agency in government that has that power, only this commission that decides which buildings are more relevant than others.” Among the rights Borelli cited as being taken away by LPC include “everything from putting a new addition on; to painting it with purple polka dots; [t]o using aluminum siding; [t]o demolishing it, because the cost of maintaining it under LPC guidelines is costly.”</p> <p>Borelli said the Landmarks Preservation Commission should be focusing more on landmarking buildings wherein preservation would be a public benefit, rather than simply picking “the prettiest house on the block.”</p> <p>The Landmarks Preservation Commission describes itself as “the largest municipal preservation agency in the nation;” 36,000 buildings are landmarked properties in New York City. Most of those are located in larger historic districts, but there are 1,405 individually landmarked buildings, along with 120 “interior landmarks” and 10 “scenic landmarks,” which consist of city parks such as Central Park, Prospect Park, and Riverside Park. Its leadership is made up of 11 commissioners appointed by the mayor. When the LPC designates a city landmark, the designation must then be approved by the City Council’s Land Use Committee and then the full council.</p> <p>Virginia Giovinco declined to comment for this story. She has been on record against the landmarking since at least 2013, when she <a href="https://pastdue.nycitynewsservice.com/2016/05/25/bushwicks-treasures-could-be-sitting-ducks/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">testified</a> at an LPC hearing with the same concerns as she has now: that landmarking the house would result in her losing autonomy over her property.</p> <p>For its part, an LPC representative said that the commission has designated approximately 150 free-standing homes as landmarks, with another 2,000 being landmarked as part of a historic district. Zodet Negron, a spokesperson for the LPC, told Gotham Gazette that the LPC has designated eight single-family homes as landmarks in the past four years, receiving the support of six of the owners; in the end, the owner’s approval is not required for designation. Negron stated that the LPC had done “extensive outreach” with Giovinco and that it intended to work with her “to ensure a smooth regulatory process.”</p> <p>“Our intent and approach is always to seek the cooperation of owners and establish a collaborative relationship that continues after designation,” Negron told Gotham Gazette. “Thousands of single-family homes are regulated by the Commission throughout the city, including both individual landmarks and within historic districts, and we work closely with homeowners to appropriately and expediently meet their needs.”</p> <p>According the city’s administrative code, minor work on a landmarked property typically requires a permit from the LPC, unless another city agency deems an improvement necessary for safety. Major work such as demolitions or new construction requires more permissions from LPC, including a “certificate of no effect” on “protected architectural features,” a “certificate of appropriateness,” or are otherwise authorized to proceed with the work. The code also says that owners should keep properties in “good repair” and prevent decay and deterioration. Negron said “routine maintenance” of landmarked properties typically does not require review from LPC.</p> <p>City Council Member Adrienne Adams, the chair of the Landmarks Subcommittee, also told Gotham Gazette that she had met with Giovinco after the hearing.</p> <p>Though Bushwick Avenue is lined with many historic properties, <a href="https://nyclpc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=93a88691cace4067828b1eede432022b" target="_blank" rel="noopener">only one</a> other home on the avenue has been landmarked: the Catherina Lipsius House at 670 Bushwick Ave. Other landmarks on the stretch include a church, a Brooklyn Public Library branch, a Masonic Lodge, and the Williamsburg Houses NYCHA development.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/peter-rosa-huberty-google-earth.jpg" alt="peter rosa huberty google earth" width="600" height="383" /></p> <p>1019 Bushwick Avenue (via Google Maps)</p> <hr /> <p>In October, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Peter P. and Rosa M. Huberty House, at 1019 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, as a city landmark.</p> <p>“The designation of the Huberty House honors both the historic character of Bushwick Avenue as it developed in the early 20th century, as well as the contributions of architect Ulrich Huberty to the borough of Brooklyn," LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said at the time. “Today's landmark designation will preserve this splendid Colonial Revival for future generations of New Yorkers to enjoy."</p> <p>A little more than three months later, on February 6, the item passed the City Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses. It then passed the Council’s Land Use Committee on February 8, and finally the full City Council on February 15. The landmarking has the support of the LPC, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who represents the district the house sits in, Reynoso’s predecessor, Diana Reyna, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the Historic Districts Council, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy, to name a few.</p> <p>The problem: the owner of the house, Virginia Giovinco, is staunchly against it.</p> <p>Giovinco testified at a January 23 meeting of the Council’s Landmarks Subcommittee, when the landmarking of the house was being considered.</p> <p>“It’s a terrible burden on me,” she told the subcommittee. “I just cannot live with that idea. So I strongly oppose this designation for that moment that I don’t have control over my house.”</p> <p>The home has been in Giovinco’s family since 1937, when it was purchased by her grandfather, Luciano Giovinco, a tailor who had immigrated from Italy at the beginning of the 1900s. The house, a 4,000 square foot colonial revival mansion, was originally built in 1900 by the architect Ulrich Huberty for his parents, Peter and Rosa. Huberty also designed buildings such as the landmarked Williamsburgh Savings Bank, Hotel Bossert, and the Prospect Park Boathouse.</p> <p>Giovinco, now in her eighties, claimed at the hearing that the city has been attempting to landmark the house for at least 15 years. Her main worry appeared to be losing the autonomy of regular homeownership. She testified that, over the course of the Giovinco family’s 81-year ownership of the house, it had been kept in immaculate condition and any improvements had not deviated from the original colonial style of the home.</p> <p>“The old-timers did not need an outside agency to tell them they should preserve the appearance of this house,” she said. “And I don’t need an outside agency either.”</p> <p>Virginia Giovinco’s cousin Paul Giovinco also testified at the hearing, attesting that the house was not just within Virginia’s immediate family but rather a focal point for the entire extended family. Paul called out the city for not being supportive, saying that they had not received an offer from the city to cover a fixed portion of maintenance costs required by the landmarking.</p> <p>“We’re not gonna go ahead and throw down some tar paper, and some shingles,” Paul said. “We’re gonna maintain it the same way. But I don’t see no compensation or help. So what is the landmark giving us?”</p> <p>In response to testimony from the Giovincos, Council Members Daneek Miller and Mark Treyger discussed the need to strike a balance between the issues of homeowner autonomy and the need to preserve historic structures and communities through the landmarking process. Council Member Peter Koo recommended that the committee lay over the matter until further study.</p> <p>At the February 15 meeting of the full City Council, Miller, Treyger, and Koo all voted to advance the landmarking.</p> <p>Seven Council members voted against the designation: Joe Borelli, Ruben Diaz, Sr., Mark Gjonaj, Bob Holden, Steven Matteo, Eric Ulrich, and Kalman Yeger -- the Council’s three Republicans and several more conservative Democrats. Giovinco’s objections to the landmarking were on their mind.</p> <p>“It is my understanding that the property owner was not in favor of the landmark designation,” Ulrich told Gotham Gazette. “Therefore I voted against it.”</p> <p>Borelli went even further in his objections, suggesting that the landmarking is a violation of the owner’s personal liberties.</p> <p>“No owner is treated fairly if their rights are taken away without compensation,” Borelli said in an email. “There is no other agency in government that has that power, only this commission that decides which buildings are more relevant than others.” Among the rights Borelli cited as being taken away by LPC include “everything from putting a new addition on; to painting it with purple polka dots; [t]o using aluminum siding; [t]o demolishing it, because the cost of maintaining it under LPC guidelines is costly.”</p> <p>Borelli said the Landmarks Preservation Commission should be focusing more on landmarking buildings wherein preservation would be a public benefit, rather than simply picking “the prettiest house on the block.”</p> <p>The Landmarks Preservation Commission describes itself as “the largest municipal preservation agency in the nation;” 36,000 buildings are landmarked properties in New York City. Most of those are located in larger historic districts, but there are 1,405 individually landmarked buildings, along with 120 “interior landmarks” and 10 “scenic landmarks,” which consist of city parks such as Central Park, Prospect Park, and Riverside Park. Its leadership is made up of 11 commissioners appointed by the mayor. When the LPC designates a city landmark, the designation must then be approved by the City Council’s Land Use Committee and then the full council.</p> <p>Virginia Giovinco declined to comment for this story. She has been on record against the landmarking since at least 2013, when she <a href="https://pastdue.nycitynewsservice.com/2016/05/25/bushwicks-treasures-could-be-sitting-ducks/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">testified</a> at an LPC hearing with the same concerns as she has now: that landmarking the house would result in her losing autonomy over her property.</p> <p>For its part, an LPC representative said that the commission has designated approximately 150 free-standing homes as landmarks, with another 2,000 being landmarked as part of a historic district. Zodet Negron, a spokesperson for the LPC, told Gotham Gazette that the LPC has designated eight single-family homes as landmarks in the past four years, receiving the support of six of the owners; in the end, the owner’s approval is not required for designation. Negron stated that the LPC had done “extensive outreach” with Giovinco and that it intended to work with her “to ensure a smooth regulatory process.”</p> <p>“Our intent and approach is always to seek the cooperation of owners and establish a collaborative relationship that continues after designation,” Negron told Gotham Gazette. “Thousands of single-family homes are regulated by the Commission throughout the city, including both individual landmarks and within historic districts, and we work closely with homeowners to appropriately and expediently meet their needs.”</p> <p>According the city’s administrative code, minor work on a landmarked property typically requires a permit from the LPC, unless another city agency deems an improvement necessary for safety. Major work such as demolitions or new construction requires more permissions from LPC, including a “certificate of no effect” on “protected architectural features,” a “certificate of appropriateness,” or are otherwise authorized to proceed with the work. The code also says that owners should keep properties in “good repair” and prevent decay and deterioration. Negron said “routine maintenance” of landmarked properties typically does not require review from LPC.</p> <p>City Council Member Adrienne Adams, the chair of the Landmarks Subcommittee, also told Gotham Gazette that she had met with Giovinco after the hearing.</p> <p>Though Bushwick Avenue is lined with many historic properties, <a href="https://nyclpc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=93a88691cace4067828b1eede432022b" target="_blank" rel="noopener">only one</a> other home on the avenue has been landmarked: the Catherina Lipsius House at 670 Bushwick Ave. Other landmarks on the stretch include a church, a Brooklyn Public Library branch, a Masonic Lodge, and the Williamsburg Houses NYCHA development.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Mayor-Made Speaker, Sought a Member-Driven Legacy 2017-12-29T05:00:00+00:00 2017-12-29T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7394:melissa-mark-viverito-a-mayor-made-speaker-who-sought-a-member-driven-legacy Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/16265643371_7f1d47f71f_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio Speaker Mark-Viverito" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>Melissa Mark-Viverito, the first Latina to preside over the 51-member New York City Council, leaves office having shepherded a progressive shift in the city’s direction, in conjunction with fellow Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio, a philosophically aligned partner in government who was the deciding factor in her winning the powerful speaker position four years ago.</p> <p>As arguably the second most powerful elected official in the city, Mark-Viverito oversaw an agenda of progressivism that significantly moved the needle for causes of social justice, especially related to immigrants, workers, and the criminal justice system, many of which were close to her heart and supported by a Council dominated by progressive members. But when the needle didn’t move fast enough, there were those that said Mark-Viverito too often carried the mayor’s water. It’s a charge she disputes, as do numerous Council members that served under her as they look back at her four years at the helm.</p> <p>Members broadly agree that she followed through on a promise to give rank-and-file Council members the freedom to pursue their priorities while standing firm against the mayoral administration when it mattered, and that some capitulation to the administration’s priorities was part of the high-wire balancing act that defines the speakership. While they worked together far more often than they were in opposition, it was not always clear to what extent Mark-Viverito and her members, on one hand, and de Blasio, on the other, disagreed, given that the Council speaker often kept negotiations close to the vest and declined to comment in detail as the legislative process unfolded.</p> <p>Mark-Viverito and her members also rarely aired internal conflict publicly, while members appeared to know that their speaker would support them, even as she very much pursued her own policy priorities and kept a tight grip on what legislation made its way to the Council floor for a vote.</p> <p>The outgoing speaker made careful decisions about when and how to criticize the mayor, preferring to hold oversight hearings than to make splashy headlines with a sharp quote. She regularly declined to comment about de Blasio’s ethics and transparency problems, instead pursuing legislation to address certain issues or allowing others more willing to be oppositional to fill the space. She mostly stayed out of de Blasio’s feud with Governor Andrew Cuomo, another fellow Democrat, though she herself has been part of some tense intra-party political battles with officials like former Assemblymember and current Manhattan Democratic Party leader Keith Wright.</p> <p>Mark-Viverito assumed the speakership in January 2014 with support from an ascendant mayor, strong labor unions, and a newly empowered Progressive Caucus, bucking the traditional county party-dominated process for selecting a new speaker. The new dynamic led some to be wary of whether Mark-Viverito would be a speaker for the members of the Council or for the mayor, whose politics so closely resembled her own. After taking office, she quickly advanced internal changes at the Council that were meant to empower members, particularly the chairs of the 40-odd committees, while also maintaining sufficient control within the speaker’s office.</p> <p>“The considerable thing about my leadership is that I made it a member-focused legislative body,” Mark-Viverito said, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in a recent appearance on the Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> hosted by Gotham Gazette and City Limits. “It wasn’t about me centralizing the power, just pushing what my agenda was…[it was about] having the members really have much more of a functional role and ownership for this institution. It belongs to all of us, it doesn’t just belong to the speaker.”</p> <p>Mark-Viverito beefed up the Council staff to support members’ legislative priorities, she said, which led to greater output. Over the four years, the Council passed 714 bills under her leadership, more than any Council class before it. “I was being respectful to member priorities and the vision that they had and working with them on that...and I think that’s the way a legislative body should function,” she said.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Listen: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito</a>]</p> <p>The first two years of Mark-Viverito’s speakership proceeded amicably with the mayor for the most part. The Council played its part in supporting the mayor’s agenda that included universal pre-kindergarten and expanding the paid sick leave law. City spending ramped up with little opposition from the Council, which also advocated for increased spending on its own policy priorities.</p> <p>“I think that from the start the speaker was a forward thinking, independent leader,” said outgoing Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, a Queens Democrat. “She brought real fairness and transparency to the Council and made the Council a better place to work, from someone who had been in the Council for five years prior to her leadership.”</p> <p>An early area of disagreement was Mark-Viverito’s call for an increase in the NYPD’s headcount, which struck many as peculiar given her criticisms of police practices and the larger criminal justice system. She unsuccessfully pressed the issue in 2014, and then renewed her efforts in 2015, eventually convincing a hesitant de Blasio to back the expensive idea. The department ended up adding 1,300 new officers, a compromise among the Council, the mayor, and the NYPD.</p> <p>Also in 2015, in the city’s fight against the ride-hailing service Uber, Mark-Viverito publicly chastised the mayor for presuming that the Council would do his bidding. The mayor, after giving up his effort to cap the number of new cars run by Uber and its competitors, threatened that a cap was still a tool available to him, even though it would have to be approved by the Council first. “I’m not going to allow anyone to attempt to save face at the expense of this Council,” she said at a news conference at City Hall, raising many eyebrows. “This Council decides what bills we need to discuss, what debates we will have, what will be taken off the table, what will be put on the table. No one else leads that discussion, no one else influences that discussion.”</p> <p>Higher profile battles would occur later still, as de Blasio’s first term wore on towards a potential second and as the speaker’s final term wound to a close. (Mark-Viverito was early to endorse de Blasio for reelection, but, over the following months, she seemed to show more willingness to resist his politics and policies.)&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“I think first and foremost, she’s been her speaker,” said Council Member Brad Lander, in a phone interview, on whether Mark-Viverito had been the members’ speaker or the mayor’s. “She’s got a strong vision for the city and for the Council and that’s what I think has guided her. I think it’s been a really productive and fair and highly consequential and progressive speakership.”</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/35061738875_734c469ce0_z.jpg" alt="De Blasio Mark-Viverito City Hall handshake Ed Reed Mayor's Office" width="300" height="200" style="margin-right: 12px; float: left;" />Lander, who was a leading proponent for Mark-Viverito to become the speaker and was named chair of the Council’s rules committee by her, praised the internal reforms that Mark-Viverito implemented early on, which he helped write. The reforms made the Council “a more equal and inclusive body in which every member can zealously represent their community and their values, even when those are different, without fear or favor,” Lander said. Perhaps most notably, Mark-Viverito and her colleagues changed the system by which members are provided discretionary funds to disperse to nonprofits, rationalizing a process that had often been used by previous speakers to reward and punish members.</p> <p>On particular issues, Lander said, Mark-Viverito facilitated legislation championed by members, such as the right to counsel for tenants in housing court, fair work-week legislation, and certain freelancer protections. The most impactful, in Lander’s view, was her successful advocacy for the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex. Mark-Viverito convened an independent commission to recommend a raft of criminal justice reforms and particularly to look at Rikers. De Blasio, who did not support the closure at first, seemed to begrudgingly accept the inevitable and announced his support just before the commission issued its report. “I believe Rikers is on a path to closure,” Lander said, “and I don’t think that would be true if [Mark-Viverito] had not been elected speaker four years ago.”</p> <p>Lander noted that while the speaker often agreed and collaborated with the mayor, she was not hesitant to oppose him or break with him when her members dictated she should. For instance, when she pulled a bill she supported from consideration by the full Council that would have curbed the city’s horse carriage industry. It was a prominent campaign issue in the 2013 mayoral race and de Blasio had advocated for and promised a complete ban. But, amid discontent from members on potential compromise legislation in early 2016, the speaker stood with her colleagues.</p> <p>“I think she’s been independent,” said Council Member Rory Lancman, a vocal critic of the de Blasio administration, in a November interview at City Hall. “Each speaker, just like each member, has their own political relationship with the other side of the building here. And no speaker’s going to be completely independent from the mayor or the governor or any other political actor that has influence.”</p> <p>As the process to select the next speaker of the City Council has played out in the final months and weeks of 2017, de Blasio has repeatedly said how well he thinks his involvement in Mark-Viverito’s victory turned out. De Blasio captured his overall feelings in June, when announcing a final budget deal with Mark-Viverito, saying of the speaker:</p> <blockquote> <p>“[S]he has been an extraordinary partner over the last four years. We knew each other well before we each assumed these roles. We knew that we had a lot of respect and trust for each other. We knew that we shared values. We didn’t know what it would be like to play these roles. We didn’t know what the times ahead would be or what the issues we’d face would be. But there was a core belief that if you share values, a lot of good things can happen. And many, many conversations over many years – mostly in agreement, sometimes not, but we always found a way to get to a good outcome, and with great support from all our colleagues. So from me, I can tell you I’ll be sorry when these four years are over because it has been such a great and positive partnership. As a progressive, I want to thank Melissa Mark-Viverito for helping to move this city in a new progressive direction. And the things she has championed are going to have a huge impact on this city for many years to come.”</p> </blockquote> <p>A former Council member, who asked to remain anonymous to speak freely, served under both Mark-Viverito and former speaker Christine Quinn and said the process of Mark-Viverito’s election as speaker hampered her ability to distance herself from de Blasio. “Melissa started at a very great disadvantage, the fact that the mayor picked her to be the speaker and only because of him,” the former member said. “He made her. That hurt the whole body and it hurt her ability to really appear to be independent...because people perceived that the City Council is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the mayor. Right off the bat, that’s a bad start.”</p> <p>This former member did credit Mark-Viverito for giving more leeway than Quinn to Council members to push legislation and pursue their individual agendas, while also breaking with the mayor on controversial items. But even then, the member said, there was a degree of deference. “I think Melissa did check with the mayor on everything, and even when they broke, I think they probably checked with the mayor before they broke. So I think it was a real problem,” the former member said.</p> <p>On no other issue has that dynamic played out more strongly than criminal justice reform and the Council’s attempts to legislate, and regulate, the city’s police force. Two police reform bills to regulate officers’ interactions with people, collectively named The Right to Know Act, progressed slowly through the legislative process over the years despite having overwhelming support from Council members and progressive advocates. Tensions reached a head in mid-2016 when Mark-Viverito reached a compromise on administrative implementation by the NYPD of partial measures, in lieu of a full Council vote to codify the provisions into law. Advocates saw it as a backroom deal while Council members fumed over the concession to the administration and the police department.</p> <p>Amended versions of the bills would ultimately pass in a divisive vote at the final full meeting of the Council on December 19, 2017, with numerous Council members and hundreds of community groups coming out in opposition to one bill sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres that had been, in their view, diluted to appease the NYPD and the mayor, who said he’d sign the bill given it had struck the right balance despite his skepticism about too much legislating of NYPD protocols.</p> <p>Monifa Bandele, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, an advocacy coalition, said in a statement that it was “disappointing,” particularly given Mark-Viverito’s progressive credentials on police reform and accountability. “While [Mark-Viverito] was a champion on Closing Rikers, she did not show the same willingness to fight for front-end police reforms that hold the NYPD accountable and systemically change racial disparities in policing and what feeds the criminal justice system,” Bandele said. “She spent three to four years blocking the Right to Know Act, and then helped the de Blasio administration undermine the half of the legislative package of which Council Member Torres was lead sponsor.” Bandele also criticized the speaker’s push to increase the headcount of the NYPD, which Mark-Viverito had <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2015/04/mark-viverito-defends-calls-for-police-expansion-and-reform-021178" target="_blank" rel="noopener">argued</a> would help with reforms and implementation of community policing.</p> <p>Council Member Torres also criticized the administrative compromise in 2016 and he told Gotham Gazette in November that Mark-Viverito had not been sufficiently independent of the mayor in that case. In a separate interview after a November 1 Crain’s New York Business breakfast forum, Torres indicated, amid praise, some dissatisfaction with the speaker’s record. “I support Melissa, I love Melissa as a person and as a speaker. I thought she has struck the right balance between decentralizing greater power to the members while at the same time maintaining the power of the speaker’s office,” he said. “There are a few moments when I felt we were excessively deferential to the mayor and I said so at the time of those controversies.”</p> <p>Torres had said at the Crain’s forum -- part of his bid to become Mark-Viverito’s successor as speaker -- that the Council was prone to sideshow distractions. “Oscar Lopez, Christopher Columbus, what’s the latest sensation of the week,” he elaborated in the interview afterward. “The Health and Hospitals Corporation could disappear within the next five years. NYCHA has $17 billion worth of capital needs. Those are the things that matter, those are the things that we should be discussing.”</p> <p>Torres later changed his tune somewhat, perhaps showcasing some of the mixed feelings Council members have about Mark-Viverito’s tenure and her relationships with de Blasio and her members. “She has been responsive to the needs of the members, there’s no question about it. As a member, I could not be more satisfied with the leadership that she’s given me,” Torres recently told Gotham Gazette at City Hall.</p> <p>As to his earlier comments on her independence, Torres said, “I think it’s a matter of degree. We could always be more effective, we could always be more independent. But has she fundamentally been representative of the needs of the members of the institution? The answer is yes. Not perfect, but fundamentally.” When the Right to Know Act headed to a vote and many of Torres’ colleagues criticized his bill, Mark-Viverito was one of his fiercest defenders, though a number of Council members felt that Torres and Mark-Viverito had capitulated too much to the de Blasio administration. Torres’ bill did pass.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener">On the Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a>, Mark-Viverito addressed working with de Blasio, and the Council negotiating hundreds of bills with the administration, along with land use deals, budgets, and more. “I can safely say that we’ve had a good partnership and I think that there are a lot of things that I was able to move them on and they had conversations with us and maybe there’s things that they [moved] us on,” she said December 20. “But definitely it was a very productive relationship in that way. And I think that in areas where they may have had concerns about pieces of legislation, really engaging with them and talking to them and exerting ourselves, we were able to get some reconsideration on those items. And that’s in consultation with colleagues...I’m not regretful of anything.”</p> <p>Mark-Viverito is leaving office proud of the way she led the Council, and not ruling out her own run for mayor down the line. It’s no surprise that even though she is term-limited she did not challenge a sitting mayor of her own party who she is largely aligned with and who helped her reach the height of her power. She’s leaving office having not only ushered in significant changes to city law, but having altered the way the Council functions and how members expect to be treated by their leader.</p> <p>“Anyone that has to deal with a thousand bills over the course of a tenure is going to have to work to be tremendously balanced when you’re leading a legislative body against, at times, or in conjunction with the mayor’s administration,” said Staten Island Council Member Joe Borelli, one of only three Republicans on the City Council who, more often than not, vote against the types of progressive legislation championed by Mark-Viverito.</p> <p>“I don’t think you can box her in as being either/or [the members’ speaker or the mayor’s speaker]. I’m sure her critics will say that she’s both at times when it suits their narrative,” Borelli continued. “She’s someone who wore her progressive banner very proudly and that’s certainly going to be her legacy and I think people over the next few years will view her as someone who carried the football for progressive causes a bit further, and people like me and those I represent will see her tenure in the speakership as slightly different.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this article.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/16265643371_7f1d47f71f_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio Speaker Mark-Viverito" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>Melissa Mark-Viverito, the first Latina to preside over the 51-member New York City Council, leaves office having shepherded a progressive shift in the city’s direction, in conjunction with fellow Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio, a philosophically aligned partner in government who was the deciding factor in her winning the powerful speaker position four years ago.</p> <p>As arguably the second most powerful elected official in the city, Mark-Viverito oversaw an agenda of progressivism that significantly moved the needle for causes of social justice, especially related to immigrants, workers, and the criminal justice system, many of which were close to her heart and supported by a Council dominated by progressive members. But when the needle didn’t move fast enough, there were those that said Mark-Viverito too often carried the mayor’s water. It’s a charge she disputes, as do numerous Council members that served under her as they look back at her four years at the helm.</p> <p>Members broadly agree that she followed through on a promise to give rank-and-file Council members the freedom to pursue their priorities while standing firm against the mayoral administration when it mattered, and that some capitulation to the administration’s priorities was part of the high-wire balancing act that defines the speakership. While they worked together far more often than they were in opposition, it was not always clear to what extent Mark-Viverito and her members, on one hand, and de Blasio, on the other, disagreed, given that the Council speaker often kept negotiations close to the vest and declined to comment in detail as the legislative process unfolded.</p> <p>Mark-Viverito and her members also rarely aired internal conflict publicly, while members appeared to know that their speaker would support them, even as she very much pursued her own policy priorities and kept a tight grip on what legislation made its way to the Council floor for a vote.</p> <p>The outgoing speaker made careful decisions about when and how to criticize the mayor, preferring to hold oversight hearings than to make splashy headlines with a sharp quote. She regularly declined to comment about de Blasio’s ethics and transparency problems, instead pursuing legislation to address certain issues or allowing others more willing to be oppositional to fill the space. She mostly stayed out of de Blasio’s feud with Governor Andrew Cuomo, another fellow Democrat, though she herself has been part of some tense intra-party political battles with officials like former Assemblymember and current Manhattan Democratic Party leader Keith Wright.</p> <p>Mark-Viverito assumed the speakership in January 2014 with support from an ascendant mayor, strong labor unions, and a newly empowered Progressive Caucus, bucking the traditional county party-dominated process for selecting a new speaker. The new dynamic led some to be wary of whether Mark-Viverito would be a speaker for the members of the Council or for the mayor, whose politics so closely resembled her own. After taking office, she quickly advanced internal changes at the Council that were meant to empower members, particularly the chairs of the 40-odd committees, while also maintaining sufficient control within the speaker’s office.</p> <p>“The considerable thing about my leadership is that I made it a member-focused legislative body,” Mark-Viverito said, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in a recent appearance on the Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a> hosted by Gotham Gazette and City Limits. “It wasn’t about me centralizing the power, just pushing what my agenda was…[it was about] having the members really have much more of a functional role and ownership for this institution. It belongs to all of us, it doesn’t just belong to the speaker.”</p> <p>Mark-Viverito beefed up the Council staff to support members’ legislative priorities, she said, which led to greater output. Over the four years, the Council passed 714 bills under her leadership, more than any Council class before it. “I was being respectful to member priorities and the vision that they had and working with them on that...and I think that’s the way a legislative body should function,” she said.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Listen: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito</a>]</p> <p>The first two years of Mark-Viverito’s speakership proceeded amicably with the mayor for the most part. The Council played its part in supporting the mayor’s agenda that included universal pre-kindergarten and expanding the paid sick leave law. City spending ramped up with little opposition from the Council, which also advocated for increased spending on its own policy priorities.</p> <p>“I think that from the start the speaker was a forward thinking, independent leader,” said outgoing Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, a Queens Democrat. “She brought real fairness and transparency to the Council and made the Council a better place to work, from someone who had been in the Council for five years prior to her leadership.”</p> <p>An early area of disagreement was Mark-Viverito’s call for an increase in the NYPD’s headcount, which struck many as peculiar given her criticisms of police practices and the larger criminal justice system. She unsuccessfully pressed the issue in 2014, and then renewed her efforts in 2015, eventually convincing a hesitant de Blasio to back the expensive idea. The department ended up adding 1,300 new officers, a compromise among the Council, the mayor, and the NYPD.</p> <p>Also in 2015, in the city’s fight against the ride-hailing service Uber, Mark-Viverito publicly chastised the mayor for presuming that the Council would do his bidding. The mayor, after giving up his effort to cap the number of new cars run by Uber and its competitors, threatened that a cap was still a tool available to him, even though it would have to be approved by the Council first. “I’m not going to allow anyone to attempt to save face at the expense of this Council,” she said at a news conference at City Hall, raising many eyebrows. “This Council decides what bills we need to discuss, what debates we will have, what will be taken off the table, what will be put on the table. No one else leads that discussion, no one else influences that discussion.”</p> <p>Higher profile battles would occur later still, as de Blasio’s first term wore on towards a potential second and as the speaker’s final term wound to a close. (Mark-Viverito was early to endorse de Blasio for reelection, but, over the following months, she seemed to show more willingness to resist his politics and policies.)&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“I think first and foremost, she’s been her speaker,” said Council Member Brad Lander, in a phone interview, on whether Mark-Viverito had been the members’ speaker or the mayor’s. “She’s got a strong vision for the city and for the Council and that’s what I think has guided her. I think it’s been a really productive and fair and highly consequential and progressive speakership.”</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/35061738875_734c469ce0_z.jpg" alt="De Blasio Mark-Viverito City Hall handshake Ed Reed Mayor's Office" width="300" height="200" style="margin-right: 12px; float: left;" />Lander, who was a leading proponent for Mark-Viverito to become the speaker and was named chair of the Council’s rules committee by her, praised the internal reforms that Mark-Viverito implemented early on, which he helped write. The reforms made the Council “a more equal and inclusive body in which every member can zealously represent their community and their values, even when those are different, without fear or favor,” Lander said. Perhaps most notably, Mark-Viverito and her colleagues changed the system by which members are provided discretionary funds to disperse to nonprofits, rationalizing a process that had often been used by previous speakers to reward and punish members.</p> <p>On particular issues, Lander said, Mark-Viverito facilitated legislation championed by members, such as the right to counsel for tenants in housing court, fair work-week legislation, and certain freelancer protections. The most impactful, in Lander’s view, was her successful advocacy for the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex. Mark-Viverito convened an independent commission to recommend a raft of criminal justice reforms and particularly to look at Rikers. De Blasio, who did not support the closure at first, seemed to begrudgingly accept the inevitable and announced his support just before the commission issued its report. “I believe Rikers is on a path to closure,” Lander said, “and I don’t think that would be true if [Mark-Viverito] had not been elected speaker four years ago.”</p> <p>Lander noted that while the speaker often agreed and collaborated with the mayor, she was not hesitant to oppose him or break with him when her members dictated she should. For instance, when she pulled a bill she supported from consideration by the full Council that would have curbed the city’s horse carriage industry. It was a prominent campaign issue in the 2013 mayoral race and de Blasio had advocated for and promised a complete ban. But, amid discontent from members on potential compromise legislation in early 2016, the speaker stood with her colleagues.</p> <p>“I think she’s been independent,” said Council Member Rory Lancman, a vocal critic of the de Blasio administration, in a November interview at City Hall. “Each speaker, just like each member, has their own political relationship with the other side of the building here. And no speaker’s going to be completely independent from the mayor or the governor or any other political actor that has influence.”</p> <p>As the process to select the next speaker of the City Council has played out in the final months and weeks of 2017, de Blasio has repeatedly said how well he thinks his involvement in Mark-Viverito’s victory turned out. De Blasio captured his overall feelings in June, when announcing a final budget deal with Mark-Viverito, saying of the speaker:</p> <blockquote> <p>“[S]he has been an extraordinary partner over the last four years. We knew each other well before we each assumed these roles. We knew that we had a lot of respect and trust for each other. We knew that we shared values. We didn’t know what it would be like to play these roles. We didn’t know what the times ahead would be or what the issues we’d face would be. But there was a core belief that if you share values, a lot of good things can happen. And many, many conversations over many years – mostly in agreement, sometimes not, but we always found a way to get to a good outcome, and with great support from all our colleagues. So from me, I can tell you I’ll be sorry when these four years are over because it has been such a great and positive partnership. As a progressive, I want to thank Melissa Mark-Viverito for helping to move this city in a new progressive direction. And the things she has championed are going to have a huge impact on this city for many years to come.”</p> </blockquote> <p>A former Council member, who asked to remain anonymous to speak freely, served under both Mark-Viverito and former speaker Christine Quinn and said the process of Mark-Viverito’s election as speaker hampered her ability to distance herself from de Blasio. “Melissa started at a very great disadvantage, the fact that the mayor picked her to be the speaker and only because of him,” the former member said. “He made her. That hurt the whole body and it hurt her ability to really appear to be independent...because people perceived that the City Council is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the mayor. Right off the bat, that’s a bad start.”</p> <p>This former member did credit Mark-Viverito for giving more leeway than Quinn to Council members to push legislation and pursue their individual agendas, while also breaking with the mayor on controversial items. But even then, the member said, there was a degree of deference. “I think Melissa did check with the mayor on everything, and even when they broke, I think they probably checked with the mayor before they broke. So I think it was a real problem,” the former member said.</p> <p>On no other issue has that dynamic played out more strongly than criminal justice reform and the Council’s attempts to legislate, and regulate, the city’s police force. Two police reform bills to regulate officers’ interactions with people, collectively named The Right to Know Act, progressed slowly through the legislative process over the years despite having overwhelming support from Council members and progressive advocates. Tensions reached a head in mid-2016 when Mark-Viverito reached a compromise on administrative implementation by the NYPD of partial measures, in lieu of a full Council vote to codify the provisions into law. Advocates saw it as a backroom deal while Council members fumed over the concession to the administration and the police department.</p> <p>Amended versions of the bills would ultimately pass in a divisive vote at the final full meeting of the Council on December 19, 2017, with numerous Council members and hundreds of community groups coming out in opposition to one bill sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres that had been, in their view, diluted to appease the NYPD and the mayor, who said he’d sign the bill given it had struck the right balance despite his skepticism about too much legislating of NYPD protocols.</p> <p>Monifa Bandele, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, an advocacy coalition, said in a statement that it was “disappointing,” particularly given Mark-Viverito’s progressive credentials on police reform and accountability. “While [Mark-Viverito] was a champion on Closing Rikers, she did not show the same willingness to fight for front-end police reforms that hold the NYPD accountable and systemically change racial disparities in policing and what feeds the criminal justice system,” Bandele said. “She spent three to four years blocking the Right to Know Act, and then helped the de Blasio administration undermine the half of the legislative package of which Council Member Torres was lead sponsor.” Bandele also criticized the speaker’s push to increase the headcount of the NYPD, which Mark-Viverito had <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2015/04/mark-viverito-defends-calls-for-police-expansion-and-reform-021178" target="_blank" rel="noopener">argued</a> would help with reforms and implementation of community policing.</p> <p>Council Member Torres also criticized the administrative compromise in 2016 and he told Gotham Gazette in November that Mark-Viverito had not been sufficiently independent of the mayor in that case. In a separate interview after a November 1 Crain’s New York Business breakfast forum, Torres indicated, amid praise, some dissatisfaction with the speaker’s record. “I support Melissa, I love Melissa as a person and as a speaker. I thought she has struck the right balance between decentralizing greater power to the members while at the same time maintaining the power of the speaker’s office,” he said. “There are a few moments when I felt we were excessively deferential to the mayor and I said so at the time of those controversies.”</p> <p>Torres had said at the Crain’s forum -- part of his bid to become Mark-Viverito’s successor as speaker -- that the Council was prone to sideshow distractions. “Oscar Lopez, Christopher Columbus, what’s the latest sensation of the week,” he elaborated in the interview afterward. “The Health and Hospitals Corporation could disappear within the next five years. NYCHA has $17 billion worth of capital needs. Those are the things that matter, those are the things that we should be discussing.”</p> <p>Torres later changed his tune somewhat, perhaps showcasing some of the mixed feelings Council members have about Mark-Viverito’s tenure and her relationships with de Blasio and her members. “She has been responsive to the needs of the members, there’s no question about it. As a member, I could not be more satisfied with the leadership that she’s given me,” Torres recently told Gotham Gazette at City Hall.</p> <p>As to his earlier comments on her independence, Torres said, “I think it’s a matter of degree. We could always be more effective, we could always be more independent. But has she fundamentally been representative of the needs of the members of the institution? The answer is yes. Not perfect, but fundamentally.” When the Right to Know Act headed to a vote and many of Torres’ colleagues criticized his bill, Mark-Viverito was one of his fiercest defenders, though a number of Council members felt that Torres and Mark-Viverito had capitulated too much to the de Blasio administration. Torres’ bill did pass.</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7383-max-murphy-podcast-city-council-speaker-melissa-mark-viverito" target="_blank" rel="noopener">On the Max &amp; Murphy podcast</a>, Mark-Viverito addressed working with de Blasio, and the Council negotiating hundreds of bills with the administration, along with land use deals, budgets, and more. “I can safely say that we’ve had a good partnership and I think that there are a lot of things that I was able to move them on and they had conversations with us and maybe there’s things that they [moved] us on,” she said December 20. “But definitely it was a very productive relationship in that way. And I think that in areas where they may have had concerns about pieces of legislation, really engaging with them and talking to them and exerting ourselves, we were able to get some reconsideration on those items. And that’s in consultation with colleagues...I’m not regretful of anything.”</p> <p>Mark-Viverito is leaving office proud of the way she led the Council, and not ruling out her own run for mayor down the line. It’s no surprise that even though she is term-limited she did not challenge a sitting mayor of her own party who she is largely aligned with and who helped her reach the height of her power. She’s leaving office having not only ushered in significant changes to city law, but having altered the way the Council functions and how members expect to be treated by their leader.</p> <p>“Anyone that has to deal with a thousand bills over the course of a tenure is going to have to work to be tremendously balanced when you’re leading a legislative body against, at times, or in conjunction with the mayor’s administration,” said Staten Island Council Member Joe Borelli, one of only three Republicans on the City Council who, more often than not, vote against the types of progressive legislation championed by Mark-Viverito.</p> <p>“I don’t think you can box her in as being either/or [the members’ speaker or the mayor’s speaker]. I’m sure her critics will say that she’s both at times when it suits their narrative,” Borelli continued. “She’s someone who wore her progressive banner very proudly and that’s certainly going to be her legacy and I think people over the next few years will view her as someone who carried the football for progressive causes a bit further, and people like me and those I represent will see her tenure in the speakership as slightly different.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this article.</p>
Planned Change to Veterans Department Budget Causes Stir 2017-01-31T05:00:00+00:00 2017-01-31T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6739:proposed-budget-cut-to-veterans-department-causes-stir Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bdb_vets_via_nycveterans.jpg" alt="bdb vets via nycveterans" width="600" height="398" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo: @nycveterans</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio’s preliminary budget, released January 24, proposes nearly $1 billion in increased spending for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. But a conspicuous, albeit infinitesimal, reduction for one agency has irked elected officials and advocates.</p> <p dir="ltr">The mayor’s spending plan, which will be evaluated by and negotiated with the City Council, includes a $318,000 decrease in the budget for the newly-minted Department of Veterans Services, which was created last year as an agency outside of the Mayor’s Office and given a significant budget boost. The DVS budget for the current fiscal year is $3.95 million, but de Blasio has $3.63 million budgeted for fiscal year 2018.</p> <p dir="ltr">While it is a tiny fraction of the $84.7 billion preliminary budget plan, stakeholders argue that it is a step back for an administration that just last year made the major commitment to expanding veteran services by establishing a stand-alone agency after much lobbying by City Council members and advocates. The city, however, explains that the budget reduction is because one-time department start-up costs are coming off the books.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s pretty sad that the Mayor of the city of New York decided to cut the department’s budget,” said state Senator Marty Golden, a Republican who represents Bay Ridge and sits on the Senate’s Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “It’s cutting case management for veterans, it’s cutting healthcare for veterans, it’s cutting homelessness services for veterans.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Golden has organized <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/743165375835259/" target="_blank">a rally</a> outside City Hall on Wednesday afternoon to protest the budget change as well as call for additional tax relief for veterans. He’ll be joined by the City Council’s three Republican members -- Steven Matteo, Joe Borelli and Eric Ulrich, who chairs the council’s veterans committee -- &nbsp;as well as mayoral candidates Michel Faulkner, Paul Massey, and Richard "Bo" Dietl, and veterans advocates. Council Member Ulrich, the leading governmental force behind the creation of the Department of Veterans Services, did not respond to requests for comment.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is a bad signal to send to veterans and to the homeless,” Golden said of the budget change. “I’m hoping [Mayor de Blasio] reevaluates and he redirects that money.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayoral spokesperson Freddi Goldstein explained in an email that the funding decrease is primarily due to one-time costs incurred in setting up the new agency last year, including fees paid to a consultant, costs for office equipment, and the non-renewal of a one-year position funded by a private grant. That funding runs through the end of the 2017 calendar year and is not reflected in the fiscal 2018 budget, according to a DVS spokesperson. A spokesperson for the mayor said that like other funding elements, the position could be negotiated back in over the course of the coming months.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an office of about 30, the loss of that one position, related to homelessness prevention, would be “significant,” said Kristen Rouse, an Army veteran and president and founding director of NYC Veterans Alliance, an advocacy organization. The group will hold its own rally on February 14. “I completely understand that there were one-time costs, but they should be expanding regardless,” she said. “The trajectory needs to be an upward motion, not a downward one. Funding directly reflects that.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Rouse pointed out that homelessness prevention is the biggest challenge for the department and said it should be part of a broader strategy of ensuring access to affordable housing for veterans. “There’s hundreds of veterans in shelter,” she said. “That’s important progress but that’s not a victory.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The city ended chronic veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and has set up an effective pipeline for getting veterans off the street. According to DVS spokesperson Alexis Wichowski, the latest count from January showed about 35 military veterans remain homeless and not in shelter. She also pointed out that the median stay for veterans in homeless shelters is about 79 days, compared to 355 for single adults, per the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/operations/downloads/pdf/mmr2016/dhs.pdf" target="_blank">Mayor’s Management Report</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wichowski said the budget changes were not a matter of concern and were always part of the plan in setting up the agency. “We are almost at full capacity, that’s a huge milestone,” she said. The agency has hired 33 of its 35-person budgeted staff and is set to embark on a number of projects and programs. “Getting people on board and getting them trained has been the focus for the last few months,” Wichowski said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under the direction of Commissioner Loree Sutton, the department now also has satellite offices in the Bronx and Queens and two on Staten Island, and is in the process of establishing agreements for offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn. DVS primarily offers help so that the 210,000 military veterans living in New York City can access services and benefits available to them.</p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Borelli, a member of the veterans committee, was surprised and disappointed by the budget reduction. “It’s a question of the mayor’s long-term commitment to supporting the veterans agency,” he said. He critiqued the mayor for funding other items at comparable levels of the cuts, particularly $500,000 for speed cameras. “We can’t be blinded by the desire to see certain policy goals met while we abandon commitments we’ve already made,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">At Wednesday’s rally, Borelli said the budget shift wouldn’t be the only item they will push. A key proposal, one promoted by veteran advocacy organizations for years, is the expansion of an alternative property tax exemption for veterans, which the NYC Veterans Alliance <a href="http://www.nycveteransalliance.org/deblasio_cuts" target="_blank">estimates</a> would cost the city about $40 million at a time when the city’s assessed property tax value increased by $17.6 billion. It is a measure of much-needed housing affordability, several advocates and elected officials agree.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The budget is about outlining priorities through a document,” Borelli said. “This is just saying that [DVS is] less pressing than other priorities.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Next month, the City Council will begin to examine the mayor’s budget and issue its formal response, after which the mayor will release his executive budget, a revised spending plan. Following another round of Council hearings, the Council and mayor will move to closed-door negotiations before agreeing to a final budget for the next fiscal year by the June 30 deadline.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bdb_vets_via_nycveterans.jpg" alt="bdb vets via nycveterans" width="600" height="398" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo: @nycveterans</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio’s preliminary budget, released January 24, proposes nearly $1 billion in increased spending for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. But a conspicuous, albeit infinitesimal, reduction for one agency has irked elected officials and advocates.</p> <p dir="ltr">The mayor’s spending plan, which will be evaluated by and negotiated with the City Council, includes a $318,000 decrease in the budget for the newly-minted Department of Veterans Services, which was created last year as an agency outside of the Mayor’s Office and given a significant budget boost. The DVS budget for the current fiscal year is $3.95 million, but de Blasio has $3.63 million budgeted for fiscal year 2018.</p> <p dir="ltr">While it is a tiny fraction of the $84.7 billion preliminary budget plan, stakeholders argue that it is a step back for an administration that just last year made the major commitment to expanding veteran services by establishing a stand-alone agency after much lobbying by City Council members and advocates. The city, however, explains that the budget reduction is because one-time department start-up costs are coming off the books.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s pretty sad that the Mayor of the city of New York decided to cut the department’s budget,” said state Senator Marty Golden, a Republican who represents Bay Ridge and sits on the Senate’s Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “It’s cutting case management for veterans, it’s cutting healthcare for veterans, it’s cutting homelessness services for veterans.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Golden has organized <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/743165375835259/" target="_blank">a rally</a> outside City Hall on Wednesday afternoon to protest the budget change as well as call for additional tax relief for veterans. He’ll be joined by the City Council’s three Republican members -- Steven Matteo, Joe Borelli and Eric Ulrich, who chairs the council’s veterans committee -- &nbsp;as well as mayoral candidates Michel Faulkner, Paul Massey, and Richard "Bo" Dietl, and veterans advocates. Council Member Ulrich, the leading governmental force behind the creation of the Department of Veterans Services, did not respond to requests for comment.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is a bad signal to send to veterans and to the homeless,” Golden said of the budget change. “I’m hoping [Mayor de Blasio] reevaluates and he redirects that money.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayoral spokesperson Freddi Goldstein explained in an email that the funding decrease is primarily due to one-time costs incurred in setting up the new agency last year, including fees paid to a consultant, costs for office equipment, and the non-renewal of a one-year position funded by a private grant. That funding runs through the end of the 2017 calendar year and is not reflected in the fiscal 2018 budget, according to a DVS spokesperson. A spokesperson for the mayor said that like other funding elements, the position could be negotiated back in over the course of the coming months.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an office of about 30, the loss of that one position, related to homelessness prevention, would be “significant,” said Kristen Rouse, an Army veteran and president and founding director of NYC Veterans Alliance, an advocacy organization. The group will hold its own rally on February 14. “I completely understand that there were one-time costs, but they should be expanding regardless,” she said. “The trajectory needs to be an upward motion, not a downward one. Funding directly reflects that.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Rouse pointed out that homelessness prevention is the biggest challenge for the department and said it should be part of a broader strategy of ensuring access to affordable housing for veterans. “There’s hundreds of veterans in shelter,” she said. “That’s important progress but that’s not a victory.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The city ended chronic veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and has set up an effective pipeline for getting veterans off the street. According to DVS spokesperson Alexis Wichowski, the latest count from January showed about 35 military veterans remain homeless and not in shelter. She also pointed out that the median stay for veterans in homeless shelters is about 79 days, compared to 355 for single adults, per the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/operations/downloads/pdf/mmr2016/dhs.pdf" target="_blank">Mayor’s Management Report</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wichowski said the budget changes were not a matter of concern and were always part of the plan in setting up the agency. “We are almost at full capacity, that’s a huge milestone,” she said. The agency has hired 33 of its 35-person budgeted staff and is set to embark on a number of projects and programs. “Getting people on board and getting them trained has been the focus for the last few months,” Wichowski said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under the direction of Commissioner Loree Sutton, the department now also has satellite offices in the Bronx and Queens and two on Staten Island, and is in the process of establishing agreements for offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn. DVS primarily offers help so that the 210,000 military veterans living in New York City can access services and benefits available to them.</p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Borelli, a member of the veterans committee, was surprised and disappointed by the budget reduction. “It’s a question of the mayor’s long-term commitment to supporting the veterans agency,” he said. He critiqued the mayor for funding other items at comparable levels of the cuts, particularly $500,000 for speed cameras. “We can’t be blinded by the desire to see certain policy goals met while we abandon commitments we’ve already made,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">At Wednesday’s rally, Borelli said the budget shift wouldn’t be the only item they will push. A key proposal, one promoted by veteran advocacy organizations for years, is the expansion of an alternative property tax exemption for veterans, which the NYC Veterans Alliance <a href="http://www.nycveteransalliance.org/deblasio_cuts" target="_blank">estimates</a> would cost the city about $40 million at a time when the city’s assessed property tax value increased by $17.6 billion. It is a measure of much-needed housing affordability, several advocates and elected officials agree.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The budget is about outlining priorities through a document,” Borelli said. “This is just saying that [DVS is] less pressing than other priorities.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Next month, the City Council will begin to examine the mayor’s budget and issue its formal response, after which the mayor will release his executive budget, a revised spending plan. Following another round of Council hearings, the Council and mayor will move to closed-door negotiations before agreeing to a final budget for the next fiscal year by the June 30 deadline.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Board of Elections Dysfunction on Display Again Ahead of Hearing 2016-10-25T04:00:00+00:00 2016-10-25T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6592:board-of-elections-dysfunction-on-display-again-ahead-of-hearing Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/24585999561_5ba42fdfca_z.jpg" alt="borelli council hearing" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Council Member Joe Borelli (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">The dysfunction that has seemed to define the New York City Board of Elections this year was again on display Tuesday when its executive director first declined to testify at an imminent City Council oversight hearing and within hours reversed that decision.</p> <p dir="ltr">With just two weeks to go before the November 8 general election, the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations scheduled an oversight hearing for Wednesday to gauge the BOE’s preparedness -- something typical of all election cycles. After the board’s <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/brooklyn-voter-purge-hit-hispanics-hardest/" target="_blank">abysmal management of voter rolls</a> ahead of the April presidential primary in New York, it was already under pressure to ensure that the general election goes smoothly. Then, the board got pulled into controversy after the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6572-election-commissioner-s-rant-prompts-dispute-over-idnyc-and-voter-id-in-new-york">recent release</a> of a secretly-recorded video that showed Democratic Manhattan election commissioner Alan Schulkin alleging widespread voter fraud in the city facilitated in part, he said, by the municipal identification program, IDNYC, which has nothing to do with voting.</p> <p dir="ltr">Following the release of the video, City Council members have been rearing to grill the BOE for answers and it seemed for a few hours on Tuesday that they would be left disappointed. Council Member Joe Borelli, a Staten Island Republican and government operations committee member, had written to the committee’s chair, Council Member Ben Kallos, calling for a hearing on Schulkin’s claims. Kallos, Manhattan Democrat, pointed out that the BOE would be in for a pre-election oversight hearing as usual, and mostly dismissed claims of voter fraud. In the meantime, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for Schilkin to resign and said there is no evidence of voter fraud. Schulkin walked back his claims, somewhat, and said he had no intentions of resigning.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday afternoon, Borelli <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC/status/790975583345741824" target="_blank">tweeted out</a> the image of a letter in which BOE executive director Michael Ryan declined to testify before the committee.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Given the timing of the hearing, the notice date and the proximity to the election, unfortunately, it is not possible to cease election day preparations to prepare testimony and appear before the council,” Ryan wrote. The letter pointed out that BOE was given short notice of the hearing, being informed by email on Monday. Ryan also requested that the committee push the hearing to a date after the general election, “preferably after the anticipated election certification date,” which is expected to be November 22.</p> <p dir="ltr">By 5 p.m., however, Borelli was told by City Council central staff that the BOE had agreed to appear before the committee for its pre-election check-in, as scheduled: Wednesday at 10 a.m. at City Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">A BOE spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment and there is no explanation for the flip-flop. “I don’t know if they’re afraid I have some smoking gun, which I don’t,” Borelli told Gotham Gazette when reached by phone. “I just want to know why the commissioner would say those things.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Borelli pointed out that the hearing has been on the Council’s public calendar for at least a week, but conceded that the BOE may have been given little notice. “I give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said, “because at the end of the day, they agreed to come.” At the hearing, he intends to question the nature of Schulkin’s comments, whether they were true and deserve to be investigated, or whether they were false and warrant Schulkin’s resignation. Council Member Kallos was not available for comment on Tuesday, but will chair Wednesday’s hearing.</p> <p>Notably, the BOE also cancelled its own weekly meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. When reached by phone, a spokesperson did not give a reason except to say that the executive committee had made the decision and that the board would meet as scheduled next week on November 1.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/24585999561_5ba42fdfca_z.jpg" alt="borelli council hearing" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Council Member Joe Borelli (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">The dysfunction that has seemed to define the New York City Board of Elections this year was again on display Tuesday when its executive director first declined to testify at an imminent City Council oversight hearing and within hours reversed that decision.</p> <p dir="ltr">With just two weeks to go before the November 8 general election, the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations scheduled an oversight hearing for Wednesday to gauge the BOE’s preparedness -- something typical of all election cycles. After the board’s <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/brooklyn-voter-purge-hit-hispanics-hardest/" target="_blank">abysmal management of voter rolls</a> ahead of the April presidential primary in New York, it was already under pressure to ensure that the general election goes smoothly. Then, the board got pulled into controversy after the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6572-election-commissioner-s-rant-prompts-dispute-over-idnyc-and-voter-id-in-new-york">recent release</a> of a secretly-recorded video that showed Democratic Manhattan election commissioner Alan Schulkin alleging widespread voter fraud in the city facilitated in part, he said, by the municipal identification program, IDNYC, which has nothing to do with voting.</p> <p dir="ltr">Following the release of the video, City Council members have been rearing to grill the BOE for answers and it seemed for a few hours on Tuesday that they would be left disappointed. Council Member Joe Borelli, a Staten Island Republican and government operations committee member, had written to the committee’s chair, Council Member Ben Kallos, calling for a hearing on Schulkin’s claims. Kallos, Manhattan Democrat, pointed out that the BOE would be in for a pre-election oversight hearing as usual, and mostly dismissed claims of voter fraud. In the meantime, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for Schilkin to resign and said there is no evidence of voter fraud. Schulkin walked back his claims, somewhat, and said he had no intentions of resigning.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday afternoon, Borelli <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC/status/790975583345741824" target="_blank">tweeted out</a> the image of a letter in which BOE executive director Michael Ryan declined to testify before the committee.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Given the timing of the hearing, the notice date and the proximity to the election, unfortunately, it is not possible to cease election day preparations to prepare testimony and appear before the council,” Ryan wrote. The letter pointed out that BOE was given short notice of the hearing, being informed by email on Monday. Ryan also requested that the committee push the hearing to a date after the general election, “preferably after the anticipated election certification date,” which is expected to be November 22.</p> <p dir="ltr">By 5 p.m., however, Borelli was told by City Council central staff that the BOE had agreed to appear before the committee for its pre-election check-in, as scheduled: Wednesday at 10 a.m. at City Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">A BOE spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment and there is no explanation for the flip-flop. “I don’t know if they’re afraid I have some smoking gun, which I don’t,” Borelli told Gotham Gazette when reached by phone. “I just want to know why the commissioner would say those things.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Borelli pointed out that the hearing has been on the Council’s public calendar for at least a week, but conceded that the BOE may have been given little notice. “I give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said, “because at the end of the day, they agreed to come.” At the hearing, he intends to question the nature of Schulkin’s comments, whether they were true and deserve to be investigated, or whether they were false and warrant Schulkin’s resignation. Council Member Kallos was not available for comment on Tuesday, but will chair Wednesday’s hearing.</p> <p>Notably, the BOE also cancelled its own weekly meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. When reached by phone, a spokesperson did not give a reason except to say that the executive committee had made the decision and that the board would meet as scheduled next week on November 1.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Ulrich Starts Raising Funds on Message of Beating De Blasio in 2017 2016-10-24T04:00:00+00:00 2016-10-24T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6590:ulrich-starts-raising-funds-on-message-of-beating-de-blasio-in-2017 Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/23596859421_e7373a68b5_z.jpg" alt="ulrich de blasio 2017" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>de Blasio, seated, &amp; Ulrich, to his right (photo: Ed Reed, Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>He’s not sure he’ll take the plunge, but City Council Member Eric Ulrich is beginning to raise money and test the waters for a possible 2017 mayoral run. The key motivator for Ulrich, a Queens Republican, is his belief that “Mayor de Blasio is destroying and dividing our beloved city.”</p> <p>That is how Ulrich is framing a fundraiser he is holding Tuesday evening, adding of Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, “I believe he can be beat in 2017 but I need your help” on the Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1331034403581469/" target="_blank">event page</a>. For the fundraiser, a $1,000 donation puts you on the “dump de Blasio” level.</p> <p>Ulrich, who calls himself a “moderate Republican,” supported Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the Republican presidential primary and readily talks about working across the aisle. He’s holding Tuesday’s event “to raise some money and have a discussion with my supporters and my friends about running next year,” he said during a Monday interview. “I’m seriously considering a run for Mayor,” he said.</p> <p>Explaining that he wants to launch a campaign that is both “a referendum on the mayor” and an opportunity to put forward a different vision from current city leadership, Ulrich said he would model himself after former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “bipartisan, independent” approach. Ulrich heaped prasie on Bloomberg during the interview, calling the former mayor “a friend,” and said, “I should hope that I would be half as good as Mike Bloomberg was.”</p> <p>In that vein, Ulrich said he has met with Howard Wolfson, a top Bloomberg aide, and other Bloomberg administration veterans, and that he plans to meet with Bradley Tusk, Bloomberg’s 2009 campaign manager who has launched an independent effort, “NYC Deserves Better,” to find the right candidate to defeat de Blasio.</p> <p>While Tusk has declared he’s looking to back a Democrat in 2017 because he thinks the best path to defeat de Blasio is through the primary, Ulrich said he hopes to get him “to change his theory” and explained what he sees as his wide-ranging appeal: he is fiscally conservative, but also pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-labor, and always ready to work with people of all viewpoints and party affiliations, he said.</p> <p>“I’ve met with Howard Wolfson privately,” Ulrich said of Bloomberg’s top political advisor. “I’m not going to divulge everything we discussed. We talked about next year’s race, and I was very encouraged by the conversation.”</p> <p>Ulrich <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/d32/html/members/home.shtml" target="_blank">represents</a> neighborhoods including Breezy Point, Ozone Park, and Rockaway Beach, and is the chair of the Council’s veterans affairs committee. He said Monday his plan is to bring in several hundred donors and launch a significant fundraising haul with a series of events between now and the next Campaign Finance Board filing in January. Admitting he has hurdles to clear before declaring a run for Mayor and an uphill battle if he does run, Ulrich said he wants to test the waters and, hopefully, take on de Blasio, who is mostly seen as a heavy favorite to win re-election. A key, Ulrich acknowledged, is raising solid early money and showing he can qualify for the city’s public matching funds program.</p> <p>He’s been meeting with political, civic, business, and faith leaders across the city, Ulrich said, “on my own time” (as opposed to when he’s performing his City Council duties). Democrats, Republicans, and independents included, the 31-year-old Council member said, many of whom are supportive, though interested in what kind of campaign he can begin moving before endorsing him or offering concrete help. Ulrich said he hasn’t hired a political consultancy yet, but has had several show interest.</p> <p>Ulrich acknowledges the steep challenge for a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, but also believes that a strong enough candidate could convince the city’s Republicans, most of its unaffiliated voters, and some of its Democrats to change course from de Blasio. He predicts a good likelihood of major independent expenditure money flooding the race in order to remove de Blasio from office.</p> <p>“Some of the people rumored to run for Mayor, both on the Democratic side and the Republican side, have missed the mark,” Ulrich said. “It’s going to be a referendum on de Blasio -- whether or not people want Bill de Blasio to be a one-term mayor. If you like the direction of the city...vote for Bill de Blasio. If you want to put the city on a different direction...then you’ve got to vote for somebody else.”</p> <p>While he said that “The big albatross around the mayor’s neck is the homeless crisis -- this is an issue that he’s failed to address,” Ulrich listed a few specific issues that he thinks the mayor has not performed on, but appears more focus on pointing to something less tangible, but important.</p> <p>“I think that we’re facing a crisis of confidence,” Ulrich said. “I believe people simply don’t have confidence in the mayor’s ability to do a good job...People just don’t like the guy, and that’s important to being in public office.” Ulrich referenced the investigations into the mayor’s fundraising practices.</p> <p>Allies of the mayor are quick to point out that Ulrich doesn’t have the resume, gravitas, name recognition, or money that Bloomberg had when he won three citywide elections as a Republican or independent.</p> <p>Dan Levitan, a spokesperson for de Blasio’s re-election campaign, said in a statement, “Under Mayor de Blasio, crime just hit another all-time low, jobs are at record highs, the City is building and preserving affordable housing at a record pace, while graduation rates and test scores continue to improve. We are happy to match that record against anyone.”</p> <p>Speaking on Monday, Ulrich gave de Blasio credit for his universal pre-kindergarten program, but said state funding made it possible and that he otherwise doesn’t have anything positive to say for the mayor. He pointed to questions around de Blasio’s education agenda, his mismanagement of the city’s Build It Back Sandy recovery program; said there is low morale in the NYPD, and criticized the mayor for “his combative relationship with the press and the governor.”</p> <p>Ulrich admitted he has big questions to answer, with the fundraising near or at the top. “I’m not going to run to get embarrassed,” he said. “Am I going to give up my seat on the City Council, where I could run for reelection one more time...do I want to give that up to run for Mayor? Only if I really thought there was a path to victory and I could get the support that I needed.”</p> <p>Most experts believe de Blasio has a very strong chance of winning another term. He is popular among Democrats and has many advantages of incumbency. But, he is much <a href="https://poll.qu.edu/new-york-city/release-detail?ReleaseID=2369" target="_blank">less popular </a>among Republicans and unaffiliated voters, and he is deeply unpopular among white New Yorkers, polls show. One question for any de Blasio general election challenger is whether there are enough votes out there to be captured in a city that is heavily Democratic and increasingly made up of people of color.</p> <p><a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/enrollment/county/county_apr16.pdf" target="_blank">According to</a> the state Board of Elections, as of April 1, there were just over 4 million active registered voters in New York City: 2.76 million of them Democrats; 460,000 Republicans; 785,700 unaffiliated; and about 162,000 registered with other parties, like the Independence, Green, Working Families, and Conservative parties.</p> <p>Short of viability against de Blasio, unknown for Ulrich is what the Republican primary field will look like. Real estate executive Paul Massey has declared a run, and there are other rumored candidates, but it’s not clear what the city and state GOP leadership are doing in terms of cultivating candidates. Ulrich said he’s had some encouraging conversations with county and club leaders; some people have told him he’d give de Blasio “the best fight,” he said.</p> <p>Ulrich added, “Some of have said, ‘Eric’s a good guy, but we want another rich white guy...a billionaire.’” But, Ulrich said he’s not sure that Bloomberg-like figure is out there -- a strong candidate who can also self-finance. “If we’re tied with CFB funds,” Ulrich said of himself and de Blasio, “I can’t imagine powerful business and civic folks not getting involved” with independent expenditures.</p> <p>“Eric has a lot of talent,” said City Council Member Joseph Borelli, a Staten Island Republican. “The mayor is unpopular in many parts of the city where Eric’s voice could resonate, but it’s early in the process and there are a number of Republicans who’ve expressed interest, and we should be careful with who we nominate.”</p> <p>Borelli and Ulrich come from different wings of the GOP -- Borelli has been a major supporter of Donald Trump’s candidacy, while Ulrich has been in the “never Trump” category and backed Kasich. Ulrich has regularly voted for City Council bills that Borelli and the third Republican in the City Council, Minority Leader Steven Matteo, vote against. Still, if Ulrich is the Republican nominee for Mayor in 2017, it’s all-but-certain that Borelli and other Republicans back him. The question is how much money and enthusiasm Ulrich or any Republican nominee for Mayor can attract -- de Blasio’s 2013 opponent, Joe Lhota, was not the beneficiary of a major rallying of the troops. De Blasio won in a landslide.</p> <p>One place Ulrich could be looking for support is through Tusk and his ambition to unseat de Blasio, who he has called corrupt and incompetent. Asked about the prospect of meeting with and supporting Ulrich, Patrick Muncie, who works at Tusk Strategies and is a spokesperson for NYC Deserves Better, sent Gotham Gazette a statement saying, “While we like and respect Council Member Ulrich, and are happy to meet with him to discuss our shared belief that New Yorkers deserve honest, competent leadership in City Hall, we’re confident the most realistic path [to defeating de Blasio] is through the Democratic primary.”</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/23596859421_e7373a68b5_z.jpg" alt="ulrich de blasio 2017" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>de Blasio, seated, &amp; Ulrich, to his right (photo: Ed Reed, Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>He’s not sure he’ll take the plunge, but City Council Member Eric Ulrich is beginning to raise money and test the waters for a possible 2017 mayoral run. The key motivator for Ulrich, a Queens Republican, is his belief that “Mayor de Blasio is destroying and dividing our beloved city.”</p> <p>That is how Ulrich is framing a fundraiser he is holding Tuesday evening, adding of Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, “I believe he can be beat in 2017 but I need your help” on the Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1331034403581469/" target="_blank">event page</a>. For the fundraiser, a $1,000 donation puts you on the “dump de Blasio” level.</p> <p>Ulrich, who calls himself a “moderate Republican,” supported Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the Republican presidential primary and readily talks about working across the aisle. He’s holding Tuesday’s event “to raise some money and have a discussion with my supporters and my friends about running next year,” he said during a Monday interview. “I’m seriously considering a run for Mayor,” he said.</p> <p>Explaining that he wants to launch a campaign that is both “a referendum on the mayor” and an opportunity to put forward a different vision from current city leadership, Ulrich said he would model himself after former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “bipartisan, independent” approach. Ulrich heaped prasie on Bloomberg during the interview, calling the former mayor “a friend,” and said, “I should hope that I would be half as good as Mike Bloomberg was.”</p> <p>In that vein, Ulrich said he has met with Howard Wolfson, a top Bloomberg aide, and other Bloomberg administration veterans, and that he plans to meet with Bradley Tusk, Bloomberg’s 2009 campaign manager who has launched an independent effort, “NYC Deserves Better,” to find the right candidate to defeat de Blasio.</p> <p>While Tusk has declared he’s looking to back a Democrat in 2017 because he thinks the best path to defeat de Blasio is through the primary, Ulrich said he hopes to get him “to change his theory” and explained what he sees as his wide-ranging appeal: he is fiscally conservative, but also pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-labor, and always ready to work with people of all viewpoints and party affiliations, he said.</p> <p>“I’ve met with Howard Wolfson privately,” Ulrich said of Bloomberg’s top political advisor. “I’m not going to divulge everything we discussed. We talked about next year’s race, and I was very encouraged by the conversation.”</p> <p>Ulrich <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/d32/html/members/home.shtml" target="_blank">represents</a> neighborhoods including Breezy Point, Ozone Park, and Rockaway Beach, and is the chair of the Council’s veterans affairs committee. He said Monday his plan is to bring in several hundred donors and launch a significant fundraising haul with a series of events between now and the next Campaign Finance Board filing in January. Admitting he has hurdles to clear before declaring a run for Mayor and an uphill battle if he does run, Ulrich said he wants to test the waters and, hopefully, take on de Blasio, who is mostly seen as a heavy favorite to win re-election. A key, Ulrich acknowledged, is raising solid early money and showing he can qualify for the city’s public matching funds program.</p> <p>He’s been meeting with political, civic, business, and faith leaders across the city, Ulrich said, “on my own time” (as opposed to when he’s performing his City Council duties). Democrats, Republicans, and independents included, the 31-year-old Council member said, many of whom are supportive, though interested in what kind of campaign he can begin moving before endorsing him or offering concrete help. Ulrich said he hasn’t hired a political consultancy yet, but has had several show interest.</p> <p>Ulrich acknowledges the steep challenge for a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, but also believes that a strong enough candidate could convince the city’s Republicans, most of its unaffiliated voters, and some of its Democrats to change course from de Blasio. He predicts a good likelihood of major independent expenditure money flooding the race in order to remove de Blasio from office.</p> <p>“Some of the people rumored to run for Mayor, both on the Democratic side and the Republican side, have missed the mark,” Ulrich said. “It’s going to be a referendum on de Blasio -- whether or not people want Bill de Blasio to be a one-term mayor. If you like the direction of the city...vote for Bill de Blasio. If you want to put the city on a different direction...then you’ve got to vote for somebody else.”</p> <p>While he said that “The big albatross around the mayor’s neck is the homeless crisis -- this is an issue that he’s failed to address,” Ulrich listed a few specific issues that he thinks the mayor has not performed on, but appears more focus on pointing to something less tangible, but important.</p> <p>“I think that we’re facing a crisis of confidence,” Ulrich said. “I believe people simply don’t have confidence in the mayor’s ability to do a good job...People just don’t like the guy, and that’s important to being in public office.” Ulrich referenced the investigations into the mayor’s fundraising practices.</p> <p>Allies of the mayor are quick to point out that Ulrich doesn’t have the resume, gravitas, name recognition, or money that Bloomberg had when he won three citywide elections as a Republican or independent.</p> <p>Dan Levitan, a spokesperson for de Blasio’s re-election campaign, said in a statement, “Under Mayor de Blasio, crime just hit another all-time low, jobs are at record highs, the City is building and preserving affordable housing at a record pace, while graduation rates and test scores continue to improve. We are happy to match that record against anyone.”</p> <p>Speaking on Monday, Ulrich gave de Blasio credit for his universal pre-kindergarten program, but said state funding made it possible and that he otherwise doesn’t have anything positive to say for the mayor. He pointed to questions around de Blasio’s education agenda, his mismanagement of the city’s Build It Back Sandy recovery program; said there is low morale in the NYPD, and criticized the mayor for “his combative relationship with the press and the governor.”</p> <p>Ulrich admitted he has big questions to answer, with the fundraising near or at the top. “I’m not going to run to get embarrassed,” he said. “Am I going to give up my seat on the City Council, where I could run for reelection one more time...do I want to give that up to run for Mayor? Only if I really thought there was a path to victory and I could get the support that I needed.”</p> <p>Most experts believe de Blasio has a very strong chance of winning another term. He is popular among Democrats and has many advantages of incumbency. But, he is much <a href="https://poll.qu.edu/new-york-city/release-detail?ReleaseID=2369" target="_blank">less popular </a>among Republicans and unaffiliated voters, and he is deeply unpopular among white New Yorkers, polls show. One question for any de Blasio general election challenger is whether there are enough votes out there to be captured in a city that is heavily Democratic and increasingly made up of people of color.</p> <p><a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/enrollment/county/county_apr16.pdf" target="_blank">According to</a> the state Board of Elections, as of April 1, there were just over 4 million active registered voters in New York City: 2.76 million of them Democrats; 460,000 Republicans; 785,700 unaffiliated; and about 162,000 registered with other parties, like the Independence, Green, Working Families, and Conservative parties.</p> <p>Short of viability against de Blasio, unknown for Ulrich is what the Republican primary field will look like. Real estate executive Paul Massey has declared a run, and there are other rumored candidates, but it’s not clear what the city and state GOP leadership are doing in terms of cultivating candidates. Ulrich said he’s had some encouraging conversations with county and club leaders; some people have told him he’d give de Blasio “the best fight,” he said.</p> <p>Ulrich added, “Some of have said, ‘Eric’s a good guy, but we want another rich white guy...a billionaire.’” But, Ulrich said he’s not sure that Bloomberg-like figure is out there -- a strong candidate who can also self-finance. “If we’re tied with CFB funds,” Ulrich said of himself and de Blasio, “I can’t imagine powerful business and civic folks not getting involved” with independent expenditures.</p> <p>“Eric has a lot of talent,” said City Council Member Joseph Borelli, a Staten Island Republican. “The mayor is unpopular in many parts of the city where Eric’s voice could resonate, but it’s early in the process and there are a number of Republicans who’ve expressed interest, and we should be careful with who we nominate.”</p> <p>Borelli and Ulrich come from different wings of the GOP -- Borelli has been a major supporter of Donald Trump’s candidacy, while Ulrich has been in the “never Trump” category and backed Kasich. Ulrich has regularly voted for City Council bills that Borelli and the third Republican in the City Council, Minority Leader Steven Matteo, vote against. Still, if Ulrich is the Republican nominee for Mayor in 2017, it’s all-but-certain that Borelli and other Republicans back him. The question is how much money and enthusiasm Ulrich or any Republican nominee for Mayor can attract -- de Blasio’s 2013 opponent, Joe Lhota, was not the beneficiary of a major rallying of the troops. De Blasio won in a landslide.</p> <p>One place Ulrich could be looking for support is through Tusk and his ambition to unseat de Blasio, who he has called corrupt and incompetent. Asked about the prospect of meeting with and supporting Ulrich, Patrick Muncie, who works at Tusk Strategies and is a spokesperson for NYC Deserves Better, sent Gotham Gazette a statement saying, “While we like and respect Council Member Ulrich, and are happy to meet with him to discuss our shared belief that New Yorkers deserve honest, competent leadership in City Hall, we’re confident the most realistic path [to defeating de Blasio] is through the Democratic primary.”</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Election Commissioner’s Rant Prompts Dispute Over IDNYC and Voter ID in New York 2016-10-13T04:00:00+00:00 2016-10-13T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6572:election-commissioner-s-rant-prompts-dispute-over-idnyc-and-voter-id-in-new-york Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/25921213744_f51332a042_z.jpg" alt="de blasio mccray arrive to vote" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio &amp; First Lady McCray arrive to vote (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Joe Borelli, one of three Republicans in the 51-seat City Council, on Tuesday called for a hearing on voter fraud and said that he supports a statewide voter identification law to combat potential fraud. Borelli&rsquo;s calls came after the release of a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=176&amp;v=jUDTcxIqqM0" target="_blank">secretly-recorded video</a> that showed a Democratic Commissioner for the city Board of Elections claiming significant voting fraud and criticizing the city&rsquo;s municipal identification program for contributing to it.</p> <p dir="ltr">Borelli, who sits on the Council&rsquo;s governmental operations committee, which has oversight of the Board of Elections, wrote to committee chair Ben Kallos, a Democrat from Manhattan, requesting the hearing. Kallos told Gotham Gazette on Thursday that he disagrees with Borelli about the need for a state voter identification law and said that he will bring up the fraud allegations by BOE Commissioner Alan Schulkin at an already-planned elections oversight hearing in October.</p> <p dir="ltr">Schulkin&rsquo;s comments and the call for a voter identification law also prompted strong rebukes from the offices of Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</p> <p dir="ltr">The video in question, first <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/10/11/elections-official-caught-on-video-blasting-de-blasios-id-program/" target="_blank">reported by</a> the New York Post, is the work of Project Veritas, a conservative group that purports to investigate corruption in public institutions through hidden camera exposes. The group&rsquo;s founder, James O&rsquo;Keefe, has a checkered history of using &lsquo;gotcha&rsquo; tactics and manipulated videos to pursue his agenda.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the video, shot by a Project Veritas member at a holiday party hosted by the United Federation of Teachers in December, Schulkin, the Democratic election commissioner from Manhattan, said, &ldquo;I think there is a lot of voter fraud&rdquo; and claimed, falsely, that the city gives away its municipal identification card without any prerequisites. There is also no relationship between the municipal ID and voting in New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">The New York City Board of Elections is composed of a Democratic and Republican commissioner from each of the five boroughs. In the video, Schulkin suggested that IDNYC, the municipal ID card that is a signature accomplishment for both de Blasio and Mark-Viverito, can be used fraudulently, even to cast a vote, and that the law should establish a form of identification for voters.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You know, I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s too much to ask somebody to show some kind of an ID,&rdquo; Schulkin said. Schulkin clarified his remarks to the Post on Monday but did not entirely recant his words. &ldquo;I should have said &lsquo;potential fraud&rsquo; instead of &lsquo;fraud,&rsquo;&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The de Blasio administration and other local elected officials didn&rsquo;t take kindly to the unsubstantiated claims made by Schulkin or the calls for voter identification.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These allegations are not only false, they&rsquo;re racist,&rdquo; said Austin Finan, a mayoral spokesperson, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;Voter fraud fear-mongering is a rightwing smokescreen designed to not only disenfranchise the poor and people of color, but thwart efforts to deliver sorely needed electoral reforms in New York and across the country. New Yorkers deserve public officials who are committed to defending democracy, not undermining it.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Another spokesperson pointed out that the municipal ID program has built-in fraud prevention measures and involves layers of screening and authentication. According to the latest quarterly report from September, the program detected 92 instances of suspected fraud and prevented those applications from going through, out of more than 996,000 applications. In another 18 cases, an applicant may have applied with a different name and in a single case, the application documents could not be verified.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Borelli took Schulkin&rsquo;s allegations quite seriously in another way. In <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC/status/785945655596294149" target="_blank">his letter</a> on Tuesday to Council Member Kallos, Borelli wrote, &ldquo;I believe that we have an obligation to our constituents to do our due diligence and investigate the veracity of these claims as they relate to potential fraudulent activities by perpetrators who fall under the jurisdiction of a city agency.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Saying that he was &ldquo;weary of the potential for fraud that could be committed by those that would abuse this program,&rdquo; Borelli pushed for a hearing where Schulkin should testify. He also said the &ldquo;merits and effectiveness&rdquo; of the IDNYC program should be evaluated to &ldquo;reassure taxpayers that their money is being spent judiciously and with proper oversight.&rdquo; When Gotham Gazette <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax/status/785867588115005440" target="_blank">asked</a> Borelli on Twitter whether he supports a voter identification law for New York, Borelli <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC/status/785870244837335041" target="_blank">responded</a>, &ldquo;yes, statewide. Would be state law.&rdquo;</p> <p>During a phone interview Thursday evening, Borelli said, &ldquo;I want to remind the administration that this is a Democratic commissioner, and to my knowledge no Republican commissioner has made a claim of voter fraud.&rdquo;&nbsp;&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not sure why there&rsquo;s a hint of protectionism over what this person is saying,&rdquo; Borelli added, noting that "any other allegation of fraud from a commissioner anywhere would be investigated."</p> <p>&ldquo;How often is it you have an agency head saying there is fraud in their own agency and you have people trying to sweep it under the rug?&rdquo; Borelli asked, rhetorically.</p> <p dir="ltr">Any claim that the IDNYC can be used for voter fraud is dubious, since New York State requires no identification to vote except a signature -- something Borelli acknowledged Thursday, saying he is focused on the allegations of voter fraud.</p> <p dir="ltr">Voter identification laws, meanwhile, are almost always controversial and have been the subject of a number of legal battles across the country, particularly in Republican-led states. Those on the left say that there is scant evidence of voter fraud that would necessitate such laws and that such voting requirements tend to keep people of color from voting.</p> <p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General&rsquo;s office said in an email, &ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t received reports of widespread voter impersonation fraud discussed in the video.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Kallos told Gotham Gazette he &ldquo;fervently&rdquo; disagrees with Borelli. &ldquo;I do not believe that we need voter identification,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I believe it is a tool used to disenfranchise voters.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Kallos said he was &ldquo;troubled and concerned&rdquo; about Schulkin&rsquo;s comments in the video and would bring the issue up at an oversight hearing already in the works before Borelli sent his letter -- the City Council holds a hearing ahead of election administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Everything that was said is troubling,&rdquo; Kallos said of the video, which released the same day that Kallos hosted an IDNYC pop-up registration event on Roosevelt Island. &ldquo;We hope to have oversight of the BOE...to find out what happened, whether any of these views had an impact in the conduct of any of the presidential primary elections or any election since this man has been appointed to the BOE.&rdquo;</p> <p>Borelli wants to drill down on voter fraud. &ldquo;To say there are no individual cases of fraud within the Board of Elections system when we have annual hearings on fraudulent petition signatures would be false,&rdquo; he said Thursday. The Staten Island Council member pointed to discussions across the country about the possible need for voter identification and questioned the matching signatures approach currently used in New York, saying that he's sure there are instances where a voter's signature does not match what is in the sign-in book but the discrepancy is not reported.</p> <p dir="ltr">Kallos said the oversight hearing, which will be held by the end of October, already planned to focus on whether the Board of Elections is prepared for the presidential election on November 8. The agenda will touch upon the state voter file, whether or not voters who were incorrectly purged from the rolls before the April presidential primary had been restored, whether the BOE will have enough people to work on Election Day, and any concerns brought up by Council members, including Borelli.</p> <p>In an emailed statement, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said of the video, &ldquo;These uninformed opinions have no basis in fact.&rdquo; Spokesperson Eric Koch said the speaker does not believe in voter identification laws.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Reporting contributed by Ben Max.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/25921213744_f51332a042_z.jpg" alt="de blasio mccray arrive to vote" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio &amp; First Lady McCray arrive to vote (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Joe Borelli, one of three Republicans in the 51-seat City Council, on Tuesday called for a hearing on voter fraud and said that he supports a statewide voter identification law to combat potential fraud. Borelli&rsquo;s calls came after the release of a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=176&amp;v=jUDTcxIqqM0" target="_blank">secretly-recorded video</a> that showed a Democratic Commissioner for the city Board of Elections claiming significant voting fraud and criticizing the city&rsquo;s municipal identification program for contributing to it.</p> <p dir="ltr">Borelli, who sits on the Council&rsquo;s governmental operations committee, which has oversight of the Board of Elections, wrote to committee chair Ben Kallos, a Democrat from Manhattan, requesting the hearing. Kallos told Gotham Gazette on Thursday that he disagrees with Borelli about the need for a state voter identification law and said that he will bring up the fraud allegations by BOE Commissioner Alan Schulkin at an already-planned elections oversight hearing in October.</p> <p dir="ltr">Schulkin&rsquo;s comments and the call for a voter identification law also prompted strong rebukes from the offices of Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</p> <p dir="ltr">The video in question, first <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/10/11/elections-official-caught-on-video-blasting-de-blasios-id-program/" target="_blank">reported by</a> the New York Post, is the work of Project Veritas, a conservative group that purports to investigate corruption in public institutions through hidden camera exposes. The group&rsquo;s founder, James O&rsquo;Keefe, has a checkered history of using &lsquo;gotcha&rsquo; tactics and manipulated videos to pursue his agenda.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the video, shot by a Project Veritas member at a holiday party hosted by the United Federation of Teachers in December, Schulkin, the Democratic election commissioner from Manhattan, said, &ldquo;I think there is a lot of voter fraud&rdquo; and claimed, falsely, that the city gives away its municipal identification card without any prerequisites. There is also no relationship between the municipal ID and voting in New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">The New York City Board of Elections is composed of a Democratic and Republican commissioner from each of the five boroughs. In the video, Schulkin suggested that IDNYC, the municipal ID card that is a signature accomplishment for both de Blasio and Mark-Viverito, can be used fraudulently, even to cast a vote, and that the law should establish a form of identification for voters.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You know, I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s too much to ask somebody to show some kind of an ID,&rdquo; Schulkin said. Schulkin clarified his remarks to the Post on Monday but did not entirely recant his words. &ldquo;I should have said &lsquo;potential fraud&rsquo; instead of &lsquo;fraud,&rsquo;&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The de Blasio administration and other local elected officials didn&rsquo;t take kindly to the unsubstantiated claims made by Schulkin or the calls for voter identification.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These allegations are not only false, they&rsquo;re racist,&rdquo; said Austin Finan, a mayoral spokesperson, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;Voter fraud fear-mongering is a rightwing smokescreen designed to not only disenfranchise the poor and people of color, but thwart efforts to deliver sorely needed electoral reforms in New York and across the country. New Yorkers deserve public officials who are committed to defending democracy, not undermining it.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Another spokesperson pointed out that the municipal ID program has built-in fraud prevention measures and involves layers of screening and authentication. According to the latest quarterly report from September, the program detected 92 instances of suspected fraud and prevented those applications from going through, out of more than 996,000 applications. In another 18 cases, an applicant may have applied with a different name and in a single case, the application documents could not be verified.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Borelli took Schulkin&rsquo;s allegations quite seriously in another way. In <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC/status/785945655596294149" target="_blank">his letter</a> on Tuesday to Council Member Kallos, Borelli wrote, &ldquo;I believe that we have an obligation to our constituents to do our due diligence and investigate the veracity of these claims as they relate to potential fraudulent activities by perpetrators who fall under the jurisdiction of a city agency.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Saying that he was &ldquo;weary of the potential for fraud that could be committed by those that would abuse this program,&rdquo; Borelli pushed for a hearing where Schulkin should testify. He also said the &ldquo;merits and effectiveness&rdquo; of the IDNYC program should be evaluated to &ldquo;reassure taxpayers that their money is being spent judiciously and with proper oversight.&rdquo; When Gotham Gazette <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax/status/785867588115005440" target="_blank">asked</a> Borelli on Twitter whether he supports a voter identification law for New York, Borelli <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC/status/785870244837335041" target="_blank">responded</a>, &ldquo;yes, statewide. Would be state law.&rdquo;</p> <p>During a phone interview Thursday evening, Borelli said, &ldquo;I want to remind the administration that this is a Democratic commissioner, and to my knowledge no Republican commissioner has made a claim of voter fraud.&rdquo;&nbsp;&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not sure why there&rsquo;s a hint of protectionism over what this person is saying,&rdquo; Borelli added, noting that "any other allegation of fraud from a commissioner anywhere would be investigated."</p> <p>&ldquo;How often is it you have an agency head saying there is fraud in their own agency and you have people trying to sweep it under the rug?&rdquo; Borelli asked, rhetorically.</p> <p dir="ltr">Any claim that the IDNYC can be used for voter fraud is dubious, since New York State requires no identification to vote except a signature -- something Borelli acknowledged Thursday, saying he is focused on the allegations of voter fraud.</p> <p dir="ltr">Voter identification laws, meanwhile, are almost always controversial and have been the subject of a number of legal battles across the country, particularly in Republican-led states. Those on the left say that there is scant evidence of voter fraud that would necessitate such laws and that such voting requirements tend to keep people of color from voting.</p> <p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General&rsquo;s office said in an email, &ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t received reports of widespread voter impersonation fraud discussed in the video.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Kallos told Gotham Gazette he &ldquo;fervently&rdquo; disagrees with Borelli. &ldquo;I do not believe that we need voter identification,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I believe it is a tool used to disenfranchise voters.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Kallos said he was &ldquo;troubled and concerned&rdquo; about Schulkin&rsquo;s comments in the video and would bring the issue up at an oversight hearing already in the works before Borelli sent his letter -- the City Council holds a hearing ahead of election administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Everything that was said is troubling,&rdquo; Kallos said of the video, which released the same day that Kallos hosted an IDNYC pop-up registration event on Roosevelt Island. &ldquo;We hope to have oversight of the BOE...to find out what happened, whether any of these views had an impact in the conduct of any of the presidential primary elections or any election since this man has been appointed to the BOE.&rdquo;</p> <p>Borelli wants to drill down on voter fraud. &ldquo;To say there are no individual cases of fraud within the Board of Elections system when we have annual hearings on fraudulent petition signatures would be false,&rdquo; he said Thursday. The Staten Island Council member pointed to discussions across the country about the possible need for voter identification and questioned the matching signatures approach currently used in New York, saying that he's sure there are instances where a voter's signature does not match what is in the sign-in book but the discrepancy is not reported.</p> <p dir="ltr">Kallos said the oversight hearing, which will be held by the end of October, already planned to focus on whether the Board of Elections is prepared for the presidential election on November 8. The agenda will touch upon the state voter file, whether or not voters who were incorrectly purged from the rolls before the April presidential primary had been restored, whether the BOE will have enough people to work on Election Day, and any concerns brought up by Council members, including Borelli.</p> <p>In an emailed statement, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said of the video, &ldquo;These uninformed opinions have no basis in fact.&rdquo; Spokesperson Eric Koch said the speaker does not believe in voter identification laws.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Reporting contributed by Ben Max.</p>
New Yorkers, Including the Presidential Nominees, Head to the National Party Conventions 2016-07-17T04:00:00+00:00 2016-07-17T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6439:new-yorkers-including-the-presidential-nominees-head-to-the-national-party-conventions Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/RNC_banner.jpg" alt="RNC banner" width="600" height="347" /></p> <p>The RNC approaches (image via @GOPconvention)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">The next two weeks will see the formal nominations of the two major party candidates in the contest to succeed Barack Obama as President of The United States. First, this week, Republicans are expected to nominate Donald J. Trump, who on Saturday morning introduced Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate. On Saturday, Trump promised &ldquo;we&rsquo;re going to have an incredible convention.&rdquo; The theme of the convention is "Make America Great Again," which has been Trump's campaign slogan.</p> <p dir="ltr">All eyes will be on Cleveland Monday through Thursday as the Republicans convene, with New York delegates front and center at the convention given that the presumptive nominee calls the Empire State home. Americans are also bracing for protests and many are hoping that there is no violence outside or inside Quicken Loans Arena.</p> <p dir="ltr">The same goes for Philadelphia, where the following week, that of July 25, the Democrats are set to name Hillary Clinton their nominee for President.</p> <p dir="ltr">Clinton also calls New York home, and there are many New York angles to the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions. These include the delegations traveling to Cleveland and Philadelphia, which for the Democrats will include both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, among many other high-profile New Yorkers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Aside from officially nominating their presidential and vice-presidential candidates, the conventions will also see formal adoption of the official party policy platforms. These decisions are being made by the thousands of delegates from across the country who attend each convention - an assortment of current and former elected officials, prominent party members, activists, businesspeople, and others - in part as dictated by the voting that occurred in each state.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the Republican convention kicks off, it appears that any last-ditch efforts from within the party to keep Trump from the nomination have been scuttled. The speakers list for the convention fit with Trump&rsquo;s campaign as an anti-establishment outsider and is largely devoid of major party figures - there will be no appearance by prior presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, or a variety of Republican governors, senators, and others who are prominent in the party. Home-state Governor John Kasich, of Ohio, one of Trump&rsquo;s rivals for the nomination, is not scheduled to be part of the proceedings.</p> <p dir="ltr">There will be a full slate of <a href="http://convention.gop/post/147558746375/2016-gop-convention-program-announced" target="_blank">speakers</a>, of course, including Trump&rsquo;s four adult children, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Gov. Chris Christie, Senator Ted Cruz, Gov. Scott Walker, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, GOP Chair Reince Priebus, and others. Pence will be the headline speaker on Wednesday night, while Trump will give the convention's final words on Thursday evening.</p> <p dir="ltr">With some time still before the Democratic convention, the big news everyone is waiting for is Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s vice presidential nominee. Many are calling Virginia Senator Tim Kaine the frontrunner, but nothing official has been announced. Unlike Trump&rsquo;s convention, Clinton&rsquo;s will feature a &lsquo;who&rsquo;s who&rsquo; of major party names - Democratic National Convention speakers will include President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and others. Like Trump, Clinton will see her adult child, Chelsea, speak.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the conventions kick off there is much to watch for over the next two weeks; they also signal the start to the final three-and-a-half months of the campaign, leading to Election Day on November 8: the final stretch of speeches, platforms, polls, ads, debates, and more.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em><strong>Here&rsquo;s what New Yorkers need to know and should be watching for as the national conventions arrive:</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION, July 18-21</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>When and Where is the RNC?</strong><br />The 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) will be held July 18-21 (Monday-Thursday) in Cleveland, Ohio at the Quicken Loans Arena. After a tough and controversial primary season, the RNC is an opportunity for more party healing and unity. In the lead up, most discussion of a coup to replace Trump with another nominee has quieted. Trump said on Saturday that one reason he chose Pence as his running mate is &ldquo;party unity.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Trump, who has been a media and reality TV star, told the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/while-the-gop-worries-about-convention-chaos-trump-pushes-for-showbiz-feel/2016/04/17/482cc914-0322-11e6-9d36-33d198ea26c5_story.html" target="_blank">Washington Post</a> that he intends to put his own &ldquo;showbiz&rdquo; spin on the convention&rsquo;s proceedings, though the official list of speakers is looking lighter on sports and entertainment legends than at one time thought.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Who Are the Delegates?</strong><br />Though the exact process varies by state party rules, delegates to the RNC generally fall within three categories. Each state gets ten at-large delegates, plus delegates awarded based on that state&rsquo;s Republican electoral success in the past (for instance, having a Republican Governor). Each state is allocated delegates based on congressional districts and each state&rsquo;s Republican National Committeeman, Committeewoman, and State Chair all attend as delegates.</p> <p dir="ltr">Following this formula, New York will have a total of 95 delegates, including 27 from New York City, 54 from around the rest of the state, and 14 at-large. In a change of long-time state party rules, New York&rsquo;s GOP delegates this year were selected by the State Republican Committee and several mini-committees for each of New York&rsquo;s twenty-seven congressional districts, rather than having many determined by the presidential candidates on the ballot. The switch was intended to reward long-time party loyalists over the candidates&rsquo; friends and family, who were often favored in the past, according to <a href="http://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/03/how_new_yorks_new_gop_delegate_rules_could_help_derail_donald_trump.html" target="_blank">Syracuse.com</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Jessica Proud, spokesperson for the State Republican Party, considers the new delegate selection process a welcome shift from a &ldquo;top-down&rdquo; to &ldquo;bottom-up&rdquo; approach.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It's considered a coveted role to be a delegate,&rdquo; she said in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette, &ldquo;so this was a way to help reward the people that have really been the stalwarts of the party, helping to elect our candidates and grow our party every year. They were really pleased with it.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Currently, 89 of New York&rsquo;s delegates are pledged to Trump, while 6 remain bound to Kasich (who won Manhattan), though the Ohio governor officially suspended his campaign on May 4.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The New York Angle</strong><br />&ldquo;In a lot of ways, New York was the catalyst to help Trump seal in the nomination,&rdquo; Proud recalls.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It was the first time he had gotten over 50 percent of the vote, and then right after that was Indiana, and then Cruz and Kasich both dropped out,&rdquo; Proud said. &ldquo;So it all came together in New York; he won every demographic. It was the first time he really proved that he could go outside a larger box than he had in previous primaries and caucuses.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Trump came out of New York&rsquo;s April 19 primary with a large lead over Kasich and Cruz and the writing was all but on the wall. While Kasich did squeak out New York County (aka Manhattan), Trump dominated the rest of the state, winning 60.4 percent of the total vote.</p> <p dir="ltr">This success, plus Trump&rsquo;s extensive New York networks, both personal and professional, means this year&rsquo;s RNC will be dominated by New Yorkers.</p> <p dir="ltr">At-large delegates include Chair of the state GOP Ed Cox, state party Finance Chair Arcadio Casillas, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, and Wendy Long, who is challenging Senator Charles Schumer in November.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Friday, Cox released a statement praising Trump&rsquo;s choice of Pence as a running mate, saying, in part, that "Mr. Trump has once again demonstrated the leadership skills required to make the changes necessary to put America on the right track."</p> <p dir="ltr">Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been publicly backing Trump and is set to speak at the convention. He is a delegate to the convention, pledged to Kasich. City Council Member Joseph Borelli, of Staten Island, is a Trump delegate. Borelli has been a frequent Trump surrogate on TV for many months. He travelled to Ohio with his successor in the state Assembly, Ron Castorina, and former Council Member Vincent Ignizio.</p> <p dir="ltr">Other prominent GOP delegates include Alfonse D&rsquo;Amato, former U.S. Senator; Carl Paladino, honorary co-chair of Trump&rsquo;s New York campaign and 2010 gubernatorial candidate; Tom Dadey, first vice chairman of the state GOP and co-chair of Trump&rsquo;s New York campaign; and state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan - several other state senators will be in attendance: Golden, DeFrancisco, O&rsquo;Mara, Croci, though DeFrancisco is the only delegate among them (he is pledged to Kasich). Assembly members Kolb and DiPietro are delegates. Assembly Member Bill Nojay, an upstate Republican who in the past played a significant role in attempting to push Trump to run for New York Governor and helped lay the groundwork for Trump&rsquo;s presidential bid, will not be attending.</p> <p dir="ltr">New York State Senators are hoping to maintain or expand their slim majority through the November elections and Trump&rsquo;s candidacy may pose challenging for some candidates running in more moderate districts.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rubye Wright will also attend to vote for Trump - at 94 years of age, she is the oldest delegate heading to the convention, according to <a href="http://www.amny.com/opinion/columnists/mark-chiusano/party-of-lincoln-party-of-trump-rubye-wright-1.11833562" target="_blank">amNewYork</a>. A Harlem native and lifelong Republican, Wright has attended every national convention except one since 1968.&nbsp;A complete listing of New York GOP delegates can be found on <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Republican_delegates_from_New_York,_2016" target="_blank">Ballotpedia.</a></p> <p dir="ltr">According to the <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/07/07/trump-jr-may-be-the-delegate-to-make-dad-the-gop-nominee/" target="_blank">New York Post</a>, the State GOP has considered offering Donald Trump&rsquo;s son, Donald Trump Jr., the ceremonial role of announcing New York&rsquo;s 95 delegate votes. Trump Jr. will be attending the convention as one of Manhattan&rsquo;s high-profile district delegates, and has been actively involved in his father&rsquo;s campaign. Convention organizers may also position Trump Jr.&rsquo;s announcement so that the New York delegation&rsquo;s votes send Trump over the majority threshold to secure the nomination. Both details have yet to be confirmed.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We certainly would love to have him in that role,&rdquo; Proud said of Trump Jr., who will speak at the convention, &ldquo;but the logistics are being worked out between the campaign and the State Committee.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">New York City&rsquo;s only Republican member of its House of Representatives delegation, Daniel Donovan, will attend the convention. In <a href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/07/rnc_2016_donovan_excited_to_he.html" target="_blank">an interview with the Staten Island Advance</a>, Donovan said, "It's going to be exciting for our state.&rdquo; Looking ahead to November, he said, "Traditionally, Republicans don't win New York, but we have a New Yorker as the Republican nominee for the first time in a very long time."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Role of the Delegates</strong><br />Unlike the Democratic Party&rsquo;s superdelegates, most of the 2,472 delegates at the RNC are technically bound to vote for a certain candidate. According to the <a href="https://interactives.ap.org/2016/delegate-tracker/" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>, only 95 delegates are unbound and can vote for whomever they choose. Trump amassed 1,542 pledged delegates, which puts him over the majority threshold of 1,237 to secure the nomination. According to Adele Malpass, chair of the Manhattan Republican Party and a New York congressional district delegate, Trump&rsquo;s nomination is nothing short of guaranteed; &ldquo;We're having an infomercial kind of convention, not a brokered convention. Everyone's going as a Trump delegate.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">With calls for a &ldquo;Dump Trump&rdquo; movement subsiding, the 112-member Convention Rules Committee finished its business without changing things to aid the naming of a different nominee. At least a few opposing Trump may continue fighting. "Whether you supported Donald Trump along the way or not: He. Is. Our. Nominee," said RNC Rules Committee Chairman Bruce Ash on Tuesday, according to <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/13/politics/rnc-rules-fight-trump/" target="_blank">CNN</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Delegates at the convention must vote on the party&rsquo;s official policy platform. Members of the Platform Committee finished the draft platform while Trump himself took a hands-off approach, according to the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/11/us/politics/donald-trump-republican-party.html?_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times</a>, which cites discrepancies between the conservative language of the Republican platform and Trump&rsquo;s more moderate views on issues such as LGBT rights.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to the<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/13/us/politics/republican-convention-issues.html" target="_blank">&nbsp;Times</a>, moderate Republicans pushing for amendments to be made &ldquo;secured enough signatures on Tuesday to demand a vote on their proposals from all 2,475 delegates,&rdquo; so there may be some concessions made on the convention floor Monday before the final vote.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>See You in Cleveland</strong><br />For all aspects of the convention, New York will be front and center. &ldquo;There'll be a big spotlight on us,&rdquo; Proud noted, referring to the New York delegation as a whole.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;New York is already prominently featured, but the fact that our nominee is from the state really adds a whole other level of excitement and anticipation. It's definitely evidenced by the volume of requests that the state party has had of people wanting to attend. We've had way more requests than tickets that were given to us. The downside is you can't accommodate everyone, but from a party standpoint, it&rsquo;s very encouraging that so many people wanted to be there and that people are very excited.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong>DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION, July 25-28</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>When and Where is the DNC?</strong><br />The Democratic National Convention will take place July 25-28 (Monday through Thursday) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/brooklyn-snubbed-philadelphia-won-democratic-national-convention/story?id=28922362">Brooklyn</a> was seriously considered to host the convention amid a strong push from Mayor Bill de Blasio and others, Philadelphia won the honor.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>How are the Delegates Allocated?</strong><br />There are <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160411/midtown/all-of-your-new-york-presidential-delegate-questions-answered" target="_blank">three types of delegates</a> for the Democrats: pledged delegates, who petitioned in order to get on the ballot and become a delegate, and are legally bound to support a particular candidate; at-large delegates, chosen by the state Democratic Party, who pledge to vote for a particular candidate; and unpledged delegates, otherwise known as superdelegates, who are prominent party leaders not bound to any candidate. There are 345 representatives of the New York State Democratic Party heading to the convention, according to the party.</p> <p dir="ltr">There is no drama expected at the Democratic convention in terms of delegate allocation as Bernie Sanders has conceded and endorsed Hillary Clinton, so the types of delegates are unlikely to be a factor.</p> <p dir="ltr">As more signs were pointing to a Clinton win by a solid margin, she won her home state of New York on April 19. Throughout the race, Clinton accumulated an overwhelming majority of the superdelegates, known party insiders always supportive of her over Sanders, who has not been an establishment Democrat. This led to some of the calls from Sanders and his supporters of a &lsquo;rigged system.&rsquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The Democratic Party Platform</strong><br />Sanders and his supporters, plus the national Democratic tilt leftward, have had a significant influence on <a href="https://demconvention.com/platform/" target="_blank">the party platform</a> being adopted this year -- progressive influence throughout the primary season as well as recent, more explicit demands. Two issues are emblematic: calling for a <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/bernie-sanders-scores-big-wins-democratic-platform" target="_blank">$15 per hour minimum wage </a>and standing <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/democratic-platform-death-penalty_us_5776d56de4b0a629c1aa0984" target="_blank">against capital punishment</a> in all circumstances. The party platform has stepped to the ideological left of Clinton, who has spoken in favor of a <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/apr/15/bernie-s/does-hillary-clinton-want-15-or-12-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">$12 federal minimum wage</a> (with states going higher per their judgement) and <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/apr/15/bernie-s/does-hillary-clinton-want-15-or-12-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">capital punishment for certain crimes</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr. David Birdsell, a professor and dean at Baruch College, does not believe that Sanders&rsquo; endorsement of Clinton is enough to dissipate all of the tension within the Democratic Party.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The Sanders endorsement &ndash; and he did use the word &lsquo;endorse&rsquo; &ndash; of Clinton will go a long way toward reducing contention and controversy in Philadelphia,&rdquo; Birdsell said in an interview. &ldquo;[However,] there will still be some tension; Hillary Clinton is too polarizing a figure to expect an entirely smooth process. But chances are good at this point that Democrats will come together and unite for the fall campaign - barring further repercussions from the FBI&rsquo;s decision not to prosecute [Clinton, regarding her email scandal], but that&rsquo;s a general election problem, not a convention problem.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Birdsell also believes that the concessions that the Democratic Party has made will be the only ones for a while.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I suspect the concessions made to date are the end of the story, at least through the convention. Could there be a rear-guard effort to get TPP language in the platform? Yes, but given the deep affront that would pose to the sitting President, who is and will remain through November the Party&rsquo;s principal asset, I think anything public highly unlikely.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The New York Angle</strong><br />Basil Smikle, executive director of the New York State Democratic Committee, is excited about the amendments to the party&rsquo;s platform. Smikle sees them as an expansion of New York values to the rest of the nation. &ldquo;I think New York has been in this conversation and led it for a long time,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think the state and the party has had a tremendous impact on the platform itself, and going to the convention with the leadership of the Governor is certainly carrying the work that Hillary Clinton has done for New York and the Senate, and what she's been able to accomplish and discuss on the campaign trail,&rdquo; Smikle continued. &ldquo;Those are New York values, and we are thankful that they've been able to influence other states, other delegates, and certainly the platform itself."</p> <p dir="ltr">The Democrats released only <a href="https://medium.com/democratic-national-convention/headlining-speakers-for-the-democratic-national-convention-54fad6ee1f7a#.ylbm34vk7" target="_blank">the headline speakers</a> as of Sunday, July 17, which includes the top-level names mentioned earlier: both Obamas, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders. It is unclear whether Gov. Cuomo or Mayor de Blasio will have a speaking role.</p> <p dir="ltr">Smikle, a Cuomo appointee, confirmed that Cuomo has not yet been selected to speak at the convention. &ldquo;We haven't gotten a schedule of speakers from the DNC yet, so that may still be discussed by the folks at the DNC at this point...I would love for [Cuomo] to have a speaking role. I hope he does."</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure I&rsquo;ll have some role, but I&rsquo;m also sure it&rsquo;s not about me,&rdquo; Cuomo said in late June, <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/06/cuomo-will-have-some-role-at-the-dnc/" target="_blank">according to</a>&nbsp;New York State of Politics.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cuomo has been selected to chair New York state&rsquo;s delegation at the DNC - a choice that caused Sanders supporters to <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/06/sanders-supporters-shout-as-cuomo-picked-to-lead-dnc-delegation-103110" target="_blank">protest</a>. Delegates backing Sanders have<a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/06/sanders-supporters-wont-recognize-cuomo-as-delegation-leader-103147" target="_blank"> refused to recognize Cuomo&rsquo;s authority</a> as the chair, and have said they will &ldquo;file a legal challenge to the nomination of Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the chair of New York&rsquo;s delegation.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear if this controversy has subsided in the wake of Sanders&rsquo; endorsement of Clinton and the approach of the convention itself.</p> <p dir="ltr">Other notable New York Democratic superdelegates include former President Clinton, Senators Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Mayor de Blasio. De Blasio said on Wednesday that nothing around his speaking role had been decided. The same was true for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has been a frequent Clinton surrogate and campaigner this election season and will be part of the delegation to Philadelphia.</p> <p dir="ltr">Other members of the New York Democratic delegation include Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, much of the state&rsquo;s Democratic House delegation; City Council Members Jumaane Williams, Rafael Espinal, and Richie Torres, Public Advocate Letitia James, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Smikle, this year&rsquo;s delegation &ldquo;brings a tremendous sense of pride for us as New Yorkers.&rdquo; He cited work New York leaders have done to move progressive policy and their impact on national politics.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think what New York broadly and the delegation specifically brings is that a lot of what's in the platform has been discussed and implemented in New York for quite some time, so I do think members of our delegation have had an incredible impact,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">A complete list of the 345 New York DNC delegation is available <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1uTUbpu-EYblAPoC3DJS0y9bjq_abuNOe3Zk71G3_7ZY/edit#gid=0" target="_blank">here</a>, courtesy of the State Democratic Committee.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>See You in Philadelphia</strong><br />Asked on WNYC&rsquo;s The Brian Lehrer Show if he was attending the DNC, Mayor de Blasio said on June 29, &ldquo;Of course. I&rsquo;m a delegate, and I&rsquo;m looking forward to going there and voting for Hillary.&rdquo;</p> <p>***<br />by Amanda Sherwin and Rebecca Oh<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/RNC_banner.jpg" alt="RNC banner" width="600" height="347" /></p> <p>The RNC approaches (image via @GOPconvention)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">The next two weeks will see the formal nominations of the two major party candidates in the contest to succeed Barack Obama as President of The United States. First, this week, Republicans are expected to nominate Donald J. Trump, who on Saturday morning introduced Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate. On Saturday, Trump promised &ldquo;we&rsquo;re going to have an incredible convention.&rdquo; The theme of the convention is "Make America Great Again," which has been Trump's campaign slogan.</p> <p dir="ltr">All eyes will be on Cleveland Monday through Thursday as the Republicans convene, with New York delegates front and center at the convention given that the presumptive nominee calls the Empire State home. Americans are also bracing for protests and many are hoping that there is no violence outside or inside Quicken Loans Arena.</p> <p dir="ltr">The same goes for Philadelphia, where the following week, that of July 25, the Democrats are set to name Hillary Clinton their nominee for President.</p> <p dir="ltr">Clinton also calls New York home, and there are many New York angles to the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions. These include the delegations traveling to Cleveland and Philadelphia, which for the Democrats will include both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, among many other high-profile New Yorkers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Aside from officially nominating their presidential and vice-presidential candidates, the conventions will also see formal adoption of the official party policy platforms. These decisions are being made by the thousands of delegates from across the country who attend each convention - an assortment of current and former elected officials, prominent party members, activists, businesspeople, and others - in part as dictated by the voting that occurred in each state.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the Republican convention kicks off, it appears that any last-ditch efforts from within the party to keep Trump from the nomination have been scuttled. The speakers list for the convention fit with Trump&rsquo;s campaign as an anti-establishment outsider and is largely devoid of major party figures - there will be no appearance by prior presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, or a variety of Republican governors, senators, and others who are prominent in the party. Home-state Governor John Kasich, of Ohio, one of Trump&rsquo;s rivals for the nomination, is not scheduled to be part of the proceedings.</p> <p dir="ltr">There will be a full slate of <a href="http://convention.gop/post/147558746375/2016-gop-convention-program-announced" target="_blank">speakers</a>, of course, including Trump&rsquo;s four adult children, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Gov. Chris Christie, Senator Ted Cruz, Gov. Scott Walker, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, GOP Chair Reince Priebus, and others. Pence will be the headline speaker on Wednesday night, while Trump will give the convention's final words on Thursday evening.</p> <p dir="ltr">With some time still before the Democratic convention, the big news everyone is waiting for is Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s vice presidential nominee. Many are calling Virginia Senator Tim Kaine the frontrunner, but nothing official has been announced. Unlike Trump&rsquo;s convention, Clinton&rsquo;s will feature a &lsquo;who&rsquo;s who&rsquo; of major party names - Democratic National Convention speakers will include President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and others. Like Trump, Clinton will see her adult child, Chelsea, speak.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the conventions kick off there is much to watch for over the next two weeks; they also signal the start to the final three-and-a-half months of the campaign, leading to Election Day on November 8: the final stretch of speeches, platforms, polls, ads, debates, and more.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em><strong>Here&rsquo;s what New Yorkers need to know and should be watching for as the national conventions arrive:</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION, July 18-21</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>When and Where is the RNC?</strong><br />The 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) will be held July 18-21 (Monday-Thursday) in Cleveland, Ohio at the Quicken Loans Arena. After a tough and controversial primary season, the RNC is an opportunity for more party healing and unity. In the lead up, most discussion of a coup to replace Trump with another nominee has quieted. Trump said on Saturday that one reason he chose Pence as his running mate is &ldquo;party unity.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Trump, who has been a media and reality TV star, told the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/while-the-gop-worries-about-convention-chaos-trump-pushes-for-showbiz-feel/2016/04/17/482cc914-0322-11e6-9d36-33d198ea26c5_story.html" target="_blank">Washington Post</a> that he intends to put his own &ldquo;showbiz&rdquo; spin on the convention&rsquo;s proceedings, though the official list of speakers is looking lighter on sports and entertainment legends than at one time thought.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Who Are the Delegates?</strong><br />Though the exact process varies by state party rules, delegates to the RNC generally fall within three categories. Each state gets ten at-large delegates, plus delegates awarded based on that state&rsquo;s Republican electoral success in the past (for instance, having a Republican Governor). Each state is allocated delegates based on congressional districts and each state&rsquo;s Republican National Committeeman, Committeewoman, and State Chair all attend as delegates.</p> <p dir="ltr">Following this formula, New York will have a total of 95 delegates, including 27 from New York City, 54 from around the rest of the state, and 14 at-large. In a change of long-time state party rules, New York&rsquo;s GOP delegates this year were selected by the State Republican Committee and several mini-committees for each of New York&rsquo;s twenty-seven congressional districts, rather than having many determined by the presidential candidates on the ballot. The switch was intended to reward long-time party loyalists over the candidates&rsquo; friends and family, who were often favored in the past, according to <a href="http://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/03/how_new_yorks_new_gop_delegate_rules_could_help_derail_donald_trump.html" target="_blank">Syracuse.com</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Jessica Proud, spokesperson for the State Republican Party, considers the new delegate selection process a welcome shift from a &ldquo;top-down&rdquo; to &ldquo;bottom-up&rdquo; approach.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It's considered a coveted role to be a delegate,&rdquo; she said in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette, &ldquo;so this was a way to help reward the people that have really been the stalwarts of the party, helping to elect our candidates and grow our party every year. They were really pleased with it.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Currently, 89 of New York&rsquo;s delegates are pledged to Trump, while 6 remain bound to Kasich (who won Manhattan), though the Ohio governor officially suspended his campaign on May 4.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The New York Angle</strong><br />&ldquo;In a lot of ways, New York was the catalyst to help Trump seal in the nomination,&rdquo; Proud recalls.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It was the first time he had gotten over 50 percent of the vote, and then right after that was Indiana, and then Cruz and Kasich both dropped out,&rdquo; Proud said. &ldquo;So it all came together in New York; he won every demographic. It was the first time he really proved that he could go outside a larger box than he had in previous primaries and caucuses.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Trump came out of New York&rsquo;s April 19 primary with a large lead over Kasich and Cruz and the writing was all but on the wall. While Kasich did squeak out New York County (aka Manhattan), Trump dominated the rest of the state, winning 60.4 percent of the total vote.</p> <p dir="ltr">This success, plus Trump&rsquo;s extensive New York networks, both personal and professional, means this year&rsquo;s RNC will be dominated by New Yorkers.</p> <p dir="ltr">At-large delegates include Chair of the state GOP Ed Cox, state party Finance Chair Arcadio Casillas, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, and Wendy Long, who is challenging Senator Charles Schumer in November.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Friday, Cox released a statement praising Trump&rsquo;s choice of Pence as a running mate, saying, in part, that "Mr. Trump has once again demonstrated the leadership skills required to make the changes necessary to put America on the right track."</p> <p dir="ltr">Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been publicly backing Trump and is set to speak at the convention. He is a delegate to the convention, pledged to Kasich. City Council Member Joseph Borelli, of Staten Island, is a Trump delegate. Borelli has been a frequent Trump surrogate on TV for many months. He travelled to Ohio with his successor in the state Assembly, Ron Castorina, and former Council Member Vincent Ignizio.</p> <p dir="ltr">Other prominent GOP delegates include Alfonse D&rsquo;Amato, former U.S. Senator; Carl Paladino, honorary co-chair of Trump&rsquo;s New York campaign and 2010 gubernatorial candidate; Tom Dadey, first vice chairman of the state GOP and co-chair of Trump&rsquo;s New York campaign; and state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan - several other state senators will be in attendance: Golden, DeFrancisco, O&rsquo;Mara, Croci, though DeFrancisco is the only delegate among them (he is pledged to Kasich). Assembly members Kolb and DiPietro are delegates. Assembly Member Bill Nojay, an upstate Republican who in the past played a significant role in attempting to push Trump to run for New York Governor and helped lay the groundwork for Trump&rsquo;s presidential bid, will not be attending.</p> <p dir="ltr">New York State Senators are hoping to maintain or expand their slim majority through the November elections and Trump&rsquo;s candidacy may pose challenging for some candidates running in more moderate districts.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rubye Wright will also attend to vote for Trump - at 94 years of age, she is the oldest delegate heading to the convention, according to <a href="http://www.amny.com/opinion/columnists/mark-chiusano/party-of-lincoln-party-of-trump-rubye-wright-1.11833562" target="_blank">amNewYork</a>. A Harlem native and lifelong Republican, Wright has attended every national convention except one since 1968.&nbsp;A complete listing of New York GOP delegates can be found on <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Republican_delegates_from_New_York,_2016" target="_blank">Ballotpedia.</a></p> <p dir="ltr">According to the <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/07/07/trump-jr-may-be-the-delegate-to-make-dad-the-gop-nominee/" target="_blank">New York Post</a>, the State GOP has considered offering Donald Trump&rsquo;s son, Donald Trump Jr., the ceremonial role of announcing New York&rsquo;s 95 delegate votes. Trump Jr. will be attending the convention as one of Manhattan&rsquo;s high-profile district delegates, and has been actively involved in his father&rsquo;s campaign. Convention organizers may also position Trump Jr.&rsquo;s announcement so that the New York delegation&rsquo;s votes send Trump over the majority threshold to secure the nomination. Both details have yet to be confirmed.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We certainly would love to have him in that role,&rdquo; Proud said of Trump Jr., who will speak at the convention, &ldquo;but the logistics are being worked out between the campaign and the State Committee.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">New York City&rsquo;s only Republican member of its House of Representatives delegation, Daniel Donovan, will attend the convention. In <a href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/07/rnc_2016_donovan_excited_to_he.html" target="_blank">an interview with the Staten Island Advance</a>, Donovan said, "It's going to be exciting for our state.&rdquo; Looking ahead to November, he said, "Traditionally, Republicans don't win New York, but we have a New Yorker as the Republican nominee for the first time in a very long time."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Role of the Delegates</strong><br />Unlike the Democratic Party&rsquo;s superdelegates, most of the 2,472 delegates at the RNC are technically bound to vote for a certain candidate. According to the <a href="https://interactives.ap.org/2016/delegate-tracker/" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>, only 95 delegates are unbound and can vote for whomever they choose. Trump amassed 1,542 pledged delegates, which puts him over the majority threshold of 1,237 to secure the nomination. According to Adele Malpass, chair of the Manhattan Republican Party and a New York congressional district delegate, Trump&rsquo;s nomination is nothing short of guaranteed; &ldquo;We're having an infomercial kind of convention, not a brokered convention. Everyone's going as a Trump delegate.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">With calls for a &ldquo;Dump Trump&rdquo; movement subsiding, the 112-member Convention Rules Committee finished its business without changing things to aid the naming of a different nominee. At least a few opposing Trump may continue fighting. "Whether you supported Donald Trump along the way or not: He. Is. Our. Nominee," said RNC Rules Committee Chairman Bruce Ash on Tuesday, according to <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/13/politics/rnc-rules-fight-trump/" target="_blank">CNN</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Delegates at the convention must vote on the party&rsquo;s official policy platform. Members of the Platform Committee finished the draft platform while Trump himself took a hands-off approach, according to the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/11/us/politics/donald-trump-republican-party.html?_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times</a>, which cites discrepancies between the conservative language of the Republican platform and Trump&rsquo;s more moderate views on issues such as LGBT rights.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to the<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/13/us/politics/republican-convention-issues.html" target="_blank">&nbsp;Times</a>, moderate Republicans pushing for amendments to be made &ldquo;secured enough signatures on Tuesday to demand a vote on their proposals from all 2,475 delegates,&rdquo; so there may be some concessions made on the convention floor Monday before the final vote.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>See You in Cleveland</strong><br />For all aspects of the convention, New York will be front and center. &ldquo;There'll be a big spotlight on us,&rdquo; Proud noted, referring to the New York delegation as a whole.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;New York is already prominently featured, but the fact that our nominee is from the state really adds a whole other level of excitement and anticipation. It's definitely evidenced by the volume of requests that the state party has had of people wanting to attend. We've had way more requests than tickets that were given to us. The downside is you can't accommodate everyone, but from a party standpoint, it&rsquo;s very encouraging that so many people wanted to be there and that people are very excited.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong>DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION, July 25-28</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>When and Where is the DNC?</strong><br />The Democratic National Convention will take place July 25-28 (Monday through Thursday) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/brooklyn-snubbed-philadelphia-won-democratic-national-convention/story?id=28922362">Brooklyn</a> was seriously considered to host the convention amid a strong push from Mayor Bill de Blasio and others, Philadelphia won the honor.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>How are the Delegates Allocated?</strong><br />There are <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160411/midtown/all-of-your-new-york-presidential-delegate-questions-answered" target="_blank">three types of delegates</a> for the Democrats: pledged delegates, who petitioned in order to get on the ballot and become a delegate, and are legally bound to support a particular candidate; at-large delegates, chosen by the state Democratic Party, who pledge to vote for a particular candidate; and unpledged delegates, otherwise known as superdelegates, who are prominent party leaders not bound to any candidate. There are 345 representatives of the New York State Democratic Party heading to the convention, according to the party.</p> <p dir="ltr">There is no drama expected at the Democratic convention in terms of delegate allocation as Bernie Sanders has conceded and endorsed Hillary Clinton, so the types of delegates are unlikely to be a factor.</p> <p dir="ltr">As more signs were pointing to a Clinton win by a solid margin, she won her home state of New York on April 19. Throughout the race, Clinton accumulated an overwhelming majority of the superdelegates, known party insiders always supportive of her over Sanders, who has not been an establishment Democrat. This led to some of the calls from Sanders and his supporters of a &lsquo;rigged system.&rsquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The Democratic Party Platform</strong><br />Sanders and his supporters, plus the national Democratic tilt leftward, have had a significant influence on <a href="https://demconvention.com/platform/" target="_blank">the party platform</a> being adopted this year -- progressive influence throughout the primary season as well as recent, more explicit demands. Two issues are emblematic: calling for a <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/bernie-sanders-scores-big-wins-democratic-platform" target="_blank">$15 per hour minimum wage </a>and standing <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/democratic-platform-death-penalty_us_5776d56de4b0a629c1aa0984" target="_blank">against capital punishment</a> in all circumstances. The party platform has stepped to the ideological left of Clinton, who has spoken in favor of a <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/apr/15/bernie-s/does-hillary-clinton-want-15-or-12-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">$12 federal minimum wage</a> (with states going higher per their judgement) and <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/apr/15/bernie-s/does-hillary-clinton-want-15-or-12-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">capital punishment for certain crimes</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr. David Birdsell, a professor and dean at Baruch College, does not believe that Sanders&rsquo; endorsement of Clinton is enough to dissipate all of the tension within the Democratic Party.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The Sanders endorsement &ndash; and he did use the word &lsquo;endorse&rsquo; &ndash; of Clinton will go a long way toward reducing contention and controversy in Philadelphia,&rdquo; Birdsell said in an interview. &ldquo;[However,] there will still be some tension; Hillary Clinton is too polarizing a figure to expect an entirely smooth process. But chances are good at this point that Democrats will come together and unite for the fall campaign - barring further repercussions from the FBI&rsquo;s decision not to prosecute [Clinton, regarding her email scandal], but that&rsquo;s a general election problem, not a convention problem.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Birdsell also believes that the concessions that the Democratic Party has made will be the only ones for a while.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I suspect the concessions made to date are the end of the story, at least through the convention. Could there be a rear-guard effort to get TPP language in the platform? Yes, but given the deep affront that would pose to the sitting President, who is and will remain through November the Party&rsquo;s principal asset, I think anything public highly unlikely.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The New York Angle</strong><br />Basil Smikle, executive director of the New York State Democratic Committee, is excited about the amendments to the party&rsquo;s platform. Smikle sees them as an expansion of New York values to the rest of the nation. &ldquo;I think New York has been in this conversation and led it for a long time,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think the state and the party has had a tremendous impact on the platform itself, and going to the convention with the leadership of the Governor is certainly carrying the work that Hillary Clinton has done for New York and the Senate, and what she's been able to accomplish and discuss on the campaign trail,&rdquo; Smikle continued. &ldquo;Those are New York values, and we are thankful that they've been able to influence other states, other delegates, and certainly the platform itself."</p> <p dir="ltr">The Democrats released only <a href="https://medium.com/democratic-national-convention/headlining-speakers-for-the-democratic-national-convention-54fad6ee1f7a#.ylbm34vk7" target="_blank">the headline speakers</a> as of Sunday, July 17, which includes the top-level names mentioned earlier: both Obamas, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders. It is unclear whether Gov. Cuomo or Mayor de Blasio will have a speaking role.</p> <p dir="ltr">Smikle, a Cuomo appointee, confirmed that Cuomo has not yet been selected to speak at the convention. &ldquo;We haven't gotten a schedule of speakers from the DNC yet, so that may still be discussed by the folks at the DNC at this point...I would love for [Cuomo] to have a speaking role. I hope he does."</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure I&rsquo;ll have some role, but I&rsquo;m also sure it&rsquo;s not about me,&rdquo; Cuomo said in late June, <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/06/cuomo-will-have-some-role-at-the-dnc/" target="_blank">according to</a>&nbsp;New York State of Politics.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cuomo has been selected to chair New York state&rsquo;s delegation at the DNC - a choice that caused Sanders supporters to <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/06/sanders-supporters-shout-as-cuomo-picked-to-lead-dnc-delegation-103110" target="_blank">protest</a>. Delegates backing Sanders have<a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/06/sanders-supporters-wont-recognize-cuomo-as-delegation-leader-103147" target="_blank"> refused to recognize Cuomo&rsquo;s authority</a> as the chair, and have said they will &ldquo;file a legal challenge to the nomination of Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the chair of New York&rsquo;s delegation.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear if this controversy has subsided in the wake of Sanders&rsquo; endorsement of Clinton and the approach of the convention itself.</p> <p dir="ltr">Other notable New York Democratic superdelegates include former President Clinton, Senators Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Mayor de Blasio. De Blasio said on Wednesday that nothing around his speaking role had been decided. The same was true for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has been a frequent Clinton surrogate and campaigner this election season and will be part of the delegation to Philadelphia.</p> <p dir="ltr">Other members of the New York Democratic delegation include Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, much of the state&rsquo;s Democratic House delegation; City Council Members Jumaane Williams, Rafael Espinal, and Richie Torres, Public Advocate Letitia James, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Smikle, this year&rsquo;s delegation &ldquo;brings a tremendous sense of pride for us as New Yorkers.&rdquo; He cited work New York leaders have done to move progressive policy and their impact on national politics.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think what New York broadly and the delegation specifically brings is that a lot of what's in the platform has been discussed and implemented in New York for quite some time, so I do think members of our delegation have had an incredible impact,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">A complete list of the 345 New York DNC delegation is available <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1uTUbpu-EYblAPoC3DJS0y9bjq_abuNOe3Zk71G3_7ZY/edit#gid=0" target="_blank">here</a>, courtesy of the State Democratic Committee.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>See You in Philadelphia</strong><br />Asked on WNYC&rsquo;s The Brian Lehrer Show if he was attending the DNC, Mayor de Blasio said on June 29, &ldquo;Of course. I&rsquo;m a delegate, and I&rsquo;m looking forward to going there and voting for Hillary.&rdquo;</p> <p>***<br />by Amanda Sherwin and Rebecca Oh<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p>