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John Flanagan

John Flanagan

  • De Blasio Made a Charter School Deal, But Isn’t Interested in Talking About It

    de blasio mayoral control event

    Mayor de Blasio at City Hall, June 29 (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio negotiated a deal to extend mayoral control of city schools in exchange for a set of administrative actions benefitting charter schools. When the mayor celebrated the extension of mayoral control -- which was due to expire at the end of June, but was extended June 29 -- he did not release the details of the charter-friendly promises he was making to Republican state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, and

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  • Mayoral Control Extended in Special Session with Usual Albany Process

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    Gov. Cuomo on Thursday (photo: Philip Kamrass/Governor’s Office)


    To prevent the impending lapse of mayoral control over New York City schools, the state Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo passed a two-year extension Thursday as part of a larger omnibus bill, which included a pension enhancement for certain uniformed workers, special recognition for former Governor Mario Cuomo, and several benefits for upstate areas.

    A special session was called Wednesday by Gov. Cuomo specifically to address mayoral leadership over city schools, which was set

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  • How The Mayoral Control ‘Special Session’ Works

    de Blasio desk Albany

    (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    To prevent the lapse of mayoral control over New York City schools, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday called an “extraordinary session” of the state Legislature to convene on Wednesday at 1p.m. in Albany. Often referred to as a “special session,” details of how the day will unfold -- especially what legislation will pass -- are still unclear.

    Currently, the session has been called for just one day, with the only named purpose the extension of authority granted to the New York City Mayor, currently Bill

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  • Albany on the Penultimate Day of Legislative Session

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    The Capitol (photo: Ben Max)


    The lobby was packed with lobbyists. The Dunkin Donuts was humming. Food trucks lined the sunny street and appeared to be doing better than average business. Reporters were hungry for any tidbit of news.

    Assembly members and Senators bounced in and out of their respective chambers, where dozens of bills were voted through with astonishing speed. Negotiations on major pieces of more contentious legislation were held behind closed doors by the four most powerful people in state government, all men.

    The state Capitol building on

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  • More Than Mayoral Control: De Blasio’s End of Session Priorities

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    De Blasio & Heastie (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    It is easy to mistakenly think there is only one thing Mayor Bill de Blasio wants from state lawmakers before they conclude the dwindling legislative session in Albany. Negotiations over an extension of soon-to-expire mayoral control of New York City schools have sucked most of the oxygen from the proverbial room -- though not the room, of ‘three men’ fame, which sat empty for months, until Monday -- leaving little time and attention for de Blasio’s other top priorities needing

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  • With Session Ending and Trial Looming, No Legislative Response to Bid-rigging Scandal

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    Flanagan, Cuomo, Heastie (photo: The Governor's Office)


    With just three scheduled days left in the legislative session and the corruption trial of several close associates of Governor Andrew Cuomo for their roles in a bid-rigging scandal scheduled to commence in October, the Legislature has yet to pass any meaningful legislation to prevent such abuses of the procurement process.

    State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has introduced a comprehensive bill to address the issue, which is the basis for a Senate bill sponsored by Senator John DeFrancisco, a

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  • Whose Job Is It To Investigate The Legislature’s Lulu System?

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    IDC Leader Jeff Klein (via nysenate.gov)


    Reports that state senators have been receiving stipends for committee chair positions that they do not actually hold has drawn scrutiny to the Legislature’s stipend system and raised questions about the legality of the ways in which Senate leadership has arranged such payouts, often called lulus. Those questions have led to others, specifically whose job it is to investigate the potential wrongdoing involved and whether any legal or ethics enforcement entities will take action.

    Four Republican senators and three members of the

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  • As Legislative Leaders Warn of Con Con Dangers, Good Government Groups Come Out in Favor

    assembly chamber via wikicommons

    The Assembly (photo: wikicommons)


    While legislative leaders are declaring opposition to a New York State constitutional convention, government reform organizations are trending in the other direction, with some who were wary of the idea in previous years coming out in support or considering doing so.

    Leading up to the November 7 vote on whether to hold a convention, the debate is shaping up around fear of what could be taken away versus hope that the public can take a shot at democratic reform.

    Republican Senate

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  • The 'Three Men in a Room' and Millions Outside

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan in 2015 (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    It’s the last week of March, which means the final stretch of New York State budget negotiations, and all are watching the “three men in a room,” an adage that has come to symbolize Albany’s opaque government processes and concentration of power.

    Each March, for as long as anyone can remember, the governor, the speaker of the Assembly and the majority leader of the Senate hold frequent, clandestine meetings to hammer out important policy decisions and

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  • 15 Questions for the Final Week of State Budget Negotiations

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    De Blasio & Cuomo in 2014 (photo: The Governor's Office)


    The New York State budget, which is expected to be delivered on time, is due April 1, but as state government leaders enter the final week of negotiations there are many questions left open for New York City.

    These include the fate of more than $100 millions in state-to-city funding cuts proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo; whether more than $1 billion in affordable housing funding will be released; final budgetary allocations toward

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  • In Albany, De Blasio and Democrats Push ‘Mansion Tax’

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    De Blasio in Albany (photo: Rachel Silberstein/Gotham Gazette)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio journeyed to Albany Wednesday to rally with Democratic legislators and activists for the extension of the “millionaires’ tax,” set to expire this year, as well as the “mansion tax,” a proposal the mayor has been pushing since 2015. De Blasio and his allies called for both to be part of the new state budget due by April 1.

    Citing the threats of deep federal budget cuts from President Donald Trump’s administration and a

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  • With One-House Budgets Due, Key Points of Contention in Albany

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (photo: Governor's Office/Kevin P. Coughlin)


    With a new state budget due by the end of the month, the Senate and Assembly are finalizing their one-house budget resolutions. The one-house statements of priorities in the Democrat-controlled Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate will be passed this week, and their passage signals the official start to the negotiations that will yield a state spending plan for the new fiscal year, which begins April 1.

    The one-house budgets are shaped, in part, by a

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  • As Con Con Debate Heats Up, Heastie Declares Opposition

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    Speaker Heastie, right, & Gov. Cuomo (photo: The Governor's Office)


    While it will be several months before the airwaves are flooded with special interest-backed ad campaigns warning of the potential “dangers” of a constitutional convention, in Albany, legislative leaders are beginning to speak out on the issue.

    On Saturday, February 18, at Black and Latino Caucus weekend, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, had one message for labor union leaders: make sure your members vote “no” on the upcoming ballot question. This November, New Yorkers will

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  • Tensions High as State Legislature Returns to Session

    cuomo heastie flanagan

    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan


    Several themes loomed as the New York State Legislature held its first day of its new session on Wednesday in Albany. The 2017 legislative calendar, and with it the 2017-2018 Legislature, began oaths of office and speeches by party leaders in both the state Senate and Assembly. The tone was set, priorities were announced or reaffirmed, tensions were evident, and the jog toward the next state budget -- due by April 1 -- began.

    The most important remarks were delivered by the two majority leaders: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie,

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  • Top Ten Stories of 2016 in New York Politics

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    Bill Bratton departs (both photos: Michael Appleton/Mayor’s Office)


    Gotham Gazette's Top Ten Storylines of 2016 in New York Politics:

    10. Bill Bratton Leaves ‘On Top’
    In an extraordinary send-off -- his own mini-parade -- Bill Bratton departed 1 Police Plaza on September 16, 2016 for the final time as NYPD commissioner. For about two-and-a-half years Bratton was Mayor Bill de Blasio’s police commissioner and the arrangement worked mostly well for both: Bratton had the job and power in it that he wanted, de Blasio had

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  • State Pay Commission Implodes as Cuomo Appointees Effectively Kill Salary Increases

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    State pay commission panelists at final meeting, Nov. 15, 2016


    The final meeting of the state commission tasked with recommending pay raises for executive branch employees and state legislators was marred by disagreement and accusations, and failed to produce any results on Tuesday. It appears that the panel will be disbanded without taking any substantive action.

    In a chamber at the New York City Bar Association in midtown, members of the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, & Executive

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  • 5 Things to Watch For at State ‘Water Contamination’ Hearings

    Cuomo DOH Hoosick Falls

    photos via The Governor's Office on Flickr


    After months of refusal and delay, the state Legislature is set to begin a series of hearings on drinking water contamination in New York. It became clear many months ago that the water in Hoosick Fall had been contaminated by a chemical known as PFOA and the first of three scheduled hearings will take place Tuesday in the village.

    Tuesday’s hearing is a joint one by two state Senate committees, health and environmental conservation. The other two hearings are set to be joint Senate

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  • For Cuomo, Passing Ethics Bill was Urgent, Signing It is Not

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    Gov. Cuomo during his 2016 State of the State (via The Governor's Office)


    After nearly two months, Governor Andrew Cuomo requested on Friday that the Legislature send him an ethics reform package he personally designed and pushed the Legislature to pass in June with the assistance of a message of necessity he issued to speed the process. The governor now has 10 days to sign it, which he is expected to do.

    Announced by Cuomo late in the legislative session, the actual bill was then a mystery for days before being

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  • 2016 A Far Different Election Year for Independent Democrats

    John Nilson

    Sen. Jeff Klein (photo: John Nilsen/Governor's Office)


    The five-member Independent Democratic Conference was under siege. Mainstream Democrats, liberal activists, and the Working Families Party were out to punish IDC members for having empowered Senate Republicans and for preventing a progressive agenda from advancing in the New York State Senate. In 2014, the groups fielded candidates to challenge Bronx Senator Jeff Klein, head of the IDC, and newly-minted IDC member Tony Avella, senator of Queens, in party primaries. It began as an aggressive attempt to oust two of the five members of the IDC,

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  • Senate Republicans Face Departures with Battle for Control Looming

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    Senate Majority Leader Flanagan, second from right (photo via Facebook)


    New York State Senate Republicans are headed into a fight for their survival, dealing with the departure of veteran lawmakers, top staff, and one rising star.

    The impending fall elections for all 63 Senate seats will test control of the chamber by Senate Republicans, the party’s only check on Democratic strongholds in the state

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  • In Extended Session, Lawmakers Vote Through Variety of Bills with Little Public Review

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    The Capitol Building (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)


    Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders finished protracted and messy end-of-session negotiations on Friday night -- one day after the scheduled end of legislative session -- not with the traditional celebratory press conference, but with a series of press releases. Sent to reporters as bills were still being negotiated, printed, and voted upon Friday night, Cuomo’s public schedule for Saturday put him in the New York City area with no events.

    A press release

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  • Deals Emerge as Albany Legislative Session Moves Toward Conclusion

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    photo via The Governor's Office


    After spending most of what was scheduled to be the last day of legislative session in stop-and-start negotiations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders appeared on Thursday to reach a framework deal on several big-ticket items, though legislators will continue to negotiate, debate, and vote on Friday.

    After a few issues had been decided on Wednesday, concept agreements emerged Thursday on the process of stripping corrupt lawmakers of their pensions; extending mayoral control of New York City schools for

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  • Much Undecided, Last-Minute Frenzy Starts in Albany

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    Albany leaders (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)


    The pace has picked up dramatically in Albany, where lawmakers had avoided any major legislative decisions since passing the budget in April. With three days left in session, dozens upon dozens of bills are being introduced, amended, and passed at a fever pace. And while a couple of deals among the governor and legislative leaders have been announced on somewhat high-profile matters, thornier issues still remain unsettled and many bills are likely to only

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  • Fate of $2 Billion in State Housing Funds Unclear as Session Nears End

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (l-r) (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin, The Governor's Office)


    Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature allocated $2 billion to spend on 100,000 units of affordable and supportive housing in this year’s budget, which was agreed to on April 1. But they failed to include specifics -- details of how that money would be spent -- kicking those decisions down the road. Now, two months later, they have yet to sort out the details and many stakeholders are worried no deal is in sight as the major negotiating parties face off over

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  • End of Session Menu Previews Next ‘Big Ugly’ in Albany

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan June 2015 (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    Last week, the Senate came to standstill as the star of popular beer commercials came to the Capitol as a guest of Senate Republicans. Legislators of both parties fawned and snapped pictures with Jonathan Goldsmith, of Dos Equis fame. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s office proudly posted a picture of the two men together on Twitter; Democratic legislators quoted catchphrases of “the most interesting man in the world” on the Senate floor. While it's fairly

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