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/kenneth-p-thompson 2017-10-22T10:09:41+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com At 'Begin Again,' Signs of New Approach to Broken Justice System 2015-07-26T05:00:00+00:00 2015-07-26T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5824:at-begin-again-signs-of-new-approach-to-broken-justice-system Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/ken_thompson_jumaane_williams_laurie_cumbo.jpg" alt="ken thompson jumaane williams laurie cumbo" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">DA Thompson, center, with Council Members Williams &amp; Cumbo (<a href="https://twitter.com/JumaaneWilliams/status/612343786241413120" target="_blank">@JumaaneWilliams</a>)</span></p> <hr /> <p>During Father's Day weekend, hundreds of individuals received the gift of a new beginning. The Brooklyn District Attorney's office held a 'Begin Again' event to lift open arrest warrants related to summonses for low-level offenses ranging from public intoxication, the most common violation, to being in a park after closing. In total, 1,039 individuals from across all five boroughs attended the two-day event and 670 warrants were cleared.</p> <p>The 'Begin Again' initiative is part of a larger summons reform movement that aims to make it easier for individuals to respond to summonses and ultimately, avoid arrest warrants. While the total number of summons filings in New York City has decreased significantly in recent years, the system remains strained, with a citywide backlog of over a million summonses.</p> <p>In Brooklyn, District Attorney Ken Thompson's office indicated that the success of the event would lead to another in September, and that while similar events were held under former District Attorney Charles Hynes, the Father's Day weekend initiative saw the greatest number of warrants cleared in Brooklyn during comparable time periods. Other district attorneys do not appear quick to follow suit.</p> <p>City leaders from Thompson to Mayor Bill de Blasio and his police commissioner Bill Bratton, the City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and others, are discussing summons reform.</p> <p>"New York City's criminal justice system is overburdened with severely backlogged courts and millions of New Yorkers with outstanding warrants for low-level, minor offenses," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in a statement sent to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>"District Attorney Ken Thompson's Begin Again initiative is a forward-thinking approach that tackles this issue head on," Mark-Viverito said, "enabling individuals to resolve their warrants and move on with a clean slate without the threat of impending arrest."</p> <p>Thompson's office is quick to stress that warrants and the summonses that led to them were not simply dismissed wholesale, but that each individual who wanted to 'Begin Again' was given a fair hearing, with most warrants adjudicated and summonses cleared - as is the case when people show up to their summons-dictated court appearance.</p> <p>While the initiative has received widespread support, some expressed reservations. "It does create a moral hazard that sends the message that people can expect such amnesties in the future," said Heather Mac Donald of The Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning think tank. "It's a real issue and it has to be weighed against the public good in clearing these backlogs of warrants."</p> <p>By using the term "amnesty," Mac Donald gets at a key issue for critics, who say that people should follow the law in the first place and pay the consequences for breaking it and for missing any mandated court appearance. People, including NYPD Commissioner Bratton, are hesitant to give the appearance of amnesty, believing that if New Yorkers believe there are no consequences to their actions, law-breaking will likely increase.</p> <p>But Dawn Ryan, attorney-in-charge of The Legal Aid Society's Brooklyn criminal office, notes a distinction between the clearance of warrants and actual amnesty. "To me, amnesty is telling those who received the summonses that they may throw them away and forget they ever received them," said Ryan. By contrast, at 'Begin Again,' "they're still being held accountable in terms of showing up in response to the summons and having this matter resolved before a judge."</p> <p>At 'Begin Again' events, those with outstanding warrants are assigned a Legal Aid attorney and brought before a judge, who hears the reason for the original summons and for not appearing in court, thus earning the warrant.</p> <p>The Brooklyn District Attorney's office hailed 'Begin Again' a success and Ryan stated the event attracted so many people on its second day that the line remained open for an additional 45 minutes beyond the scheduled time. But the 670 warrants cleared barely make a dent in the 1.2 million open warrants related to unanswered summonses throughout New York City.</p> <p>"It's just a drop in the bucket," acknowledged City Council Member Rory Lancman, who chairs the Council's courts and legal services committee. An estimated one in seven New Yorkers have an outstanding summons warrant and with less than one tenth of one percent of open summons warrants resolved thus far through the 'Begin Again' initiative, the need for further reform measures becomes evident. "I thought it seemed to be a great success for what it was," said Lancman. "But in the scheme of things, it's not really a sustainable strategy for getting at the over one million warrants that are outstanding."</p> <p>The staggering number of open summons warrants is one of the reasons why Lancman, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, and New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman are among those advocating for certain low-level criminal offenses to be reclassified as civil penalties. A reclassification of some offenses would lessen the burden on the summons court system while also granting a reprieve to individuals who have committed non-violent, so-called 'quality-of-life' infractions. Proponents of such measures have argued that summonses are disproportionately issued to poor people of color and that arrest warrants resulting from failure to respond to a summons can have grave repercussions that far outweigh the original offense.</p> <p>But even certain summons reform measures, it would seem, are backlogged. Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/235-15/mayor-de-blasio-chief-judge-lippman-justice-reboot-initiative-modernize-the" target="_blank">announced</a> "Justice Reboot," an initiative including a planned overhaul of the summons process. Among the proposed changes were a new summons form making the court appearance date more prominent, robocall and text message reminders for those with summonses, and a more flexible system allowing individuals to appear in court up to a week in advance of their scheduled court date. While these measures were originally scheduled to begin this summer, they are now slated to start in early fall.</p> <p>Sarah Solon, chief external strategy officer at the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, stated that the timing for the proposed reforms remains unchanged and that the measures will go into effect sequentially. "The new summons form has to roll out first, because it will collect the cell phone numbers that will allow for text message reminders and contain information about the flexible appearance dates," said Solon via e-mail. That new form will be released citywide within the next few months, Solon said, and going forward the form will collect data on an individual's race/ethnicity in order to ensure transparency in the summons process and provide important data.</p> <p>The next Begin Again event is also scheduled for the fall-it will be held on September 12 in East New York. The flyer for the event - which will be posted around the borough and shared on social media as the one advertising the last one was - says, "we can help you take care of that old warrant." <a href="https://twitter.com/BrooklynDA/status/624578128631861248" target="_blank">The literature</a> seeks to reassure people: "over 1,000 people attended the last event," it says, followed by "no one was arrested" and "everyone got help."</p> <p>Ryan said she and her colleagues at The Legal Aid Society hope other DA offices will follow Brooklyn District Attorney Thompson's lead in hosting such events.</p> <p>So, apparently, does Thompson. In a July 15 letter addressed and hand-delivered to Mayor de Blasio with Chief Judge Lippman copied, Thompson urged the mayor to take the Brooklyn 'Begin Again' initiative citywide. Of the current way of doing things, Thompson wrote, "We simply cannot continue down this path any longer."</p> <p>***<br />Brooke L. Williams is a freelance&nbsp;multimedia journalist based in New York City. She reports on the criminal justice system with an emphasis on those wrongfully convicted. You can follow her on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WilliamsLBrooke" target="_blank">@williamslbrooke<br /></a><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/ken_thompson_jumaane_williams_laurie_cumbo.jpg" alt="ken thompson jumaane williams laurie cumbo" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">DA Thompson, center, with Council Members Williams &amp; Cumbo (<a href="https://twitter.com/JumaaneWilliams/status/612343786241413120" target="_blank">@JumaaneWilliams</a>)</span></p> <hr /> <p>During Father's Day weekend, hundreds of individuals received the gift of a new beginning. The Brooklyn District Attorney's office held a 'Begin Again' event to lift open arrest warrants related to summonses for low-level offenses ranging from public intoxication, the most common violation, to being in a park after closing. In total, 1,039 individuals from across all five boroughs attended the two-day event and 670 warrants were cleared.</p> <p>The 'Begin Again' initiative is part of a larger summons reform movement that aims to make it easier for individuals to respond to summonses and ultimately, avoid arrest warrants. While the total number of summons filings in New York City has decreased significantly in recent years, the system remains strained, with a citywide backlog of over a million summonses.</p> <p>In Brooklyn, District Attorney Ken Thompson's office indicated that the success of the event would lead to another in September, and that while similar events were held under former District Attorney Charles Hynes, the Father's Day weekend initiative saw the greatest number of warrants cleared in Brooklyn during comparable time periods. Other district attorneys do not appear quick to follow suit.</p> <p>City leaders from Thompson to Mayor Bill de Blasio and his police commissioner Bill Bratton, the City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and others, are discussing summons reform.</p> <p>"New York City's criminal justice system is overburdened with severely backlogged courts and millions of New Yorkers with outstanding warrants for low-level, minor offenses," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in a statement sent to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>"District Attorney Ken Thompson's Begin Again initiative is a forward-thinking approach that tackles this issue head on," Mark-Viverito said, "enabling individuals to resolve their warrants and move on with a clean slate without the threat of impending arrest."</p> <p>Thompson's office is quick to stress that warrants and the summonses that led to them were not simply dismissed wholesale, but that each individual who wanted to 'Begin Again' was given a fair hearing, with most warrants adjudicated and summonses cleared - as is the case when people show up to their summons-dictated court appearance.</p> <p>While the initiative has received widespread support, some expressed reservations. "It does create a moral hazard that sends the message that people can expect such amnesties in the future," said Heather Mac Donald of The Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning think tank. "It's a real issue and it has to be weighed against the public good in clearing these backlogs of warrants."</p> <p>By using the term "amnesty," Mac Donald gets at a key issue for critics, who say that people should follow the law in the first place and pay the consequences for breaking it and for missing any mandated court appearance. People, including NYPD Commissioner Bratton, are hesitant to give the appearance of amnesty, believing that if New Yorkers believe there are no consequences to their actions, law-breaking will likely increase.</p> <p>But Dawn Ryan, attorney-in-charge of The Legal Aid Society's Brooklyn criminal office, notes a distinction between the clearance of warrants and actual amnesty. "To me, amnesty is telling those who received the summonses that they may throw them away and forget they ever received them," said Ryan. By contrast, at 'Begin Again,' "they're still being held accountable in terms of showing up in response to the summons and having this matter resolved before a judge."</p> <p>At 'Begin Again' events, those with outstanding warrants are assigned a Legal Aid attorney and brought before a judge, who hears the reason for the original summons and for not appearing in court, thus earning the warrant.</p> <p>The Brooklyn District Attorney's office hailed 'Begin Again' a success and Ryan stated the event attracted so many people on its second day that the line remained open for an additional 45 minutes beyond the scheduled time. But the 670 warrants cleared barely make a dent in the 1.2 million open warrants related to unanswered summonses throughout New York City.</p> <p>"It's just a drop in the bucket," acknowledged City Council Member Rory Lancman, who chairs the Council's courts and legal services committee. An estimated one in seven New Yorkers have an outstanding summons warrant and with less than one tenth of one percent of open summons warrants resolved thus far through the 'Begin Again' initiative, the need for further reform measures becomes evident. "I thought it seemed to be a great success for what it was," said Lancman. "But in the scheme of things, it's not really a sustainable strategy for getting at the over one million warrants that are outstanding."</p> <p>The staggering number of open summons warrants is one of the reasons why Lancman, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, and New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman are among those advocating for certain low-level criminal offenses to be reclassified as civil penalties. A reclassification of some offenses would lessen the burden on the summons court system while also granting a reprieve to individuals who have committed non-violent, so-called 'quality-of-life' infractions. Proponents of such measures have argued that summonses are disproportionately issued to poor people of color and that arrest warrants resulting from failure to respond to a summons can have grave repercussions that far outweigh the original offense.</p> <p>But even certain summons reform measures, it would seem, are backlogged. Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/235-15/mayor-de-blasio-chief-judge-lippman-justice-reboot-initiative-modernize-the" target="_blank">announced</a> "Justice Reboot," an initiative including a planned overhaul of the summons process. Among the proposed changes were a new summons form making the court appearance date more prominent, robocall and text message reminders for those with summonses, and a more flexible system allowing individuals to appear in court up to a week in advance of their scheduled court date. While these measures were originally scheduled to begin this summer, they are now slated to start in early fall.</p> <p>Sarah Solon, chief external strategy officer at the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, stated that the timing for the proposed reforms remains unchanged and that the measures will go into effect sequentially. "The new summons form has to roll out first, because it will collect the cell phone numbers that will allow for text message reminders and contain information about the flexible appearance dates," said Solon via e-mail. That new form will be released citywide within the next few months, Solon said, and going forward the form will collect data on an individual's race/ethnicity in order to ensure transparency in the summons process and provide important data.</p> <p>The next Begin Again event is also scheduled for the fall-it will be held on September 12 in East New York. The flyer for the event - which will be posted around the borough and shared on social media as the one advertising the last one was - says, "we can help you take care of that old warrant." <a href="https://twitter.com/BrooklynDA/status/624578128631861248" target="_blank">The literature</a> seeks to reassure people: "over 1,000 people attended the last event," it says, followed by "no one was arrested" and "everyone got help."</p> <p>Ryan said she and her colleagues at The Legal Aid Society hope other DA offices will follow Brooklyn District Attorney Thompson's lead in hosting such events.</p> <p>So, apparently, does Thompson. In a July 15 letter addressed and hand-delivered to Mayor de Blasio with Chief Judge Lippman copied, Thompson urged the mayor to take the Brooklyn 'Begin Again' initiative citywide. Of the current way of doing things, Thompson wrote, "We simply cannot continue down this path any longer."</p> <p>***<br />Brooke L. Williams is a freelance&nbsp;multimedia journalist based in New York City. She reports on the criminal justice system with an emphasis on those wrongfully convicted. You can follow her on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WilliamsLBrooke" target="_blank">@williamslbrooke<br /></a><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Are DAs Doing Enough to Overturn Wrongful Convictions? 2015-07-12T05:00:00+00:00 2015-07-12T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5802:are-das-doing-enough-to-overturn-wrongful-convictions Super User <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/DA_Thompson_Reynoso.jpg" alt="DA Thompson Reynoso" height="540" width="600" /></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Brooklyn DA Thompson, left, &amp; Council Member Reynoso (photo: @BrooklynDA)</span></p> <hr /> <p>What is the price of winning? For prosecutors in wrongful conviction cases, it can be a life.</p> <p>Last year, there were a record 131 exonerations nationwide according to the National Registry of Exonerations. Of those exonerated, six were serving time on death row.</p> <p>During that same time period, six new Conviction Integrity Units (CIUs) were established at district attorney offices across the country, increasing the total number of units by about one-third. CIUs conduct reviews of wrongful conviction claims and were responsible for 49 exonerations in 2014, more than for all previous years combined. But the structure and number of exonerations of each individual CIU varies markedly, leading to different systems by which the district attorneys who prosecute crimes are reviewed.</p> <p>In New York City, where each borough has a corresponding DA, the Manhattan and Brooklyn District Attorney Offices have a CIU and Conviction Review Unit (CRU), respectively. The other boroughs do not currently have formal review units. Like other CIUs, the New York City-based units vary in both organization and outcomes.</p> <p>Former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes formed a CIU in 2011 that resulted in two exonerations. But many, including current Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson, who defeated Hynes in 2013, felt that Hynes was incapable of adequately looking into convictions that were secured during his nearly quarter-century tenure.</p> <p>"My predecessor called it the Conviction Integrity Unit, but I thought the process in place did not have integrity. And so, I changed the name and called it the Conviction Review Unit," Thompson <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWIYZPFqqyM&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">said</a> while speaking at a New York City Bar Association event last year.</p> <p>Since Thompson established the CRU in 2014, he has allocated an annual budget of $1.1 million to the unit. "If you're serious about the idea that the job of a district attorney and a prosecutor is to do justice, not merely to secure convictions," says Mark Hale, Chief of the Brooklyn CRU, "then the books don't close on these cases. You should always be pursuing justice, even long after the jury has reached their verdict."</p> <p>The Brooklyn CRU secured ten exonerations last year and has been touted by some as a model. Two of the ten exonerated individuals died while incarcerated and had their convictions vacated posthumously. These examples show how costly wrongful convictions - and delayed reviews when questions arise - can be. The other eight men whose convictions were overturned were facing maximum sentences of life in prison. The CRU <a href="http://www.brooklynda.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/conviction-review-Timeline-VI-2000x1110.jpg" target="_blank">has produced</a> an additional three exonerations in 2015, including one involving a defendant who was facing possible deportation.</p> <p>The Manhattan CIU, created by District Attorney Cyrus Vance in 2010, was the first of its kind within the five boroughs. Since its inception, the unit has reviewed more than 160 cases, reinvestigated 14 cases, and vacated five convictions, according to an office spokesperson who declined a request for an interview. As of January 2015, The National Registry of Exonerations lists four vacated convictions by the Manhattan CIU that meet the registry's criteria for exonerations. The vacated convictions include two robberies, one assault, and one sexual assault.</p> <p>"To me, that office has zero credibility," says Jeffrey Deskovic, who was wrongfully convicted in Westchester County and exonerated after spending nearly 16 years in prison. Deskovic, who founded The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, cites the Jon-Adrian Velazquez case in which the Manhattan CIU <a href="http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/06/17630807-manhattan-da-keeps-high-profile-murder-conviction-intact-after-review" target="_blank">upheld a murder conviction</a> despite recanted eyewitness testimony and a lack of physical evidence linking Velazquez to the crime.</p> <p>But Barry Scheck, co-founder of The Innocence Project, a national organization that works to reverse wrongful convictions on the basis of DNA evidence, stresses CIUs are evolving entities. While Scheck views comparisons between the two New York district attorney offices as unproductive, he also acknowledges there are certain factors that increase the effectiveness of a particular CIU over another.</p> <p>"The successful CIUs have been ones where the person who has supervisory responsibility is a former defense lawyer," says Scheck, pointing to renowned defense attorney Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr.'s role as advisor to the Brooklyn CRU. "You really need from a cognitive point of view a completely different perspective because it's very hard to de-bias people who are working within offices, prosecutors particularly, for quite a number of years," says Scheck.</p> <p>The latter point has been a criticism of CIUs. Essentially, a wrongful conviction is admission that the district attorney's office responsible for the case got the prosecution wrong in the first place. When those cases involve prosecutors and a district attorney who are still in office, the objectivity of the review process is called into question. As of January 2015, individual CIUs ranged in number of exonerations from zero to as many as 33.</p> <p>In addition to Sullivan's role as advisor, the Brooklyn CRU employs the use of an independent review panel. The panel reviews and makes non-binding recommendations to the district attorney's office regarding wrongful conviction claims. The panel is comprised of three attorneys who are not employed by the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.</p> <p>The Manhattan CIU has a Conviction Integrity Policy Advisory Panel comprised of criminal justice experts, including Scheck, who advise "the Office on national best practices and evolving issues in the area of wrongful convictions" according to a Manhattan District Attorney press release. The panel does not review cases, which are handled internally by the Manhattan CIU.</p> <p>The Brooklyn CRU's comparably high rate of exonerations can be traced to other factors as well. Four of the Brooklyn CRU's exonerations last year involved cases handled by former police detective Louis Scarcella, who has been accused of coercing witnesses and intimidating suspects into making false confessions.</p> <p>"In doing the number of cases for the years that we did," says Hale, "those cases of violent crimes in the volume that we did, it would be foolhardy to believe mistakes weren't made in some of those." But Hale points to other factors in the unit's success, including a dedicated staff whose sole responsibility is to review wrongful conviction claims.</p> <p>While the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office processed a high volume of cases during New York City's crime-ridden 1980s and '90s, a 2015 report issued by the National Registry of Exonerations asserts that the borough is not unique. The report refers to the number of exonerations in Brooklyn as "an impressive accomplishment" but maintains "there is no reason to believe that the problem it addresses is restricted to Brooklyn. The concentration of false murder convictions in Brooklyn in the 1980s and '90s," the report continues, "is often explained by a crisis in law enforcement: a murder rate about 5 times what it is now, and limited resources to investigate and prosecute those murders."</p> <p>But the report argues that similar conditions existed throughout the five boroughs as well as in other urban areas nationwide. "If the same resources were devoted to similar cases from other cities," <a href="http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Documents/Exonerations_in_2014_report.pdf" target="_blank">the report</a> maintains, "many additional false murder convictions would no doubt be found."</p> <p>The number of homicide and homicide-related arrests, such as criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter, disposed in Brooklyn during the '80s and '90s was one-and-a-half times the rate of homicide-related arrests disposed in Manhattan. However, the total number of felony arrest dispositions during the same time period was higher in Manhattan than in Brooklyn.</p> <p>Currently, the Manhattan CIU reviews serious felony offenses including homicide, rape, burglary, and robbery. Earlier this year, the Brooklyn CRU expanded its review to include non-homicide felony offenses as well. Since that expansion, the Brooklyn CRU has secured two exonerations in non-homicide felony cases.</p> <p>Acknowledging the lack of CIUs in many other localities, Hale concurs with the report's finding and notes, "There are other people who probably would find the same proportion or the same numbers of exonerations if, in fact, they were looking."</p> <p>Brooklyn DA Thompson's fresh eyes have undoubtedly helped the office take a deeper look into the relatively old convictions that were obtained primarily during the Hynes administration. Will those eyes remain as sharp once convictions secured under Thompson's leadership are called into question?</p> <p>"It comes down to the will of the D.A.," Thompson acknowledged during his speech last year. "I can't say that there will never be anyone wrongfully convicted under my tenure, but I can tell you that I'm going to take swift action."</p> <p>***<br />Brooke L. Williams is a freelance&nbsp;multimedia journalist based in New York City. She reports on the criminal justice system with an emphasis on those wrongfully convicted. You can follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/WilliamsLBrooke" target="_blank">@williamslbrooke<br /></a><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/DA_Thompson_Reynoso.jpg" alt="DA Thompson Reynoso" height="540" width="600" /></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Brooklyn DA Thompson, left, &amp; Council Member Reynoso (photo: @BrooklynDA)</span></p> <hr /> <p>What is the price of winning? For prosecutors in wrongful conviction cases, it can be a life.</p> <p>Last year, there were a record 131 exonerations nationwide according to the National Registry of Exonerations. Of those exonerated, six were serving time on death row.</p> <p>During that same time period, six new Conviction Integrity Units (CIUs) were established at district attorney offices across the country, increasing the total number of units by about one-third. CIUs conduct reviews of wrongful conviction claims and were responsible for 49 exonerations in 2014, more than for all previous years combined. But the structure and number of exonerations of each individual CIU varies markedly, leading to different systems by which the district attorneys who prosecute crimes are reviewed.</p> <p>In New York City, where each borough has a corresponding DA, the Manhattan and Brooklyn District Attorney Offices have a CIU and Conviction Review Unit (CRU), respectively. The other boroughs do not currently have formal review units. Like other CIUs, the New York City-based units vary in both organization and outcomes.</p> <p>Former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes formed a CIU in 2011 that resulted in two exonerations. But many, including current Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson, who defeated Hynes in 2013, felt that Hynes was incapable of adequately looking into convictions that were secured during his nearly quarter-century tenure.</p> <p>"My predecessor called it the Conviction Integrity Unit, but I thought the process in place did not have integrity. And so, I changed the name and called it the Conviction Review Unit," Thompson <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWIYZPFqqyM&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">said</a> while speaking at a New York City Bar Association event last year.</p> <p>Since Thompson established the CRU in 2014, he has allocated an annual budget of $1.1 million to the unit. "If you're serious about the idea that the job of a district attorney and a prosecutor is to do justice, not merely to secure convictions," says Mark Hale, Chief of the Brooklyn CRU, "then the books don't close on these cases. You should always be pursuing justice, even long after the jury has reached their verdict."</p> <p>The Brooklyn CRU secured ten exonerations last year and has been touted by some as a model. Two of the ten exonerated individuals died while incarcerated and had their convictions vacated posthumously. These examples show how costly wrongful convictions - and delayed reviews when questions arise - can be. The other eight men whose convictions were overturned were facing maximum sentences of life in prison. The CRU <a href="http://www.brooklynda.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/conviction-review-Timeline-VI-2000x1110.jpg" target="_blank">has produced</a> an additional three exonerations in 2015, including one involving a defendant who was facing possible deportation.</p> <p>The Manhattan CIU, created by District Attorney Cyrus Vance in 2010, was the first of its kind within the five boroughs. Since its inception, the unit has reviewed more than 160 cases, reinvestigated 14 cases, and vacated five convictions, according to an office spokesperson who declined a request for an interview. As of January 2015, The National Registry of Exonerations lists four vacated convictions by the Manhattan CIU that meet the registry's criteria for exonerations. The vacated convictions include two robberies, one assault, and one sexual assault.</p> <p>"To me, that office has zero credibility," says Jeffrey Deskovic, who was wrongfully convicted in Westchester County and exonerated after spending nearly 16 years in prison. Deskovic, who founded The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, cites the Jon-Adrian Velazquez case in which the Manhattan CIU <a href="http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/06/17630807-manhattan-da-keeps-high-profile-murder-conviction-intact-after-review" target="_blank">upheld a murder conviction</a> despite recanted eyewitness testimony and a lack of physical evidence linking Velazquez to the crime.</p> <p>But Barry Scheck, co-founder of The Innocence Project, a national organization that works to reverse wrongful convictions on the basis of DNA evidence, stresses CIUs are evolving entities. While Scheck views comparisons between the two New York district attorney offices as unproductive, he also acknowledges there are certain factors that increase the effectiveness of a particular CIU over another.</p> <p>"The successful CIUs have been ones where the person who has supervisory responsibility is a former defense lawyer," says Scheck, pointing to renowned defense attorney Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr.'s role as advisor to the Brooklyn CRU. "You really need from a cognitive point of view a completely different perspective because it's very hard to de-bias people who are working within offices, prosecutors particularly, for quite a number of years," says Scheck.</p> <p>The latter point has been a criticism of CIUs. Essentially, a wrongful conviction is admission that the district attorney's office responsible for the case got the prosecution wrong in the first place. When those cases involve prosecutors and a district attorney who are still in office, the objectivity of the review process is called into question. As of January 2015, individual CIUs ranged in number of exonerations from zero to as many as 33.</p> <p>In addition to Sullivan's role as advisor, the Brooklyn CRU employs the use of an independent review panel. The panel reviews and makes non-binding recommendations to the district attorney's office regarding wrongful conviction claims. The panel is comprised of three attorneys who are not employed by the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.</p> <p>The Manhattan CIU has a Conviction Integrity Policy Advisory Panel comprised of criminal justice experts, including Scheck, who advise "the Office on national best practices and evolving issues in the area of wrongful convictions" according to a Manhattan District Attorney press release. The panel does not review cases, which are handled internally by the Manhattan CIU.</p> <p>The Brooklyn CRU's comparably high rate of exonerations can be traced to other factors as well. Four of the Brooklyn CRU's exonerations last year involved cases handled by former police detective Louis Scarcella, who has been accused of coercing witnesses and intimidating suspects into making false confessions.</p> <p>"In doing the number of cases for the years that we did," says Hale, "those cases of violent crimes in the volume that we did, it would be foolhardy to believe mistakes weren't made in some of those." But Hale points to other factors in the unit's success, including a dedicated staff whose sole responsibility is to review wrongful conviction claims.</p> <p>While the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office processed a high volume of cases during New York City's crime-ridden 1980s and '90s, a 2015 report issued by the National Registry of Exonerations asserts that the borough is not unique. The report refers to the number of exonerations in Brooklyn as "an impressive accomplishment" but maintains "there is no reason to believe that the problem it addresses is restricted to Brooklyn. The concentration of false murder convictions in Brooklyn in the 1980s and '90s," the report continues, "is often explained by a crisis in law enforcement: a murder rate about 5 times what it is now, and limited resources to investigate and prosecute those murders."</p> <p>But the report argues that similar conditions existed throughout the five boroughs as well as in other urban areas nationwide. "If the same resources were devoted to similar cases from other cities," <a href="http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Documents/Exonerations_in_2014_report.pdf" target="_blank">the report</a> maintains, "many additional false murder convictions would no doubt be found."</p> <p>The number of homicide and homicide-related arrests, such as criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter, disposed in Brooklyn during the '80s and '90s was one-and-a-half times the rate of homicide-related arrests disposed in Manhattan. However, the total number of felony arrest dispositions during the same time period was higher in Manhattan than in Brooklyn.</p> <p>Currently, the Manhattan CIU reviews serious felony offenses including homicide, rape, burglary, and robbery. Earlier this year, the Brooklyn CRU expanded its review to include non-homicide felony offenses as well. Since that expansion, the Brooklyn CRU has secured two exonerations in non-homicide felony cases.</p> <p>Acknowledging the lack of CIUs in many other localities, Hale concurs with the report's finding and notes, "There are other people who probably would find the same proportion or the same numbers of exonerations if, in fact, they were looking."</p> <p>Brooklyn DA Thompson's fresh eyes have undoubtedly helped the office take a deeper look into the relatively old convictions that were obtained primarily during the Hynes administration. Will those eyes remain as sharp once convictions secured under Thompson's leadership are called into question?</p> <p>"It comes down to the will of the D.A.," Thompson acknowledged during his speech last year. "I can't say that there will never be anyone wrongfully convicted under my tenure, but I can tell you that I'm going to take swift action."</p> <p>***<br />Brooke L. Williams is a freelance&nbsp;multimedia journalist based in New York City. She reports on the criminal justice system with an emphasis on those wrongfully convicted. You can follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/WilliamsLBrooke" target="_blank">@williamslbrooke<br /></a><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> License to Carry: New York's Gun Permit Laws 2015-06-22T21:22:56+00:00 2015-06-22T21:22:56+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5782:license-to-carry-new-yorks-gun-permit-laws Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/8385929175_050a31d010_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo SAFE Act" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo signs the SAFE Act, Jan. 2013 (photo: Governor's Office <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/8385929175/in/photostream/" target="_blank">via flickr</a>)</span></p> <hr /> <p>Riders on a Brooklyn-bound 4 train fled in terror when a man responded to taunts from two younger men by pulling a gun and loading a clip. As the confrontation escalated and the train stopped, the melee spilled into the Borough Hall station, with threats and shoving until Gilbert Drogheo, one of the younger men, was lying dead of a gunshot wound on the station floor. Like a number of recent shootings, most of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/retired-correction-officer-shoots-man-brooklyn-station-article-1.2144705" target="_blank">the incident</a>&nbsp;was captured on video.</p> <p>What stands out about the shooting death is that the firearm that killed Drogheo wasn't obtained illegally. According to law enforcement officials, Willie Grooms, the 69-year-old retired corrections officer who shot Drogheo, had a pistol permit. Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/retired-jailer-blasted-subway-harasser-released-cops-article-1.2145831" target="_blank">announced</a>&nbsp;that Grooms will not be charged with a crime despite pleas from Drogheo's family. Grooms has maintained that Drogheo was harassing and assaulting him and that he attempted a citizen's arrest.</p> <p>The incident and several others, such as the seemingly accidental gun shot&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/14/nyregion/waldorf-shooting.html?smid=tw-share" target="_blank">that injured</a>&nbsp;five people at a Waldorf Astoria wedding, raise serious questions for many New Yorkers - as the recent shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina church that killed nine has also done for many across the country. These are questions being seized upon by gun control activists in especially vehement efforts during June, which is Gun Violence Awareness Month in New York. Among the questions being asked are 'who is allowed to carry a gun' and 'how do people get gun permits.'</p> <p>Advocates on both sides of the gun control debate agree that New York has some of the toughest gun-permitting laws of any state in the nation. However, regulations differ greatly between New York City and the rest of the state, with the city having a much more stringent system. This is evident as the New York Times recently&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/12/nyregion/guns-at-hand-a-prison-town-traces-a-manhunt-for-escaped-killers.html?_r=0" target="_blank">reported</a>&nbsp;on armed upstate New Yorkers on the lookout for two escaped prisoners.</p> <p>"New York has some of the strongest laws in the country," said Leah Barrett of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. "New York is a 'may issue' state, whereas Florida is a 'shall issue.' Meaning [Florida] will basically issue [a gun permit] to anyone with a pulse."</p> <p>New York is known as a 'may-issue state' because its regulations allow for background checks before issuing a license. However, the licensing process upstate is less restrictive than that of some other states, like Maryland, that rarely issue permits. Other states, such as Florida, are known as 'shall-issue' states because they have an application process that is mostly a formality. States like Texas are known as states 'unrestricted' because its residents are free to carry concealed firearms without going through any application process.</p> <p>The screening and permitting&nbsp;<a href="http://troopers.ny.gov/firearms/" target="_blank">process in New York</a>&nbsp;differs based on type of firearm. Applicants for pistol permits undergo criminal and mental health background checks at the state and federal level - even when purchasing at a gun show. Permits are issued by local judges or clerks. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, free of a felony conviction or "serious" offense, of good moral character, and not have had a previous license revoked. Applicants must also state whether they have suffered severe mental illness or been institutionalized or hospitalized for such an illness. Permit issuers may deny a license based on that history.</p> <p>In most of the state outside of New York City, permits are not required for the vast majority of rifles and shotguns used to hunt. Whereas the city does require a permit for guns used for hunting. The SAFE Act banned most assault style shotguns and rifles across the state but grandfathered in those purchased before January 15, 2013. Those grandfathered firearms were required to be registered before January 14, 2014.</p> <p>"In New York City it is nearly impossible to get a pistol permit without some kind of hardcore need," said Tom King of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. "Getting a concealed carry permit is almost impossible in the city unless you are a politician, a celebrity or very, very wealthy." The New York Police Department is tasked with reviewing applications for concealed carry permits in the city. A New York Times&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/nyregion/20guns.html" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;from 2011 revealed that a number of celebrities and media members like John Catsimatidis, Sean Hannity, Alexis Stewart, and John Mack all have city pistol permits.</p> <p>Outside of the city, King says, the permitting is less prohibitive but may take some time due to background checks that have recently been enhanced by the SAFE Act - legislation that is much maligned by gun rights advocates. The difficulty of getting a concealed permit varies depending on the county in which someone applies, in most cases the process is overseen by a judge or a clerk.</p> <p>The NYPD offers a number of different permits that allow for pistols to be carried for business purposes, or restrict the carrier to a specific business or residence. Store owners and security guards appear to be the most-often licensed. Applicants must pay about $400 for a license, wait 12 weeks, and undergo a background check. They then must apply to the NYPD for permission to buy whichever firearm they select. One license can cover up to 25 different weapons. There were over 40,000 permit holders in New York City&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/nyregion/20guns.html" target="_blank">as of 2011</a>.</p> <p>Applications for permits in the rest of the state generally cost a lot less - often around $15 - and are completed in about two months. The SAFE Act established that state pistol permits must be renewed every five years. Pistol owners who fail to do so can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Renewal involves submitting an applicant's current address, contact information, social security number, and a list of owned firearms.</p> <p>King said that New York's current permitting rules seem fairly stable and that his group is mostly involved in fighting off the attempts of local municipalities to tweak gun laws. He notes that most smaller cities have to apply to the state for home rule to make their gun laws tougher and most of the time they are denied, or the law is defeated in court. His group is also actively looking to make repealing the SAFE Act a major issue in the 2016 elections for state Senate and Assembly. It was often used against Governor Andrew Cuomo and others during the 2014 cycle, while when he was campaigning in New York City, Cuomo boasted about passing the law, enacted quickly after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, CT.</p> <p>Barrett, of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, is concerned that a federal bill that would force states to recognize out-of-state conceal-carry permits is picking up steam. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a host of Republican legislators from states with no permitting laws. "This operates more or less like a driver's license," Sen. John Cornyn of Texas&nbsp;<a href="http://thehill.com/regulation/legislation/232633-senate-republican-unveils-gun-rights-bill" target="_blank">told The Hill</a>&nbsp;in February. "So, for example, if you have a driver's license in Texas, you can drive in New York, in Utah and other places, subject to the laws of those states."</p> <p>Advocates of the bill say it would prevent 'gotcha' moments where travelers with out-of-state concealed-carry permits are arrested for toting guns illegally in another state. Barrett and gun-control advocates say the bill would wreak havoc in New York. They say the bill could severely damage efforts to fight gun trafficking from out of state, which the NYPD and others often point to as a major issue in terms of guns used to commit crimes in New York City. "New York would be forced to honor permits from these other states that have weaker laws," said Barrett. "We would likely see an influx of guns from out of state and an increase in trafficking. And how will New York be able to confirm these permits?"</p> <p>While, New York may very well have some of the strongest gun laws in the country, some in Albany, including legislators who back stricter gun laws, say that in order to get Senate Republicans to negotiate on other bills they may have to concede to their efforts to roll back parts of the SAFE Act. On June 9 the Senate&nbsp;<a href="http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/local/2015/06/08/ny-senate-oks-changes-gun-control-law/28714457/" target="_blank">passed a bill</a>&nbsp;that would do away with a SAFE Act provision that requires background checks on those who purchase ammo. A state database to monitor ammo sales has yet to be brought online. The bill would also prevent gun registrations from being made public and allow family members to gift semiautomatic guns to their relatives.</p> <p>King said he thinks the bill has a real chance to make it through the Legislature. Barrett, however, points to&nbsp;<a href="http://nyagv.org/wide-support-for-ny-safe-act-provisions-including-upstate-residents-and-gun-owners/" target="_blank">a recent poll</a>&nbsp;her group conducted on the individual elements of the SAFE Act. The poll shows that New Yorkers support the SAFE Act by a 2-1 margin, and their support increases overwhelmingly when asked about the individual gun-safety measures contained in the act.</p> <p>Background checks for all firearm sales was backed by 89 percent of all voters and 80 percent of gun owners surveyed. Renewal of pistol permits every five years was supported by 79 percent of voters and 53 percent of gun owners. Background checks for ammunition sales was supported by 72 percent of all voters and 37 percent of gun owners.</p> <p>"New Yorkers overwhelmingly support gun safety, in fact they support the measures contained in the SAFE Act when they learn how common sense they are," said Barrett.<br />***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/8385929175_050a31d010_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo SAFE Act" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo signs the SAFE Act, Jan. 2013 (photo: Governor's Office <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/8385929175/in/photostream/" target="_blank">via flickr</a>)</span></p> <hr /> <p>Riders on a Brooklyn-bound 4 train fled in terror when a man responded to taunts from two younger men by pulling a gun and loading a clip. As the confrontation escalated and the train stopped, the melee spilled into the Borough Hall station, with threats and shoving until Gilbert Drogheo, one of the younger men, was lying dead of a gunshot wound on the station floor. Like a number of recent shootings, most of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/retired-correction-officer-shoots-man-brooklyn-station-article-1.2144705" target="_blank">the incident</a>&nbsp;was captured on video.</p> <p>What stands out about the shooting death is that the firearm that killed Drogheo wasn't obtained illegally. According to law enforcement officials, Willie Grooms, the 69-year-old retired corrections officer who shot Drogheo, had a pistol permit. Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/retired-jailer-blasted-subway-harasser-released-cops-article-1.2145831" target="_blank">announced</a>&nbsp;that Grooms will not be charged with a crime despite pleas from Drogheo's family. Grooms has maintained that Drogheo was harassing and assaulting him and that he attempted a citizen's arrest.</p> <p>The incident and several others, such as the seemingly accidental gun shot&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/14/nyregion/waldorf-shooting.html?smid=tw-share" target="_blank">that injured</a>&nbsp;five people at a Waldorf Astoria wedding, raise serious questions for many New Yorkers - as the recent shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina church that killed nine has also done for many across the country. These are questions being seized upon by gun control activists in especially vehement efforts during June, which is Gun Violence Awareness Month in New York. Among the questions being asked are 'who is allowed to carry a gun' and 'how do people get gun permits.'</p> <p>Advocates on both sides of the gun control debate agree that New York has some of the toughest gun-permitting laws of any state in the nation. However, regulations differ greatly between New York City and the rest of the state, with the city having a much more stringent system. This is evident as the New York Times recently&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/12/nyregion/guns-at-hand-a-prison-town-traces-a-manhunt-for-escaped-killers.html?_r=0" target="_blank">reported</a>&nbsp;on armed upstate New Yorkers on the lookout for two escaped prisoners.</p> <p>"New York has some of the strongest laws in the country," said Leah Barrett of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. "New York is a 'may issue' state, whereas Florida is a 'shall issue.' Meaning [Florida] will basically issue [a gun permit] to anyone with a pulse."</p> <p>New York is known as a 'may-issue state' because its regulations allow for background checks before issuing a license. However, the licensing process upstate is less restrictive than that of some other states, like Maryland, that rarely issue permits. Other states, such as Florida, are known as 'shall-issue' states because they have an application process that is mostly a formality. States like Texas are known as states 'unrestricted' because its residents are free to carry concealed firearms without going through any application process.</p> <p>The screening and permitting&nbsp;<a href="http://troopers.ny.gov/firearms/" target="_blank">process in New York</a>&nbsp;differs based on type of firearm. Applicants for pistol permits undergo criminal and mental health background checks at the state and federal level - even when purchasing at a gun show. Permits are issued by local judges or clerks. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, free of a felony conviction or "serious" offense, of good moral character, and not have had a previous license revoked. Applicants must also state whether they have suffered severe mental illness or been institutionalized or hospitalized for such an illness. Permit issuers may deny a license based on that history.</p> <p>In most of the state outside of New York City, permits are not required for the vast majority of rifles and shotguns used to hunt. Whereas the city does require a permit for guns used for hunting. The SAFE Act banned most assault style shotguns and rifles across the state but grandfathered in those purchased before January 15, 2013. Those grandfathered firearms were required to be registered before January 14, 2014.</p> <p>"In New York City it is nearly impossible to get a pistol permit without some kind of hardcore need," said Tom King of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. "Getting a concealed carry permit is almost impossible in the city unless you are a politician, a celebrity or very, very wealthy." The New York Police Department is tasked with reviewing applications for concealed carry permits in the city. A New York Times&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/nyregion/20guns.html" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;from 2011 revealed that a number of celebrities and media members like John Catsimatidis, Sean Hannity, Alexis Stewart, and John Mack all have city pistol permits.</p> <p>Outside of the city, King says, the permitting is less prohibitive but may take some time due to background checks that have recently been enhanced by the SAFE Act - legislation that is much maligned by gun rights advocates. The difficulty of getting a concealed permit varies depending on the county in which someone applies, in most cases the process is overseen by a judge or a clerk.</p> <p>The NYPD offers a number of different permits that allow for pistols to be carried for business purposes, or restrict the carrier to a specific business or residence. Store owners and security guards appear to be the most-often licensed. Applicants must pay about $400 for a license, wait 12 weeks, and undergo a background check. They then must apply to the NYPD for permission to buy whichever firearm they select. One license can cover up to 25 different weapons. There were over 40,000 permit holders in New York City&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/nyregion/20guns.html" target="_blank">as of 2011</a>.</p> <p>Applications for permits in the rest of the state generally cost a lot less - often around $15 - and are completed in about two months. The SAFE Act established that state pistol permits must be renewed every five years. Pistol owners who fail to do so can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Renewal involves submitting an applicant's current address, contact information, social security number, and a list of owned firearms.</p> <p>King said that New York's current permitting rules seem fairly stable and that his group is mostly involved in fighting off the attempts of local municipalities to tweak gun laws. He notes that most smaller cities have to apply to the state for home rule to make their gun laws tougher and most of the time they are denied, or the law is defeated in court. His group is also actively looking to make repealing the SAFE Act a major issue in the 2016 elections for state Senate and Assembly. It was often used against Governor Andrew Cuomo and others during the 2014 cycle, while when he was campaigning in New York City, Cuomo boasted about passing the law, enacted quickly after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, CT.</p> <p>Barrett, of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, is concerned that a federal bill that would force states to recognize out-of-state conceal-carry permits is picking up steam. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a host of Republican legislators from states with no permitting laws. "This operates more or less like a driver's license," Sen. John Cornyn of Texas&nbsp;<a href="http://thehill.com/regulation/legislation/232633-senate-republican-unveils-gun-rights-bill" target="_blank">told The Hill</a>&nbsp;in February. "So, for example, if you have a driver's license in Texas, you can drive in New York, in Utah and other places, subject to the laws of those states."</p> <p>Advocates of the bill say it would prevent 'gotcha' moments where travelers with out-of-state concealed-carry permits are arrested for toting guns illegally in another state. Barrett and gun-control advocates say the bill would wreak havoc in New York. They say the bill could severely damage efforts to fight gun trafficking from out of state, which the NYPD and others often point to as a major issue in terms of guns used to commit crimes in New York City. "New York would be forced to honor permits from these other states that have weaker laws," said Barrett. "We would likely see an influx of guns from out of state and an increase in trafficking. And how will New York be able to confirm these permits?"</p> <p>While, New York may very well have some of the strongest gun laws in the country, some in Albany, including legislators who back stricter gun laws, say that in order to get Senate Republicans to negotiate on other bills they may have to concede to their efforts to roll back parts of the SAFE Act. On June 9 the Senate&nbsp;<a href="http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/local/2015/06/08/ny-senate-oks-changes-gun-control-law/28714457/" target="_blank">passed a bill</a>&nbsp;that would do away with a SAFE Act provision that requires background checks on those who purchase ammo. A state database to monitor ammo sales has yet to be brought online. The bill would also prevent gun registrations from being made public and allow family members to gift semiautomatic guns to their relatives.</p> <p>King said he thinks the bill has a real chance to make it through the Legislature. Barrett, however, points to&nbsp;<a href="http://nyagv.org/wide-support-for-ny-safe-act-provisions-including-upstate-residents-and-gun-owners/" target="_blank">a recent poll</a>&nbsp;her group conducted on the individual elements of the SAFE Act. The poll shows that New Yorkers support the SAFE Act by a 2-1 margin, and their support increases overwhelmingly when asked about the individual gun-safety measures contained in the act.</p> <p>Background checks for all firearm sales was backed by 89 percent of all voters and 80 percent of gun owners surveyed. Renewal of pistol permits every five years was supported by 79 percent of voters and 53 percent of gun owners. Background checks for ammunition sales was supported by 72 percent of all voters and 37 percent of gun owners.</p> <p>"New Yorkers overwhelmingly support gun safety, in fact they support the measures contained in the SAFE Act when they learn how common sense they are," said Barrett.<br />***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> Three 2015 District Attorney Races Set to Begin 2015-05-21T21:09:49+00:00 2015-05-21T21:09:49+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5736:three-2015-district-attorney-races-set-to-begin Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/donovan_swearing_in.jpg" alt="donovan swearing in" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Former SI DA Dan Donovan is sworn in to Congress (@dandonovan_ny)</span></p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Voters can look forward to soon having a clearer picture of the potential contenders for the district attorney races on November’s ballot.</p> <p dir="ltr">Three of New York’s five district attorney positions will be voted on this fall — in Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx — and signature petitioning to get on the ballot begins the first week in June. Brooklyn’s District Attorney, Ken Thompson, and Manhattan’s District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, will not face reelection until 2017.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/donovan_swearing_in.jpg" alt="donovan swearing in" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Former SI DA Dan Donovan is sworn in to Congress (@dandonovan_ny)</span></p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Voters can look forward to soon having a clearer picture of the potential contenders for the district attorney races on November’s ballot.</p> <p dir="ltr">Three of New York’s five district attorney positions will be voted on this fall — in Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx — and signature petitioning to get on the ballot begins the first week in June. Brooklyn’s District Attorney, Ken Thompson, and Manhattan’s District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, will not face reelection until 2017.</p> The New Yorker's Guide To The New City Government 2013-12-31T16:55:08+00:00 2013-12-31T16:55:08+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=4792:the-guide-to-new-york-citys-new-government Super User <p><img class="caption" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/CityHall2.jpg" alt="CityHall2" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span class="caption">Photo by Bill Alatriste/City Council</span></p> <p>NEW YORK —&nbsp;The historic overhaul of New York City government this year goes well beyond the mayor's office.</p> <p class="c2">There are 21 new members of the City Council, four new borough presidents, and fresh, yet familiar, faces in the offices of Brooklyn district attorney, comptroller, and public advocate. With the city’s politics taking an increasingly liberal turn, there are few outright conservatives left in city government.</p> <p class="c2">“Reapportionment and term limits combined to make the City Council younger, a little bit further to the left, perhaps less a product of traditional political organizations or machines, and demographically, a little more like the population of the city,” said Kenneth Sherrill, Chair of the Political Science Department at Hunter College.</p> <p class="c2">New city officials include the first Mexican-American on City Council; old friends of incoming Police Commissioner Bill Bratton from his tenure during the 1990s; yet another member of the Queens Vallone clan; and a progressive new Brooklyn D.A., who has said he wants to re-train the borough's police officers. We've rounded up the full list here.</p> <h1 class="c2">Citywide</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Mayor</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Bill de Blasio - De Blasio has been involved in New York City politics since he helped the last progressive mayor, David Dinkins, get elected in 1989.<span class="c3">&nbsp;Between that first campaign and his mayoral victory, De Blasio served as the regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helped Hillary Clinton get elected to the U.S. Senate, spent eight years representing some of Brooklyn’s wealthier neighborhoods on the City Council, and, most recently, served as the city’s public advocate. In an attempt to deliver on a key campaign promise early on, De Blasio has spent the last few weeks drumming up support in Albany for a small tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-K. Dinkins, somewhat ironically and <span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/nyregion/praised-by-de-blasio-dinkins-responds-with-an-arrow.html">extremely publicly</a>, recently told him to reconsider, saying “we might have more success” with a commuter tax.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Comptroller</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Scott Stringer - Stringer left his post as Manhattan Borough President and took on former Gov. Elliot Spitzer in order to ascend to this quietly powerful office overseeing city finances. He brings with him experience as a&nbsp;trustee of the massive<a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx">NYCERS pension fund</a>&nbsp;and a track record of spearheading<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511">populist economic initiatives</a>, including the New York City Taxpayer Receipt, a website that allows constituents to<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/">track their tax dollars</a>.</span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Public Advocate</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Letitia "Tish" James - James has served Central Brooklyn on the City Council since 2003 and has opposed several major development and rezoning projects, including Atlantic Yards, which, for years, riled up residents around what is now the Barclays Center. Most recently, James joined progressive groups in calling for higher wages and a change in the city’s economic development policies, including more stringent requirements for banks and corporations that receive city subsidies.</span></p> <h1 class="c2">Borough-wide offices</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn District Attorney</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Kenneth P. Thompson -&nbsp;Thompson had to<a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php">beat incumbent Charles Hynes twice</a>&nbsp;- first, in the primary, when Hynes was a Democrat, and again when Hynes became a Republican for the general election. In an<a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race">acceptance speech</a>, the first black Brooklyn DA said voters had chosen him as an alternative to "false accusation, fear-mongering, and race-baiting." As a federal attorney, Thompson prosecuted<a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election">police brutality</a>&nbsp;in Brooklyn and now aims to reduce false arrests by<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">assigning prosecutors to police precincts</a>&nbsp;in East New York and Brownsville. “It is not right to have someone subjected to stop-and-frisk, snake through the system and spend two days in jail just to get out," he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">told the Daily News</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Brooklyn Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Eric Adams (D, WF)&nbsp;- Counted as an<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414">old friend</a>&nbsp;by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, Adams served 22 years in the NYPD before moving on to the State Senate, where he has represented Crown Heights, Flatbush, Sunset Park and Park Slope for the last eight years. A vocal critic of former Commissioner Ray Kelly when stop-and-frisk was on trial, Adams advocates for a "symbiotic relationship" between the police and the community.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Manhattan <span class="c3">Borough President</span></strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Gale Brewer (D)&nbsp;- Brewer has been a Council member for the Upper West Side and North Clinton since 2002. Her most recent political efforts include a push to<a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/">make food trucks greener</a>&nbsp;and to get the city to<a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding">seek federal funding</a>&nbsp;to expand CitiBike.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Queens</strong> <span class="c3"><strong>Borough President</strong></span><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Melinda Katz (D)&nbsp;- Katz represented Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and other pockets of Queens during her seven-year tenure on the City Council between 2002 and 2009. While on the Council, she was chair of the land use committee, and played a key role in moving forward the massive rezoning the city underwent during the Bloomberg administration.</span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Staten Island Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">James Oddo (R) - After 15 years on the City Council, Oddo is passing his title of Republican minority leader on to fellow Staten Island politician Vincent Ignizio. When it comes to Sandy relief, Oddo<a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html">supports an "acquisition for redevelopment" plan</a>&nbsp;that would buy out homeowners, open Midland Beach up to developers, and give former residents the option of moving back in.</span></span></p> <h1 class="c2">City Council</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Manhattan</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Corey Johnson (D) - D3 - Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea, West Village- Johnson, a prominent activist in the LGBT community, will take outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn's seat. Johnson most recently served as Chair of Community Board 4, which also made him a<a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml">board member</a>&nbsp;of the Hudson Yards Development Corp. Johnson built much of his campaign around affordable housing, but has been the<a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php">subject</a>&nbsp;of controversy as a former employee of GFI Development Co., which has erected its fair share of Brooklyn condos.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ben Kallos (D) - D5 - Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island - Kallos, a lawyer and lifelong Upper East Sider, advocated for state constitutional reform as the Executive Director of the group<a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/">EffectiveNY</a>&nbsp;and has put the issues of government accountability and transparency at the forefront of his campaign.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has also pledged to try to<a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction">aid local businesses</a>&nbsp;affected by the interminable Second Avenue subway construction.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Hellen Rosenthal (D) - D6 - Upper West Side and North Clinton - Rosenthal, who is coming from a post in the City Hall Budget Office, has been a<a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012">major supporter</a>&nbsp;of participatory budgeting and has advocated bringing it to her district, where, in the past, she served as Chair of Community Board 7.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Levine (D, WF) - D7 - parts of Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights/West Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Washington Heights, and part of UWS - Over the course of his uptown political career, Levine founded the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan and a credit union called the Neighborhood Trust. He also briefly ran the New York chapter of the controversial Teach for America program, of which he was an early participant. Levine's proposals for city schools include<a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education">expanding the curriculum</a>&nbsp;to teach about LGBT history, animal welfare, and environmental issues.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Laurie Cumbo (D) - D35 - Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and part of Bedford Stuyvesant - Cumbo is best known in Brooklyn for her leadership and expansion of<a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/">MoCADA</a>, the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts, and other cultural programs she has jump-started. But Cumbo has had a rough start as a Council member. She already had to<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments">apologize</a>&nbsp;to her new constituents for racially charged<a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html">comments she made</a>&nbsp;about the 'knockout attacks' in Crown Heights last month.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Robert Cornegy, Jr. (D) -D36- Bedford Stuvesant and parts of Crown Heights - Cornegy is transitioning from a position as Legislative Analyst for the Council's Aging and Veterans Committee. The former district leader and president of VIDA, Central Brooklyn's Vanguard Independent Democratic Association,<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137">eked out a primary win</a>&nbsp;in a race that ended with a highly contested recount.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rafael Espinal, Jr. (D) - D37- Cypress Hills, Bushwick, East New York, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville - Two years ago, Espinal, then 27, became the youngest member of the State Assembly, representing District 54. Most recently, he<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/">sponsored legislation</a>&nbsp;related to domestic abuse and, in the past, has sponsored bills that would require insurance companies to expand women's health coverage. Espinal has said he is determined to repair the infrastructure in neighborhoods that have been <a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148">"completely ignored"</a>&nbsp;by the city, like Cypress Hills, where he grew up.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Carlos Menchaca (D) - D38 - Bayridge Towers, Greenwood Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace - Menchaca's<a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/">relief efforts in Red Hook</a>&nbsp;following Hurricane Sandy helped him get the support he needed to beat his district's incumbent. Now, he and incoming Council Member Mark Treyger want to<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">start a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Proudly claiming the dual titles of "first Mexican-American on the City Council" and "first openly gay legislator in Brooklyn,"<span class="c3">&nbsp;Menchaca cut his teeth in the offices of outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz and outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Inez Barron (D) - D42 - NEIGHBORHOODS - In her five years representing State Assembly District 60, Barron has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Inez-D-Barron/sponsor/"></a>taken a progressive stance on issues from gun regulation to sex education. She also<a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/">fought to end mayoral control</a>&nbsp;of city schools after a decades-long career as a public school teacher and administrator. Barron's more incendiary husband, Charles, is passing her the torch in their Council district.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Alan Maisel (D) - D46 - Canarsie, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, part of Sheepshead Bay - Environmental issues and public safety, including 'fracking' regulation, have been prominent among the legislation Maisel has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/">sponsored</a>&nbsp;in his tenure serving State Assembly District 59. Much of Maisel's civic work in Brooklyn has been done through the international Jewish organization B'nai B'rith, although he has also served on his local school and community boards.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Treyger (D) - D47 - Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, and Sea Gate - After Superstorm Sandy hit, Treyger founded STRONG, the Sandy Task Force Recovery Organized by Neighborhood Groups, and is now joining forces with fellow incoming Council Member Carlos Menchaca to call for<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Treyger, long active in local politics, has been a high school teacher since 2005, with strong involvement in the United Federation of Teachers.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Chaim Deutsch (D) - D48 - Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach - Over the past 20 years, Deutsch, who has a strong foothold in Brooklyn's Jewish community, has taken community safety into his own hands as president of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol.<span class="c6">&nbsp;He founded the Patrol in the early 1990s in response to rising crime and has worked closely with both Commissioner Bill Bratton and outgoing police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Deutsch even held an appreciation ceremony for Kelly, during which he<a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">presented the city</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.brooklyneagle.com%2Farticles%2Ffelder-calls-kelly-city%25E2%2580%2599s-%25E2%2580%2598best-police-commissioner-ever%25E2%2580%2599-2013-12-12-153000&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGgvmwSpDHoPV0Ir4YaCJHvP26aHw">’s top cop </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">with a </a><span class="c0 c8"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">mezuzah</a>, which Jews hang in their doorways for protection. He also<a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html">praised Bratton</a>&nbsp;for having "excelled at police-community relations and law enforcement strategies" during his previous tenure on the NYPD.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c6"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0 c8"><span class="c0">Antonio Reynoso - D34 - Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn; Ridgewood in Queens - Reynoso is taking the seat of his former boss, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who he has been working for since 2007, most recently as her Chief of Staff. A Williamsburg native, Reynoso has made affordable housing his top issue, <a href="http://www.brooklynrail.org/2013/09/local/antonio-reynosos-fight-for-williamsburg">speaking out</a> frequently about the neighborhood's luxury makeover. He beat out a seasoned politician, former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who was forced out of the Assembly earlier this year following <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/11/nyregion/disgraced-assemblyman-loses-bid-for-council-seat.html?_r=0">a sexual harassment case.</a></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Queens</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Paul Vallone, Jr. (D) - D19 - College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, and Little Neck - Leaving his practice at Queens law firm Vallone and Vallone to take a seat on the City Council, Vallone seems to be leaving one<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651">family business</a>&nbsp;for another. His father, former Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., served on the City Council for 25 years, leaving in 2001, when his brother, Peter, Jr., was elected to represent the 22nd District (his term is up this year).<span class="c3">&nbsp;Beyond his family ties, Vallone has established thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for Queens high school students and based his campaign platform on a mix of progressive issues — such as women's access to birth control — and local issues like noise pollution from overhead flights.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Costa Constantinides (D) - D22 - Astoria, Long Island City, part of Jackson Heights, Rikers Island, Randalls Island, and Wards Island - In the district that includes the city's largest jail, Constantinides earned valuable campaign support from the Correctional Officers Benevolent Association. Constantinides aims to reduce both crime and unemployment by hiring more police officers. He has also been active in the fight for voter rights throughout the state as a member of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, and says it's time to dump the<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">hundreds of outdoor </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dnainfo.com%2Fnew-york%2F20120920%2Fnew-york-city%2Fthousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEtNcxYAHlbBnO1zKkeROqyeW9H9A">“</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">trailer classrooms</a>”&nbsp;that are disproportionately found in Queens schools.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rory Lancman (D) - D24 -&nbsp;<span class="c3">Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest Estates, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, and parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica and Rego Park&nbsp;- When Lancman attempted to run for Anthony Weiner's old seat in Congress last year,<a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/">WNYC reported</a>&nbsp;that he had made some enemies and that one source had even called him the "most hated member of the state Assembly." Lancman, a lawyer who served Assembly District 25 for six years, has also passed a significant volume of legislation, including the<a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/">Libel Terrorism Protection Act</a>, which aims to protect journalists writing about terrorism abroad from being hit with defamation lawsuits, and a host of bills related to equality and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262">safety in the workplace</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Daneek Miller (D) - D27 - St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Baisley Park, Addisleigh Park, and parts of Queens Village, Rosedale, and Springfield Gardens - In December, Miller<a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor">received a "Champion of Labor" Award</a>, along with Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James. In Southeast Queens, where subway service is spotty, Miller has championed bus drivers and riders as president of the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transportation Union. He also co-founded a mentor program called Brothers Unlimited.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Bronx</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Andrew Cohen (D) - D11 - Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, Norwood, and parts of Bedford Park, Wakefield, and Bronx Park East - Cohen, a Riverdale attorney, has had a long career in law, including several years as a court attorney to a Bronx Supreme Court Justice, legal counsel to State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, and a stint as an assistant adjunct at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has called for raising the minimum wage and has gained the support of the United Federation of Teachers.</span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ritchie Torres (D) - D15 - Bathgate, Belmont, Crotona, Fordham, East Tremont, Van Nest and West Farms - Torres, only 24, is one of many young Latino Democrats making their way into city politics.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has worked with Councilman James Vacca since his 2005 campaign and was named his housing director in 2011. Torres, who grew up in NYCHA housing, has worked to create tenants' associations and to advocate for basic rights of NYCHA residents in the Bronx, like building improvements and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981">heating</a>.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Vanessa Gibson (D) - D16 - West Bronx, Morrisania, Highbridge, and Melrose - A Bronx transplant from Brooklyn, Gibson was elected to State Assembly District 77 in 2009, where she has focused on housing and social services.<span class="c3">&nbsp;She began her political career as the Bronx district office manager for Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Staten Island</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Steven Matteo (R) - D50 - in Brooklyn, parts of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach; in Staten Island, Arrochar, Bulls Head, Concord, Dongan Hill, Emerson Hill, Fort Wadsworth, Grant City, Graniteville, Grasmere, Island of Meadows, Midland Beach, New Dorp, Prall's Island, Richmondtown, South Beach, Todt Hill, Travis, Westerleigh, Willowbrook - Sandy relief is still the number one priority in Staten Island, but Matteo has identified other issues affecting residents, including rampant<a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/">prescription drug use</a>. Matteo also said he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx">hopes to work with the mayor</a>&nbsp; "to wrestle toll setting authority” from the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority. </span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><em>This is an updated version which corrects the number of incoming City Council members to 21 and adds information on Councilman Antonio Reynoso. </em><br /></span></span></span></p> <p><img class="caption" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/CityHall2.jpg" alt="CityHall2" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span class="caption">Photo by Bill Alatriste/City Council</span></p> <p>NEW YORK —&nbsp;The historic overhaul of New York City government this year goes well beyond the mayor's office.</p> <p class="c2">There are 21 new members of the City Council, four new borough presidents, and fresh, yet familiar, faces in the offices of Brooklyn district attorney, comptroller, and public advocate. With the city’s politics taking an increasingly liberal turn, there are few outright conservatives left in city government.</p> <p class="c2">“Reapportionment and term limits combined to make the City Council younger, a little bit further to the left, perhaps less a product of traditional political organizations or machines, and demographically, a little more like the population of the city,” said Kenneth Sherrill, Chair of the Political Science Department at Hunter College.</p> <p class="c2">New city officials include the first Mexican-American on City Council; old friends of incoming Police Commissioner Bill Bratton from his tenure during the 1990s; yet another member of the Queens Vallone clan; and a progressive new Brooklyn D.A., who has said he wants to re-train the borough's police officers. We've rounded up the full list here.</p> <h1 class="c2">Citywide</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Mayor</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Bill de Blasio - De Blasio has been involved in New York City politics since he helped the last progressive mayor, David Dinkins, get elected in 1989.<span class="c3">&nbsp;Between that first campaign and his mayoral victory, De Blasio served as the regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helped Hillary Clinton get elected to the U.S. Senate, spent eight years representing some of Brooklyn’s wealthier neighborhoods on the City Council, and, most recently, served as the city’s public advocate. In an attempt to deliver on a key campaign promise early on, De Blasio has spent the last few weeks drumming up support in Albany for a small tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-K. Dinkins, somewhat ironically and <span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/nyregion/praised-by-de-blasio-dinkins-responds-with-an-arrow.html">extremely publicly</a>, recently told him to reconsider, saying “we might have more success” with a commuter tax.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Comptroller</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Scott Stringer - Stringer left his post as Manhattan Borough President and took on former Gov. Elliot Spitzer in order to ascend to this quietly powerful office overseeing city finances. He brings with him experience as a&nbsp;trustee of the massive<a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://www.nycers.org/%28S%28ooq2yk45ynp3ouugmutx3q2u%29%29/Index.aspx">NYCERS pension fund</a>&nbsp;and a track record of spearheading<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=511">populist economic initiatives</a>, including the New York City Taxpayer Receipt, a website that allows constituents to<a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mbpo.org/taxreceipt/">track their tax dollars</a>.</span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Public Advocate</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Letitia "Tish" James - James has served Central Brooklyn on the City Council since 2003 and has opposed several major development and rezoning projects, including Atlantic Yards, which, for years, riled up residents around what is now the Barclays Center. Most recently, James joined progressive groups in calling for higher wages and a change in the city’s economic development policies, including more stringent requirements for banks and corporations that receive city subsidies.</span></p> <h1 class="c2">Borough-wide offices</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn District Attorney</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Kenneth P. Thompson -&nbsp;Thompson had to<a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamist.com/2013/11/06/new_brooklyn_da_ken_thompson.php">beat incumbent Charles Hynes twice</a>&nbsp;- first, in the primary, when Hynes was a Democrat, and again when Hynes became a Republican for the general election. In an<a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/decision_2013_video/196299/ny1-online--thompson-addresses-supporters-after-winning-brooklyn-da-race">acceptance speech</a>, the first black Brooklyn DA said voters had chosen him as an alternative to "false accusation, fear-mongering, and race-baiting." As a federal attorney, Thompson prosecuted<a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/abner-louima-ken-thompson-brooklyn-election">police brutality</a>&nbsp;in Brooklyn and now aims to reduce false arrests by<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">assigning prosecutors to police precincts</a>&nbsp;in East New York and Brownsville. “It is not right to have someone subjected to stop-and-frisk, snake through the system and spend two days in jail just to get out," he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/da-charles-hynes-soon-to-be-successor-ken-thompson-outlines-big-plans-article-1.1452972">told the Daily News</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Brooklyn Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Eric Adams (D, WF)&nbsp;- Counted as an<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/hamill-returning-top-bill-bratton-stop-frisk-differently-article-1.1540414">old friend</a>&nbsp;by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, Adams served 22 years in the NYPD before moving on to the State Senate, where he has represented Crown Heights, Flatbush, Sunset Park and Park Slope for the last eight years. A vocal critic of former Commissioner Ray Kelly when stop-and-frisk was on trial, Adams advocates for a "symbiotic relationship" between the police and the community.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Manhattan <span class="c3">Borough President</span></strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Gale Brewer (D)&nbsp;- Brewer has been a Council member for the Upper West Side and North Clinton since 2002. Her most recent political efforts include a push to<a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/11/27/food-trucks-get-greener-with-startups-plug-in-technology/">make food trucks greener</a>&nbsp;and to get the city to<a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/12/04/with-citibike-expansion-stalled-brewer-wants-federal-funding">seek federal funding</a>&nbsp;to expand CitiBike.</span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Queens</strong> <span class="c3"><strong>Borough President</strong></span><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Melinda Katz (D)&nbsp;- Katz represented Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and other pockets of Queens during her seven-year tenure on the City Council between 2002 and 2009. While on the Council, she was chair of the land use committee, and played a key role in moving forward the massive rezoning the city underwent during the Bloomberg administration.</span></p> <h3 class="c2"><span class="c3"><strong>Staten Island Borough President</strong><br /></span></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">James Oddo (R) - After 15 years on the City Council, Oddo is passing his title of Republican minority leader on to fellow Staten Island politician Vincent Ignizio. When it comes to Sandy relief, Oddo<a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/10/gentlemanly_staten_island_bp_d.html">supports an "acquisition for redevelopment" plan</a>&nbsp;that would buy out homeowners, open Midland Beach up to developers, and give former residents the option of moving back in.</span></span></p> <h1 class="c2">City Council</h1> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Manhattan</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Corey Johnson (D) - D3 - Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea, West Village- Johnson, a prominent activist in the LGBT community, will take outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn's seat. Johnson most recently served as Chair of Community Board 4, which also made him a<a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.hydc.org/html/board/board.shtml">board member</a>&nbsp;of the Hudson Yards Development Corp. Johnson built much of his campaign around affordable housing, but has been the<a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/06/the_strange_can.php">subject</a>&nbsp;of controversy as a former employee of GFI Development Co., which has erected its fair share of Brooklyn condos.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ben Kallos (D) - D5 - Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island - Kallos, a lawyer and lifelong Upper East Sider, advocated for state constitutional reform as the Executive Director of the group<a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.effectiveny.org/">EffectiveNY</a>&nbsp;and has put the issues of government accountability and transparency at the forefront of his campaign.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has also pledged to try to<a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="https://kallosforcouncil.com/solutions/second-avenue-subway-construction">aid local businesses</a>&nbsp;affected by the interminable Second Avenue subway construction.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Hellen Rosenthal (D) - D6 - Upper West Side and North Clinton - Rosenthal, who is coming from a post in the City Hall Budget Office, has been a<a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.helenrosenthal.com/press_release_from_helen_rosenthal_for_city_council_on_the_success_of_participatory_budgeting_april_4_2012">major supporter</a>&nbsp;of participatory budgeting and has advocated bringing it to her district, where, in the past, she served as Chair of Community Board 7.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Levine (D, WF) - D7 - parts of Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights/West Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Washington Heights, and part of UWS - Over the course of his uptown political career, Levine founded the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan and a credit union called the Neighborhood Trust. He also briefly ran the New York chapter of the controversial Teach for America program, of which he was an early participant. Levine's proposals for city schools include<a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.votelevine.com/education">expanding the curriculum</a>&nbsp;to teach about LGBT history, animal welfare, and environmental issues.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Brooklyn</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Laurie Cumbo (D) - D35 - Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and part of Bedford Stuyvesant - Cumbo is best known in Brooklyn for her leadership and expansion of<a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://mocada.org/">MoCADA</a>, the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts, and other cultural programs she has jump-started. But Cumbo has had a rough start as a Council member. She already had to<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131210/fort-greene/city-councilwoman-elect-laurie-cumbo-apologizes-for-knockout-comments">apologize</a>&nbsp;to her new constituents for racially charged<a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/laurie-cumbo-knockout-attack-brooklyn-blacks-jews_n_4390605.html">comments she made</a>&nbsp;about the 'knockout attacks' in Crown Heights last month.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Robert Cornegy, Jr. (D) -D36- Bedford Stuvesant and parts of Crown Heights - Cornegy is transitioning from a position as Legislative Analyst for the Council's Aging and Veterans Committee. The former district leader and president of VIDA, Central Brooklyn's Vanguard Independent Democratic Association,<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/cornegy-top-recount-central-brooklyn-city-council-race-article-1.1470137">eked out a primary win</a>&nbsp;in a race that ended with a highly contested recount.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rafael Espinal, Jr. (D) - D37- Cypress Hills, Bushwick, East New York, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville - Two years ago, Espinal, then 27, became the youngest member of the State Assembly, representing District 54. Most recently, he<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Rafael-L-Espinal-Jr/sponsor/">sponsored legislation</a>&nbsp;related to domestic abuse and, in the past, has sponsored bills that would require insurance companies to expand women's health coverage. Espinal has said he is determined to repair the infrastructure in neighborhoods that have been <a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-assemblyman-rafael-espinal-fights-cypress-hills-machine-made-politician-article-1.961148">"completely ignored"</a>&nbsp;by the city, like Cypress Hills, where he grew up.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Carlos Menchaca (D) - D38 - Bayridge Towers, Greenwood Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace - Menchaca's<a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.decidenyc.com/carlos-menchaca-from-sandy-to-city-hall/">relief efforts in Red Hook</a>&nbsp;following Hurricane Sandy helped him get the support he needed to beat his district's incumbent. Now, he and incoming Council Member Mark Treyger want to<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">start a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Proudly claiming the dual titles of "first Mexican-American on the City Council" and "first openly gay legislator in Brooklyn,"<span class="c3">&nbsp;Menchaca cut his teeth in the offices of outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz and outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Inez Barron (D) - D42 - NEIGHBORHOODS - In her five years representing State Assembly District 60, Barron has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Inez-D-Barron/sponsor/"></a>taken a progressive stance on issues from gun regulation to sex education. She also<a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://gothamschools.org/2009/05/04/meet-inez-barron-wife-of-charles-and-a-new-assembly-member/">fought to end mayoral control</a>&nbsp;of city schools after a decades-long career as a public school teacher and administrator. Barron's more incendiary husband, Charles, is passing her the torch in their Council district.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Alan Maisel (D) - D46 - Canarsie, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, part of Sheepshead Bay - Environmental issues and public safety, including 'fracking' regulation, have been prominent among the legislation Maisel has<a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Alan-Maisel/sponsor/">sponsored</a>&nbsp;in his tenure serving State Assembly District 59. Much of Maisel's civic work in Brooklyn has been done through the international Jewish organization B'nai B'rith, although he has also served on his local school and community boards.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Mark Treyger (D) - D47 - Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, and Sea Gate - After Superstorm Sandy hit, Treyger founded STRONG, the Sandy Task Force Recovery Organized by Neighborhood Groups, and is now joining forces with fellow incoming Council Member Carlos Menchaca to call for<a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://politicker.com/2013/12/new-councilmen-call-for-new-committee-to-oversee-sandy-recovery/">a Sandy relief committee</a>&nbsp;on the City Council. Treyger, long active in local politics, has been a high school teacher since 2005, with strong involvement in the United Federation of Teachers.</span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Chaim Deutsch (D) - D48 - Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach - Over the past 20 years, Deutsch, who has a strong foothold in Brooklyn's Jewish community, has taken community safety into his own hands as president of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol.<span class="c6">&nbsp;He founded the Patrol in the early 1990s in response to rising crime and has worked closely with both Commissioner Bill Bratton and outgoing police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Deutsch even held an appreciation ceremony for Kelly, during which he<a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">presented the city</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.brooklyneagle.com%2Farticles%2Ffelder-calls-kelly-city%25E2%2580%2599s-%25E2%2580%2598best-police-commissioner-ever%25E2%2580%2599-2013-12-12-153000&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGgvmwSpDHoPV0Ir4YaCJHvP26aHw">’s top cop </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">with a </a><span class="c0 c8"><a class="c4" href="http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/felder-calls-kelly-city%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98best-police-commissioner-ever%E2%80%99-2013-12-12-153000">mezuzah</a>, which Jews hang in their doorways for protection. He also<a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/204641/nyc-councilmember-elect-chaim-deutsch-praises-deblasio-on-bratton-appointment.html">praised Bratton</a>&nbsp;for having "excelled at police-community relations and law enforcement strategies" during his previous tenure on the NYPD.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c6"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><span class="c0 c8"><span class="c0">Antonio Reynoso - D34 - Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn; Ridgewood in Queens - Reynoso is taking the seat of his former boss, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who he has been working for since 2007, most recently as her Chief of Staff. A Williamsburg native, Reynoso has made affordable housing his top issue, <a href="http://www.brooklynrail.org/2013/09/local/antonio-reynosos-fight-for-williamsburg">speaking out</a> frequently about the neighborhood's luxury makeover. He beat out a seasoned politician, former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who was forced out of the Assembly earlier this year following <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/11/nyregion/disgraced-assemblyman-loses-bid-for-council-seat.html?_r=0">a sexual harassment case.</a></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Queens</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Paul Vallone, Jr. (D) - D19 - College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, and Little Neck - Leaving his practice at Queens law firm Vallone and Vallone to take a seat on the City Council, Vallone seems to be leaving one<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/history-vallones-article-1.1458651">family business</a>&nbsp;for another. His father, former Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., served on the City Council for 25 years, leaving in 2001, when his brother, Peter, Jr., was elected to represent the 22nd District (his term is up this year).<span class="c3">&nbsp;Beyond his family ties, Vallone has established thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for Queens high school students and based his campaign platform on a mix of progressive issues — such as women's access to birth control — and local issues like noise pollution from overhead flights.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Costa Constantinides (D) - D22 - Astoria, Long Island City, part of Jackson Heights, Rikers Island, Randalls Island, and Wards Island - In the district that includes the city's largest jail, Constantinides earned valuable campaign support from the Correctional Officers Benevolent Association. Constantinides aims to reduce both crime and unemployment by hiring more police officers. He has also been active in the fight for voter rights throughout the state as a member of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, and says it's time to dump the<a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">hundreds of outdoor </a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dnainfo.com%2Fnew-york%2F20120920%2Fnew-york-city%2Fthousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEtNcxYAHlbBnO1zKkeROqyeW9H9A">“</a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120920/new-york-city/thousands-of-city-students-have-trailers-for-classrooms">trailer classrooms</a>”&nbsp;that are disproportionately found in Queens schools.</span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Rory Lancman (D) - D24 -&nbsp;<span class="c3">Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest Estates, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, and parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica and Rego Park&nbsp;- When Lancman attempted to run for Anthony Weiner's old seat in Congress last year,<a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/212295-rory-lancman-wants-be-next-queens-liberal-lion-congress/">WNYC reported</a>&nbsp;that he had made some enemies and that one source had even called him the "most hated member of the state Assembly." Lancman, a lawyer who served Assembly District 25 for six years, has also passed a significant volume of legislation, including the<a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://acdemocracy.org/the-libel-terrorism-protection-act/">Libel Terrorism Protection Act</a>, which aims to protect journalists writing about terrorism abroad from being hit with defamation lawsuits, and a host of bills related to equality and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-assemblyman-rory-lancman-calls-legislation-protect-hotel-maids-article-1.146262">safety in the workplace</a>.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Daneek Miller (D) - D27 - St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Baisley Park, Addisleigh Park, and parts of Queens Village, Rosedale, and Springfield Gardens - In December, Miller<a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://laborpress.org/sectors/political-action/3108-laborpress-honors-james-stringer-and-miller-as-champions-of-labor">received a "Champion of Labor" Award</a>, along with Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James. In Southeast Queens, where subway service is spotty, Miller has championed bus drivers and riders as president of the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transportation Union. He also co-founded a mentor program called Brothers Unlimited.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Bronx</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Andrew Cohen (D) - D11 - Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, Norwood, and parts of Bedford Park, Wakefield, and Bronx Park East - Cohen, a Riverdale attorney, has had a long career in law, including several years as a court attorney to a Bronx Supreme Court Justice, legal counsel to State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, and a stint as an assistant adjunct at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has called for raising the minimum wage and has gained the support of the United Federation of Teachers.</span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Ritchie Torres (D) - D15 - Bathgate, Belmont, Crotona, Fordham, East Tremont, Van Nest and West Farms - Torres, only 24, is one of many young Latino Democrats making their way into city politics.<span class="c3">&nbsp;He has worked with Councilman James Vacca since his 2005 campaign and was named his housing director in 2011. Torres, who grew up in NYCHA housing, has worked to create tenants' associations and to advocate for basic rights of NYCHA residents in the Bronx, like building improvements and<a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-residents-cold-article-1.1544981">heating</a>.</span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Vanessa Gibson (D) - D16 - West Bronx, Morrisania, Highbridge, and Melrose - A Bronx transplant from Brooklyn, Gibson was elected to State Assembly District 77 in 2009, where she has focused on housing and social services.<span class="c3">&nbsp;She began her political career as the Bronx district office manager for Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene.</span></span></p> <h3 class="c2"><strong><span class="c3">Staten Island</span></strong></h3> <p class="c2"><span class="c3">Steven Matteo (R) - D50 - in Brooklyn, parts of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach; in Staten Island, Arrochar, Bulls Head, Concord, Dongan Hill, Emerson Hill, Fort Wadsworth, Grant City, Graniteville, Grasmere, Island of Meadows, Midland Beach, New Dorp, Prall's Island, Richmondtown, South Beach, Todt Hill, Travis, Westerleigh, Willowbrook - Sandy relief is still the number one priority in Staten Island, but Matteo has identified other issues affecting residents, including rampant<a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/08/what-should-be-done-about-staten-islands-oxycodone-problem/">prescription drug use</a>. Matteo also said he<a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx"></a><span class="c0"><a class="c4" href="http://www.nyccfb.info/public/voter-guide/general_2013/cd_profile/CD50_Matteo_1152.aspx">hopes to work with the mayor</a>&nbsp; "to wrestle toll setting authority” from the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority. </span></span></span></p> <p class="c2"><span class="c3"><span class="c0"><span class="c0"><em>This is an updated version which corrects the number of incoming City Council members to 21 and adds information on Councilman Antonio Reynoso. </em><br /></span></span></span></p>