Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/1007 Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:33:46 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Concerns of ‘Voter Fatigue’ as New York Schedules Four 2016 Election Days http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6081:concerns-of-voter-fatigue-as-new-york-schedules-four-2016-election-days http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6081:concerns-of-voter-fatigue-as-new-york-schedules-four-2016-election-days bdb voting

Mayor de Blasio votes (photo via @BilldeBlasio) 


As New Yorkers begin a year of many voting opportunities, there are important questions that elections will help answer - like who the next U.S. President will be and which party will control the state Senate - but also concern about voter fatigue and thus, turnout.

There will be at least four chances for New Yorkers to cast votes in 2016, with three different primary election days leading up to November’s general election. There will be a presidential primary vote in April; congressional primaries in June; and state legislative primaries in September. There will also be special elections sprinkled in to fill empty seats in the state Assembly and Senate.

On April 19, New Yorkers will vote in their party primaries for president; on June 28, it will be primaries for all 27 New York members of the House of Representatives, with Senator Chuck Schumer on the ballot, too; and on September 13, primaries for all 63 seats of the State Senate and all 150 seats of the State Assembly.

No date has been set by the governor yet for special elections in the state legislature, including those to replace former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, whose 2015 corruption convictions created vacancies.

In 2015, some New York City voters cast ballots for new district attorneys, judges, and city Council members, among others. By the time New Yorkers vote for president in November, it could be their sixth trip to the polls in 14 months. Or, for residents of District 17 in the South Bronx, their seventh trip, as the resignation of City Council member Maria del Carmen Arroyo means a special election to fill her seat will occur February 23.

Frequent elections can result in voter fatigue, and diminish voter turnout. New York already has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country, with only 29 percent of eligible voters showing up to the polls to cast their votes in the 2014 general elections for state-level positions, including governor.

A recent New York Times editorial called the “extra burden” numerous election dates places on voters a sign of “dysfunction in Albany,” and urged lawmakers to “change the election schedule as soon as they return to Albany on January 6.”

Given how much it costs the state and municipalities to hold these elections, some have also argued that it would make financial sense to consolidate the number of days elections are held on.  (This is at least part of the governor’s rationale for holding special elections on an already-scheduled election day (by law, the city must hold its special City Council election within a shorter time frame).)

“There is no reason the state primary can’t be held on the same day as the congressional primary,” the New York Times editorial board wrote, “thus eliminating the extra election and saving the state $50 million.”

“We do have a bill that we have passed almost every year in the Assembly to combine [the dates],” Assemblymember Michael Cusick said in response to calls from members of the New York State Board of Elections to consolidate the state and federal primaries during a Dec. 10, 2015, New York State Assembly hearing on enhancing the voter experience. “That is the goal of our committees, to get the primaries in one day, so we can save the state and municipalities money.”

Despite the benefits of merging election dates and support from the Assembly, combining the dates has not yet happened, perhaps because, as the New York Times editorial board suggests, “New York State lawmakers created this problem because it’s easier on the politicians, even though it’s costly and harder on the voters.”

The 2016 elections are for local, state, and federal posts, including district leaders, state Senators and Assembly members, members of Congress, and, of course, the president. Some races are special elections, such as those likely to be set for April 19, to fill four vacancies in the state Legislature, including the former seats of Silver and Skelos, who were both forced to leave office in December after being convicted on several counts of federal corruption.

Several special elections have already taken place in the past year to fill seats forfeited due to corruption convictions, spurring growing calls for ethics reform in Albany from good government groups and lawmakers alike.

In 2015, special elections were held to replace former State Assemblymember William Scarborough, who vacated his seat in May after he pleaded guilty to felony charges of wire fraud and theft; former Brooklyn State Senator John Sampson, who was convicted of obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents as part of a corruption investigation in July; and former Deputy Senate Majority Leader Thomas Libous, who was also convicted of lying to the FBI in July.

Governor Cuomo has said time and again he does not see any point in calling a special session to deal with ethics reform, though, as he has promised ethics reform will be at the top of his 2016 agenda. And while consolidating voting days may be a step unlikely to be taken by the state Legislature, some reforms aimed at improving New York’s low voter turnout are currently being considered by state lawmakers.

Reforms like early voting, better ballot design, and an upgraded, online voter registration system would help increase voting accessibility and thus, advocates argue, voter turnout. Other bills have been introduced in the state Senate that would allow same-day voter registration on election day, voting by mail, and holding the congressional and state primaries on a single day, City and State reports. The Voter Friendly Ballot Act, which would create a simpler, easier-to-read ballot, has passed in the Assembly.

According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, New York ranks 46th in voter turnout. Six of the states that rank in the top ten for voter turnout all allow same-day registration. Nine of the states that rank highest in voter turnout allow early voting.

Currently, eleven states and D.C. allow same-day voter registration, and 33 states and D.C allow early voting. New York currently does not allow either.

Reforms such as these, supporters say, would help to modernize election laws in New York, and could - if used in combination with methods to increase voter engagement - help to bring the state’s voter turnout on par with that of states that already have policies to make voting more accessible in place.

As of January 10, the 2016 New York election dates are:

April 19, 2016 — Presidential Primaries and special elections to fill four state Legislature vacancies
The state Legislature has decided on April 19, 2016 as the date for both the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries.

Additionally, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he will set a special election date to coincide with the presidential primary on April 19 to fill four vacancies in the state Legislature, including former Assembly Speaker Silver’s seat, and the Staten Island seat of former Assemblymember Joe Borelli, who won a City Council seat. That special election means that a local party organizations will select the candidates who will appear on their ballot lines. Cuomo has not officially declared these special elections for April.

June 28, 2016 — Congressional Primaries
New York voters will decide on their party’s candidates for all Congressional races in the state on June 28, 2016, during the primaries for all 27 of New York’s members in the House of Representatives. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is also running for reelection on the same day - he is unlikely to face a primary challenge.

September 13, 2016 — State Legislature Primaries
There will be primaries for all 63 members of the New York State Senate and all 150 members of the New York State Assembly on September 13, 2016. Elections will also be held on that day for district leaders in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

November 8, 2016 — General Election
On November 8, 2016, voters across the country will vote for the next President of the United States. New Yorkers will also vote in a number of other critical races, including all State Senate and Senate Assembly seats, 27 races for the House of Representatives, and one US Senate race.

Voter turnout is typically higher for presidential elections than for any other race, and Democrats in New York are hoping increased turnout in a state that almost always votes blue in presidential races can help them to regain control of the State Senate.

After the 2016 elections conclude, the 2017 elections for New York City-level offices, including the mayor, are expected to heat up.

***
by Meg O’Connor, Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette  @MegOConnor13

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Concerns of ‘Voter Fatigue’ as New York Schedules Four 2016 Election Days Mon, 11 Jan 2016 21:24:15 +0000
Resignation Highlights City Council Gender Imbalance http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6024:resignation-highlights-city-council-gender-imbalance http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6024:resignation-highlights-city-council-gender-imbalance MMV alatriste young womens initiative

Speaker Mark-Viverito & others announce Young Women's Initiative (photo: William Alatriste)


City Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo recently announced she will resign at the end of the year in order to attend to family matters. In vacating her seat, which she has held since 2005, Arroyo creates uncertainty about who will represent her Bronx district, but also brings to the forefront a larger issue about political representation in New York City: the number of women in the City Council.

The 51-member City Council currently consists of 15 women and 36 men. While the Speaker of the Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and chair of the powerful Finance Committee, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, are both women, it is clear that the Council is not nearly representative of the general public when it comes to gender.

The gender imbalance is of concern to Mark-Viverito, who is term-limited out of the Council at the end of 2017, Ferreras-Copeland, and many others - both inside and outside the Council, female and male.

"The need for women's representation in elected office is unquestionable," Mark-Viverito said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "As our society grapples with issues crucial to a woman's livelihood – including unfettered access to healthcare, equal pay for equal work, and educational parity – it's more important than ever that women are involved, invested, and leading these discussions."

Several times over the past year, Mark-Viverito has made a point to publicly express her worry that the Council will have even fewer female members when the new class is inaugurated in January, 2018. Of eight Council members facing term-limits in 2017, five are women (the entire Council will be up for election in 2017; incumbents are virtual locks for re-election).

The special election to replace Arroyo will give some indication of where things are heading in terms of support for female candidates, especially by official Democratic Party leaders. (The Council has 48 Democrats and three Republicans; Arroyo and all other Bronx members are Democrats.)

"Women aren't naturally ushered into the pipeline of political leadership," says political strategist Alexis Grenell. "The role parties play in pipeline development is key to ensuring fair and equal representation...which means they have to be conscientious about their choices."

Mark-Viverito, Ferreras-Copeland, fellow Council Member Helen Rosenthal, and former Council Members Gale Brewer, now Manhattan Borough President, and Letitia James, now Public Advocate, have all participated in "Why She Ran" events hosted by groups including The Working Families Party and Eleanor's Legacy, which are aimed at encouraging women to run for office. The events have been held over the past few years in locations all over the city and are often well-attended.

At the most recent Why She Ran event, held Oct. 28 in Manhattan, Council Member Ferreras-Copeland said, "We need women in the City Council. I am here today to tell you we are in a crisis." She continued: "It will be an embarrassment if this Council loses more women after 2017."

"We need you to run," Ferreras-Copeland told the audience of mostly women. "Even if you think you're not ready, you're ready." At this and other Why She Ran events, one statistic is frequently cited: on average, it takes seven asks to convince a woman to run for office.

In her statement to Gotham Gazette, Mark-Viverito said, "New York City is ready for the next generation of strong women leaders, at all levels of government. We need to do everything we can to amplify these voices and ensure that women trailblazers have the tools and platform to make a difference."

Attendees of Why She Ran are encouraged to hear from local elected officials about "the challenges women face in politics — and the importance of tackling those challenges head on." Chief among those challenges are confidence and fundraising, participants say. Essential to the process is often also cracking the "old boys club" of local politics.

"The lack of gender balance is alarming," Council Member Ritchie Torres told Gotham Gazette. "You know, there are various senses in which the City Council is more progressive. We have more LGBT people in the City Council, we have more young people in the City Council, we have a strong caucus of black, Latino and Asian members. The one sense in which we have been regressing is the number of female Council members to the point where I would regard it as a crisis...and a poor reflection on the City Council."

The 2013 city elections saw a net loss of one female Council member - the prior Council included 16 women and 35 men.

While he said gender should never be the lone deciding factor in supporting a candidate, Torres pointed to the fact that "people are a product of our life experiences and we bring those experiences to bear on our governance of the city or the state or the country."

"It's no accident," he said, "that the more women you have in politics, the stronger the commitment to addressing deeply rooted problems that might affect women disproportionately."

Mark-Viverito pointed to the importance of women in elected office during a summer speech at the Young Women's Leadership School Commencement. "The more involved I became, the more I realized that the systemic issues of social and economic justice we battle on the ground in our communities was something we needed to address at the government level, and I knew my perspective could make a difference there as well," she said.

"Because women play pivotal roles in our families, in our communities, and in government," Mark-Viverito said, "our perspective is crucial. We get things done."

In October, Mark-Viverito and the Council launched the Young Women's Initiative, a coalition of public and private sector leaders and organizations, "aimed at supporting young women in New York City and combating chronic racial and gender inequality in outcomes when it comes to healthcare, education, involvement in the justice system and economic development."

In the special election to replace Arroyo, set to occur on a date to be determined in February, there are several rumored and confirmed candidates, including at least two women. One crucial aspect to the race will be the backing of the Bronx County Democratic Party organization - the chair of which is Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, who recently replaced new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Grenell, the political strategist, points to research showing that, particularly in special elections, establishment support correlates highly with outcomes. Grenell says that balanced gender representation "absolutely should be a priority of county organizations."

"Part of developing a pipeline of strong female leadership is parties looking for and cultivating qualified female candidates for office, not defaulting to whoever's 'turn it is,'" Grenell says.

Pointing to a looming "crisis in female leadership in the Council," Grenell says "if county leadership doesn't prioritize female leadership it will compound the problem going into 2017."

"This is not a cosmetic issue," Grenell warns, "women in government prioritize different issues than men, and we see different outcomes."

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
@TweetBenMax

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Resignation Highlights City Council Gender Imbalance Wed, 09 Dec 2015 00:02:19 +0000
Breaking Down the City Budget http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5799:breaking-down-the-city-budget-de-blasio-nyc-council http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5799:breaking-down-the-city-budget-de-blasio-nyc-council de blasio mark-viverito budget

Mayor & Speaker at budget announcement (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


Wednesday, July 1, marked the beginning of the new fiscal year under a $78.6 billion budget agreed upon by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council.

When he unveiled his preliminary budget outline in February, de Blasio hailed the plan as “scrupulously fiscally responsible.” The 2016 budget continues a trend of increased spending: from 2010 to 2014, the budget increased at an average of around 4 percent per year. The first budget of the de Blasio administration increased spending by 6.3 percent. Now, the second de Blasio budget has grown 5.2 percent from 2015.

“[Fiscal 2015] was his first year and he was able to implement a lot of his new initiatives,” explained Rachel Bardin of Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan and nonprofit civic organization. The increased spending went toward funding programs like universal pre-K, issuing municipal IDs, and homelessness prevention. Spending also increased as the mayor settled contracts with labor unions - de Blasio inherited a situation where all of the city’s municipal unions were working under expired contracts.

This year, the budget has grown again, raising several eyebrows. Part of this growth is due to an increase in personnel, including the hiring of an additional 1,297 police officers. An increased city headcount is expensive not only due to annual salaries, but also because of health care and pension costs. While de Blasio has expanded spending, he has also grown the savings funds the city keeps, able to do both because of the flush times the city is enjoying.

The trend of growth in spending has prompted a cautious attitude in some, including city Comptroller Scott Stringer, who called on the de Blasio administration to find steeper agency savings and allocate more money toward budgetary reserves. Bardin, of CBC, warns of the implications of the uptick in spending if there is an economic downturn— the likelihood of which is “inevitable,” according to a CBC statement. De Blasio and his budget team agree. The mayor struck a very serious tone during his May executive budget presentation, warning that the economy will certainly not continue to grow as it has been.

“We have additional spending built into the budget and our revenues in the downturn wouldn’t be able to support that,” Bardin told Gotham Gazette. With insufficient funds to support the increased spending, a situation could occur in which the city must consider raising taxes, laying off employees, and ending or reducing programs.

But Doug Turetsky, Chief of Staff for the Independent Budget Office, pushed back against the idea of an inevitable economic downturn and cited the unprecedented $1 billion the administration just put into the city’s general reserve fund. During the previous administration, the fund typically contained $300 million, Capital New York reported.

“Neither we nor the administration has forecasted a downturn,” Turetsky said. “We both forecast slower job growth than we’ve seen in the last couple of years but we still see a growing economy. It’s a risk because there hasn’t been this long of an expansion in forever. But there’s always risks in any forecast.”

At a CBC event in May, New York City Budget Director Dean Fuleihan said that the city has set aside funds in three different reserves. “We have been extremely cautious and realistic in our projections,” he said. “Even though we are in a growing economy, we will continue to come back and do more and more on savings.”

Meanwhile, the City Council has been trying to further increase transparency by calling for more units of appropriation within the budget, that is more line items with specifics of which programs are being funded. Council Member Julissa Ferreras, who chairs the Council’s finance committee and helps lead budget negotiations with the mayor’s administration, has had several public exchanges with Fuleihan where she has insisted on greater transparency via units of appropriation. In announcing the final budget, Ferreras trumpeted increased specificity, but said there is more work to be done.

While Bardin feels that the spending plan is largely transparent, she added, “There are certain items that are difficult to track within the budget.”

In an effort at greater transparency, we break down the budget below. First, it is important to note that the “city budget” most refer to and that we have discussed thus far is the expense budget, for operational, programmatic, and personnel expenses, which for fiscal 2016 is $78.6 billion. This includes money to be spent by the City Council and by City Council members in their districts. There is also the city’s capital budget, money dedicated for construction and infrastructure spending. In this big bucket there is also spending by the Council and individual members.

Expense Budget— $78.6B
The expense budget funds city government services. All city agencies, the City Council, and the borough presidents get their operational funding from the expense budget, as do the Comptroller and the Public Advocate; including funding for salaries and pensions of city employees and other operational costs of government offices such as rent, utilities, and office supplies.

The budget includes $21.9 billion for the Department of Education, $5.1 billion for the NYPD, and $9.7 billion to the Department of Social Services. It includes $61 million for the City Council, $94 million for the Comptroller’s Office; and $3.4 million for the Public Advocate’s Office.

This year’s expense budget includes $25 million for the Borough Presidents’ offices, appropriating $5.8 million to the Brooklyn borough president, $5.65 million to the Bronx borough president, $5.15 million to Queens, $4.7 million to Manhattan and allocated $4.3 million for the Staten Island borough president.

meta-chart.jpeg

The expense budget also funds the city’s debt service— money required to cover the repayment of interest and principal on a debt. The city’s 2015-2016 expense budget allocates $2.93 billion for debt service.

Schedule C- $52.6 million
City Council discretionary funds make up a relatively small portion of the expense budget, but are traditionally among the most scrutinized pieces of the budget, and released in a document called “Schedule C.” Council members are allocated discretionary funds to give to nonprofit organizations that benefit their district and constituents.

In May 2014, reforms were made in an attempt to make the distribution of these funds more equal and transparent— the allocation was previously controlled at the whims of the Speaker, who could use the discretionary funds to reward allies and punish enemies. Reforms ushered in under new Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other members brought a uniform system, with each Council member now receiving a base of $400,000, and an additional $25,000, $50,000, $75,000, or $100,000 based on the poverty level of their district. Council members receiving the maximum amount of $500,000 include Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Fernando Cabrera, Vanessa Gibson, and Ritchie Torres— all from the Bronx— as well as Mark-Viverito, who represents East Harlem and part of the Bronx.

As Speaker, Mark-Viverito also has access to an additional $16 million, for allocating what is known as the ‘Speaker’s List,’ money to go to organizations and initiatives at the Speaker’s discretion and at the request of Council members.

This year, the Speaker’s List heavily funds projects in Brooklyn, including allocating $340,000 to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; $255,000 to Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation; and $250,000 to El Puente Williamsburg, a community human rights organization. Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President, was also the only borough president who received additional funding— $100,000— from the Council for employee compensation. Adams’ office also received $100,000 last year for “personal services enhancement,” along with that of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Though some have said Brooklyn has long been underfunded despite being the most populous borough, others point to political favors or special needs as the borough booms.

Two organizations that see the most funding by the Council are Catholic Charities Community Services, which is set to receive $666,000 ($130,000 from the Speaker herself, using both funds allocated to her as a council member and the Speaker’s List) and the Hispanic Federation ($166,000 funded by the Speaker).

Capital Budget: $13.9B
The capital budget is distinct from the expense budget, and used to finance large physical infrastructure projects. The infrastructure funded through the capital budget can be either for government use, such as government offices or for public use, such as roads, schools, and parks. For any project to be funded from the capital budget, it should cost at least $35,000 and be useable for at least five years, according to the IBO. Almost all capital funding goes through city agencies. The capital budget also includes discretionary funds for Council members and borough presidents.

Last year, 24 Council Members chose to implement the 2014-2015 cycle of participatory budgeting, a process in which district constituents are allowed to propose projects and vote on how a portion of the capital funds their council member has control over should be used ($1-2 million per district).

Additionally, the five borough presidents are given the power by the City Charter to allot portions (this year 5 percent) of the city’s capital budget to fund construction projects or improvements to infrastructure. Those portions are then allocated to city agencies or nonprofit organizations. In late June, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer announced her office would allocate $30 million in capital grants to projects including playground and athletic field restorations at public parks and tech improvements at CUNY and SUNY campuses.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced that she would allocate $200,000 of her capital funds to purchase and install real-time bus countdown clocks at the borough’s busiest bus stops.

“Capital grants give us the opportunity to both fix nagging problems and invest in our neighborhoods’ future,” Brewer said in a statement sent to press. “Whether we’re fixing the roof at a branch library, renovating a playground, or building out a new computer lab at a local school, these capital grants are going to strengthen our communities and improve people’s lives.”

***
by Catie Edmondson and Zehra Rehman, Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette

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Breaking Down the City Budget Wed, 08 Jul 2015 22:11:22 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 23 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5644:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-march-23 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5644:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-march-23 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

We're getting close to the state budget deadline of April 1. This week will be full of both private negotiations and public sessions in Albany, where lawmakers attempt to come to a budget deal while showing significantly divergent takes on key issues - as well as central mechanisms related to the budget and policy. Governor Andrew Cuomo has jammed quite a bit of policy into his budget, attaching initiatives to appropriations in an attempt to strong-arm the Legislature into agreeing to his policy demands. This is especially true around ethics and educaiton reforms, but Cuomo has also used creative tactics to push compromise, tying an education tax credit favored by Republicans to the DREAM Act, which is favored by Democrats, for example. The Legislature is in session Monday through Thursday again this week.

Meanwhile, New York City officials await decisions in Albany (while also trying to affect those decisions, of course) and carry on their own budget work. The City Council will wrap up its month of preliminary budget hearings this week and then formulate a formal response to the mayor, who will then issue his Executive Budget in April, leading to another round of council hearings and a final budget deal by July 1. The City is eagerly awaiting word from Albany on things like funding for schools, homelessness prevention, public housing, and much more.

De Blasio is in Boston on Sunday and Monday, participating in the U.S. Conference of Mayors Cities of Opportunity Task Force Summit; on Monday, "there will be a press conference on transportation issues at 12:30pm" at Faneuil Hall; he'll return to New York City on Monday evening. De Blasio was in Albany on Saturday for the Somos el Futuro Conference, where he reiterated his push for full education funding from the State and other top priorities, and received "the Champion for Latinos Award at the dinner gala."

And the whole week builds to the annual Inner Circle Show this Friday (dress rehearsal) and Saturday, at which the press will roast the mayor, and vice versa.

There's plenty happening this week. See our day-by-day rundown below for more.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
Monday morning, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will visit a "CTE program to make an announcement" at the Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Queens.

Comptroller Scott Stringer's only public event scheduled for Monday is an 8:15 a.m. appearance on "Buen Día New York," WADO 1280 AM.

Also Monday morning, the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association will host a breakfast with United States Senator Charles Schumer at Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s headquarters.

At 10:30 Monday morning, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer "will issue a report, Small Business, Big Impact: Expanding Opportunity for Manhattan's Storefronters, with case studies and policy recommendations to help small businesses grow and thrive in New York City." At The Halal Guys on the Upper West Side, Brewer will be joined by Robert Cornegy, Chair, New York City Council Small Business Committee; The Halal Guys co-founders Muhammed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka, and Abdelbaset Elsayed; and Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director, BetaNYC. The report's recommendations include "Take the pressure off lease renewals"; "Overhaul regulations and city policies governing street vending" and "Help established, successful small businesses threatened by rent increases by encouraging "condo-ization" of storefront space." [Read our recent report on key issues facing small business in New York City and the City's new efforts to help ease regulatory burdens]

On Monday’s Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, three of the five borough presidents will appear together: “Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams talk about borough and city-wide issues facing Queens, Brooklyn and Bronx residents.

Monday at 10 a.m. at City Hall, preceding the relevant City Council preliminary budget hearing, "hundreds of New York City seniors and service providers were invited to descend upon City Hall's Council Chambers and make their voices heard at the Department for the Aging budget hearing to advocate for $33 million in critical funding for senior services."

At 11 a.m. on Monday at City Hall, Rep. Nydia Velázquez and other local leaders will release a report on how the Republican congressional budget would impact New York City: “From transportation, to housing, to health and human services, New York would be acutely affected by proposed cuts,” says a media advisory on the event.

At noon at City Hall, there will be a "Rally for action by Earth Day on plastic bag reduction bill" hosted by Council Members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin, who sponsor the relevant bill, and Council Member and Sanitation Committee Chair Antonio Reynoso, as well as other elected officials: "The bill (Int. 209) will reduce disposable bag use by requiring retail and grocery stores to charge 10 cents per single-use plastic or paper bag. Supporters of the bill turned out in large numbers at a public hearing before the Council's Sanitation Committee last fall, and will rally again for its passage by Earth Day (April 22)."

Monday’s City Council schedule consists of two preliminary budget hearings: a meeting of the Committee on Aging jointly with the Subcommittee on Senior Centers; and a meeting of the Committee on Health.

CUNY Journalism School's brown bag lunch series continues on Monday with a conversation between Errol Louis and Tom Robbins, both journalists and CUNY J-school professors. "Tom Robbins, investigative journalist in residence at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, will discuss his recent piece on the brutal beatings of former Attica Prison inmate George Williams...Errol Louis, director of the Urban Reporting Program and host of NY1's Inside City Hall, will pick Robbins' brain on the work that went into the nine-month project, as well as the larger issues of prison violence that it illuminated."

At 2 p.m. Monday, outside FDNY headquarters at MetroTech Center, Brooklyn BP Adams "will announce a borough-wide fire safety education campaign, following a fatal fire Saturday in Midwood that claimed the lives of seven siblings, aged five to 16, from the Sassoon family. His effort will include multilingual outreach and the distribution of free smoke detectors...Adams will call for the creation of a burn center in Brooklyn...Adams will be joined by local elected officials and Jewish leaders."

Also Monday, in Albany, Citizen Action of New York will hold Moral Monday to Raise the Wage: “Nearly 3 million workers – 37% of New York’s workforce – earn less than $15 an hour. Thirty-six percent of adults earn less than $15 an hour; 41% women earn less than $15 an hour, and 28% of workers with at least some college education earn less than $15 an hour. A full-time worker earning $9 an hour will bring home just $18,720 per year – still below the federal poverty line for a family of three. Under the Self-Sufficiency Standard guidelines, a more accurate measure of the cost of living in New York, the hourly wage that 2 full-time workers must each earn to meet basic budget needs ranges from $13.40 in Schenectady County, to $16.15 in New York City, to $20.73 in Suffolk County.”

Monday at noon, there will be meeting of the New York State Gaming Commission at the New York State Department of Labor.

Monday afternoon in Albany, the Senate Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions will hold a hearing to consider several pieces of legislation.

Monday evening, “The Middle Class Action Project will host a candidates forum with Republican District Attorney Daniel Donovan and Democratic Councilman Vincent Gentile to discuss economic issues facing the middle class,” according to the Staten Island Advance.

Tuesday
Tuesday morning, the New York Bar Association will host Campaign Finance: The Current State of Affairs and Where We Go From Here: “Since the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United, campaign finance law has moved at a rapid pace, leading the way for the creation of various entities that facilitate the injection of billions of dollars into elections. And Congress just increased the power of political party committees by significantly increasing applicable campaign finance limits. This program will consist of three panels composed of top-tier campaign finance law experts, regulators, reporters and political consultants.” Panelists will include Nicholas Confessore from The New York Times; Dave Levinthal from the Center for Public Integrity; Eric Friedman from NYC Campaign Finance Board; Bill Hyers from Hilltop Public Solutions; Fritz Schwarz, Jr. from the Brennan Center; Douglas Kellner from the NYS Board of Elections; and Jerry Goldfeder from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.

Tuesday’s City Council schedule will include a meeting of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services for a preliminary budget hearing; a meeting of the Committee on Zoning and Franchises to review proposed Land Use Applications; and a meeting of the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions to review land use applications.

Tuesday morning in Albany, the Senate Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation will hold a hearing to consider a variety of bills to amend the environmental conservation law; the Senate Standing Committee on Transportation will meet to consider several bills amending the highway law and the vehicle and traffic law; the Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary will meet to discuss the reappointments of several judges at the New York Court of Claims; and in the afternoon, the Senate Standing Committee on Codes will meet to discuss a series of act to amend the civil rights law and the penal law.

Tuesday evening, the YWCA will host its Women's History Month Reception 2015. The theme of this year's series of events is Leadership and Generosity: A Call to Action; and as it culminates on Tuesday, the YWCA is honoring Public Advocate Letitia James as "YW Woman of the Year" for her hard work toward gender and racial equity for women and girls. [Read our new profile of PA James as a recent history-maker, the first woman of color elected to city-wide office]

Tuesday evening, City Council Member Andy King and his staff will be hosting one in a series of Constituent Services Nights in different NYCHA housing developments. The program will include resources and solutions for housing, food stamps, immigration, Access-A-Ride and more.

Tuesday evening, Parsons DESIS Lab and Lower Manhattan HQ will host Public Space: New Ideas for Civic Life: “New York City has an abundance of public spaces rich in culture and design, from Central Park to the New York Public Library. However, despite these places’ role as the physical center of civic life, digital platforms have emerged as the preferred way for government to engage the public. How can we revitalize public spaces as places to enhance civic life and public participation in government?” Speakers will include Mary Rowe of Municipal Arts Society and Victoria Milne of the city's Department of Design and Construction.

Also Tuesday evening, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs presents Public Policy Challenges: Women’s Empowerment in NYC: “Come learn from and engage with leading practitioners on New York law, policy, and services related to violence against women.” The panel will include Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of the New York Women's Foundation; Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of the NYC Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence; and Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

Wednesday
Wednesday’s City Council schedule will include two preliminary budget hearings: a meeting of the Committee on Education and a meeting of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management.

Wednesday morning in Albany, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Services will meet to discuss a variety of potential amendments to the social services law.

Wednesday at noon, the New York State Bar Association will host Human Trafficking in New York State: Legal Issues and Advocating for the Victim, “to educate attorneys across the country on how to identify potential victims of human trafficking.” [Read Manhattan DA Cy Vance's recent op-ed on the need to strengthen sex trafficking laws in New York]

Wednesday evening, the city's Panel on Educational Policy (PEP) will host a public meeting at Murry Bergtraum High School in Manhattan.

Also Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m., the Digital NYC Five Borough Tour will hit Queens. Panelists will include Kristin Hodgson, Communications Director at Meetup, and Jukay Hsu, Founder of Coalition for Queens.

Thursday
Thursday morning at Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus, “All alumni are invited to join us for the inaugural interview session and breakfast for the new Oral Archive on Governance in New York City: The Bloomberg Years” featuring Howard Wolfson, former Deputy Mayor for Government Affairs and Communications.

Thursday’s City Council schedule will include a meeting of the Committee on Public Housing for a preliminary budget hearing; a joint meeting of the Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Economic Development for a preliminary budget hearing; and a meeting of the Committee on Land Use to review all items reported out of the Subcommittee hearings.

Thursday evening, “Join us at Civic Hall – the new beautiful co-working space for civic tech and VRL’s new NY home! – for an evening of workshops and an engaging panel of women leaders.” The event is hosted by VoteRunLead, Veracity Media, Civic Hall, Republican Majority for Choice, Women's Information Network NYC (WIN NYC), She Should Run, Emerge America, Rising Stars and Greater NYC for Change.

Thursday at 5:30 p.m., CUNY Institute for Educational Policy at Roosevelt House will host Challenging the Tenure Laws in New York State: Why or Why Not?: “Davids vs. New York, a highly publicized lawsuit challenging New York's teacher tenure and seniority laws, is underway. Plaintiffs contend that the current laws violate children's constitutional right to a sound, basic education by keeping ineffective teachers in classrooms; defendants claim the lawsuit is a spurious attempt to destroy hard-won protections for the state's teaching profession.”

Thursday evening, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and members of the Council's Irish caucus - Council Members Danny Dromm, Corey Johnson, Liz Crowley, and Jimmy Van Bramer - along with other council members, will host the Council's Irish Heritage and Culture celebration at City Hall. 

Also Thursday evening, City Council Members Donovan Richards and Member Daneek Miller, and the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs will host an IDNYC Community Meeting in Queens.

Thursday at 6 p.m., City and State will host Above and Beyond: Honoring Women of Public and Civic Mind: “Each year, City & State honors 25 women who exhibit exceptional leadership in their fields and have made important contributions to society."

Friday and the weekend
Friday at City Hall, the Committee on Contracts, the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, the Committee on Community Development and the Committee on Youth Services will all hold preliminary budget oversight hearings throughout the day.

Friday afternoon, in celebration of Women’s History Month, City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley will host a special film screening of a documentary on Geraldine Ferraro’s life titled “Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way,” the film about the life of the first female Vice Presidential nominee of a major political party.

Friday evening, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, District Leader Shirley Patterson and Green Earth Poets Café will host Shirley Chisholm Women of Excellence Awards and Reception: “Brooklynite Shirley Chisholm was a catalyst of change who made history by becoming the first African-American woman elected to Congress. Because of her values Barack Obama became the first African-American President in 2008. Senator Hamilton will continue her legacy by recognizing the achievements of iconic Brooklyn women on Friday, March 27th at the historic First Baptist Church in Crown Heights.”

Friday evening, the Inner Circle Show will hold its rehearsal; with the main event on Saturday night, both at the New York Hilton Hotel.

On Saturday at noon, Zephyr Teachout and others are holding a rally: "Gov. Cuomo has turned his back on our students. Join us as we rally outside his Midtown Office to demand that he fully fund our public schools, support struggling schools, not raise the cap on charter schools, and limit high-stakes testing!"

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Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

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by Rati Mukhuradze, Marco Poggio, and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 23 Fri, 20 Mar 2015 15:41:48 +0000