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/melinda-katz 2019-04-20T16:41:11+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Candidates for Queens District Attorney Profess Similar Values, Stake Out Different Positions 2019-03-19T04:00:00+00:00 2019-03-19T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8373-candidates-for-queens-district-attorney-positions-march-debate Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com//images/graphics/2019/alyssaguilera-vocal.jpg" alt="Gotham Gazette: " /></p> <p>3/12 Queens DA debate (photo: @alyssaguilera)</p> <hr /> <p>The candidates for Queens District Attorney are becoming increasingly clear about where they stand on key criminal justice issues and how they would run the office if elected later this year. Queens is home to its first competitive district attorney election in decades, with long-time District Attorney Richard Brown set to retire and a crowded Democratic primary set for June 25. The general election will be in November.</p> <p>There are seven candidates currently running, all in the Democratic primary, and six of them met last week for a fast-paced and detail-oriented debate sponsored by the “Queens for DA Accountability” coalition, made up of many community and advocacy groups, hosted at CUNY Law School in Long Island City, and moderated by Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout and Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max.</p> <p>The candidates for the borough’s top prosecutorial and law enforcement position spoke to roughly 200 attendees and others watching a live-stream, explaining their qualifications for the job and stances on a wide variety of policy issues, some of which they would have control over as district attorney, others that they would be able to influence. Queens, home to more than 2.4 million people, is known as the most diverse borough in the most diverse city in the country.</p> <p>Several questions at the forum were asked by community leaders, on topics ranging from the school-to-prison pipeline to police accountability, such as Valerie Bell, the mother of Sean Bell, who was killed by police in Queens, and Jennifer Orellana, a transgender former sex worker, who have affiliations with groups in the sponsoring coalition.</p> <p>Six of the seven candidates were in attendance. Mina Malik was sick and unable to participate in the forum, though she released a video on Twitter saying she was sorry to miss it and looked forward to engaging with those participating in the event. The six candidates present at the debate were Tiffany Cabán, Melinda Katz, Rory Lancman, Gregory Lasak, Betty Lugo, and Jose Nieves.</p> <p>[For background on the candidates and the race, read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8326-crowded-race-election-queens-district-attorney-and-reset-prosecutorial-agenda" target="_blank" rel="noopener">‘We’re in a New Era’: Inside the Crowded Race to Become the Next Queens District Attorney and Reset the Borough’s Prosecutorial Agenda</a>]</p> <p>As they have at other race events, in their campaign materials, and during interviews, the candidates largely agreed that the Queens District Attorney’s office is in serious need of change, in a general sense of modernizing its practices and culture, but also on key practices. The candidates also mostly found broad agreement at the debate that change is needed on a wide variety of topics like cash bail, sex work prosecutions, Rikers Island, and what to do about police misconduct, but the candidates often disagreed on the solutions. In an email exchange with Gotham Gazette, Malik provided her answers to debate questions, which are also included below.</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p><strong>Vision for the Office</strong><br /> At the start of the forum, the candidates were asked how they envision the DA’s office and how it would work under them.</p> <p>Cabán, a public defender, said she would change the “metrics of success” for the office, claiming there is currently “a system based on gamesmanship” favoring convictions over justice. Instead, she would focus on lowering incarceration and recidivism. Katz, the Queens borough president, envisions the district attorney’s office as a leadership position and that her primary responsibility would be implementing policies and reforms.</p> <p>Lancman, a City Council member, called the office “more than just a place that processes cases that police bring” and “responsible for public safety in Queens.” He said he would decline to prosecute people with mental illnesses and drug addiction and focus on preventing crime.</p> <p>Nieves, a prosecutor in the attorney general’s office, said the DA’s job is to protect residents and know how and when to prosecute cases. Lugo, an attorney and former prosecutor, cited her campaign theme “true justice for all,” and said the officeholder needed to understand “complexities of the whole system” and “prioritize prosecutions.”</p> <p>Lasak, who worked in the Queens DA office for many years before becoming a judge -- a position he resigned from to run this year -- called the DA the “chief law enforcement officer for the borough,” and a position that works with the police department.</p> <p><strong>Violent Crime</strong><br /> The candidates were asked how they would handle prosecutions of violent crime if they were to become the Queens District Attorney, and how that approach may or may not fit into larger calls to reduce the jail population. Teachout noted that the number of people incarcerated in New York for non-violent crimes has steadily dropped over the past two decades, while the number of people incarcerated for violent crimes has remained stagnant.</p> <p>Cabán took the strongest stance in favor of change, saying that her office would “think of criminals as victims of trauma themselves” and that she considers violent crime to be a “public health problem.” Lancman similarly said that it is imperative to “confront the issue of violence” to achieve decarceration, and that prosecutorial reform “cannot exclude violent crimes.”</p> <p>Katz noted that disparities in violent crime prosecution have a “disproportionate effect on people of color” and that her office would work for “fair and equitable prosecutions.” She also said that she would focus resources on diversion programs and access to mental health care, working with the community.</p> <p>Nieves said prosecutors often overcharge defendants to secure a plea deal and that he would end that practice, in addition to engaging in “alternatives to incarceration,” such as diversion programs. Lugo said that the process should focus on care for the victim and the DA’s office should hire social workers for victims of violent crime, but she did not directly answer the question.</p> <p>Unlike the other five candidates at the debate, Lasak cautioned against changing how the office handles violent crime. He said that the DA’s “main job is public safety” and that “we have to be careful when dealing with violent crime.” The statement was one piece of a pattern throughout the debate, and the broader race, where Lasak has staked out more moderate positions in the field, though at times he is joined by other candidates and he consistently says he would make some progressive changes.</p> <p>All candidates present answered affirmatively when asked if they thought current sentences for violent crime were too long in general.</p> <p>By email, Malik said, "Ensuring that violent criminals are held accountable must be a top priority for any District Attorney, but it must be an accountability that keeps our communities both safe and whole." She highlighted her experience in Queens prosecuting "human traffickers, serial rapists, child molesters and violent, repeat offenders," but said she also has "the reform experience of having implemented restorative justice, diversion programs and alternatives to incarceration, particularly for first-time violent offenders, so that one mistake doesn’t take a person further down the wrong path."</p> <p><strong>Domestic Violence Prosecutions</strong><br /> The six candidates were asked whether they would commit to not prosecuting victims of domestic violence and interpersonal conflict for self-defense or acts of survival. All six candidates present committed, with Katz asking “who wouldn’t?”</p> <p>Malik also made that commitment, and added: As a former Special Victims prosecutor, I worked with countless women who were victims of abuse and assault and I am adamantly committed to ensuring the Queens DA’s Office protect victims, not retraumatize them."</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p><strong>Police/Prosecutorial Misconduct</strong><br /> Representatives from the grassroots organization Vocal NY asked what the candidates would do the deter police and prosecutorial misconduct and what would be the career consequences for Assistant DAs that commit misconduct, such as withholding evidence. Later, Valerie Bell, the mother of Sean Bell, asked what the candidates would do to ensure fair prosecutions of crimes involving police officers -- like the trial involving officers who shot and killed her son -- and that misconduct investigations were swift, thorough, and unbiased.</p> <p>Cabán said that public defense offices already have lists of “bad officers” and that as DA she would publish these lists and not rely on those officers’ testimony in cases. She also said that prosecutors should undergo retraining to prevent misconduct and that “anyone who wears a badge and commits a crime should be held accountable independent of conflicts of interest.”</p> <p>Katz vowed that misconduct “won’t be stood for in my office” and that prosecutors would have to follow her reform policies. She also said that the state attorney general’s office should investigate police brutality accusations, not just police killings of unarmed individuals as is currently the case based on an executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo.</p> <p>Lancman cited the City Council hearings that he has held on police misconduct and the history of misconduct in the Queens DA office. He asserted that “reforms prevent wrongful convictions” and that he would implement a broader code of conduct. He would use personnel in the DA’s office to investigate police misconduct, he added.</p> <p>Nieves said that Assistant DAs that commit misconduct “would be fired” and that he would create a civil rights bureau within the office to investigate police misconduct with personnel from the DA’s office. He also said that police officers who commit perjury should be prosecuted. Lugo said that her office would have “no tolerance for discrimination” and “firm but fair prosecutions.” On the issue of investigations, she said that Assistant DAs “should know the communities they’re prosecuting in” and this would make investigations more equitable.</p> <p>Lasak brought up his previous experience in the DA’s office, saying that “prosecutors under me knew they couldn’t [commit misconduct]” and that his leadership would set the example for his office. He also said he would use the DA’s investigators in police misconduct cases, not the NYPD.</p> <p>Malik wrote that&nbsp;she will work to prevent prosecutorial misconduct. "As District Attorney, I will institute agency-wide trainings on Brady, discovery, witness interviews and preparation, suspect interviews, implicit bias, cultural competency and anti-racism." She promised a DA's office that is "for the first time, representative of the community it serves at the leadership level and hire a dedicated ethics officer to assist in ensuring our attorneys are always above reproach when practicing law."</p> <p><strong>Sex Work Decriminalization</strong><br /> Jennifer Orellana, a transgender former sex worker and member of Make the Road New York, asked the candidates for their views on the decriminalization of sex work. The Queens DA would potentially be able to decline to prosecute sex workers, as well as their customers and others involved in sex work, like landlords. Most of the candidates agreed that the DA’s office needs to change how it handles sex work crimes, mostly with a focus on the sex workers themselves, though they spoke about sex work in varied terms.</p> <p>Cabán committed to declining to prosecute sex work-related offenses, including sex workers and those that participate in the sex work industry. She also said that the trans and sex work communities need to be protected. Katz said that sex work offenses should be “diverted into human trafficking courthouses.” She would not prosecute and make resources available to prevent recidivism, she said, while also indicating a belief that all sex workers need to be helped to find a different line of work and path in life.</p> <p>Lancman would also decline to prosecute and would direct sex workers to diversion programs, in addition to focusing on sex trafficking and human traffickers.</p> <p>Nieves would similarly decline to prosecute, calling sex work “a non-violent and consensual crime” and that he “won’t waste resources” on it. He would also create a human trafficking unit.</p> <p>Lugo would consider declining to prosecute and instead implement a diversion program. She also brought up the need to focus on sex trafficking. Lasak was the only candidate against fully declining to prosecute, saying that “the impact on the broader community needs to be looked at” and that sex work lowers the quality of life for residents in affected neighborhoods.</p> <p>Malik wrote&nbsp;her "position to decline to prosecute for sex workers and to vacate prostitution records is informed by a career of defending women suffering sex abuse and working with victims to come forward. We should be investing in resources to help sex workers get treatment and services where needed, while diverting enforcement toward those who profit off of, prey on and traffic sex workers."</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p><strong>Bail Reform</strong><br /> The topic of bail reform also generated a wide consensus among the candidates. Though there are ongoing negotiations in the state capital around major bail reform that could impact the next Queens District Attorney, the candidates were asked about what their policies would be if no changes are made at the state level.</p> <p>All the candidates agreed to reduce the use of cash bail for at least minor and non-violent offenses, with some candidates saying that they would end the practice entirely.</p> <p>Cabán pledged to end cash bail “to the fullest extent” and that her office would “release people as often as possible,” including on some violent alleged crimes. Katz agreed to end cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies automatically, but for violent felonies supervision should be looked at as an alternative. Lancman committed to never asking for cash bail and would expand eligibility for release “to the maximum extent of the law,” noting that Kalief Browder was kept on Rikers Island after not being able to post bail upon being arrested for what is essentially a non-violent crime of stealing a backpack, for which he never formally faced charges and was eventually released, later killing himself.</p> <p>Nieves committed to no cash bail for all offenses and that he would use appearance bonds instead of cash bonds. Appearance bonds usually stipulate that a defendant would pay a fine if they do not appear for their court date. Lugo said she would handle the issue on a case-by-case basis and that non-violent crimes would not have cash bail, except for “major drug cases,” like El Chapo.</p> <p>Lasak agreed to no cash bail for minor offenses, but would keep the policy in place for other charges.</p> <p><strong>Rikers Island Closure and Proposed New Jail in Queens</strong><br /> The candidates were asked if they support the closure of Rikers Island and also if they support the proposed new community jail in Queens.</p> <p>Cabán was the only candidate to support the closure of Rikers Island and also oppose the new community jail in Queens. She said that she did not support building new jails because she “doesn’t want them filled.” Perhaps along with Lancman, she has outlined the most aggressive decarceration plan in the race, though he said that Rikers must be closed and also supports the new community jail.</p> <p>Katz supports closing Rikers Island and also the construction of a community jail in Queens.</p> <p>Nieves supports the closure of Rikers and opposed the construction of “mega-jails” in Queens. Lugo said she wants to see the current facilities on Rikers Island closed, but wants new facilities on the island that would separate violent and non-violent offenders. Lasak wants to keep the jails on Rikers Island open.</p> <p>Malik wrote that&nbsp;she believes "it is critical that the community in Queens has its voice and concerns fully heard" but that "the closing of Rikers should also be taken as an opportunity for us as New Yorkers to totally reject the violent culture of Rikers by designing new detention facilities that treat everyone with dignity and aggressively support their reentry. Community detention centers that treat people with dignity and allow people to have more regular contact with their loved ones and support systems have proven to result in reduced recidivism."</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p><strong>Police in Schools/School-to-Prison Pipeline</strong><br /> The candidates were asked about their views on police in schools and the school-to-prison pipeline by an activist with the Rockaway Youth Task Force.</p> <p>Cabán asserted the “need to get police officers out of school” and that “students of color have been criminalized.” Her position is that her office would “decline to prosecute children whenever possible,” and instead “engage in restorative justice.”</p> <p>Katz said “police officers aren’t the only answer to school safety,” but may be necessary in some cases. She believes that diversion programs could work better and that there are currently “too many officers” in schools. Lancman committed to not prosecuting “low-level offenses from schools” and that these would be handled in schools and youth court.</p> <p>Nieves compared over-policed schools to Rikers Island and said his office would give students opportunities instead for low-level offenses and deal with felonies in family court. Lugo said that low-level offenses “should be handled in school,” but supports police being present in schools.</p> <p>Lasak also said that he wants police in schools and that his office would instead focus on “bridging the gap between the community and the courthouse,” through education programs involving young people.</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p><strong>Immigration</strong><br /> On the topic of immigration, candidates were asked if they would consider mitigating immigration consequences in prosecutorial decisions. Immigrants, including legal residents, could face deportation for certain offenses or even based on what prosecutors say in court statements.</p> <p>Cabán vowed to “keep ICE out of courthouses” and “make sure the DA’s office doesn’t do anything to further deportation,” including taking immigration status into consideration for pleas, charges, and court statements. Katz promised to have “deportation-neutral” charges and pleas. Lancman suggested that the office would hire a “collateral offense officer” to look at mitigating the immigration consequences of prosecutions.</p> <p>Nieves noted that immigration is an important factor for both victims and suspects, saying that victims and witnesses are often afraid to come forward for fear of being deported. Similar to other candidates, he committed to mitigating the immigration consequences of the office’s prosecutions. Lugo vowed to block ICE from courts and to set up an immigration affairs bureau, which would include interpreters. Lasak promised to mitigate immigration consequences only for minor offenses.</p> <p>Malik wrote that she "will implement an immigrant hardship plea policy. Whenever compatible with public safety, I will direct prosecutors to consider collateral consequences when charging noncitizens. We have to ensure the sentence matches the offense and that we are not tearing families apart or leveling disproportionate sentences."</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p>

***
by Andrew Millman, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this article.</p> <p>Note: this article has been updated with Mina Malik's responses.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com//images/graphics/2019/alyssaguilera-vocal.jpg" alt="Gotham Gazette: " /></p> <p>3/12 Queens DA debate (photo: @alyssaguilera)</p> <hr /> <p>The candidates for Queens District Attorney are becoming increasingly clear about where they stand on key criminal justice issues and how they would run the office if elected later this year. Queens is home to its first competitive district attorney election in decades, with long-time District Attorney Richard Brown set to retire and a crowded Democratic primary set for June 25. The general election will be in November.</p> <p>There are seven candidates currently running, all in the Democratic primary, and six of them met last week for a fast-paced and detail-oriented debate sponsored by the “Queens for DA Accountability” coalition, made up of many community and advocacy groups, hosted at CUNY Law School in Long Island City, and moderated by Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout and Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max.</p> <p>The candidates for the borough’s top prosecutorial and law enforcement position spoke to roughly 200 attendees and others watching a live-stream, explaining their qualifications for the job and stances on a wide variety of policy issues, some of which they would have control over as district attorney, others that they would be able to influence. Queens, home to more than 2.4 million people, is known as the most diverse borough in the most diverse city in the country.</p> <p>Several questions at the forum were asked by community leaders, on topics ranging from the school-to-prison pipeline to police accountability, such as Valerie Bell, the mother of Sean Bell, who was killed by police in Queens, and Jennifer Orellana, a transgender former sex worker, who have affiliations with groups in the sponsoring coalition.</p> <p>Six of the seven candidates were in attendance. Mina Malik was sick and unable to participate in the forum, though she released a video on Twitter saying she was sorry to miss it and looked forward to engaging with those participating in the event. The six candidates present at the debate were Tiffany Cabán, Melinda Katz, Rory Lancman, Gregory Lasak, Betty Lugo, and Jose Nieves.</p> <p>[For background on the candidates and the race, read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8326-crowded-race-election-queens-district-attorney-and-reset-prosecutorial-agenda" target="_blank" rel="noopener">‘We’re in a New Era’: Inside the Crowded Race to Become the Next Queens District Attorney and Reset the Borough’s Prosecutorial Agenda</a>]</p> <p>As they have at other race events, in their campaign materials, and during interviews, the candidates largely agreed that the Queens District Attorney’s office is in serious need of change, in a general sense of modernizing its practices and culture, but also on key practices. The candidates also mostly found broad agreement at the debate that change is needed on a wide variety of topics like cash bail, sex work prosecutions, Rikers Island, and what to do about police misconduct, but the candidates often disagreed on the solutions. In an email exchange with Gotham Gazette, Malik provided her answers to debate questions, which are also included below.</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p><strong>Vision for the Office</strong><br /> At the start of the forum, the candidates were asked how they envision the DA’s office and how it would work under them.</p> <p>Cabán, a public defender, said she would change the “metrics of success” for the office, claiming there is currently “a system based on gamesmanship” favoring convictions over justice. Instead, she would focus on lowering incarceration and recidivism. Katz, the Queens borough president, envisions the district attorney’s office as a leadership position and that her primary responsibility would be implementing policies and reforms.</p> <p>Lancman, a City Council member, called the office “more than just a place that processes cases that police bring” and “responsible for public safety in Queens.” He said he would decline to prosecute people with mental illnesses and drug addiction and focus on preventing crime.</p> <p>Nieves, a prosecutor in the attorney general’s office, said the DA’s job is to protect residents and know how and when to prosecute cases. Lugo, an attorney and former prosecutor, cited her campaign theme “true justice for all,” and said the officeholder needed to understand “complexities of the whole system” and “prioritize prosecutions.”</p> <p>Lasak, who worked in the Queens DA office for many years before becoming a judge -- a position he resigned from to run this year -- called the DA the “chief law enforcement officer for the borough,” and a position that works with the police department.</p> <p><strong>Violent Crime</strong><br /> The candidates were asked how they would handle prosecutions of violent crime if they were to become the Queens District Attorney, and how that approach may or may not fit into larger calls to reduce the jail population. Teachout noted that the number of people incarcerated in New York for non-violent crimes has steadily dropped over the past two decades, while the number of people incarcerated for violent crimes has remained stagnant.</p> <p>Cabán took the strongest stance in favor of change, saying that her office would “think of criminals as victims of trauma themselves” and that she considers violent crime to be a “public health problem.” Lancman similarly said that it is imperative to “confront the issue of violence” to achieve decarceration, and that prosecutorial reform “cannot exclude violent crimes.”</p> <p>Katz noted that disparities in violent crime prosecution have a “disproportionate effect on people of color” and that her office would work for “fair and equitable prosecutions.” She also said that she would focus resources on diversion programs and access to mental health care, working with the community.</p> <p>Nieves said prosecutors often overcharge defendants to secure a plea deal and that he would end that practice, in addition to engaging in “alternatives to incarceration,” such as diversion programs. Lugo said that the process should focus on care for the victim and the DA’s office should hire social workers for victims of violent crime, but she did not directly answer the question.</p> <p>Unlike the other five candidates at the debate, Lasak cautioned against changing how the office handles violent crime. He said that the DA’s “main job is public safety” and that “we have to be careful when dealing with violent crime.” The statement was one piece of a pattern throughout the debate, and the broader race, where Lasak has staked out more moderate positions in the field, though at times he is joined by other candidates and he consistently says he would make some progressive changes.</p> <p>All candidates present answered affirmatively when asked if they thought current sentences for violent crime were too long in general.</p> <p>By email, Malik said, "Ensuring that violent criminals are held accountable must be a top priority for any District Attorney, but it must be an accountability that keeps our communities both safe and whole." She highlighted her experience in Queens prosecuting "human traffickers, serial rapists, child molesters and violent, repeat offenders," but said she also has "the reform experience of having implemented restorative justice, diversion programs and alternatives to incarceration, particularly for first-time violent offenders, so that one mistake doesn’t take a person further down the wrong path."</p> <p><strong>Domestic Violence Prosecutions</strong><br /> The six candidates were asked whether they would commit to not prosecuting victims of domestic violence and interpersonal conflict for self-defense or acts of survival. All six candidates present committed, with Katz asking “who wouldn’t?”</p> <p>Malik also made that commitment, and added: As a former Special Victims prosecutor, I worked with countless women who were victims of abuse and assault and I am adamantly committed to ensuring the Queens DA’s Office protect victims, not retraumatize them."</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p><strong>Police/Prosecutorial Misconduct</strong><br /> Representatives from the grassroots organization Vocal NY asked what the candidates would do the deter police and prosecutorial misconduct and what would be the career consequences for Assistant DAs that commit misconduct, such as withholding evidence. Later, Valerie Bell, the mother of Sean Bell, asked what the candidates would do to ensure fair prosecutions of crimes involving police officers -- like the trial involving officers who shot and killed her son -- and that misconduct investigations were swift, thorough, and unbiased.</p> <p>Cabán said that public defense offices already have lists of “bad officers” and that as DA she would publish these lists and not rely on those officers’ testimony in cases. She also said that prosecutors should undergo retraining to prevent misconduct and that “anyone who wears a badge and commits a crime should be held accountable independent of conflicts of interest.”</p> <p>Katz vowed that misconduct “won’t be stood for in my office” and that prosecutors would have to follow her reform policies. She also said that the state attorney general’s office should investigate police brutality accusations, not just police killings of unarmed individuals as is currently the case based on an executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo.</p> <p>Lancman cited the City Council hearings that he has held on police misconduct and the history of misconduct in the Queens DA office. He asserted that “reforms prevent wrongful convictions” and that he would implement a broader code of conduct. He would use personnel in the DA’s office to investigate police misconduct, he added.</p> <p>Nieves said that Assistant DAs that commit misconduct “would be fired” and that he would create a civil rights bureau within the office to investigate police misconduct with personnel from the DA’s office. He also said that police officers who commit perjury should be prosecuted. Lugo said that her office would have “no tolerance for discrimination” and “firm but fair prosecutions.” On the issue of investigations, she said that Assistant DAs “should know the communities they’re prosecuting in” and this would make investigations more equitable.</p> <p>Lasak brought up his previous experience in the DA’s office, saying that “prosecutors under me knew they couldn’t [commit misconduct]” and that his leadership would set the example for his office. He also said he would use the DA’s investigators in police misconduct cases, not the NYPD.</p> <p>Malik wrote that&nbsp;she will work to prevent prosecutorial misconduct. "As District Attorney, I will institute agency-wide trainings on Brady, discovery, witness interviews and preparation, suspect interviews, implicit bias, cultural competency and anti-racism." She promised a DA's office that is "for the first time, representative of the community it serves at the leadership level and hire a dedicated ethics officer to assist in ensuring our attorneys are always above reproach when practicing law."</p> <p><strong>Sex Work Decriminalization</strong><br /> Jennifer Orellana, a transgender former sex worker and member of Make the Road New York, asked the candidates for their views on the decriminalization of sex work. The Queens DA would potentially be able to decline to prosecute sex workers, as well as their customers and others involved in sex work, like landlords. Most of the candidates agreed that the DA’s office needs to change how it handles sex work crimes, mostly with a focus on the sex workers themselves, though they spoke about sex work in varied terms.</p> <p>Cabán committed to declining to prosecute sex work-related offenses, including sex workers and those that participate in the sex work industry. She also said that the trans and sex work communities need to be protected. Katz said that sex work offenses should be “diverted into human trafficking courthouses.” She would not prosecute and make resources available to prevent recidivism, she said, while also indicating a belief that all sex workers need to be helped to find a different line of work and path in life.</p> <p>Lancman would also decline to prosecute and would direct sex workers to diversion programs, in addition to focusing on sex trafficking and human traffickers.</p> <p>Nieves would similarly decline to prosecute, calling sex work “a non-violent and consensual crime” and that he “won’t waste resources” on it. He would also create a human trafficking unit.</p> <p>Lugo would consider declining to prosecute and instead implement a diversion program. She also brought up the need to focus on sex trafficking. Lasak was the only candidate against fully declining to prosecute, saying that “the impact on the broader community needs to be looked at” and that sex work lowers the quality of life for residents in affected neighborhoods.</p> <p>Malik wrote&nbsp;her "position to decline to prosecute for sex workers and to vacate prostitution records is informed by a career of defending women suffering sex abuse and working with victims to come forward. We should be investing in resources to help sex workers get treatment and services where needed, while diverting enforcement toward those who profit off of, prey on and traffic sex workers."</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p><strong>Bail Reform</strong><br /> The topic of bail reform also generated a wide consensus among the candidates. Though there are ongoing negotiations in the state capital around major bail reform that could impact the next Queens District Attorney, the candidates were asked about what their policies would be if no changes are made at the state level.</p> <p>All the candidates agreed to reduce the use of cash bail for at least minor and non-violent offenses, with some candidates saying that they would end the practice entirely.</p> <p>Cabán pledged to end cash bail “to the fullest extent” and that her office would “release people as often as possible,” including on some violent alleged crimes. Katz agreed to end cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies automatically, but for violent felonies supervision should be looked at as an alternative. Lancman committed to never asking for cash bail and would expand eligibility for release “to the maximum extent of the law,” noting that Kalief Browder was kept on Rikers Island after not being able to post bail upon being arrested for what is essentially a non-violent crime of stealing a backpack, for which he never formally faced charges and was eventually released, later killing himself.</p> <p>Nieves committed to no cash bail for all offenses and that he would use appearance bonds instead of cash bonds. Appearance bonds usually stipulate that a defendant would pay a fine if they do not appear for their court date. Lugo said she would handle the issue on a case-by-case basis and that non-violent crimes would not have cash bail, except for “major drug cases,” like El Chapo.</p> <p>Lasak agreed to no cash bail for minor offenses, but would keep the policy in place for other charges.</p> <p><strong>Rikers Island Closure and Proposed New Jail in Queens</strong><br /> The candidates were asked if they support the closure of Rikers Island and also if they support the proposed new community jail in Queens.</p> <p>Cabán was the only candidate to support the closure of Rikers Island and also oppose the new community jail in Queens. She said that she did not support building new jails because she “doesn’t want them filled.” Perhaps along with Lancman, she has outlined the most aggressive decarceration plan in the race, though he said that Rikers must be closed and also supports the new community jail.</p> <p>Katz supports closing Rikers Island and also the construction of a community jail in Queens.</p> <p>Nieves supports the closure of Rikers and opposed the construction of “mega-jails” in Queens. Lugo said she wants to see the current facilities on Rikers Island closed, but wants new facilities on the island that would separate violent and non-violent offenders. Lasak wants to keep the jails on Rikers Island open.</p> <p>Malik wrote that&nbsp;she believes "it is critical that the community in Queens has its voice and concerns fully heard" but that "the closing of Rikers should also be taken as an opportunity for us as New Yorkers to totally reject the violent culture of Rikers by designing new detention facilities that treat everyone with dignity and aggressively support their reentry. Community detention centers that treat people with dignity and allow people to have more regular contact with their loved ones and support systems have proven to result in reduced recidivism."</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p><strong>Police in Schools/School-to-Prison Pipeline</strong><br /> The candidates were asked about their views on police in schools and the school-to-prison pipeline by an activist with the Rockaway Youth Task Force.</p> <p>Cabán asserted the “need to get police officers out of school” and that “students of color have been criminalized.” Her position is that her office would “decline to prosecute children whenever possible,” and instead “engage in restorative justice.”</p> <p>Katz said “police officers aren’t the only answer to school safety,” but may be necessary in some cases. She believes that diversion programs could work better and that there are currently “too many officers” in schools. Lancman committed to not prosecuting “low-level offenses from schools” and that these would be handled in schools and youth court.</p> <p>Nieves compared over-policed schools to Rikers Island and said his office would give students opportunities instead for low-level offenses and deal with felonies in family court. Lugo said that low-level offenses “should be handled in school,” but supports police being present in schools.</p> <p>Lasak also said that he wants police in schools and that his office would instead focus on “bridging the gap between the community and the courthouse,” through education programs involving young people.</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p><strong>Immigration</strong><br /> On the topic of immigration, candidates were asked if they would consider mitigating immigration consequences in prosecutorial decisions. Immigrants, including legal residents, could face deportation for certain offenses or even based on what prosecutors say in court statements.</p> <p>Cabán vowed to “keep ICE out of courthouses” and “make sure the DA’s office doesn’t do anything to further deportation,” including taking immigration status into consideration for pleas, charges, and court statements. Katz promised to have “deportation-neutral” charges and pleas. Lancman suggested that the office would hire a “collateral offense officer” to look at mitigating the immigration consequences of prosecutions.</p> <p>Nieves noted that immigration is an important factor for both victims and suspects, saying that victims and witnesses are often afraid to come forward for fear of being deported. Similar to other candidates, he committed to mitigating the immigration consequences of the office’s prosecutions. Lugo vowed to block ICE from courts and to set up an immigration affairs bureau, which would include interpreters. Lasak promised to mitigate immigration consequences only for minor offenses.</p> <p>Malik wrote that she "will implement an immigrant hardship plea policy. Whenever compatible with public safety, I will direct prosecutors to consider collateral consequences when charging noncitizens. We have to ensure the sentence matches the offense and that we are not tearing families apart or leveling disproportionate sentences."</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19)</a>]</p> <p>

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by Andrew Millman, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this article.</p> <p>Note: this article has been updated with Mina Malik's responses.</p>
LISTEN: Queens District Attorney Candidate Debate (3/12/19) 2019-03-14T04:00:00+00:00 2019-03-14T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8357-listen-queens-district-attorney-candidate-debate Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/alyssaguilera-vocal.jpg" alt="alyssaguilera vocal" width="600" height="315" /></p> <p>3/12 Queens DA debate (photo: @alyssaguilera)</p> <hr /> <p>Six of the seven candidates for Queens District Attorney gathered for a debate on Tuesday, March 12 at CUNY Law School in Long Island City, sponsored by a broad range of reform groups that have formed the "Queens for DA Accountability Coalition" and moderated by Gotham Gazette's Ben Max and Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout. This year, Queens will elect its first new District Attorney since 1991. The Democratic primary is June 25. The six participating candidates at Tuesday's forum were Tiffany Cabán, Melinda Katz, Rory Lancman, Gregory Lasak, Betty Lugo, and Jose Nieves. The seventh candidate in the race, Mina Malik, was unable to attend due to illness.</p> <p><em>Listen to the full debate via the embedded audio below, or you can find it in the "Max &amp; Murphy" podcast stream from Gotham Gazette wherever you get your podcasts. [Read more about the candidates and the race here: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8326-crowded-race-election-queens-district-attorney-and-reset-prosecutorial-agenda" target="_blank" rel="noopener">'We're in a New Era': Inside the Race to Elect the Next Queens District Attorney</a>.]</em></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/589552335&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/alyssaguilera-vocal.jpg" alt="alyssaguilera vocal" width="600" height="315" /></p> <p>3/12 Queens DA debate (photo: @alyssaguilera)</p> <hr /> <p>Six of the seven candidates for Queens District Attorney gathered for a debate on Tuesday, March 12 at CUNY Law School in Long Island City, sponsored by a broad range of reform groups that have formed the "Queens for DA Accountability Coalition" and moderated by Gotham Gazette's Ben Max and Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout. This year, Queens will elect its first new District Attorney since 1991. The Democratic primary is June 25. The six participating candidates at Tuesday's forum were Tiffany Cabán, Melinda Katz, Rory Lancman, Gregory Lasak, Betty Lugo, and Jose Nieves. The seventh candidate in the race, Mina Malik, was unable to attend due to illness.</p> <p><em>Listen to the full debate via the embedded audio below, or you can find it in the "Max &amp; Murphy" podcast stream from Gotham Gazette wherever you get your podcasts. [Read more about the candidates and the race here: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8326-crowded-race-election-queens-district-attorney-and-reset-prosecutorial-agenda" target="_blank" rel="noopener">'We're in a New Era': Inside the Race to Elect the Next Queens District Attorney</a>.]</em></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/589552335&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> 'We're in a New Era’: Inside the Crowded Race to Elect the Next Queens District Attorney and Reset the Borough’s Prosecutorial Agenda 2019-03-04T05:00:00+00:00 2019-03-04T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8326-crowded-race-election-queens-district-attorney-and-reset-prosecutorial-agenda Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/dwamhvfwoaejtul.jpg" alt="dwamhvfwoaejtul" width="600" height="357" /></p> <p>Queens Borough President Katz swears-in community board members (photo:&nbsp;@QueensBPKatz)</p> <hr /> <p>Uncontested for seven terms spanning more than a quarter-century, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has hung back while his counterparts in Brooklyn and Manhattan join a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/30/magazine/larry-krasner-philadelphia-district-attorney-progressive.html">growing national conversation</a> about criminal justice reform and the power of prosecutors to decarcerate jails. While the retiring Brown is a “dear friend,” former New York Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman told Gotham Gazette recently, “it’s time for a new prosecutor with new, up-to-date modern views.”</p> <p>Answering that call, six of seven announced candidates in the upcoming Democratic primary are campaigning as the best progressive reformer for the job. Even the exception, self-described “middle of the road” attorney Betty Lugo, has aligned herself with the pack in promising fewer low-level prosecutions and condemning a <a href="https://queenseagle.com/all/2019/1/29/ice-arrests-have-surged-at-queens-courts-report-reveals">surge</a> in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests outside Queens courts.</p> <p>The June 25 election will almost certainly determine Brown’s successor and reset the prosecutorial tone in a vast, diverse borough of more than two million residents. “We’re really looking for someone who works with the community and understands that we’re in a new era. We’re no longer in a tough-on-crime, war on drugs era,” said 18-year-old Andrea Colon, a member of the Rockaway Youth Task Force, one of several criminal justice and immigrant rights groups <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8194-community-demands-for-the-next-queens-district-attorney">demanding change in the office</a>.</p> <p>But Queens is an ideological patchwork. “It's an older voter, especially out east where it's more suburban,” said one party insider, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely. “They don't like people who jump turnstiles. They don’t want people smoking [marijuana] on the streets.” Former Queens Supreme Court judge and county prosecutor Greg Lasak, who’s pitching himself as the only candidate who can properly balance public safety with reform, has endorsements and <a href="https://indypendent.org/2019/02/is-queens-ready-for-a-peoples-da/">donations</a> from a number of law enforcement unions, including court clerks and officers. He's leading in funds raised for this race, with more than $800,000 to date, but trails Borough President Melinda Katz and City Council Member Rory Lancman in money available given their resources from prior campaign accounts.</p> <p>Conversations with each candidate -- prosecutors Jose Nieves and Mina Malik and public defender Tiffany Cabán round out the field -- reveal real differences: on prosecutorial priorities and experience, as well as how they view the scope of the job. Now that the term progressive has wide application, says Steve Zeidman, director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at CUNY School of Law, “we have to push and get into the fine print.”</p> <p><strong>Prosecutorial Differences</strong><br />Katz and Lancman are both established politicians with law degrees, strong name recognition in the borough, and early fundraising success. Both formerly served in the state Assembly. “I think there needs to be a change in focus in the DA’s Office,” Katz told Gotham Gazette, outlining her plan for new bureaus focused on immigrant rights, housing fraud, and worker rights.</p> <p>But Katz -- who recently won the endorsement of the Queens County Democratic Party -- has proposed narrower prosecutorial reforms than most of the pack, pledging along with Lasak only to decline to prosecute marijuana possession cases. By contrast Lancman, Cabán, Malik, and Nieves have all outlined do-not-prosecute lists including fare evasion, drug possession, and prostitution -- in the style of recently-elected reform district attorneys like Larry Krasner in Philadelphia and <a href="https://boston.cbslocal.com/2018/09/07/rachael-rollins-do-not-prosecute-list-crimes-boston-suffolk-county/">Rachael Rollins Boston</a>.</p> <p>Judge Lippman told Gotham Gazette that though he doesn’t typically endorse candidates, Lancman, the first candidate to enter the race, “was always the first one to be there to generate support for a new view for criminal justice.” But the City Council member has lots of company now. He, Cabán, and Nieves have all pledged to never request cash bail, on the grounds that it perpetuates racial- and class-based inequities.</p> <p>Four of the candidates -- Malik, Nieves, Lasak, and Lugo -- tout their prosecutorial experience. Malik, who is originally from Queens, served most recently as a deputy for the District of Columbia Attorney General. She also helped the late Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson implement a <a href="https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/02/20/brooklyn-da-prosecution-of-low-level-marijuana-cases-down-98-percent/">policy for fewer marijuana prosecutions</a>. Like Lasak, she’s served in the very office she’s running to lead. “Queens deserves someone who can come into the DA’s office, know from day one how it operates,” Malik told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Nieves, meanwhile, emphasizes his recent experience prosecuting police officers at the state attorney general’s office and holding “the system itself accountable.”</p> <p>Cabán’s status as the only public defender in the race, most recently with New York County Defender Services, has won her endorsements from ascendant groups on the left. “Her ultimate responsibility is to the public and that's what it's always been,” said Zohran Mamdani, an electoral organizer with the Queens branch of the Democratic Socialists of America.</p> <p>Addressing a crowd of supporters in Jackson Heights this month, Cabán said she’ll fight for defendants, not convictions. As a queer Latina from a low-income family, she relates to the challenges her clients face. “For me, my decision to run in this race very much so feels like the natural progression of my advocacy for my clients,” she said.</p> <p>How the candidates approach the prosecution of violent crimes, from murder to burglary, is another useful differentiator. Most say that fewer misdemeanor cases will free up resources to prosecute violent crimes. In endorsing Lasak, Glen Damato, president of the New York State Court Clerks Association, praised “his work putting away Queens’ most violent criminals and his compassion in exonerating the wrongfully convicted.”</p> <p>When Katz was a child, a drunk driver struck and killed her mother. She said that if she’s elected district attorney cases involving intoxicated driving are going to be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law, in my administration.” She <a href="https://queenseagle.com/all/2018/12/14/katz-death-penalty-vote-a-red-flag-for-criminal-justice-reformers">said</a> life sentences can be justified “on a case by case basis” while Lancman, Nieves, and Cabán say they’ll never request such a sentence.</p> <p>Cabán has been most vocal about a less punitive approach to violent crime. She says her father, a retired elevator mechanic, has struggled with alcoholism and that her grandfather, a veteran with PTSD, was abusive. Incarcerating people for repeat violent behavior “is not changing the behavior,” Cabán said, calling for a shift in funding towards alternatives such as mental health services. "Sometimes that means showing compassion for someone who does harm."</p> <p><strong>Race Strategy</strong><br />Increasingly, district attorney candidates are expected to weigh in on political debates outside the courtroom. Lancman and Cabán, for example, have promised not to join the statewide district attorney association, which has recently lobbied against pretrial reforms currently up for consideration in Albany, like open file discovery and the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8245-new-york-democrats-on-eliminating-cash-bail-not-when-but-how">elimination of cash bail</a>.</p> <p>Everyone but Lasak, who declined to weigh in, told Gotham Gazette they support the city’s <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/07/05/de-blasio-and-the-difficult-task-of-closing-rikers-island/">commitment to close the jails on Rikers Island</a>. Cabán and Nieves have taken this a step further, saying they oppose replacing them with new or revamped jails across the city. “I don't think we need 40-story super structures to house more people,” Nevies said. “I think we need less people incarcerated.”</p> <p>Cabán is also refusing corporate donations: a position that aligns her with other DSA-endorsed New York candidates like Congressional Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cynthia Nixon, who ran an unsuccessful 2018 Democratic primary challenge to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Doing so, Cabán says, will reassure Queens residents that she’s not afraid to prosecute landlords or employers accused of wage theft.</p> <p>Lancman is dismissive of the stance. “I am not bringing a knife to this gun fight,” he scoffed. “I am not in this race to lose but claim a moral victory and then see black and brown people terrorized.”</p> <p>Voters are also considering candidates’ proximity to the Queens County Democratic Party. Its endorsement of Katz is bad optics for both, according to Jesse Rose, founder of the New Queens Democrats, a progressive civic engagement group that has endorsed Cabán. “It was just absurd to me,” he said. “They didn’t have a forum. They didn’t have a vetting process. They didn’t ensure that there was transparency in any way.” (The party did not respond to a request for comment, but has defended its process <a href="https://queenseagle.com/all/2019/2/11/queens-democrats-set-to-endorse-katz-dsa-backs-cabn" target="_blank" rel="noopener">to the Queens Daily Eagle</a>.)</p> <p>The dynamic isn’t a major concern for Lugo. A singer by hobby, she says she even performed the traditional Irish ballad Danny Boy at a recent county party dinner. “I think had they interviewed me they would have found me the most qualified, but it is what it is,” she said.</p> <p>But Katz, who has won two borough-wide elections, seems to be downplaying her endorsement. She plans to implement a grassroots strategy with “a volunteer army knocking on doors,” according to Doug Forand, a campaign advisor with Red Horse Strategies. “She'll be reaching out broadly, and engaging the newer voters who are bringing new energy into Democratic primaries, and we look forward to earning their support."</p> <p>The groups already rallying around Cabán have proven formidable in this realm, knocking on doors for Ocasio-Cortez and, more recently, protesting the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/nyregion/amazon-hq2-queens.html">ill-fated Amazon campus in Queens</a>. “I wouldn’t be surprised if their activity [and] endorsement means something considerable, even in Queens, which still has conservative areas,” said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio.</p> <p>Regardless of who wins in June, advocates are hopeful that this election will increase awareness across the borough that district attorneys are powerful, and elected by their constituents.</p> <p>“This not about winning an election,” explained Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, a nonprofit that works on criminal justice reform, among other issues. “It's about, how do you get into the public narrative and get people in Queens talking about criminal justice reform, the power of prosecutors, and how you hold them accountable?”</p> <p><em>Gotham Gazette is cosponsoring a candidate debate on March 12 at 6 p.m. RSVP <a href="https://vocal.ourpowerbase.net/civicrm/event/register?reset=1&amp;id=2067">here</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Note: soon after this article was published, DA Brown announced that due to health issues he would be stepping down as district attorney effective June 1. His chief assistant, John M. Ryan, will run the office in his absence.</em></p> <p>

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by Emma Whitford, Gotham Gazette
@emma_a_whitford

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Correction: this article has been updated to clarify that Lasak leads in funds raised for this race, though he does trail Katz and Lancman in funds available.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/dwamhvfwoaejtul.jpg" alt="dwamhvfwoaejtul" width="600" height="357" /></p> <p>Queens Borough President Katz swears-in community board members (photo:&nbsp;@QueensBPKatz)</p> <hr /> <p>Uncontested for seven terms spanning more than a quarter-century, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has hung back while his counterparts in Brooklyn and Manhattan join a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/30/magazine/larry-krasner-philadelphia-district-attorney-progressive.html">growing national conversation</a> about criminal justice reform and the power of prosecutors to decarcerate jails. While the retiring Brown is a “dear friend,” former New York Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman told Gotham Gazette recently, “it’s time for a new prosecutor with new, up-to-date modern views.”</p> <p>Answering that call, six of seven announced candidates in the upcoming Democratic primary are campaigning as the best progressive reformer for the job. Even the exception, self-described “middle of the road” attorney Betty Lugo, has aligned herself with the pack in promising fewer low-level prosecutions and condemning a <a href="https://queenseagle.com/all/2019/1/29/ice-arrests-have-surged-at-queens-courts-report-reveals">surge</a> in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests outside Queens courts.</p> <p>The June 25 election will almost certainly determine Brown’s successor and reset the prosecutorial tone in a vast, diverse borough of more than two million residents. “We’re really looking for someone who works with the community and understands that we’re in a new era. We’re no longer in a tough-on-crime, war on drugs era,” said 18-year-old Andrea Colon, a member of the Rockaway Youth Task Force, one of several criminal justice and immigrant rights groups <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8194-community-demands-for-the-next-queens-district-attorney">demanding change in the office</a>.</p> <p>But Queens is an ideological patchwork. “It's an older voter, especially out east where it's more suburban,” said one party insider, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely. “They don't like people who jump turnstiles. They don’t want people smoking [marijuana] on the streets.” Former Queens Supreme Court judge and county prosecutor Greg Lasak, who’s pitching himself as the only candidate who can properly balance public safety with reform, has endorsements and <a href="https://indypendent.org/2019/02/is-queens-ready-for-a-peoples-da/">donations</a> from a number of law enforcement unions, including court clerks and officers. He's leading in funds raised for this race, with more than $800,000 to date, but trails Borough President Melinda Katz and City Council Member Rory Lancman in money available given their resources from prior campaign accounts.</p> <p>Conversations with each candidate -- prosecutors Jose Nieves and Mina Malik and public defender Tiffany Cabán round out the field -- reveal real differences: on prosecutorial priorities and experience, as well as how they view the scope of the job. Now that the term progressive has wide application, says Steve Zeidman, director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at CUNY School of Law, “we have to push and get into the fine print.”</p> <p><strong>Prosecutorial Differences</strong><br />Katz and Lancman are both established politicians with law degrees, strong name recognition in the borough, and early fundraising success. Both formerly served in the state Assembly. “I think there needs to be a change in focus in the DA’s Office,” Katz told Gotham Gazette, outlining her plan for new bureaus focused on immigrant rights, housing fraud, and worker rights.</p> <p>But Katz -- who recently won the endorsement of the Queens County Democratic Party -- has proposed narrower prosecutorial reforms than most of the pack, pledging along with Lasak only to decline to prosecute marijuana possession cases. By contrast Lancman, Cabán, Malik, and Nieves have all outlined do-not-prosecute lists including fare evasion, drug possession, and prostitution -- in the style of recently-elected reform district attorneys like Larry Krasner in Philadelphia and <a href="https://boston.cbslocal.com/2018/09/07/rachael-rollins-do-not-prosecute-list-crimes-boston-suffolk-county/">Rachael Rollins Boston</a>.</p> <p>Judge Lippman told Gotham Gazette that though he doesn’t typically endorse candidates, Lancman, the first candidate to enter the race, “was always the first one to be there to generate support for a new view for criminal justice.” But the City Council member has lots of company now. He, Cabán, and Nieves have all pledged to never request cash bail, on the grounds that it perpetuates racial- and class-based inequities.</p> <p>Four of the candidates -- Malik, Nieves, Lasak, and Lugo -- tout their prosecutorial experience. Malik, who is originally from Queens, served most recently as a deputy for the District of Columbia Attorney General. She also helped the late Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson implement a <a href="https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/02/20/brooklyn-da-prosecution-of-low-level-marijuana-cases-down-98-percent/">policy for fewer marijuana prosecutions</a>. Like Lasak, she’s served in the very office she’s running to lead. “Queens deserves someone who can come into the DA’s office, know from day one how it operates,” Malik told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Nieves, meanwhile, emphasizes his recent experience prosecuting police officers at the state attorney general’s office and holding “the system itself accountable.”</p> <p>Cabán’s status as the only public defender in the race, most recently with New York County Defender Services, has won her endorsements from ascendant groups on the left. “Her ultimate responsibility is to the public and that's what it's always been,” said Zohran Mamdani, an electoral organizer with the Queens branch of the Democratic Socialists of America.</p> <p>Addressing a crowd of supporters in Jackson Heights this month, Cabán said she’ll fight for defendants, not convictions. As a queer Latina from a low-income family, she relates to the challenges her clients face. “For me, my decision to run in this race very much so feels like the natural progression of my advocacy for my clients,” she said.</p> <p>How the candidates approach the prosecution of violent crimes, from murder to burglary, is another useful differentiator. Most say that fewer misdemeanor cases will free up resources to prosecute violent crimes. In endorsing Lasak, Glen Damato, president of the New York State Court Clerks Association, praised “his work putting away Queens’ most violent criminals and his compassion in exonerating the wrongfully convicted.”</p> <p>When Katz was a child, a drunk driver struck and killed her mother. She said that if she’s elected district attorney cases involving intoxicated driving are going to be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law, in my administration.” She <a href="https://queenseagle.com/all/2018/12/14/katz-death-penalty-vote-a-red-flag-for-criminal-justice-reformers">said</a> life sentences can be justified “on a case by case basis” while Lancman, Nieves, and Cabán say they’ll never request such a sentence.</p> <p>Cabán has been most vocal about a less punitive approach to violent crime. She says her father, a retired elevator mechanic, has struggled with alcoholism and that her grandfather, a veteran with PTSD, was abusive. Incarcerating people for repeat violent behavior “is not changing the behavior,” Cabán said, calling for a shift in funding towards alternatives such as mental health services. "Sometimes that means showing compassion for someone who does harm."</p> <p><strong>Race Strategy</strong><br />Increasingly, district attorney candidates are expected to weigh in on political debates outside the courtroom. Lancman and Cabán, for example, have promised not to join the statewide district attorney association, which has recently lobbied against pretrial reforms currently up for consideration in Albany, like open file discovery and the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8245-new-york-democrats-on-eliminating-cash-bail-not-when-but-how">elimination of cash bail</a>.</p> <p>Everyone but Lasak, who declined to weigh in, told Gotham Gazette they support the city’s <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/07/05/de-blasio-and-the-difficult-task-of-closing-rikers-island/">commitment to close the jails on Rikers Island</a>. Cabán and Nieves have taken this a step further, saying they oppose replacing them with new or revamped jails across the city. “I don't think we need 40-story super structures to house more people,” Nevies said. “I think we need less people incarcerated.”</p> <p>Cabán is also refusing corporate donations: a position that aligns her with other DSA-endorsed New York candidates like Congressional Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cynthia Nixon, who ran an unsuccessful 2018 Democratic primary challenge to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Doing so, Cabán says, will reassure Queens residents that she’s not afraid to prosecute landlords or employers accused of wage theft.</p> <p>Lancman is dismissive of the stance. “I am not bringing a knife to this gun fight,” he scoffed. “I am not in this race to lose but claim a moral victory and then see black and brown people terrorized.”</p> <p>Voters are also considering candidates’ proximity to the Queens County Democratic Party. Its endorsement of Katz is bad optics for both, according to Jesse Rose, founder of the New Queens Democrats, a progressive civic engagement group that has endorsed Cabán. “It was just absurd to me,” he said. “They didn’t have a forum. They didn’t have a vetting process. They didn’t ensure that there was transparency in any way.” (The party did not respond to a request for comment, but has defended its process <a href="https://queenseagle.com/all/2019/2/11/queens-democrats-set-to-endorse-katz-dsa-backs-cabn" target="_blank" rel="noopener">to the Queens Daily Eagle</a>.)</p> <p>The dynamic isn’t a major concern for Lugo. A singer by hobby, she says she even performed the traditional Irish ballad Danny Boy at a recent county party dinner. “I think had they interviewed me they would have found me the most qualified, but it is what it is,” she said.</p> <p>But Katz, who has won two borough-wide elections, seems to be downplaying her endorsement. She plans to implement a grassroots strategy with “a volunteer army knocking on doors,” according to Doug Forand, a campaign advisor with Red Horse Strategies. “She'll be reaching out broadly, and engaging the newer voters who are bringing new energy into Democratic primaries, and we look forward to earning their support."</p> <p>The groups already rallying around Cabán have proven formidable in this realm, knocking on doors for Ocasio-Cortez and, more recently, protesting the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/nyregion/amazon-hq2-queens.html">ill-fated Amazon campus in Queens</a>. “I wouldn’t be surprised if their activity [and] endorsement means something considerable, even in Queens, which still has conservative areas,” said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio.</p> <p>Regardless of who wins in June, advocates are hopeful that this election will increase awareness across the borough that district attorneys are powerful, and elected by their constituents.</p> <p>“This not about winning an election,” explained Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, a nonprofit that works on criminal justice reform, among other issues. “It's about, how do you get into the public narrative and get people in Queens talking about criminal justice reform, the power of prosecutors, and how you hold them accountable?”</p> <p><em>Gotham Gazette is cosponsoring a candidate debate on March 12 at 6 p.m. RSVP <a href="https://vocal.ourpowerbase.net/civicrm/event/register?reset=1&amp;id=2067">here</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Note: soon after this article was published, DA Brown announced that due to health issues he would be stepping down as district attorney effective June 1. His chief assistant, John M. Ryan, will run the office in his absence.</em></p> <p>

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by Emma Whitford, Gotham Gazette
@emma_a_whitford

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Correction: this article has been updated to clarify that Lasak leads in funds raised for this race, though he does trail Katz and Lancman in funds available.</p>
Making the Queens District Attorney a Partner in Justice for Workers 2019-02-06T05:00:00+00:00 2019-02-06T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8259-making-the-queens-district-attorney-a-partner-in-justice-for-workers Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/melinakatzqbp.jpg" alt="melinakatzqbp" width="600" height="291" /></p> <p>Melinda Katz, the author, center (photo: @queensbpkatz)</p> <hr /> <p>New York City and our nation as a whole are at an important moment in history. As Republicans in Washington threaten rights and pass bigoted legislation, local leaders need to take a stand and fight back on a broad range of issues, because the reforms and legal protections we need will not come for those who wait, they will come from those who demand them.</p> <p>As I run to be the next Queens District Attorney, I am releasing the first of a series of policy papers discussing pressing issues facing our borough. In the coming weeks and months, I will lay out my plans for addressing immigrant rights, racial disparities in our justice system, domestic violence, women’s rights, the use of seized assets, and more. Today we need to consider how the District Attorney can better protect worker rights.</p> <p>For generations, Queens has been home to working- and middle-class families, as well as different waves of immigrants pursuing the American Dream. People here work hard to give their families new opportunities, but there are also bosses who seek to cheat these families or bump up their profits by putting workers in harm’s way. We need our next District Attorney to put a new focus on these crimes against workers, bringing justice for those who have been victimized for too long.</p> <p>The current Economic Crimes Bureau in the Queens DA’s office <a href="http://www.queensda.org/economiccrimes.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">states</a> that its traditional role is protecting employers from embezzlement by employees. I believe there must be resources also devoted to addressing the extensive theft in the opposite direction: employers stealing wages from workers. New York’s workers lose <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/nyregion/new-york-construction-wage-theft.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">over a billion dollars a year</a> due to wage theft, as their hard-earned dollars are illegally stolen and put into the pockets of employers, with the <a href="https://www.bna.com/prosecutors-treating-wage-n73014476875/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">largest number of victims</a> in the construction, restaurant, janitorial, and home care fields.</p> <p>While some workers are robbed of their paychecks, others are robbed of their lives and well-being. Workers, especially construction workers, are injured and even killed on the job far too frequently, often as a result of employer negligence. These workplace safety violations often go unreported, and after an accident, evidence of wrongdoing can disappear if not gathered quickly. Currently, the DA waits for the city to make determinations before getting involved, leaving far too many workers unprotected and far too many negligent employers unaccountable.</p> <p>Historically, crimes against workers would only result in a fine or civil action, but it’s time to recognize that white collar crime has no moral high ground over other crimes: if you steal from workers, you are as guilty as someone who holds up a liquor store. If you injure workers due to negligence, you are no better than a thug who beats someone up on the street.</p> <p>I will bring criminal prosecutions against those who commit these crimes against workers, and I will make sure we have the evidence to build winning cases. Instead of waiting for the city, I will assign an Assistant District Attorney with an expertise in the construction industry to every major workplace accident or fatality. I will pursue legal action against employers that knowingly put construction workers or others at risk, and individuals who commit wage theft. And I will reach out to workers and community leaders to make sure that no one is victimized because they don’t know their rights and are left vulnerable to these crimes.</p> <p>To achieve this, I will establish a Worker Protection Bureau in the Queens DA office to investigate and prosecute workers’ rights violations. Specifically, my office will take a more hands-on approach to investigating workplace injuries, prosecuting workplace violations and wage thefts, and creating protections for immigrants.</p> <p>Queens is known as the World’s Borough and has a rich and thriving immigrant community. Unfortunately, immigrant workers are most likely to be targeted and many are reluctant to come forward for fear of having their immigrant status threatened. As part of my Worker Protection Bureau, I will have a multilingual team doing proactive outreach to workers, while guaranteeing that no one will be subject to arrest for reporting workplace violations. I will also hire a specific liaison to undocumented workers so that there is better dialogue among the District Attorney’s office, undocumented workers, and organizations working with undocumented workers. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>All workers are entitled to a safe workplace where they earn fair wages and are treated with respect. As Queens District Attorney, I will take an active role in ensuring workers’ rights are protected.</p> <p>***<br /> Melinda Katz is the Queens Borough President and a candidate in the Democratic primary for Queens District Attorney. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MelindaKatz" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@MelindaKatz</a>.</p> <p>

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/melinakatzqbp.jpg" alt="melinakatzqbp" width="600" height="291" /></p> <p>Melinda Katz, the author, center (photo: @queensbpkatz)</p> <hr /> <p>New York City and our nation as a whole are at an important moment in history. As Republicans in Washington threaten rights and pass bigoted legislation, local leaders need to take a stand and fight back on a broad range of issues, because the reforms and legal protections we need will not come for those who wait, they will come from those who demand them.</p> <p>As I run to be the next Queens District Attorney, I am releasing the first of a series of policy papers discussing pressing issues facing our borough. In the coming weeks and months, I will lay out my plans for addressing immigrant rights, racial disparities in our justice system, domestic violence, women’s rights, the use of seized assets, and more. Today we need to consider how the District Attorney can better protect worker rights.</p> <p>For generations, Queens has been home to working- and middle-class families, as well as different waves of immigrants pursuing the American Dream. People here work hard to give their families new opportunities, but there are also bosses who seek to cheat these families or bump up their profits by putting workers in harm’s way. We need our next District Attorney to put a new focus on these crimes against workers, bringing justice for those who have been victimized for too long.</p> <p>The current Economic Crimes Bureau in the Queens DA’s office <a href="http://www.queensda.org/economiccrimes.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">states</a> that its traditional role is protecting employers from embezzlement by employees. I believe there must be resources also devoted to addressing the extensive theft in the opposite direction: employers stealing wages from workers. New York’s workers lose <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/nyregion/new-york-construction-wage-theft.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">over a billion dollars a year</a> due to wage theft, as their hard-earned dollars are illegally stolen and put into the pockets of employers, with the <a href="https://www.bna.com/prosecutors-treating-wage-n73014476875/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">largest number of victims</a> in the construction, restaurant, janitorial, and home care fields.</p> <p>While some workers are robbed of their paychecks, others are robbed of their lives and well-being. Workers, especially construction workers, are injured and even killed on the job far too frequently, often as a result of employer negligence. These workplace safety violations often go unreported, and after an accident, evidence of wrongdoing can disappear if not gathered quickly. Currently, the DA waits for the city to make determinations before getting involved, leaving far too many workers unprotected and far too many negligent employers unaccountable.</p> <p>Historically, crimes against workers would only result in a fine or civil action, but it’s time to recognize that white collar crime has no moral high ground over other crimes: if you steal from workers, you are as guilty as someone who holds up a liquor store. If you injure workers due to negligence, you are no better than a thug who beats someone up on the street.</p> <p>I will bring criminal prosecutions against those who commit these crimes against workers, and I will make sure we have the evidence to build winning cases. Instead of waiting for the city, I will assign an Assistant District Attorney with an expertise in the construction industry to every major workplace accident or fatality. I will pursue legal action against employers that knowingly put construction workers or others at risk, and individuals who commit wage theft. And I will reach out to workers and community leaders to make sure that no one is victimized because they don’t know their rights and are left vulnerable to these crimes.</p> <p>To achieve this, I will establish a Worker Protection Bureau in the Queens DA office to investigate and prosecute workers’ rights violations. Specifically, my office will take a more hands-on approach to investigating workplace injuries, prosecuting workplace violations and wage thefts, and creating protections for immigrants.</p> <p>Queens is known as the World’s Borough and has a rich and thriving immigrant community. Unfortunately, immigrant workers are most likely to be targeted and many are reluctant to come forward for fear of having their immigrant status threatened. As part of my Worker Protection Bureau, I will have a multilingual team doing proactive outreach to workers, while guaranteeing that no one will be subject to arrest for reporting workplace violations. I will also hire a specific liaison to undocumented workers so that there is better dialogue among the District Attorney’s office, undocumented workers, and organizations working with undocumented workers. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>All workers are entitled to a safe workplace where they earn fair wages and are treated with respect. As Queens District Attorney, I will take an active role in ensuring workers’ rights are protected.</p> <p>***<br /> Melinda Katz is the Queens Borough President and a candidate in the Democratic primary for Queens District Attorney. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MelindaKatz" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@MelindaKatz</a>.</p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
Agenda 2019: Queens District Attorney Race Will Center on Push for Reform 2018-11-15T05:00:00+00:00 2018-11-15T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8078-agenda-2019-queens-district-attorney-race-will-center-on-push-for-reform Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/city-council-ar-rl-jw-dr-marij.jpg" alt="city council ar rl jw dr marij" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Rory Lancman (photo: John McCarten/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" target="_self">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>Off-year elections in New York City, like the one next year, tend to hold little significance and command minimal attention, with few positions on the ballot and no headlining executive race like mayor or governor. But in Queens, next year will offer a momentous opportunity for voters to make a decision that could dramatically affect the lives of residents of the country’s most diverse county and potentially establish a new paradigm for criminal justice there, with reverberations beyond.</p> <p>In 2019, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, a Democrat who has held his seat for 28 years, is not expected to run for reelection, and those seeking to replace him have made clear that they would break from his tough-on-crime policies that they say have disparately and adversely affected low-income communities of color and modernize the office. As the top prosecutor in each county, district attorneys hold substantial authority over how the law is enforced, working in conjunction with the police. They have broad investigatory powers and can bring both criminal charges and civil litigation.</p> <p>The Queens DA’s office under Brown is among the last to embrace a shift in the conversation around criminal justice away from a punitive system to one focused more on rehabilitation and restoration. Brown, 85, has done little to break from the conservative practices of what appears to be a bygone era, especially in New York City and other big cities around the country. The race to replace him is likely going to be a contentious competition to see who can promise the most drastic shifts toward progressive prosecutorial conduct.</p> <p>Unlike the district attorneys in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx, Brown has been slower to ease the prosecution of low-level offenses, including for marijuana arrests and fare evasion, largely ignored calls for reducing or ending the use of cash bail, and has rejected funding that would allow his office to set up a dedicated unit to investigate wrongful convictions. Following the lead of other district attorneys and after repeatedly declining to do so, his office did move to <a href="https://www.amny.com/news/queens-summons-forgiveness-1.22018402" target="_blank" rel="noopener">clear</a> hundreds of thousands of outstanding warrants for low-level offenses.</p> <p>In the first half of this year, Queens disproportionately accounted for the number of pre-trial detainees in jail accused of misdemeanors, <a href="http://gothamist.com/2018/09/26/rory_lancman_da_queens.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to a Gothamist report</a>. Those prosecutions additionally impact undocumented immigrants, who could potentially face deportation stemming from low-level charges. And as the city moves to close the Rikers Island jail complex, Brown’s office has indicated that it would prefer it remain open.</p> <p>Having remained in office for the better part of three decades, and with his well-documented struggle with Parkinson’s disease, Brown is widely expected to finish his time in office at the end of next year (he hasn’t said if he will resign before his term ends). “My present term does not expire until December 2019 and I will make no decision about the future until sometime next year,” Brown said in a statement.</p> <p>“He’s been a tough as nails prosecutor. He doesn’t seem to want to implement any progressive reforms to the laws under his jurisdiction and under his authority,” said Jon McFarlane, a Queens resident for 40 years and a volunteer at Court Watch NYC, a collaboration among three advocacy groups aimed at monitoring cases that makes their way through the criminal courts. “He’s had tremendous power over the last two, two-and-a-half decades and he’s only used that power to criminalize black, brown and Latino people.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" target="_self"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/agenda19v2-a.jpg" alt="agenda19v2 a" width="250" height="127" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" /></a>McFarlane said that advocates have “new hope” that progressive reforms will soon pass in the state Legislature and that Brown’s replacement will be someone who institutes reform rather than punishment. “We’re looking for candidates that will end the prison pipeline out of [our] neighborhoods, we’re looking for candidates that will end mass incarceration, we’re looking for progressive candidates that will implement bail reform,” he said.</p> <p>Two Democrats have already declared their intentions to seek the office. The first to jump into the race was New York City Council Member Rory Lancman, who is running as a progressive diametrically opposed to the office’s current policies. “The criminal justice system is broken,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s racist. It’s discriminatory against poor people. It fails to protect working people and we’re gonna reform it from top to bottom.”</p> <p>The other candidate in the race right now is retired Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak, a veteran prosecutor who says he alone knows how to reform that office since he worked there for 25 years. “The district attorney is not a job for a politician,” Lasak said in a phone interview. “You have to have the experience and the skill because you’re making decisions that affect people’s lives...and I think there’s nobody that has the wealth of experience that I have in doing that and I will continue to do that.”</p> <p>Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has long been rumored to be considering a bid as well but has yet to make any announcements. A nongovernmental spokesperson for Katz declined to comment. And Mina Malik, a Harvard professor and former Queens assistant district attorney, might also jump into the race, according to a <a href="https://queenseagle.com/all/2018/10/22/first-woman-of-color-plans-queens-da-bid-sources-say" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens Daily Eagle report</a>. Malik declined to comment in an email to Gotham Gazette.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Advocates for criminal justice reform have made clear that no matter the candidates, they believe there must be changes in how the office treats the people of Queens, particularly the communities of color that have suffered the ill effects of a system of mass incarceration. On October 30, advocates from several organizations rallied outside the Queens Criminal Courthouse, demanding those reforms from the district attorney’s office now.</p> <p>Andrea Colon, community engagement organizer at the Rockaway Youth Task Force, said the next district attorney should not be “a factor” in mass incarceration. “I think anyone can see that [DA Brown] is a defender of the status quo,” she said in a phone interview. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”</p> <p>Colon said the diversity of the borough should be reflected in the DA’s office and that the next officeholder should move away from a punitive approach to the job. “It’s also about being an advocate, making sure that role is not just simply about prosecuting people who come through your door,” she said. “It’s about advocating for things like legislation up in Albany or in the city that will impact the people of Queens.”</p> <p>Lancman has spent years doing just that, he said in the interview, previously as a member of the State Assembly and as a Council member for the last five years — in his first term, he chaired the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, which was redesigned by the new Council speaker this year to create a separate Committee on the Justice System which Lancman now heads. He believes he is the most progressive of any candidate in the race, even if those rumored to join the race do so. “As a government official I’ve expressly taken on the responsibility of trying to reform the criminal justice system and have used the governmental tools at my disposal to reform the criminal justice system.”</p> <p>Though he has spent years in government, Lancman does not have any prosecutorial experience, having worked as an attorney in private practice and teaching at St. John’s University in Queens. He holds a law degree from Columbia Law School.</p> <p>A vocal critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD, Lancman has attempted to pass bills that would make policing more transparent and accountable and has been successful in small ways, in lieu of state action, in making it easier to pay bail. He has tried to make the use of a chokehold by police illegal -- it is currently only banned by department rules — and, after the NYPD refused to release data on arrests for fare-beating as required by a law that Lancman sponsored, he sued the city.</p> <p>As district attorney, Lancman said he would unilaterally implement many of the reforms that have languished in the state Legislature for years, but which are expected to finally pass with both legislative chambers heading to Democratic control come January -- Republicans who have controlled the Senate blocked many of the bills. Lancman said he wouldn’t prosecute a “laundry list” of low-level offenses “that are giving black and brown kids records for the rest of their lives,” would not ask for cash bail “under any circumstance,” would end the so-called “ready rule” practice that DAs use to deny defendants a speedy trial and implement full open-file discovery. He also expressed support for a bill passed this year by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo establishing a first-in-the-nation commission on prosecutorial misconduct.</p> <p>“There’s nothing that’s out of the DA’s hand,” he said, before making a somewhat veiled reference to Lasak. “That’s the important thing to understand. The people who built the Queens DA’s office are not the ones to reform the Queens DA’s office and every criminal justice reform that matters to people can be accomplished by having the right person as Queens DA.”</p> <p>He continued, “It’s not merely to confront the racism and discrimination against poor people that permeates the criminal justice system but also to refocus the office’s priorities to help working people.” He said he would focus on issues such as wage theft and unsafe workplace conditions, predatory housing practices and tenant harassment, and sexual assault. “We waste all this time and energy prosecuting these low level offenses, fighting to keep people in jail just because they don’t have money, playing games with the discovery rules that make it impossible for people to defend themselves in court, instead of focusing on things that are really making working people unsafe,” he said.</p> <p>“The DA’s office is unique in that it requires serious preparation and a very detailed understanding of the office and a detailed commitment to the issues the office confronts,” Lancman said, “and I will put that level of demonstrated commitment, experience and planning up against any candidate in the race.”</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/lasak_headshot.jpg" alt="lasak for DA" width="250" height="239" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" />Of course, Lasak (pictured) believes he is the candidate who brings the most experience to the table, not Lancman. “There’s no comparison in terms of experience,” he said in a phone interview. A hard-nosed prosecutor with more than two decades experience in the Queens DA’s office, Lasak became chief of the homicide division when he was 30. When Brown took over, Lasak was the executive assistant DA of the major crimes division and was later in charge of the homicide investigations and homicide trial bureaus and the special victims bureau, and he set up the office’s domestic violence bureau. “Most of my career’s been dedicated to combating violent crime,” he said.</p> <p>Heading up homicide prosecutions for nearly two decades earned Lasak the moniker “Mr. Murder.” He wasn’t sure where it originated from — <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/07/nyregion/mr-murder.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a New York Times profile</a> from 2003, when Lasak was elected State Supreme Court Justice, offered little about the origins of the name — but how does he feel about it? “Doesn’t bother me,” he said with a chuckle.</p> <p>Lasak’s argument is that he can reform the office because he is intimately familiar with how it works. “To reform the place, you can’t sit looking at it from the outside if you don’t know how it works on a day-to-day basis,” he said.</p> <p>Though his background smacks of the type of stern policies Brown’s office is known for, he is making a softer pitch as a candidate, similar to Lancman’s. He wants to reform bail procedures, ensure speedy trials and discovery reform.</p> <p>“I’ve been out of that office nearly 15 years. The world has changed, Queens has changed, but the office has to change too,” he said. “The assistant district attorneys in the office should reflect the changing demographics of Queens County, the most diverse county in the world, and the office has not changed along those lines. I want it to reflect the diversity of our population here in Queens, including at the highest levels of the office.”</p> <p>He said he’d take a “good hard look” at how the office handles low-level nonviolent offenses and bail. “My rule when I was there was, if you’re not gonna ask for jail time at the end of the case, you have no business asking for bail at the beginning of the case, and I will make sure that is a policy of the office,” he said, particularly cognizant of how the enforcement of small marijuana possession cases has impacted communities of color. “Once you stick a criminal record on a young man, you scar him for life. I don’t want to do that. We’re losing too many young men, especially in the minority community...I want to give them another chance,” he said.</p> <p>He also stressed that, as DA, he would ensure any potential wrongful convictions are reviewed by senior prosecutors and detectives, as he said he used to do when he worked there.</p> <p>There is, however, greater daylight between Lasak and Lancman on the proposed plan for the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex. In September, Lancman <a href="https://theappeal.org/a-grand-jury-indicted-an-alabama-police-officer-for-murder-then-a-mayor-came-to-his-defense/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">publicly debated</a> a Queens assistant district attorney about the closure of the jails on the island -- the Queens DA and Staten Island DA are the only two in the city opposing the plan. Lancman, who supports it, said he will make it a central campaign issue “because where you stand on Rikers and where you have been on Rikers tells us everything we need to know about where you stand on reforming the criminal justice system and what kind of DA you will be.”</p> <p>Lasak said he has not closely studied the Rikers plan, which includes demolishing the current Queens detention facility and building a newer, more modern one so detainees can be housed closer to their homes and to the courthouse. Lasak pointedly refused to take a position on it, despite being repeatedly asked. “Rikers Island is really not an issue for the district attorney,” he said. “My concern is that people who are on Rikers Island, make sure they belong on Rikers Island. I don’t want anyone sitting on Rikers Island that doesn’t belong there.”</p> <p>Advocates intend on holding the candidates, whoever should win, accountable for their words.</p> <p>“I think it’s one thing to say that you’re for criminal justice reform,” said Colon from Rockaway Youth Task Force, “and it’s another to actually act on that.”</p> <p>Nick Malinowski of VOCAL-NY, one of the groups that make up Court Watch NYC, put the Queens DA’s race in the context of a national movement and growing awareness around prosecutorial accountability and the discretionary powers that district attorneys have at their disposal. “I think there’s a growing understanding across the country about the impact that prosecutors have and that kind of movement and understanding is definitely coming to Queens,” he said.</p> <p>Malinowski pointed to the recent elections of progressive reform-minded district attorneys in other states -- Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, and Rachael Rollins in Suffolk County, Massachusetts -- as an example of where Queens should be headed. Considering the size and diversity of New York City’s second-most populous borough, he said that this election could be one of the most consequential in the city, if not the entire nation -- the Bronx and Staten Island DAs are up for reelection next year, but Queens is expected to be the lone ‘empty seat’ race.</p> <p>“I think there’s a good case for the Queens DA to be the single-most progressive DA in the country,” Malinowski said.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" target="_self">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/city-council-ar-rl-jw-dr-marij.jpg" alt="city council ar rl jw dr marij" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Rory Lancman (photo: John McCarten/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" target="_self">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>Off-year elections in New York City, like the one next year, tend to hold little significance and command minimal attention, with few positions on the ballot and no headlining executive race like mayor or governor. But in Queens, next year will offer a momentous opportunity for voters to make a decision that could dramatically affect the lives of residents of the country’s most diverse county and potentially establish a new paradigm for criminal justice there, with reverberations beyond.</p> <p>In 2019, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, a Democrat who has held his seat for 28 years, is not expected to run for reelection, and those seeking to replace him have made clear that they would break from his tough-on-crime policies that they say have disparately and adversely affected low-income communities of color and modernize the office. As the top prosecutor in each county, district attorneys hold substantial authority over how the law is enforced, working in conjunction with the police. They have broad investigatory powers and can bring both criminal charges and civil litigation.</p> <p>The Queens DA’s office under Brown is among the last to embrace a shift in the conversation around criminal justice away from a punitive system to one focused more on rehabilitation and restoration. Brown, 85, has done little to break from the conservative practices of what appears to be a bygone era, especially in New York City and other big cities around the country. The race to replace him is likely going to be a contentious competition to see who can promise the most drastic shifts toward progressive prosecutorial conduct.</p> <p>Unlike the district attorneys in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx, Brown has been slower to ease the prosecution of low-level offenses, including for marijuana arrests and fare evasion, largely ignored calls for reducing or ending the use of cash bail, and has rejected funding that would allow his office to set up a dedicated unit to investigate wrongful convictions. Following the lead of other district attorneys and after repeatedly declining to do so, his office did move to <a href="https://www.amny.com/news/queens-summons-forgiveness-1.22018402" target="_blank" rel="noopener">clear</a> hundreds of thousands of outstanding warrants for low-level offenses.</p> <p>In the first half of this year, Queens disproportionately accounted for the number of pre-trial detainees in jail accused of misdemeanors, <a href="http://gothamist.com/2018/09/26/rory_lancman_da_queens.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to a Gothamist report</a>. Those prosecutions additionally impact undocumented immigrants, who could potentially face deportation stemming from low-level charges. And as the city moves to close the Rikers Island jail complex, Brown’s office has indicated that it would prefer it remain open.</p> <p>Having remained in office for the better part of three decades, and with his well-documented struggle with Parkinson’s disease, Brown is widely expected to finish his time in office at the end of next year (he hasn’t said if he will resign before his term ends). “My present term does not expire until December 2019 and I will make no decision about the future until sometime next year,” Brown said in a statement.</p> <p>“He’s been a tough as nails prosecutor. He doesn’t seem to want to implement any progressive reforms to the laws under his jurisdiction and under his authority,” said Jon McFarlane, a Queens resident for 40 years and a volunteer at Court Watch NYC, a collaboration among three advocacy groups aimed at monitoring cases that makes their way through the criminal courts. “He’s had tremendous power over the last two, two-and-a-half decades and he’s only used that power to criminalize black, brown and Latino people.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" target="_self"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/agenda19v2-a.jpg" alt="agenda19v2 a" width="250" height="127" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" /></a>McFarlane said that advocates have “new hope” that progressive reforms will soon pass in the state Legislature and that Brown’s replacement will be someone who institutes reform rather than punishment. “We’re looking for candidates that will end the prison pipeline out of [our] neighborhoods, we’re looking for candidates that will end mass incarceration, we’re looking for progressive candidates that will implement bail reform,” he said.</p> <p>Two Democrats have already declared their intentions to seek the office. The first to jump into the race was New York City Council Member Rory Lancman, who is running as a progressive diametrically opposed to the office’s current policies. “The criminal justice system is broken,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s racist. It’s discriminatory against poor people. It fails to protect working people and we’re gonna reform it from top to bottom.”</p> <p>The other candidate in the race right now is retired Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak, a veteran prosecutor who says he alone knows how to reform that office since he worked there for 25 years. “The district attorney is not a job for a politician,” Lasak said in a phone interview. “You have to have the experience and the skill because you’re making decisions that affect people’s lives...and I think there’s nobody that has the wealth of experience that I have in doing that and I will continue to do that.”</p> <p>Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has long been rumored to be considering a bid as well but has yet to make any announcements. A nongovernmental spokesperson for Katz declined to comment. And Mina Malik, a Harvard professor and former Queens assistant district attorney, might also jump into the race, according to a <a href="https://queenseagle.com/all/2018/10/22/first-woman-of-color-plans-queens-da-bid-sources-say" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Queens Daily Eagle report</a>. Malik declined to comment in an email to Gotham Gazette.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Advocates for criminal justice reform have made clear that no matter the candidates, they believe there must be changes in how the office treats the people of Queens, particularly the communities of color that have suffered the ill effects of a system of mass incarceration. On October 30, advocates from several organizations rallied outside the Queens Criminal Courthouse, demanding those reforms from the district attorney’s office now.</p> <p>Andrea Colon, community engagement organizer at the Rockaway Youth Task Force, said the next district attorney should not be “a factor” in mass incarceration. “I think anyone can see that [DA Brown] is a defender of the status quo,” she said in a phone interview. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”</p> <p>Colon said the diversity of the borough should be reflected in the DA’s office and that the next officeholder should move away from a punitive approach to the job. “It’s also about being an advocate, making sure that role is not just simply about prosecuting people who come through your door,” she said. “It’s about advocating for things like legislation up in Albany or in the city that will impact the people of Queens.”</p> <p>Lancman has spent years doing just that, he said in the interview, previously as a member of the State Assembly and as a Council member for the last five years — in his first term, he chaired the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, which was redesigned by the new Council speaker this year to create a separate Committee on the Justice System which Lancman now heads. He believes he is the most progressive of any candidate in the race, even if those rumored to join the race do so. “As a government official I’ve expressly taken on the responsibility of trying to reform the criminal justice system and have used the governmental tools at my disposal to reform the criminal justice system.”</p> <p>Though he has spent years in government, Lancman does not have any prosecutorial experience, having worked as an attorney in private practice and teaching at St. John’s University in Queens. He holds a law degree from Columbia Law School.</p> <p>A vocal critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD, Lancman has attempted to pass bills that would make policing more transparent and accountable and has been successful in small ways, in lieu of state action, in making it easier to pay bail. He has tried to make the use of a chokehold by police illegal -- it is currently only banned by department rules — and, after the NYPD refused to release data on arrests for fare-beating as required by a law that Lancman sponsored, he sued the city.</p> <p>As district attorney, Lancman said he would unilaterally implement many of the reforms that have languished in the state Legislature for years, but which are expected to finally pass with both legislative chambers heading to Democratic control come January -- Republicans who have controlled the Senate blocked many of the bills. Lancman said he wouldn’t prosecute a “laundry list” of low-level offenses “that are giving black and brown kids records for the rest of their lives,” would not ask for cash bail “under any circumstance,” would end the so-called “ready rule” practice that DAs use to deny defendants a speedy trial and implement full open-file discovery. He also expressed support for a bill passed this year by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo establishing a first-in-the-nation commission on prosecutorial misconduct.</p> <p>“There’s nothing that’s out of the DA’s hand,” he said, before making a somewhat veiled reference to Lasak. “That’s the important thing to understand. The people who built the Queens DA’s office are not the ones to reform the Queens DA’s office and every criminal justice reform that matters to people can be accomplished by having the right person as Queens DA.”</p> <p>He continued, “It’s not merely to confront the racism and discrimination against poor people that permeates the criminal justice system but also to refocus the office’s priorities to help working people.” He said he would focus on issues such as wage theft and unsafe workplace conditions, predatory housing practices and tenant harassment, and sexual assault. “We waste all this time and energy prosecuting these low level offenses, fighting to keep people in jail just because they don’t have money, playing games with the discovery rules that make it impossible for people to defend themselves in court, instead of focusing on things that are really making working people unsafe,” he said.</p> <p>“The DA’s office is unique in that it requires serious preparation and a very detailed understanding of the office and a detailed commitment to the issues the office confronts,” Lancman said, “and I will put that level of demonstrated commitment, experience and planning up against any candidate in the race.”</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/lasak_headshot.jpg" alt="lasak for DA" width="250" height="239" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" />Of course, Lasak (pictured) believes he is the candidate who brings the most experience to the table, not Lancman. “There’s no comparison in terms of experience,” he said in a phone interview. A hard-nosed prosecutor with more than two decades experience in the Queens DA’s office, Lasak became chief of the homicide division when he was 30. When Brown took over, Lasak was the executive assistant DA of the major crimes division and was later in charge of the homicide investigations and homicide trial bureaus and the special victims bureau, and he set up the office’s domestic violence bureau. “Most of my career’s been dedicated to combating violent crime,” he said.</p> <p>Heading up homicide prosecutions for nearly two decades earned Lasak the moniker “Mr. Murder.” He wasn’t sure where it originated from — <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/07/nyregion/mr-murder.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a New York Times profile</a> from 2003, when Lasak was elected State Supreme Court Justice, offered little about the origins of the name — but how does he feel about it? “Doesn’t bother me,” he said with a chuckle.</p> <p>Lasak’s argument is that he can reform the office because he is intimately familiar with how it works. “To reform the place, you can’t sit looking at it from the outside if you don’t know how it works on a day-to-day basis,” he said.</p> <p>Though his background smacks of the type of stern policies Brown’s office is known for, he is making a softer pitch as a candidate, similar to Lancman’s. He wants to reform bail procedures, ensure speedy trials and discovery reform.</p> <p>“I’ve been out of that office nearly 15 years. The world has changed, Queens has changed, but the office has to change too,” he said. “The assistant district attorneys in the office should reflect the changing demographics of Queens County, the most diverse county in the world, and the office has not changed along those lines. I want it to reflect the diversity of our population here in Queens, including at the highest levels of the office.”</p> <p>He said he’d take a “good hard look” at how the office handles low-level nonviolent offenses and bail. “My rule when I was there was, if you’re not gonna ask for jail time at the end of the case, you have no business asking for bail at the beginning of the case, and I will make sure that is a policy of the office,” he said, particularly cognizant of how the enforcement of small marijuana possession cases has impacted communities of color. “Once you stick a criminal record on a young man, you scar him for life. I don’t want to do that. We’re losing too many young men, especially in the minority community...I want to give them another chance,” he said.</p> <p>He also stressed that, as DA, he would ensure any potential wrongful convictions are reviewed by senior prosecutors and detectives, as he said he used to do when he worked there.</p> <p>There is, however, greater daylight between Lasak and Lancman on the proposed plan for the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex. In September, Lancman <a href="https://theappeal.org/a-grand-jury-indicted-an-alabama-police-officer-for-murder-then-a-mayor-came-to-his-defense/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">publicly debated</a> a Queens assistant district attorney about the closure of the jails on the island -- the Queens DA and Staten Island DA are the only two in the city opposing the plan. Lancman, who supports it, said he will make it a central campaign issue “because where you stand on Rikers and where you have been on Rikers tells us everything we need to know about where you stand on reforming the criminal justice system and what kind of DA you will be.”</p> <p>Lasak said he has not closely studied the Rikers plan, which includes demolishing the current Queens detention facility and building a newer, more modern one so detainees can be housed closer to their homes and to the courthouse. Lasak pointedly refused to take a position on it, despite being repeatedly asked. “Rikers Island is really not an issue for the district attorney,” he said. “My concern is that people who are on Rikers Island, make sure they belong on Rikers Island. I don’t want anyone sitting on Rikers Island that doesn’t belong there.”</p> <p>Advocates intend on holding the candidates, whoever should win, accountable for their words.</p> <p>“I think it’s one thing to say that you’re for criminal justice reform,” said Colon from Rockaway Youth Task Force, “and it’s another to actually act on that.”</p> <p>Nick Malinowski of VOCAL-NY, one of the groups that make up Court Watch NYC, put the Queens DA’s race in the context of a national movement and growing awareness around prosecutorial accountability and the discretionary powers that district attorneys have at their disposal. “I think there’s a growing understanding across the country about the impact that prosecutors have and that kind of movement and understanding is definitely coming to Queens,” he said.</p> <p>Malinowski pointed to the recent elections of progressive reform-minded district attorneys in other states -- Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, and Rachael Rollins in Suffolk County, Massachusetts -- as an example of where Queens should be headed. Considering the size and diversity of New York City’s second-most populous borough, he said that this election could be one of the most consequential in the city, if not the entire nation -- the Bronx and Staten Island DAs are up for reelection next year, but Queens is expected to be the lone ‘empty seat’ race.</p> <p>“I think there’s a good case for the Queens DA to be the single-most progressive DA in the country,” Malinowski said.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" target="_self">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Prominent Elected Officials Oppose De Blasio Charter Revision Proposals 2018-10-29T04:00:00+00:00 2018-10-29T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8026-prominent-elected-officials-oppose-de-blasio-charter-revision-proposals Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/27811376699_c0b0d6b3ca_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio " width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking to make a lasting impact on city governance through a charter revision commission that would transform the city’s campaign finance system, promote greater civic involvement in city affairs, and inject new blood into local community boards. But prominent elected officials, most of whom are Democrats like de Blasio, don’t agree with the proposals the mayor’s commission has put on the November 6 ballot and are urging New Yorkers to reject them.</p> <p>The mayor’s commission put <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/charter/downloads/pdf/2018_charter_revision_commission_ballot_proposals_1_pdf.PDF" target="_blank" rel="noopener">three questions</a> on the ballot for voter approval through a simple majority. The first would significantly reduce individual campaign contribution limits and expand the city’s public matching funds program; the second would create a civic engagement commission with appointments mostly by the mayor to coordinate citywide participatory budgeting and other initiatives such as interpreting services at polling sites; and the third would impose term limits on community board members and alter how those members are recruited and appointed to ensure greater diversity.</p> <p>Though the mayor appointed the commission and announced its areas of focus, he was not to have direct say over its final report or proposals, but he did announce support for all three and is now campaigning to see them approved by voters.</p> <p>“These reforms will go a long way toward strengthening our democracy and limiting the influence of big money in our elections,” he said in a September statement, when the proposals were released. “There's no doubt in my mind that these measures will help us build a more fair and equitable city.” <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2018/10/28/de-blasio-stumps-for-his-ballot-initiatives-667543" target="_blank" rel="noopener">On Sunday</a>, de Blasio spoke at two churches in Manhattan, urging congregants to flip their ballot and decide on the three questions. “[V]ote yes, yes, yes. So we can open up the doors of democracy wide and make this an even greater city,” he said at Bethel Gospel Assembly.</p> <p>Other elected officials, however, are not so certain, and are expressing somewhat mixed reviews, though many are opposed to community board term limits.</p> <p>City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, for instance, supports lowering contribution limits and creating a civic engagement commission, but not term limits for community board members. “I don’t think term limits are necessary,” Johnson, a former community boar chair, said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “These aren’t lifetime appointments. They must be reappointed by elected officials who are term limited. I think that provides enough checks and balances to our community boards, while allowing us to keep the good members with experience and wisdom. It is also our job as elected officials to always be looking to appoint new civic minded leaders who are interested in serving.”</p> <p>It’s an argument that’s also been advanced by four of the five borough presidents -- only Brooklyn’s Eric Adams supports the term limits question.</p> <p>Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, in fact, led the creation of an independent expenditure committee to oppose both term limits and the civic engagement commission, an effort in which she was joined by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and Staten Island Borough President James Oddo (Oddo is the lone Republican in the group). “These proposals would be a real—and in some cases dangerous—disruption to the way Community Boards protect our communities,” Brewer wrote in an email to supporters earlier this month, arguing that it could lead to a drain in institutional wisdom and give real estate interests and lobbyists a leg up in discussions about community development. The proposal does include a provision whereby individuals term-limited off of community boards are eligible to serve again after a one-term, two-year “cooling off period.”</p> <p>“Our community boards are the eyes and ears of our neighborhoods and are often the first line of defense against unwanted projects as well as the initial point of contact between city agencies and our neighbors,” said Diaz Jr. “We should be working to strengthen their role, not strip them of the knowledge and historical focus that makes them so important in the first place.”</p> <p>Katz said the current appointment process allows “ample opportunity” to pick diverse candidates “for a dynamic mix of talent,” while Oddo worried that the “one-size-fits-all solution” could have unintended consequences.</p> <p>Adams, however, has argued, “While institutional knowledge is valuable, a reasonable term limit for Community Board members will allow the best of both worlds: institutional knowledge and new voices.”</p> <p>On expanding the campaign finance system, however, only Adams and Oddo have publicly opposed the question among the borough presidents, though for different reasons. “[Brooklyn BP Adams] opposes the campaign finance reform measure because it doesn’t go far enough as he believes in 100 percent public financing,” said an Adams spokesperson. Oddo, on the other hand, has been a staunch opponent of public financing and simply said, “Hell no!” about proposal one.</p> <p>Spokespeople for Katz and Diaz Jr. did not respond to requests for comment about the campaign finance reform proposal.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8000-brewer-creates-committee-to-oppose-charter-revision-proposals" target="_blank">Brewer Creates Committee to Oppose Charter Revision Proposals</a>]</p> <p>Comptroller Scott Stringer also opposes the second and third questions while supporting the first on campaign finance reform. “The City must take a serious look at our Charter — it’s critical to tackling the important issues facing New Yorkers,” he said in a statement. Stringer has laid out his own exhaustive plan of charter proposals to the 2019 charter commission, a separate one from the mayor’s that was created through City Council legislation that is taking a far broader look at the city’s governing principles.&nbsp;</p> <p>Stringer added, “I support the first initiative because we need a campaign finance system that does everything it can to engage New Yorkers and help people run for office. I oppose proposals 2 and 3 which will weaken communities’ voices in shaping their own development.”</p> <p>At an October 31 news conference at City Hall, Gotham Gazette asked Speaker Johnson if he would urge the 2019 commission to reverse community board term limits if they should pass. Johnson said he would not. "I think it's important to lice by the will of the voters," he said. &nbsp;</p> <p>A spokesperson for Public Advocate Letitia James did not provide her stances despite multiple requests for comment, one of which was acknowledged.</p> <p>Among a few rank-and-file City Council Members, reception of the proposals seems to be mixed. Council Member Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat, for example, supports all three proposals and has in particular been advocating for the creation of the civic engagement commission -- Lander had proposed the idea through legislation and presented it to the commission.</p> <p>“I truly believe these ballot proposals give us an opportunity to do something important to strengthen our local democracy: To improve our campaign finance rules. To turbo-charge civic engagement. To expand participatory budgeting city-wide,” he said in an email blast to supporters, calling on New Yorkers to pledge their support.</p> <p>Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos, also a Democrat, is backing all the proposals as well. Kallos has been a staunch campaign finance reform advocate and the first question would partially achieve what he has in the past tried to do through legislation, to expand the amount of public funds given to candidates running for office. “Democracy in New York City will finally get better,” he said in a September 6 statement, if the first question is passed, “reducing contribution limits and making small dollars more valuable by matching more of them with a greater multiplier.”</p> <p>City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, a Queens Democrat, is also <a href="https://twitter.com/JimmyVanBramer/status/1057284940314918913" target="_blank" rel="noopener">urging a "yes" vote</a> on all three proposals. City Council Member Jumaane Williams, a Brooklyn Democrat, has expressed support for the campaign finance proposal, but a spokesperson did not respond to a request for his positions on the other two.</p> <p>On the other end, there’s Council Member Helen Rosenthal, again a Manhattan Democrat, who opposes all three measures. “The spirit of the first two proposals is positive and some of the substance is even promising, but each raises significant concerns to the point where I cannot support them,” she said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. Also noting a criticism that was raised when the mayor first announced his commission, she added, “Of course, all three proposals could be implemented through the current legislative process.”</p> <p>Even government reform groups appear somewhat split on the ballot proposals. Reinvent Albany is advocating for all three. “Reinvent Albany believes a YES vote on these ballot measures will collectively amplify the voice of everyday New Yorkers and create new opportunities for injecting fresh perspectives into the public debate over how to make our city better for everyone,” the group said in an email blast on Monday.</p> <p>Citizens Union, another good government advocacy organization <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-citizens-union-charter-revision-questions-20181024-story.html">opposes</a> the proposal for a civic engagement commission, supports community board term limits, and has not taken a position on the campaign finance question.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated with additional comment from City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Jumaane Williams. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/27811376699_c0b0d6b3ca_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio " width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking to make a lasting impact on city governance through a charter revision commission that would transform the city’s campaign finance system, promote greater civic involvement in city affairs, and inject new blood into local community boards. But prominent elected officials, most of whom are Democrats like de Blasio, don’t agree with the proposals the mayor’s commission has put on the November 6 ballot and are urging New Yorkers to reject them.</p> <p>The mayor’s commission put <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/charter/downloads/pdf/2018_charter_revision_commission_ballot_proposals_1_pdf.PDF" target="_blank" rel="noopener">three questions</a> on the ballot for voter approval through a simple majority. The first would significantly reduce individual campaign contribution limits and expand the city’s public matching funds program; the second would create a civic engagement commission with appointments mostly by the mayor to coordinate citywide participatory budgeting and other initiatives such as interpreting services at polling sites; and the third would impose term limits on community board members and alter how those members are recruited and appointed to ensure greater diversity.</p> <p>Though the mayor appointed the commission and announced its areas of focus, he was not to have direct say over its final report or proposals, but he did announce support for all three and is now campaigning to see them approved by voters.</p> <p>“These reforms will go a long way toward strengthening our democracy and limiting the influence of big money in our elections,” he said in a September statement, when the proposals were released. “There's no doubt in my mind that these measures will help us build a more fair and equitable city.” <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2018/10/28/de-blasio-stumps-for-his-ballot-initiatives-667543" target="_blank" rel="noopener">On Sunday</a>, de Blasio spoke at two churches in Manhattan, urging congregants to flip their ballot and decide on the three questions. “[V]ote yes, yes, yes. So we can open up the doors of democracy wide and make this an even greater city,” he said at Bethel Gospel Assembly.</p> <p>Other elected officials, however, are not so certain, and are expressing somewhat mixed reviews, though many are opposed to community board term limits.</p> <p>City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, for instance, supports lowering contribution limits and creating a civic engagement commission, but not term limits for community board members. “I don’t think term limits are necessary,” Johnson, a former community boar chair, said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “These aren’t lifetime appointments. They must be reappointed by elected officials who are term limited. I think that provides enough checks and balances to our community boards, while allowing us to keep the good members with experience and wisdom. It is also our job as elected officials to always be looking to appoint new civic minded leaders who are interested in serving.”</p> <p>It’s an argument that’s also been advanced by four of the five borough presidents -- only Brooklyn’s Eric Adams supports the term limits question.</p> <p>Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, in fact, led the creation of an independent expenditure committee to oppose both term limits and the civic engagement commission, an effort in which she was joined by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and Staten Island Borough President James Oddo (Oddo is the lone Republican in the group). “These proposals would be a real—and in some cases dangerous—disruption to the way Community Boards protect our communities,” Brewer wrote in an email to supporters earlier this month, arguing that it could lead to a drain in institutional wisdom and give real estate interests and lobbyists a leg up in discussions about community development. The proposal does include a provision whereby individuals term-limited off of community boards are eligible to serve again after a one-term, two-year “cooling off period.”</p> <p>“Our community boards are the eyes and ears of our neighborhoods and are often the first line of defense against unwanted projects as well as the initial point of contact between city agencies and our neighbors,” said Diaz Jr. “We should be working to strengthen their role, not strip them of the knowledge and historical focus that makes them so important in the first place.”</p> <p>Katz said the current appointment process allows “ample opportunity” to pick diverse candidates “for a dynamic mix of talent,” while Oddo worried that the “one-size-fits-all solution” could have unintended consequences.</p> <p>Adams, however, has argued, “While institutional knowledge is valuable, a reasonable term limit for Community Board members will allow the best of both worlds: institutional knowledge and new voices.”</p> <p>On expanding the campaign finance system, however, only Adams and Oddo have publicly opposed the question among the borough presidents, though for different reasons. “[Brooklyn BP Adams] opposes the campaign finance reform measure because it doesn’t go far enough as he believes in 100 percent public financing,” said an Adams spokesperson. Oddo, on the other hand, has been a staunch opponent of public financing and simply said, “Hell no!” about proposal one.</p> <p>Spokespeople for Katz and Diaz Jr. did not respond to requests for comment about the campaign finance reform proposal.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8000-brewer-creates-committee-to-oppose-charter-revision-proposals" target="_blank">Brewer Creates Committee to Oppose Charter Revision Proposals</a>]</p> <p>Comptroller Scott Stringer also opposes the second and third questions while supporting the first on campaign finance reform. “The City must take a serious look at our Charter — it’s critical to tackling the important issues facing New Yorkers,” he said in a statement. Stringer has laid out his own exhaustive plan of charter proposals to the 2019 charter commission, a separate one from the mayor’s that was created through City Council legislation that is taking a far broader look at the city’s governing principles.&nbsp;</p> <p>Stringer added, “I support the first initiative because we need a campaign finance system that does everything it can to engage New Yorkers and help people run for office. I oppose proposals 2 and 3 which will weaken communities’ voices in shaping their own development.”</p> <p>At an October 31 news conference at City Hall, Gotham Gazette asked Speaker Johnson if he would urge the 2019 commission to reverse community board term limits if they should pass. Johnson said he would not. "I think it's important to lice by the will of the voters," he said. &nbsp;</p> <p>A spokesperson for Public Advocate Letitia James did not provide her stances despite multiple requests for comment, one of which was acknowledged.</p> <p>Among a few rank-and-file City Council Members, reception of the proposals seems to be mixed. Council Member Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat, for example, supports all three proposals and has in particular been advocating for the creation of the civic engagement commission -- Lander had proposed the idea through legislation and presented it to the commission.</p> <p>“I truly believe these ballot proposals give us an opportunity to do something important to strengthen our local democracy: To improve our campaign finance rules. To turbo-charge civic engagement. To expand participatory budgeting city-wide,” he said in an email blast to supporters, calling on New Yorkers to pledge their support.</p> <p>Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos, also a Democrat, is backing all the proposals as well. Kallos has been a staunch campaign finance reform advocate and the first question would partially achieve what he has in the past tried to do through legislation, to expand the amount of public funds given to candidates running for office. “Democracy in New York City will finally get better,” he said in a September 6 statement, if the first question is passed, “reducing contribution limits and making small dollars more valuable by matching more of them with a greater multiplier.”</p> <p>City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, a Queens Democrat, is also <a href="https://twitter.com/JimmyVanBramer/status/1057284940314918913" target="_blank" rel="noopener">urging a "yes" vote</a> on all three proposals. City Council Member Jumaane Williams, a Brooklyn Democrat, has expressed support for the campaign finance proposal, but a spokesperson did not respond to a request for his positions on the other two.</p> <p>On the other end, there’s Council Member Helen Rosenthal, again a Manhattan Democrat, who opposes all three measures. “The spirit of the first two proposals is positive and some of the substance is even promising, but each raises significant concerns to the point where I cannot support them,” she said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. Also noting a criticism that was raised when the mayor first announced his commission, she added, “Of course, all three proposals could be implemented through the current legislative process.”</p> <p>Even government reform groups appear somewhat split on the ballot proposals. Reinvent Albany is advocating for all three. “Reinvent Albany believes a YES vote on these ballot measures will collectively amplify the voice of everyday New Yorkers and create new opportunities for injecting fresh perspectives into the public debate over how to make our city better for everyone,” the group said in an email blast on Monday.</p> <p>Citizens Union, another good government advocacy organization <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-citizens-union-charter-revision-questions-20181024-story.html">opposes</a> the proposal for a civic engagement commission, supports community board term limits, and has not taken a position on the campaign finance question.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - This article has been updated with additional comment from City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Jumaane Williams. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p>
De Blasio Goes Local with ‘City Hall in Your Borough’ Series 2017-04-09T04:00:00+00:00 2017-04-09T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6863-de-blasio-goes-local-with-city-hall-in-your-borough-series Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/26484184021_a59e709777_z.jpg" alt="de Blasio Staten Island Oddo" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>De Blasio at a Staten Island town hall (photo:&nbsp;Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio will be on Staten Island this week in the first of five “City Hall in Your Borough” sojourns wherein the mayor, who is up for reelection this fall, is bringing city government local. De Blasio, many of his commissioners, top aides, and City Hall staff will work out of borough hall, hold constituent office hours and a variety of events on the island, and attempt to immerse themselves in borough issues for the week.</p> <p>The mayor chose to start the initiative on Staten Island, the only borough the first-term Democrat lost in his landslide 2013 victory. De Blasio’s week will include a town hall Thursday night, but begins Monday with several events, including a morning cabinet meeting with senior staff at borough hall, a noon press conference related to neighborhood policing, and a 10 p.m. visit with a road re-paving crew.</p> <p>According to the mayor’s office, de Blasio will set aside time to meet with local constituents and groups, visit at least one house of worship, and make many other stops around the borough. He is expected to hold events with each of Staten Island’s three City Council members, and to spend a good deal of time with Borough President James Oddo, a Republican whom the mayor has a close relationship with. First Lady Chirlane McCray is expected to hold events related to ThriveNYC, the mental health program she spearheads.</p> <p>The mayor will be commuting to Staten Island from Gracie Mansion, his office said, not spending overnights on the island. [The Staten Island Advance <a href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/04/early_look_at_de_blasios_week.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">acquired a draft schedule</a> for de Blasio’s week, though it is unclear how closely his actual plan will match it. The launch of the overall initiative was <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-staff-launch-initiative-city-hall-borough-article-1.3009342" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">first reported by The Daily News</a>.]</p> <p>De Blasio’s week on Staten Island is sure to deal with some broad citywide themes like public safety, education, affordable housing, and development, but will also have a distinctly local feel. As borough officials often say, Staten Island is more like the rest of the United States than it is the rest of New York City. Staten Island has high homeowner and driving populations compared to other boroughs, for example. Many Staten Islanders also continue to battle their way back from Superstorm Sandy and there has been a good deal of frustration about the city’s Build It Back recovery program. The borough is also dealing with the opioid addiction and overdose problem that has spread throughout communities across the country.</p> <p>After Staten Island, “City Hall in Your Borough” will proceed to the other four boroughs throughout the year, all as de Blasio competes in the Democratic primary and, likely, general election in his pursuit of a second term. Asked about the initiative coinciding with election season, mayoral spokesperson Jessica Ramos said that “It's coinciding with spring” and that the administration wants New Yorkers to interact with their local government in their own neighborhoods. ‎”We'll be doing this again over following years,” she said in an email.</p> <p>The mayor and his team are likely to work out of borough hall in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-staff-launch-initiative-city-hall-borough-article-1.3009342" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to The Daily News</a>, but will seek uptown space in Manhattan given that City Hall and the Manhattan Borough President’s offices at 1 Centre Street are so close to each other.</p> <p>Asked about the initiative, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams had praise for de Blasio, but said in a statement that while he “would welcome Mayor de Blasio and his team to Brooklyn Borough Hall with open arms for this initiative...it would be even more impactful for us to work together on bringing City Hall to neighborhoods like Brownsville that have a real need of this presence. A site such as the Brownsville Recreation Center, for example, would serve as a great hyperlocal hub for this effort."</p> <p>Adams said City Hall in Your Borough is “a smart concept to get government out of the austere structures that often separate it from the communities it serves.” According to his office, borough specific issues Adams wants to see City Hall focus on include affordable housing, tenant harassment, civic tech innovation, preventive health care, school tech infrastructure, among others. Adams also wants to see city agencies rethink community engagement models.</p> <p>In a brief interview, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said that her team and the mayor’s have been in touch already. Asked what the focus issues should be, Brewer said her office “gets a ton of housing, housing, housing” and that people really are concerned about both residential and small business affordability. Small Business Services, NYCHA, and the Department of Buildings were three city agencies that Brewer said the mayor’s team should be ready to prioritize.</p> <p>As for space, Brewer said she is the only borough president without a grand borough hall, but that she is also the only one with a storefront presence. She said her office’s uptown satellite space on West 125th Street “is not huge but it can fit 25 or 30 people at a time. So, we'd love him to join us there. We also have an office at the Harlem State Office Building, which has, obviously, huge spaces. So, either one, I think, would be fabulous, and we'd love to host the mayor.”</p> <p>A spokesperson for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. declined to comment on City Hall in Your Borough or to make the borough president available for a brief interview. Diaz Jr. has been an outspoken critic of de Blasio on several issues, and was considering challenging the mayor in the Democratic primary, but now plans to run for re-election. He is the only borough president that de Blasio is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6051-rift-between-de-blasio-and-diaz-jr-grows-with-implications-for-the-bronx" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">not on good terms with</a>.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz did not return a request for comment. Katz praised de Blasio at a recent town hall event in Queens for delivering on universal pre-kindergarten, though she and many in her borough want to see more from City Hall on school overcrowding and have concerns about the mayor’s homeless shelter siting.</p> <p>At a January event hosted by Crain’s New York Business, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6727-five-borough-presidents-advise-critique-de-blasio" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the five borough presidents gave their assessments of de Blasio</a> and offered him advice for how to improve his relationships with their boroughs.</p> <p>Oddo, who will host de Blasio this week on Staten Island, said he still wants to see a culture change at city agencies where rank-and-file employees feel more urgency to complete projects and make progress. “You want to have a legacy” as a mayor, Oddo said, “you have to change the culture of these agencies, and I don’t believe that’s happening.”</p> <p>“He could do a whole lot better, in my opinion, in his messaging and communication to the people of the City of New York,” Diaz Jr. said.</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/26484184021_a59e709777_z.jpg" alt="de Blasio Staten Island Oddo" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>De Blasio at a Staten Island town hall (photo:&nbsp;Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio will be on Staten Island this week in the first of five “City Hall in Your Borough” sojourns wherein the mayor, who is up for reelection this fall, is bringing city government local. De Blasio, many of his commissioners, top aides, and City Hall staff will work out of borough hall, hold constituent office hours and a variety of events on the island, and attempt to immerse themselves in borough issues for the week.</p> <p>The mayor chose to start the initiative on Staten Island, the only borough the first-term Democrat lost in his landslide 2013 victory. De Blasio’s week will include a town hall Thursday night, but begins Monday with several events, including a morning cabinet meeting with senior staff at borough hall, a noon press conference related to neighborhood policing, and a 10 p.m. visit with a road re-paving crew.</p> <p>According to the mayor’s office, de Blasio will set aside time to meet with local constituents and groups, visit at least one house of worship, and make many other stops around the borough. He is expected to hold events with each of Staten Island’s three City Council members, and to spend a good deal of time with Borough President James Oddo, a Republican whom the mayor has a close relationship with. First Lady Chirlane McCray is expected to hold events related to ThriveNYC, the mental health program she spearheads.</p> <p>The mayor will be commuting to Staten Island from Gracie Mansion, his office said, not spending overnights on the island. [The Staten Island Advance <a href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/04/early_look_at_de_blasios_week.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">acquired a draft schedule</a> for de Blasio’s week, though it is unclear how closely his actual plan will match it. The launch of the overall initiative was <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-staff-launch-initiative-city-hall-borough-article-1.3009342" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">first reported by The Daily News</a>.]</p> <p>De Blasio’s week on Staten Island is sure to deal with some broad citywide themes like public safety, education, affordable housing, and development, but will also have a distinctly local feel. As borough officials often say, Staten Island is more like the rest of the United States than it is the rest of New York City. Staten Island has high homeowner and driving populations compared to other boroughs, for example. Many Staten Islanders also continue to battle their way back from Superstorm Sandy and there has been a good deal of frustration about the city’s Build It Back recovery program. The borough is also dealing with the opioid addiction and overdose problem that has spread throughout communities across the country.</p> <p>After Staten Island, “City Hall in Your Borough” will proceed to the other four boroughs throughout the year, all as de Blasio competes in the Democratic primary and, likely, general election in his pursuit of a second term. Asked about the initiative coinciding with election season, mayoral spokesperson Jessica Ramos said that “It's coinciding with spring” and that the administration wants New Yorkers to interact with their local government in their own neighborhoods. ‎”We'll be doing this again over following years,” she said in an email.</p> <p>The mayor and his team are likely to work out of borough hall in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-staff-launch-initiative-city-hall-borough-article-1.3009342" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to The Daily News</a>, but will seek uptown space in Manhattan given that City Hall and the Manhattan Borough President’s offices at 1 Centre Street are so close to each other.</p> <p>Asked about the initiative, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams had praise for de Blasio, but said in a statement that while he “would welcome Mayor de Blasio and his team to Brooklyn Borough Hall with open arms for this initiative...it would be even more impactful for us to work together on bringing City Hall to neighborhoods like Brownsville that have a real need of this presence. A site such as the Brownsville Recreation Center, for example, would serve as a great hyperlocal hub for this effort."</p> <p>Adams said City Hall in Your Borough is “a smart concept to get government out of the austere structures that often separate it from the communities it serves.” According to his office, borough specific issues Adams wants to see City Hall focus on include affordable housing, tenant harassment, civic tech innovation, preventive health care, school tech infrastructure, among others. Adams also wants to see city agencies rethink community engagement models.</p> <p>In a brief interview, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said that her team and the mayor’s have been in touch already. Asked what the focus issues should be, Brewer said her office “gets a ton of housing, housing, housing” and that people really are concerned about both residential and small business affordability. Small Business Services, NYCHA, and the Department of Buildings were three city agencies that Brewer said the mayor’s team should be ready to prioritize.</p> <p>As for space, Brewer said she is the only borough president without a grand borough hall, but that she is also the only one with a storefront presence. She said her office’s uptown satellite space on West 125th Street “is not huge but it can fit 25 or 30 people at a time. So, we'd love him to join us there. We also have an office at the Harlem State Office Building, which has, obviously, huge spaces. So, either one, I think, would be fabulous, and we'd love to host the mayor.”</p> <p>A spokesperson for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. declined to comment on City Hall in Your Borough or to make the borough president available for a brief interview. Diaz Jr. has been an outspoken critic of de Blasio on several issues, and was considering challenging the mayor in the Democratic primary, but now plans to run for re-election. He is the only borough president that de Blasio is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6051-rift-between-de-blasio-and-diaz-jr-grows-with-implications-for-the-bronx" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">not on good terms with</a>.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz did not return a request for comment. Katz praised de Blasio at a recent town hall event in Queens for delivering on universal pre-kindergarten, though she and many in her borough want to see more from City Hall on school overcrowding and have concerns about the mayor’s homeless shelter siting.</p> <p>At a January event hosted by Crain’s New York Business, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6727-five-borough-presidents-advise-critique-de-blasio" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the five borough presidents gave their assessments of de Blasio</a> and offered him advice for how to improve his relationships with their boroughs.</p> <p>Oddo, who will host de Blasio this week on Staten Island, said he still wants to see a culture change at city agencies where rank-and-file employees feel more urgency to complete projects and make progress. “You want to have a legacy” as a mayor, Oddo said, “you have to change the culture of these agencies, and I don’t believe that’s happening.”</p> <p>“He could do a whole lot better, in my opinion, in his messaging and communication to the people of the City of New York,” Diaz Jr. said.</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Five Borough Presidents Advise, Critique De Blasio 2017-01-24T05:00:00+00:00 2017-01-24T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6727-five-borough-presidents-advise-critique-de-blasio Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/5_borough_presidents_crains_forum_via_bpericadams_1.jpg" alt="5 borough presidents crains forum via bpericadams 1" width="600" height="301" /></p> <p>The five BPs at Crain's forum (photo: @BPEricAdams)</p> <hr /> <p>Communicate better. Build more affordable housing, and faster. Streamline small business regulations. Improve transit offerings in the outer boroughs. Bust the bureaucracy to get city agencies moving more quickly.</p> <p>These tips and pleas were among the guidance that the five New York City borough presidents offered Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday morning. At a forum convened by Crain’s New York Business, moderator Erik Engquist, a Crain’s editor, asked Manhattan’s Gale Brewer, Brooklyn’s Eric Adams, the Bronx’s Ruben Diaz Jr., Staten Island’s James Oddo, and Queens’ Melinda Katz a series of questions, including what advice they would give de Blasio, who has just entered his fourth year in office, which is his re-election year.</p> <p>When Engquist posed the question -- if he asked you for a piece of advice, what would you offer Mayor de Blasio? -- about 20 minutes into the discussion, he got a laugh from the roughly 125 audience members by calling on Diaz Jr. first. The Bronx Borough President has been one of the most outspoken critics of the mayor and is considering whether to challenge de Blasio this year.</p> <p>Once the laughter subsided, Diaz Jr. reiterated a point: that he wants the city to “hand over the keys” to the developers of the Kingsbridge Armory, a project that has been caught in limbo for some time and has been a flashpoint in the tension between Diaz Jr. and de Blasio, with some involvement from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is much closer to Diaz Jr. than to de Blasio.</p> <p>Of advice for de Blasio, Diaz Jr. then said, “Obviously homelessness is a big issue, not only in my borough, but throughout the city of New York.” He the mayor and his administration “haven’t been able to wrap their hands around” the crisis and called for more permanent affordable housing, supportive housing, and development in the Bronx, saying that the administration takes too long to make decisions.</p> <p>Diaz Jr. also called for improvements to gifted and talented school program offerings and transportation expansion.</p> <p>“He could do a whole lot better, in my opinion, in his messaging and communication to the people of the city of New York,” Diaz Jr. added.</p> <p>Asked by Gotham Gazette after the event to expand on the communication critique, Diaz Jr. said the mayor and his team should be more proactively communicative with local communities about all kinds of issues. It is a common refrain from de Blasio critics -- and some allies -- that was echoed by Queens Borough President Katz and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams as well.</p> <p>Among the borough presidents, both Eric Adams and Gale Brewer are strong de Blasio allies. Adams has already endorsed de Blasio for reelection (he plans to run for Mayor himself, he said again at the Crain’s event, but not this year) and Brewer told Gotham Gazette afterward that she is supportive of de Blasio’s bid for a second term.</p> <p>Still, Adams and Brewer had ‘constructive criticism’ for the mayor. Citing “quality of life” issues, Brewer said she wants the mayor to focus on noise mitigation, improving city schools, investing even more in NYCHA and affordable housing, and expanding free WiFi. Brewer credited de Blasio for crime being down and improving relationships between community members and the police, as well as the IDNYC program.</p> <p>Adams also cited communication, saying that the mayor could do better showing people the improvements that have been made in the city. The Brooklyn BP then cited issues with “middle management,” saying that “the permanent bureaucracy” in city government shows a “lack of innovation, a lack of creativity.”</p> <p>Adams wants the city to stop holding back businesses by continuing to reduce unnecessary fines, an area where de Blasio has made a great deal of progress, and acting more quickly at the Department of Buildings and elsewhere. “The slowest walking human being I’ve seen in my life was at the Department of Buildings,” Adams said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.</p> <p>A former NYPD officer and captain, Adams gave de Blasio significant praise for improvements at the police department, especially in terms of interactions with New Yorkers. “Police are now doing something that is revolutionary,” he said, “they are saying ‘good morning.’” Adams said cops are walking the beat and talking with people, having positive interactions.</p> <p>Speaking after Adams, Queens Borough President Katz said she agreed with several points made by her colleagues before her. She noted that all five borough presidents have known and worked with de Blasio for years, since all six have held other positions in government.</p> <p>“As beneficial as he has been on a lot of topics, the communication part has been ineffective to a certain extent,” Katz said. She credited the mayor for universal pre-kindergarten and general progress. But, she called the “homeless crisis” “a very serious topic,” and cited issues in Queens related to use of hotels for housing homeless people and the protests that Queens residents have staged against the administration on the topic.</p> <p>Katz said she wants the city to better help people stay in their homes and their communities and to enhance “economic services to help get folks back on their feet.” Communities need to be involved in decision-making, she said, at which point Engquist aptly pointed out that communities often reject homeless shelters. Katz responded that “the worst thing you can do with a community is not tell them things” and that there are ways of being more upfront and negotiating better.</p> <p>Speaking last on the topic of advice for the mayor, Staten Island’s Oddo, the lone Republican among the borough presidents, said that a “sea change at the top of city government” with the election of de Blasio has not led to much change at all when it comes to the city bureaucracy that he often does battle with.</p> <p>It is consistently frustrating, Oddo explained, “to have a great idea, to have the mayor of the city of New York and the mayor’s office say ‘that is a good idea,’ and then run headlong into the brick wall of city agencies, time and time again.”</p> <p>“It’s the same jerks that were there in the Bloomberg years that are here now,” Oddo said, speaking of agency officials and local agency workers, especially at agencies like the Department of Transportation, Department of Buildings, and the Department of Design and Construction. “Unless you have an administration with strong deputy mayors pushing down on commissioners and making commissioners change the culture of these agencies, I hate to say it guys, I’m not sure if it really matters who’s up at the top.”</p> <p>“You want to have a legacy,” Oddo said to this mayor or any, “you have to change the culture of these agencies, and I don’t believe that’s happening.” Instead of commissioners changing their agencies, Oddo said, he sees agencies changing the commissioners for the worse.</p> <p>“The sea change that was promised, whether you believe in it or not, hasn’t happened,” Oddo said. At which point, Adams -- a vocal de Blasio supporter -- jumped in to echo the point, lamenting the permanent culture of “no” among civil servants who “wait out mayors...wait out commissioners and...get in the way of change.”</p> <p>A spokesperson for de Blasio declined to comment on the critiques provided by the borough presidents.</p> <p>Other than critiquing the mayor, at the Crain’s event the five borough presidents also discussed specific development projects in their respective boroughs, their takes on Uber and Airbnb, and broader political dynamics.</p> <p>There were half-jokes about the fact that Diaz Jr. is very close with Gov. Cuomo, while Adams enjoys a closer relationship with de Blasio. Yet there were more direct words between Diaz Jr. and Adams over whether Cuomo has been strong enough in backing fellow Democrats, specifically with respect to the state Senate, which remains in Republican control. Brewer said the governor has not been enough of a Democratic champion, which Adams agreed with and Diaz Jr. denied. Adams and Diaz Jr. debated the issue for a couple of minutes.</p> <p>Engquist also asked the borough presidents whether they plan to seek higher office. All five are eligible for another term in their current positions, and the four other than Diaz Jr. are definitively seeking re-election.</p> <p>As for later aspirations, Adams said he wants to be Mayor eventually. Diaz Jr. said he plans to seek higher office someday, but “I don’t know when.” Brewer said she doesn’t plan to seek a higher office; Katz demurred, saying she is focused on running for re-election; and Oddo said, “No, because First Deputy Mayor is not an elected position.”</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/5_borough_presidents_crains_forum_via_bpericadams_1.jpg" alt="5 borough presidents crains forum via bpericadams 1" width="600" height="301" /></p> <p>The five BPs at Crain's forum (photo: @BPEricAdams)</p> <hr /> <p>Communicate better. Build more affordable housing, and faster. Streamline small business regulations. Improve transit offerings in the outer boroughs. Bust the bureaucracy to get city agencies moving more quickly.</p> <p>These tips and pleas were among the guidance that the five New York City borough presidents offered Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday morning. At a forum convened by Crain’s New York Business, moderator Erik Engquist, a Crain’s editor, asked Manhattan’s Gale Brewer, Brooklyn’s Eric Adams, the Bronx’s Ruben Diaz Jr., Staten Island’s James Oddo, and Queens’ Melinda Katz a series of questions, including what advice they would give de Blasio, who has just entered his fourth year in office, which is his re-election year.</p> <p>When Engquist posed the question -- if he asked you for a piece of advice, what would you offer Mayor de Blasio? -- about 20 minutes into the discussion, he got a laugh from the roughly 125 audience members by calling on Diaz Jr. first. The Bronx Borough President has been one of the most outspoken critics of the mayor and is considering whether to challenge de Blasio this year.</p> <p>Once the laughter subsided, Diaz Jr. reiterated a point: that he wants the city to “hand over the keys” to the developers of the Kingsbridge Armory, a project that has been caught in limbo for some time and has been a flashpoint in the tension between Diaz Jr. and de Blasio, with some involvement from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is much closer to Diaz Jr. than to de Blasio.</p> <p>Of advice for de Blasio, Diaz Jr. then said, “Obviously homelessness is a big issue, not only in my borough, but throughout the city of New York.” He the mayor and his administration “haven’t been able to wrap their hands around” the crisis and called for more permanent affordable housing, supportive housing, and development in the Bronx, saying that the administration takes too long to make decisions.</p> <p>Diaz Jr. also called for improvements to gifted and talented school program offerings and transportation expansion.</p> <p>“He could do a whole lot better, in my opinion, in his messaging and communication to the people of the city of New York,” Diaz Jr. added.</p> <p>Asked by Gotham Gazette after the event to expand on the communication critique, Diaz Jr. said the mayor and his team should be more proactively communicative with local communities about all kinds of issues. It is a common refrain from de Blasio critics -- and some allies -- that was echoed by Queens Borough President Katz and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams as well.</p> <p>Among the borough presidents, both Eric Adams and Gale Brewer are strong de Blasio allies. Adams has already endorsed de Blasio for reelection (he plans to run for Mayor himself, he said again at the Crain’s event, but not this year) and Brewer told Gotham Gazette afterward that she is supportive of de Blasio’s bid for a second term.</p> <p>Still, Adams and Brewer had ‘constructive criticism’ for the mayor. Citing “quality of life” issues, Brewer said she wants the mayor to focus on noise mitigation, improving city schools, investing even more in NYCHA and affordable housing, and expanding free WiFi. Brewer credited de Blasio for crime being down and improving relationships between community members and the police, as well as the IDNYC program.</p> <p>Adams also cited communication, saying that the mayor could do better showing people the improvements that have been made in the city. The Brooklyn BP then cited issues with “middle management,” saying that “the permanent bureaucracy” in city government shows a “lack of innovation, a lack of creativity.”</p> <p>Adams wants the city to stop holding back businesses by continuing to reduce unnecessary fines, an area where de Blasio has made a great deal of progress, and acting more quickly at the Department of Buildings and elsewhere. “The slowest walking human being I’ve seen in my life was at the Department of Buildings,” Adams said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.</p> <p>A former NYPD officer and captain, Adams gave de Blasio significant praise for improvements at the police department, especially in terms of interactions with New Yorkers. “Police are now doing something that is revolutionary,” he said, “they are saying ‘good morning.’” Adams said cops are walking the beat and talking with people, having positive interactions.</p> <p>Speaking after Adams, Queens Borough President Katz said she agreed with several points made by her colleagues before her. She noted that all five borough presidents have known and worked with de Blasio for years, since all six have held other positions in government.</p> <p>“As beneficial as he has been on a lot of topics, the communication part has been ineffective to a certain extent,” Katz said. She credited the mayor for universal pre-kindergarten and general progress. But, she called the “homeless crisis” “a very serious topic,” and cited issues in Queens related to use of hotels for housing homeless people and the protests that Queens residents have staged against the administration on the topic.</p> <p>Katz said she wants the city to better help people stay in their homes and their communities and to enhance “economic services to help get folks back on their feet.” Communities need to be involved in decision-making, she said, at which point Engquist aptly pointed out that communities often reject homeless shelters. Katz responded that “the worst thing you can do with a community is not tell them things” and that there are ways of being more upfront and negotiating better.</p> <p>Speaking last on the topic of advice for the mayor, Staten Island’s Oddo, the lone Republican among the borough presidents, said that a “sea change at the top of city government” with the election of de Blasio has not led to much change at all when it comes to the city bureaucracy that he often does battle with.</p> <p>It is consistently frustrating, Oddo explained, “to have a great idea, to have the mayor of the city of New York and the mayor’s office say ‘that is a good idea,’ and then run headlong into the brick wall of city agencies, time and time again.”</p> <p>“It’s the same jerks that were there in the Bloomberg years that are here now,” Oddo said, speaking of agency officials and local agency workers, especially at agencies like the Department of Transportation, Department of Buildings, and the Department of Design and Construction. “Unless you have an administration with strong deputy mayors pushing down on commissioners and making commissioners change the culture of these agencies, I hate to say it guys, I’m not sure if it really matters who’s up at the top.”</p> <p>“You want to have a legacy,” Oddo said to this mayor or any, “you have to change the culture of these agencies, and I don’t believe that’s happening.” Instead of commissioners changing their agencies, Oddo said, he sees agencies changing the commissioners for the worse.</p> <p>“The sea change that was promised, whether you believe in it or not, hasn’t happened,” Oddo said. At which point, Adams -- a vocal de Blasio supporter -- jumped in to echo the point, lamenting the permanent culture of “no” among civil servants who “wait out mayors...wait out commissioners and...get in the way of change.”</p> <p>A spokesperson for de Blasio declined to comment on the critiques provided by the borough presidents.</p> <p>Other than critiquing the mayor, at the Crain’s event the five borough presidents also discussed specific development projects in their respective boroughs, their takes on Uber and Airbnb, and broader political dynamics.</p> <p>There were half-jokes about the fact that Diaz Jr. is very close with Gov. Cuomo, while Adams enjoys a closer relationship with de Blasio. Yet there were more direct words between Diaz Jr. and Adams over whether Cuomo has been strong enough in backing fellow Democrats, specifically with respect to the state Senate, which remains in Republican control. Brewer said the governor has not been enough of a Democratic champion, which Adams agreed with and Diaz Jr. denied. Adams and Diaz Jr. debated the issue for a couple of minutes.</p> <p>Engquist also asked the borough presidents whether they plan to seek higher office. All five are eligible for another term in their current positions, and the four other than Diaz Jr. are definitively seeking re-election.</p> <p>As for later aspirations, Adams said he wants to be Mayor eventually. Diaz Jr. said he plans to seek higher office someday, but “I don’t know when.” Brewer said she doesn’t plan to seek a higher office; Katz demurred, saying she is focused on running for re-election; and Oddo said, “No, because First Deputy Mayor is not an elected position.”</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 7 2015-12-06T21:57:46+00:00 2015-12-06T21:57:46+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/6020-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-dec-7 Super User <p><img alt="New York City Hall" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<em style="text-align: center;">***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?<br /></em><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio will&nbsp;attend the memorial service for John E. Zuccotti. At 12:30 p.m., "the Mayor will deliver remarks at NYPD's Clergy All-In Conference at One Police Plaza." At about 2:45 p.m. at the Staten Island South Shore YMCA, "the Mayor and First Lady Chirlane McCray will host a press conference to make an announcement related to substance misuse."</p> <p>On Monday morning in Albany, leading experts on the New York State Constitution and the prospects for a Constitutional Convention will hold a media “boot camp.” The event will include Gerald Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz; constitutional scholars Christopher Bopst and Peter Galie; Richard Brodsky, senior fellow at Demos and former Assembly member; and Henry M. Greenberg, chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on the New York State Constitution and former counsel to the New York State attorney general. “The event is sponsored by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government of the State University of New York, New York State Bar Association, Government Law Center of Albany Law School, state League of Women Voters, Siena Research Institute and New York News Publishers Association.”&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 10 a.m. at City Hall, the push for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) intensifies: “Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Donovan Richards, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and the “BRT For NYC” Coalition will co-host a press conference to announce increased community support for bringing high-quality bus rapid transit to Queens. The “BRT For NYC” Coalition will be represented by ABNY, NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, New York League of Conservation Voters, Pratt Center for Community Development, Riders Alliance, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, Transit Workers Union Local 100, and Working Families Party. Bus riders and members of the Queens community will also be in attendance.” [Read our recent look at the issue: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5991-all-aboard-the-brt-express" target="_blank">All Abord the BRT Express?</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to discuss a bill about expanding the Metrotech Area Business Improvement District.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will meet, agenda TBD.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 a.m. on Monday, the City Council will have a Stated Meeting, prefaced as always by the Speaker’s pre-stated press conference, set for 12:30 p.m.</li> </ul> <p>At noon, before the Council’s stated meeting, there will be a rally at City Hall to unveil “First-of-its-kind NYC Council legislation to be unveiled cracking down on deadbeat companies that stiff the city’s 1.3 million.” Members of the Freelancers Union, other labor reps including from the UFT and 32BJ, other activists, and several City Council members led Brad Lander, Laurie Cumbo, Rafael Espinal, Steve Levin, and Margaret Chin <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rally-to-pass-the-freelanceisntfree-bill-tickets-19690053480" target="_blank">will hold</a> a rally at the steps of City Hall to pass legislation protecting New York City’s freelancers. [Read our recent look at the issue: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5971-city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy" target="_blank">City Council Developing New Protections for Workers in ‘Gig’ Economy</a>]&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">As the week begins, City Council Member Jumaane Williams is in Washington, DC from Sunday to Tuesday “attending the <a href="http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0010IeYMMHdXPBAyOcAGg3NEDCUNLjJUcShnt4es7ggEhsxmGTvVxd9i4dP7E9fqaSntJn0Zs05visfv9iXepdtKq7jUg7nZZlZymx1TUl6meTlRnP0DHp__etemHeKTjEgmZuwbmu3_XzPNNZF05ge1xmgbdvocUvBa2g9ZOXEGB8=&amp;c=8cU0O04C-yHYB2Q34HXfzDAefTS6CTmx8r_0pitHUy2tW5hreIg4Jg==&amp;ch=bT-YamHPEc4TkA3BHSD8me6g6uh9wG3mnMf3qqWddZR2Qo4yHZcK7w==" target="_blank">Joint Center for Political &amp; Economic Studies</a>' bi-annual Roundtable Discussion being held at George Washington Law School.” It is a conference “for a select group of 25 elected officials of color from across the nation will feature discussions regarding policy innovations.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">State Legislature</a> on Monday: at 11 a.m., the Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation and the Assembly Climate Change Work Group will hold a joint hearing on climate change.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at noon, The New York City Bar Association is hosting a “<a href="https://services.nycbar.org/iMIS/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=SEN120715&amp;WebsiteKey=f71e12f3-524e-4f8c-a5f7-0d16ce7b3314" target="_blank">Lunch and Public Policy Discussion</a>” with Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Queens Borough Hall, “The Queens Borough Board, chaired by Borough President Katz, will hear details from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP about the department’s new “Parks Without Borders” program, which aims to make New York City public parks more open, welcoming, and beautiful by focusing on improving park entrances and edges, and park-adjacent spaces.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Monday at 7 p.m. at The New School, “Politics and Policy: The Latino Vote and The 2016 US Presidential Election” with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, among others, offering “a fresh examination of the role of Latinos in the 2016 election. Featuring a panel of journalists, pollsters, and political insiders, we’ll explore political, demographic and economic trends that will shape the outcome in 2016.” <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#.VmSlpWSDGkq" target="_blank">The event</a> is organized by Feet in 2 Worlds, The Center for New York City Affairs and the Milano School.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 8 p.m., city Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks&nbsp;"at West Side Federation of Neighborhood and Block Associations Annual Holiday Party."</p> <p><strong>Tuesday</strong><br />At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Tuesday: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet to discuss two bills related to New York City crossing guard deployment.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">New York State Legislature</a> on Tuesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. in Manhattan, a joint committee hearing on Daily Fantasy Sports in New York will be held by the Assembly Standing Committee on Racing and Wagering, the Assembly Standing Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection, and the Assembly Legislative Commission on Administrative Regulations Review.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10:30 a.m. in Albany, a joint committee hearing about law-enforcement officials using body cameras will be held by the Assembly Standing Committee on Codes, the Assembly Standing Committee on Judiciary, and the Assembly Standing Committee on Governmental Operations.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday, a “<a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/city-state-public-projects-forum-tickets-18909139746" target="_blank">Public Projects Forum</a>” hosted by City &amp; State NY will have Noam Bramson, Mayor of New Rochelle, NY; Reginald Spinello, Mayor of Glen Cove, NY; Commissioner Feniosky Pena-Mora, NYC Department of Design &amp; Construction; and Holly Leicht, Regional Administrator, Housing &amp; Urban Development; speak about the upcoming public projects in the tristate area.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at Queens Borough Hall, “The Queens Borough Cabinet, chaired by Borough President Melinda Katz, will hear a briefing from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) on its current counterterrorism efforts in light of recent events in this county and abroad. The briefing will include a review of new counterterrorism technologies employed by the NYPD. In addition, the Fire Department of New York’s (FDNY’s) Fire Education Safety Team will deliver a presentation on how City residents can best keep their homes safe during the holiday season. Also, the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation will deliver a presentation on the implementation of the Neighborhoods.nyc domain, which has launched nearly 400 online hubs for civic engagement, information sharing and economic development.”&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Wednesday</strong><br />At 10 a.m. Wednesday,<a href="http://www.manhattancc.org/events/The-Manhattan-Chamber-of-Commerce-Quarterly-Chairman's-Breakfast-2050/details" target="_blank"> The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Chairman's Breakfast</a> will take on the presidential transition and the need for the most carefully planned transition in United States history in anticipation of January 20, 2017. [Read an op-ed on the subject from Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Chair Ken Biberaj and David Eagles of Partnership for Public Service: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6012-lets-be-prepared-for-americas-biggest-corporate-takeover" target="_blank">Let’s Be Prepared for America’s Biggest Corporate Takeover</a>]&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Health will meet to discuss a bill to create two new health-focused city government bodies and another that would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene “to post a New York City map on its website of the clinics they run, comprehensive care and primary care facilities run by the Health and Hospitals Corporation, voluntary non-profit and publicly sponsored diagnostic and treatment centers, and federally qualified health centers.”</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on General Welfare will hold an oversight hearing on the city’s efforts to address “the homelessness crisis.” [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5994-as-homelessness-crisis-continues-shelter-siting-questions-intensify" target="_blank">our recent look at issues related to how and where homeless shelters are sited</a>.]</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committees on Aging and Finance will meet for a joint oversight hearing on the city’s “efforts to conduct outreach” and boost registration for the Rent Freeze Program; and on a new a bill that would “require the Department of Finance to include a notification regarding preferential rent on certain documents related to the NYC Rent Freeze Program.”</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Civil Rights will meet to discuss four bills regarding the city’s human rights law.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Immigration will have an oversight hearing about “Resources Available in New York City for Unaccompanied Minors.”</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">New York State Legislature</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At noon in Manhattan, the Assembly Standing Committees on Labor and Small Business as well as the Assembly Commission on Skills Development and Careers Education will hold a joint oversight hearing on the state’s apprenticeship programs.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Real Property Taxation will hold an oversight hearing on the 2015-2016 budget plan.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Thursday</strong><br />At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Housing and Buildings meet on three bills. The first would create a Department of Buildings-headed task force that would assess the dangers posed by construction sites to motorists and pedestrians and submit recommendations to the City Council and mayor about measures proposed to minimize the hazard. The other two bills would raise penalties for working without a permit and for violating stop work directives.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will review two land use applications.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will review five applications.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Civil Service and Labor and the Committee on Higher Education will have a joint oversight hearing on “Establishing the Murphy Institute as a new CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.”</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">New York State Legislature</a> on Thursday: at 10:30 a.m. in Manhattan, the Assembly Standing Committee on Election Law and the Assembly Standing Subcommittee on Election Day Operations and Voter Disenfranchisement will hold a joint oversight hearing about “Enhancing the voter experience, preventing voter disenfranchisement and improving emergency voting protocols.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. at Civic Hall on Thursday, Scott Stringer’s <a href="https://twitter.com/scottmstringer/status/671474583002853377" target="_blank">Red Tape Commission</a> will meet in Manhattan to hear suggestions from small business owners and others.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Thursday, the Staten Island Borough Board is expected to vote on Mayor de Blasio's two rezoning amendment proposals. It will be the fifth borough to do so - the other four have voted against them, sometimes with lists of conditions that the advisory boards would like to see made to revised proposals.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 4 p.m. Thursday, the New York City Campaign Finance Board holds a “<a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/about/calendar/new-cfb-1" target="_blank">New to the CFB</a>” session.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Thursday: “Power Lines: Race, Class, The City &amp; Its Schools,” <a href="http://www.thegreenespace.org/events/thegreenespace/2015/dec/10/power-lines-race-class-city-its-schools/" target="_blank">a discussion</a> about segregation in New York City schools.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend</strong><br />At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">New York State Legislature</a> on Friday: at 10:30 a.m. in Manhattan, a hearing of the Assembly Standing Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development regarding “Injuries in combative sports.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is launching a Manhattan Youth Council, and is holding an initial information session on Friday afternoon at her offices. “High school students from across Manhattan are invited to meet and talk with Borough President Gale Brewer about the issues that matter most to you...Young people who live, work, or attend school in Manhattan can <a href="https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1449268325-d12c165ed357d5dc005c17a8f0bfdd20-98399a7?pa=35173649382" target="_blank">sign up here</a>.”</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Konstantine Beridze, Ryan Brady, and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img alt="New York City Hall" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<em style="text-align: center;">***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?<br /></em><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio will&nbsp;attend the memorial service for John E. Zuccotti. At 12:30 p.m., "the Mayor will deliver remarks at NYPD's Clergy All-In Conference at One Police Plaza." At about 2:45 p.m. at the Staten Island South Shore YMCA, "the Mayor and First Lady Chirlane McCray will host a press conference to make an announcement related to substance misuse."</p> <p>On Monday morning in Albany, leading experts on the New York State Constitution and the prospects for a Constitutional Convention will hold a media “boot camp.” The event will include Gerald Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz; constitutional scholars Christopher Bopst and Peter Galie; Richard Brodsky, senior fellow at Demos and former Assembly member; and Henry M. Greenberg, chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on the New York State Constitution and former counsel to the New York State attorney general. “The event is sponsored by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government of the State University of New York, New York State Bar Association, Government Law Center of Albany Law School, state League of Women Voters, Siena Research Institute and New York News Publishers Association.”&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 10 a.m. at City Hall, the push for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) intensifies: “Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Donovan Richards, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and the “BRT For NYC” Coalition will co-host a press conference to announce increased community support for bringing high-quality bus rapid transit to Queens. The “BRT For NYC” Coalition will be represented by ABNY, NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, New York League of Conservation Voters, Pratt Center for Community Development, Riders Alliance, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, Transit Workers Union Local 100, and Working Families Party. Bus riders and members of the Queens community will also be in attendance.” [Read our recent look at the issue: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5991-all-aboard-the-brt-express" target="_blank">All Abord the BRT Express?</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to discuss a bill about expanding the Metrotech Area Business Improvement District.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will meet, agenda TBD.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 a.m. on Monday, the City Council will have a Stated Meeting, prefaced as always by the Speaker’s pre-stated press conference, set for 12:30 p.m.</li> </ul> <p>At noon, before the Council’s stated meeting, there will be a rally at City Hall to unveil “First-of-its-kind NYC Council legislation to be unveiled cracking down on deadbeat companies that stiff the city’s 1.3 million.” Members of the Freelancers Union, other labor reps including from the UFT and 32BJ, other activists, and several City Council members led Brad Lander, Laurie Cumbo, Rafael Espinal, Steve Levin, and Margaret Chin <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rally-to-pass-the-freelanceisntfree-bill-tickets-19690053480" target="_blank">will hold</a> a rally at the steps of City Hall to pass legislation protecting New York City’s freelancers. [Read our recent look at the issue: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5971-city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy" target="_blank">City Council Developing New Protections for Workers in ‘Gig’ Economy</a>]&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">As the week begins, City Council Member Jumaane Williams is in Washington, DC from Sunday to Tuesday “attending the <a href="http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0010IeYMMHdXPBAyOcAGg3NEDCUNLjJUcShnt4es7ggEhsxmGTvVxd9i4dP7E9fqaSntJn0Zs05visfv9iXepdtKq7jUg7nZZlZymx1TUl6meTlRnP0DHp__etemHeKTjEgmZuwbmu3_XzPNNZF05ge1xmgbdvocUvBa2g9ZOXEGB8=&amp;c=8cU0O04C-yHYB2Q34HXfzDAefTS6CTmx8r_0pitHUy2tW5hreIg4Jg==&amp;ch=bT-YamHPEc4TkA3BHSD8me6g6uh9wG3mnMf3qqWddZR2Qo4yHZcK7w==" target="_blank">Joint Center for Political &amp; Economic Studies</a>' bi-annual Roundtable Discussion being held at George Washington Law School.” It is a conference “for a select group of 25 elected officials of color from across the nation will feature discussions regarding policy innovations.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">State Legislature</a> on Monday: at 11 a.m., the Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation and the Assembly Climate Change Work Group will hold a joint hearing on climate change.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at noon, The New York City Bar Association is hosting a “<a href="https://services.nycbar.org/iMIS/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=SEN120715&amp;WebsiteKey=f71e12f3-524e-4f8c-a5f7-0d16ce7b3314" target="_blank">Lunch and Public Policy Discussion</a>” with Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Queens Borough Hall, “The Queens Borough Board, chaired by Borough President Katz, will hear details from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP about the department’s new “Parks Without Borders” program, which aims to make New York City public parks more open, welcoming, and beautiful by focusing on improving park entrances and edges, and park-adjacent spaces.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Monday at 7 p.m. at The New School, “Politics and Policy: The Latino Vote and The 2016 US Presidential Election” with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, among others, offering “a fresh examination of the role of Latinos in the 2016 election. Featuring a panel of journalists, pollsters, and political insiders, we’ll explore political, demographic and economic trends that will shape the outcome in 2016.” <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#.VmSlpWSDGkq" target="_blank">The event</a> is organized by Feet in 2 Worlds, The Center for New York City Affairs and the Milano School.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 8 p.m., city Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks&nbsp;"at West Side Federation of Neighborhood and Block Associations Annual Holiday Party."</p> <p><strong>Tuesday</strong><br />At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Tuesday: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet to discuss two bills related to New York City crossing guard deployment.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">New York State Legislature</a> on Tuesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. in Manhattan, a joint committee hearing on Daily Fantasy Sports in New York will be held by the Assembly Standing Committee on Racing and Wagering, the Assembly Standing Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection, and the Assembly Legislative Commission on Administrative Regulations Review.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10:30 a.m. in Albany, a joint committee hearing about law-enforcement officials using body cameras will be held by the Assembly Standing Committee on Codes, the Assembly Standing Committee on Judiciary, and the Assembly Standing Committee on Governmental Operations.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday, a “<a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/city-state-public-projects-forum-tickets-18909139746" target="_blank">Public Projects Forum</a>” hosted by City &amp; State NY will have Noam Bramson, Mayor of New Rochelle, NY; Reginald Spinello, Mayor of Glen Cove, NY; Commissioner Feniosky Pena-Mora, NYC Department of Design &amp; Construction; and Holly Leicht, Regional Administrator, Housing &amp; Urban Development; speak about the upcoming public projects in the tristate area.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at Queens Borough Hall, “The Queens Borough Cabinet, chaired by Borough President Melinda Katz, will hear a briefing from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) on its current counterterrorism efforts in light of recent events in this county and abroad. The briefing will include a review of new counterterrorism technologies employed by the NYPD. In addition, the Fire Department of New York’s (FDNY’s) Fire Education Safety Team will deliver a presentation on how City residents can best keep their homes safe during the holiday season. Also, the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation will deliver a presentation on the implementation of the Neighborhoods.nyc domain, which has launched nearly 400 online hubs for civic engagement, information sharing and economic development.”&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Wednesday</strong><br />At 10 a.m. Wednesday,<a href="http://www.manhattancc.org/events/The-Manhattan-Chamber-of-Commerce-Quarterly-Chairman's-Breakfast-2050/details" target="_blank"> The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Chairman's Breakfast</a> will take on the presidential transition and the need for the most carefully planned transition in United States history in anticipation of January 20, 2017. [Read an op-ed on the subject from Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Chair Ken Biberaj and David Eagles of Partnership for Public Service: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6012-lets-be-prepared-for-americas-biggest-corporate-takeover" target="_blank">Let’s Be Prepared for America’s Biggest Corporate Takeover</a>]&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Health will meet to discuss a bill to create two new health-focused city government bodies and another that would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene “to post a New York City map on its website of the clinics they run, comprehensive care and primary care facilities run by the Health and Hospitals Corporation, voluntary non-profit and publicly sponsored diagnostic and treatment centers, and federally qualified health centers.”</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on General Welfare will hold an oversight hearing on the city’s efforts to address “the homelessness crisis.” [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5994-as-homelessness-crisis-continues-shelter-siting-questions-intensify" target="_blank">our recent look at issues related to how and where homeless shelters are sited</a>.]</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committees on Aging and Finance will meet for a joint oversight hearing on the city’s “efforts to conduct outreach” and boost registration for the Rent Freeze Program; and on a new a bill that would “require the Department of Finance to include a notification regarding preferential rent on certain documents related to the NYC Rent Freeze Program.”</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Civil Rights will meet to discuss four bills regarding the city’s human rights law.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Immigration will have an oversight hearing about “Resources Available in New York City for Unaccompanied Minors.”</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">New York State Legislature</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At noon in Manhattan, the Assembly Standing Committees on Labor and Small Business as well as the Assembly Commission on Skills Development and Careers Education will hold a joint oversight hearing on the state’s apprenticeship programs.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Real Property Taxation will hold an oversight hearing on the 2015-2016 budget plan.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Thursday</strong><br />At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Housing and Buildings meet on three bills. The first would create a Department of Buildings-headed task force that would assess the dangers posed by construction sites to motorists and pedestrians and submit recommendations to the City Council and mayor about measures proposed to minimize the hazard. The other two bills would raise penalties for working without a permit and for violating stop work directives.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will review two land use applications.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will review five applications.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Civil Service and Labor and the Committee on Higher Education will have a joint oversight hearing on “Establishing the Murphy Institute as a new CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.”</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">New York State Legislature</a> on Thursday: at 10:30 a.m. in Manhattan, the Assembly Standing Committee on Election Law and the Assembly Standing Subcommittee on Election Day Operations and Voter Disenfranchisement will hold a joint oversight hearing about “Enhancing the voter experience, preventing voter disenfranchisement and improving emergency voting protocols.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. at Civic Hall on Thursday, Scott Stringer’s <a href="https://twitter.com/scottmstringer/status/671474583002853377" target="_blank">Red Tape Commission</a> will meet in Manhattan to hear suggestions from small business owners and others.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Thursday, the Staten Island Borough Board is expected to vote on Mayor de Blasio's two rezoning amendment proposals. It will be the fifth borough to do so - the other four have voted against them, sometimes with lists of conditions that the advisory boards would like to see made to revised proposals.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 4 p.m. Thursday, the New York City Campaign Finance Board holds a “<a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/about/calendar/new-cfb-1" target="_blank">New to the CFB</a>” session.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Thursday: “Power Lines: Race, Class, The City &amp; Its Schools,” <a href="http://www.thegreenespace.org/events/thegreenespace/2015/dec/10/power-lines-race-class-city-its-schools/" target="_blank">a discussion</a> about segregation in New York City schools.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend</strong><br />At the <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">New York State Legislature</a> on Friday: at 10:30 a.m. in Manhattan, a hearing of the Assembly Standing Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development regarding “Injuries in combative sports.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is launching a Manhattan Youth Council, and is holding an initial information session on Friday afternoon at her offices. “High school students from across Manhattan are invited to meet and talk with Borough President Gale Brewer about the issues that matter most to you...Young people who live, work, or attend school in Manhattan can <a href="https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1449268325-d12c165ed357d5dc005c17a8f0bfdd20-98399a7?pa=35173649382" target="_blank">sign up here</a>.”</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Konstantine Beridze, Ryan Brady, and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 16 2015-11-15T01:38:42+00:00 2015-11-15T01:38:42+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5989-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-16 Super User <p><img alt="New York City Hall" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>While former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's corruption trial continues this week, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos' gets started. Albany ethics and pay-to-play culture will continue to loom over and be laced throughout the day-to-day news out of the two trials. Just last week, leading good government groups <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5983-good-government-groups-point-to-new-evidence-of-need-for-major-ethics-reform" target="_blank">seized on the timing</a> of the two trials and news that New York received a "D-" on a national scorecard of states' efforts to create government transparency and prevent corruption <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5983-good-government-groups-point-to-new-evidence-of-need-for-major-ethics-reform" target="_blank">to call for sweeping ethics reforms in Albany</a>.</p> <p>Meanwhile, people in New York City and elsewhere are on high alert and in mourning after the attacks that occurred in Paris on Friday. Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo, and other elected officials responded over the weekend with shows of solidarity and by taking measures to enhance law enforcement presence.</p> <p>After participating in a Paris vigil in Manhattan Saturday, on Sunday de Blasio spoke at a ceremony commemorating World Day of Rememberance for Road Traffic Victims at City Hall. De Blasio has a busy Monday:</p> <ul> <li>In the morning, he delivers remarks at the Ford Foundation's ConnectHome Broadband Initiative Roundtable.</li> <li>At 11:30 a.m. at the Queens Museum, de Blasio and Council Member Julissa Ferraras-Copeland will host a press conference to make an announcement at</li> <li>At 2 p.m. on Randall's Island, the mayor and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton will host a press conference to announce the first deployment of the NYPD's new Critical Response Command of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau.</li> <li>Later, the Mayor will deliver remarks at the 20th Annual Met Museum Real Estate Council Benefit Dinner.</li> </ul> <p>We're watching this week for any news about a NY/NY IV deal between the city and the state. NY/NY deals have created thousands of units of supportive housing, a homelessness prevention and reduction tool that provides housing and support services for people battling substance abuse, mental illness, and other problems. A City Council hearing had been scheduled for Monday in order to check the status of those negotiations and to pass a resolution calling on the city and state to come to a new agreement to provide new supportive housing units. But, the hearing was canceled on Friday - not long after Gotham Gazette had published a preview, which is still relevant and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5984-council-hearing-will-amplify-calls-for-more-supportive-housing" target="_blank">can be read here</a>.</p> <p>We're also looking for the launch of First Lady Chirlane McCray's "mental health roadmap." The roadmap, which has been delayed and the administration prefaced by releasing last week new data on mental illness and mental health challenges faced by New Yorkers. McCray is set to make one related announcement on Tuesday. Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5877-mccray-set-to-unveil-mental-health-roadmap-signature-de-blasio-plan" target="_blank">our extensive preview of the mental health roadmap here</a>.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>At the<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank"> New York State Legislature</a> on Monday: at 10:30 a.m. at 250 Broadway, the Assembly Standing Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development will meet for oversight on the 2015-2016 budget.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday, at 8:30 a.m.: “<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/media/events.page" target="_blank">K2 in NYC: Promoting Public Health and Safety,”</a> a summit co-hosted by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, the NYPD, and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to discuss the best ways to address the K2 synthetic drug crisis in New York City. Participants will include City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; Council Member Vanessa Gibson; DCA Commissioner Julie Menin; DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett; State Senator Jeff Klein; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; and individuals who have used and been impacted by K2.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will deliver morning remarks at the Hispanic Federation's Annual Hispanic Education Summit; 9:30 a.m. at the CUNY Grad Center. In the evening, Fariña will deliver remarks at an event celebrating LiteracyINC's parent volunteers; 6:15 p.m. in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver&nbsp;remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Executive Economic Summit, in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. at her office, Public Advocate Letitia James will host&nbsp;a meeting of the Public Advocate's LGBTQ Task Force.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. The Internet Association, consisting of a large number of internet based companies, will launch the “New Yorkers for Ride Sharing” coalition in an attempt to motivate legislators to bring back app-based ridesharing services - like Uber and Lyft - in upstate New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5:30 p.m. the Queens Borough Board, led by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, will <a href="http://queensbp.org/event/queens-borough-board-meeting-2-4-3-2-3-3/?instance_id=1356" target="_blank">vote</a> on the “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” and “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” proposals by the de Blasio administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will hold a <a href="http://manhattanbp.nyc.gov/html/home/home.shtml" target="_blank">public hearing</a> regarding those “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” and “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” proposals made by the Department of City Planning (Clinton School, 10 East 15th Street). [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5988-de-blasio-housing-chief-looks-to-allay-fears-build-support-for-rezonings" target="_blank">our look at the de Blasio administration's defense of their proposals and some of the pushback</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Monday, the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) will hold a discussion in Harlem on police quotas: “<a href="https://twitter.com/PROPNYC/status/661916388550819840" target="_blank">NYPD Quotas: The Damage Done to our Cops, to Our Communities, to Our Cities</a>.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. as well, the New York League of Conservation Voters will host <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1671238586451166/" target="_blank">an event</a> to honor the Food Bank of New York City and celebrate the momentum gained by greener buildings, renewable energy, well-funded neighborhood parks, and cleaner waterways initiatives. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is expected to make remarks at the event.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another event at 6 p.m., at Baruch College, “<a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/177740722569383/" target="_blank">The Counterattack: The Media, The War on Women and How to Fight Back</a>” is hosted by state Senator Liz Krueger and will focus on anti-women statements and positions taken by presidential candidates and other prominent politicians. The event is co-sponsored by a wide variety of women’s rights groups and city-based elected officials at all levels.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:30 p.m. the Civilian Complaint Board will hold a <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ccrb/html/about/meetings.shtml" target="_blank">public meeting</a> at the City College of New York.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>At the<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank"> New York State Legislature</a> on Tuesday, at 11 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the Assembly Standing Committee on Health, and the Assembly Standing Committee on Codes will meet to address the “Heroin and Synthetic Drug Crisis.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Tuesday: 9:30 a.m. the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet to discuss a land use application and at 10 a.m. the Committee on Juvenile Justice will meet for a tour of the Crossroads Juvenile Center.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8 a.m. Tuesday, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton will discuss his priorities and challenges facing the police at the Citizens Budget Commission breakfast meeting. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5977-peace-dividend-approach-continues-bratton-and-de-blasio-say" target="_blank">our recent look at Bratton’s commitment to his “peace dividend” approach to policing New York City</a>.]</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, a public forum “<a href="http://www.cssny.org/page/event/detail/communityservicesociety/wrtb" target="_blank">Paid Family Leave for the Health of Working Families</a>” will host several speakers including state Senator Joseph Addabbo and a slew of medical professionals, scholars, and insurers supporting Addabbo’s push for paid family leave in New York. The event is sponsored by the Community Service Society, Scholars Strategy Network-NYC Chapter, The Murphy Institute at CUNY, and the New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 9 a.m. the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College will continue with its Food Policy for Breakfast Seminar Series with <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/food-policy-for-breakfast-zoning-and-the-citys-food-system-opportunities-to-shape-healthier-food-registration-19018776673?utm_source=You're+Invited!+Food+Policy+for+Breakfast:+Zoning+and+the+City's+Food+System&amp;utm_campaign=Food+Policy+for+Breakfast+Zoning&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank">“Zoning and the City’s Food System: Opportunities to Shape Healthier Food Environments in NYC</a>.” The panelists will be Daniel Hernandez, Deputy Commissioner for Neighborhood Strategies of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development; Shai Lauros, Director of Community Development for Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation; Javier Lopez, Deputy Director of the Center for Health Equity, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 9:30 a.m. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will hold a Queens Borough Cabinet <a href="http://queensbp.org/event/queens-borough-cabinet-meeting-2-2-3-2-2-2-3/?instance_id=1354" target="_blank">meeting</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday at 10 a.m. at his Harlem office, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, along with various elected officials, NYPD representatives,&nbsp;Hon. Tamiko A. Amaker, and Irwin Shaw, Attorney-in-Charge of the Legal Aid Society's Manhattan Office, will announce the "Clean Slate" warrant forgiveness program, which is scheduled for Saturday.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Tuesday, there will be a press conference on preventing wage theft, at Tweed Courthouse, at which Comptroller Scott Stringer will speak.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Cornell Tech will offer its first official tour of the Roosevelt Island campus construction on Tuesday. “Development of the first phase of the campus is currently underway and due to open in 2017. Cornell Tech is opening the construction site to press to see the visible transformation of the site,” at 11 a.m. Tuesday.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday,&nbsp;"First Lady Chirlane McCray will lead an announcement about a new initiative related to mothers and mental health in the upcoming mental health roadmap, ThriveNYC."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m. state Assembly Democrats will meet in Albany for an off-session meeting, according to<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8581887/assembly-democrats-plan-nov-17-return-albany" target="_blank"> Politico New York</a>. This is happening right after Senate Republicans met on November 10.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Contracts Committee of the Panel for Educational Policy will meet. The full PEP meets Wednesday evening.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday evening, state Senator&nbsp;Adriano Espaillat hosts an Inwood housing forum at Washington Heights Academy; MBP Gale Brewer will be among the other elected officials to speak.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:30 p.m. Senator Daniel Squadron will host an MTA Bus <a href="http://www.nysenate.gov/initiatives/daniel-l-squadron/1117-mta-bus-town-hall" target="_blank">Town Hall</a>, looking at issues raised by constituents at his Community Convention. Representatives from the MTA will hear suggestions on how to improve services. The event is co-sponsored by a variety of other elected officials from Manhattan, local community boards, and Riders Alliance.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will host a <a href="http://brooklyn-usa.org/event/verizon-fios-in-brooklyn-a-public-forum-to-discuss-the-fios-rollout/" target="_blank">public forum</a> on Verizon FiOS in Brooklyn, allowing residents and businesses to comment on the service.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>At the<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank"> New York State Legislature</a> on Wednesday: a 10 a.m. hearing on “Examining Issues Relating to Poverty among our Senior Citizens” by several committees, and, at 10:30 a.m., a hearing of the Assembly Standing Committee on elections to discuss “enhancing voter accessibility.” Both hearings are in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Wednesday: at 10 a.m. the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Elections will meet to listen to the Mayor’s Message as delivered by Janet Alvarez of the New York City Tax Commission; and at 1 p.m. the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will convene to discuss a number of land use applications.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will host the 6th annual Financial Crimes and CyberSecurity Symposium, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Along with Vance, the conference will be headlined by FBI Director James Comey; Federal Reserve Bank of N.Y. General Counsel and Executive V.P. Thomas Baxter; and City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall,&nbsp;The rally will be led by "New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL), a citywide coalition of leading community based organizations, CUNY programs, libraries and union training programs. In addition to affected students, teachers and other allies, City Council Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca will speak out in support of adult literacy programs...Nearly 100 adult learners, educators and their supporters will rally...to call attention to an action taken by the City in the most recent budget they believe has been swept under the rug: the elimination of adult literacy classes for over 6,000 individuals. The coalition will call on the Mayor and City Council to restore the classes and expand the City's limited adult literacy infrastructure."</p> <p dir="ltr">On Wednesday at 2 p.m., the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School will hold “<a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rikers-island-reform-it-or-shut-it-down-tickets-19210250376" target="_blank">Rikers Island: Reform it - or Shut It Down</a>?” The event will feature an extensive panel of experts and stakeholders moderated by Errol Louis of NY1. Speakers will include, among others, Elizabeth Glazer, director, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice; Martin Horn, executive director, NYS Sentencing Commission; Glenn E. Martin, founder and president, JustLeadershipUSA; Carmen Perez, executive director, The Gathering for Justice and co-founder of Justice League NYC; Jeff Smith, assistant professor of politics and advocacy, Milano School; and Scott Stringer, city comptroller.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. state Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will give keynote remarks at “<a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/event/who-represents-us-status-black-women-elected-office" target="_blank">Who Represents Us? The Status of Black Women in Elected Office</a>,” hosted by The Brennan Center for Justice.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also at 6 p.m. Wednesday, The Murphy Institute will host a <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/participatory-budgeting-in-new-york-city-tickets-19401736115" target="_blank">discussion</a> about the role of participatory budgeting in the democratization of urban planning and asses the merits of the practice so far. Speakers include, among others: Celina Su, Political Science, CUNY; City Council Member Jumaane Williams, District 45; and Josh Lerner, Director Participatory Budgeting Project. [Read our recent look at the topic: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5946-participatory-budgeting-grows-in-nyc-why-isnt-every-council-member-doing-it" target="_blank">Participatory Budgeting Grows in NYC: Why Isn’t Every Council Member Doing It?</a>]</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, City &amp; State NY will hold its <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/city-state-staten-island-special-issue-launch-reception-tickets-18962809273" target="_blank">Staten Island Special Issue Launch Reception</a> at the Staten Island Museum. The event will feature Staten Island Borough President James Oddo.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At the<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank"> New York State Legislature</a> on Thursday: at 11 a.m. the Assembly Standing Committee on Education and the Assembly Subcommittee on Students with Special Needs will hold a hearing in White Plains to discuss New York schools for deaf and blind students.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will meet for oversight on private sector workers and problems with worker rights, organizing and unionization.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. the Committee on Land Use will meet.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Governmental Operation and the Committee on Finance will meet to discuss a number of bills related to the Environmental Control Board. The bills seek to clarify and reform procedures that occur among city agencies, businesses, and the Environmental Control Board (ECB) in the event of an ECB violation.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Higher Education will meet for oversight of student unions and non-academic spaces in CUNY universities, discussing whether they are a luxury or a necessity.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. Thursday, MBP Gale Brewer hosts a Borough Board meeting.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Thursday at noon, the Manhattan Institute’s “The Beat MI” program will host a discussion, &nbsp;“<a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/nyc-quality-life-issues-7990.html" target="_blank">NYC Quality Of Life Issues: Are We Thriving Or Just Surviving?</a>” featuring NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton; Phil Walzak, senior advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellows Jason L. Riley and Fred Siegel.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5:30 p.m. Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Council Members Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Fernando Cabrera, Rosie Mendez, I. Daneek Miller, Annabel Palma, and Richie Torres will host a <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCouncil/status/664840853270106112" target="_blank">Puerto Rican Heritage</a> celebration at the Council Chambers in City Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Thursday the <a href="http://www.learndoe.org/pep/upcoming-pep-11192015/" target="_blank">Panel for Educational Policy</a> will meet in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:30 p.m. the New School, in preparation of the United Nations Conference of the Parties, will host a seminar to examine the role of young people in affecting environmental policy and promoting sustainable urban environments: “<a href="http://www.equityforchildren.org/climate-change-cities-and-youth-engagement-november-19-at-the-new-school-new-york-city/" target="_blank">Climate Change, Cities and Youth Engagement</a>.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7 p.m. Thursday, “The NYC Young Republican <a href="http://www.meetup.com/NYYRCInc/events/225562689/" target="_blank">Monthly Meetup</a>,” with guest speakers TBA as of Sunday.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Daily News <a href="http://m.nydailynews.com/news/politics/lovett-cuomo-clinton-seek-tougher-gun-laws-gala-article-1.2435852" target="_blank">is reporting</a> that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will introduce Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Thursday evening&nbsp;"when she receives a "leadership" award named after his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, at a Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence dinner at Cipriani on Broadway."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>At the<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">&nbsp;New York State Legislature</a>&nbsp;on Friday: at 10:30 a.m. the Assembly Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, the Assembly Standing Committee on Energy, and the Assembly Subcommittee on Infrastructure will meet to evaluate “Natural Gas Safety Efforts by Utilities.”</p> <p dir="ltr">On Friday at 10 a.m. at Civic Hall, the state Board of Elections and the New York City Campaign Finance Board will host a&nbsp;<a href="http://civichall.org/events/following-the-money/" target="_blank">session</a>&nbsp;to preview new state campaign finance data reporting and to discuss how campaign finance data can be made more useful for the general public.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Friday evening at the LGBT Center in Manhattan,&nbsp;"Advocates, allies, and researchers will gather to release and discuss "Transgender Health and Economic Insecurity: A report from the 2015 NYS LGBT Health and Human Services Needs Assessment." The event is being co-sponsored by the Empire State Pride Agenda, The LGBT Community Center, and Strength in Numbers Consulting Group, with research funding provided by the AIDS Institute of the NYS Department of Health."</p> <p dir="ltr">On Saturday beginning at 9 a.m., Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will offer New York citizens with outstanding summons warrants a chance for a “<a href="https://twitter.com/NYPD23Pct/status/654712896329375744" target="_blank">Clean Slate</a>” by resolving their minor offenses on site, without the threat of arrest.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Saturday at 10 a.m., the first of many&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hmi.org/BrklynLGBTQyouthsummit" target="_blank">LGBTQ Youth Summits</a>&nbsp;in New York City will be taking place in Brooklyn. The&nbsp;Hetrick-Martin Institute in collaboration with New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the New York City Council LGBTQ Caucus, and community partners will conduct an LGBTQ Youth Summit in each of New York City’s five boroughs in order to empower LGBTQ youth in NYC.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Colin O'Connor, Konstantine Beridze, and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img alt="New York City Hall" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>While former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's corruption trial continues this week, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos' gets started. Albany ethics and pay-to-play culture will continue to loom over and be laced throughout the day-to-day news out of the two trials. Just last week, leading good government groups <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5983-good-government-groups-point-to-new-evidence-of-need-for-major-ethics-reform" target="_blank">seized on the timing</a> of the two trials and news that New York received a "D-" on a national scorecard of states' efforts to create government transparency and prevent corruption <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5983-good-government-groups-point-to-new-evidence-of-need-for-major-ethics-reform" target="_blank">to call for sweeping ethics reforms in Albany</a>.</p> <p>Meanwhile, people in New York City and elsewhere are on high alert and in mourning after the attacks that occurred in Paris on Friday. Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo, and other elected officials responded over the weekend with shows of solidarity and by taking measures to enhance law enforcement presence.</p> <p>After participating in a Paris vigil in Manhattan Saturday, on Sunday de Blasio spoke at a ceremony commemorating World Day of Rememberance for Road Traffic Victims at City Hall. De Blasio has a busy Monday:</p> <ul> <li>In the morning, he delivers remarks at the Ford Foundation's ConnectHome Broadband Initiative Roundtable.</li> <li>At 11:30 a.m. at the Queens Museum, de Blasio and Council Member Julissa Ferraras-Copeland will host a press conference to make an announcement at</li> <li>At 2 p.m. on Randall's Island, the mayor and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton will host a press conference to announce the first deployment of the NYPD's new Critical Response Command of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau.</li> <li>Later, the Mayor will deliver remarks at the 20th Annual Met Museum Real Estate Council Benefit Dinner.</li> </ul> <p>We're watching this week for any news about a NY/NY IV deal between the city and the state. NY/NY deals have created thousands of units of supportive housing, a homelessness prevention and reduction tool that provides housing and support services for people battling substance abuse, mental illness, and other problems. A City Council hearing had been scheduled for Monday in order to check the status of those negotiations and to pass a resolution calling on the city and state to come to a new agreement to provide new supportive housing units. But, the hearing was canceled on Friday - not long after Gotham Gazette had published a preview, which is still relevant and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5984-council-hearing-will-amplify-calls-for-more-supportive-housing" target="_blank">can be read here</a>.</p> <p>We're also looking for the launch of First Lady Chirlane McCray's "mental health roadmap." The roadmap, which has been delayed and the administration prefaced by releasing last week new data on mental illness and mental health challenges faced by New Yorkers. McCray is set to make one related announcement on Tuesday. Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5877-mccray-set-to-unveil-mental-health-roadmap-signature-de-blasio-plan" target="_blank">our extensive preview of the mental health roadmap here</a>.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>At the<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank"> New York State Legislature</a> on Monday: at 10:30 a.m. at 250 Broadway, the Assembly Standing Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development will meet for oversight on the 2015-2016 budget.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday, at 8:30 a.m.: “<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/media/events.page" target="_blank">K2 in NYC: Promoting Public Health and Safety,”</a> a summit co-hosted by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, the NYPD, and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to discuss the best ways to address the K2 synthetic drug crisis in New York City. Participants will include City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; Council Member Vanessa Gibson; DCA Commissioner Julie Menin; DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett; State Senator Jeff Klein; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; and individuals who have used and been impacted by K2.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will deliver morning remarks at the Hispanic Federation's Annual Hispanic Education Summit; 9:30 a.m. at the CUNY Grad Center. In the evening, Fariña will deliver remarks at an event celebrating LiteracyINC's parent volunteers; 6:15 p.m. in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver&nbsp;remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Executive Economic Summit, in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. at her office, Public Advocate Letitia James will host&nbsp;a meeting of the Public Advocate's LGBTQ Task Force.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. The Internet Association, consisting of a large number of internet based companies, will launch the “New Yorkers for Ride Sharing” coalition in an attempt to motivate legislators to bring back app-based ridesharing services - like Uber and Lyft - in upstate New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5:30 p.m. the Queens Borough Board, led by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, will <a href="http://queensbp.org/event/queens-borough-board-meeting-2-4-3-2-3-3/?instance_id=1356" target="_blank">vote</a> on the “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” and “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” proposals by the de Blasio administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will hold a <a href="http://manhattanbp.nyc.gov/html/home/home.shtml" target="_blank">public hearing</a> regarding those “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” and “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” proposals made by the Department of City Planning (Clinton School, 10 East 15th Street). [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5988-de-blasio-housing-chief-looks-to-allay-fears-build-support-for-rezonings" target="_blank">our look at the de Blasio administration's defense of their proposals and some of the pushback</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Monday, the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) will hold a discussion in Harlem on police quotas: “<a href="https://twitter.com/PROPNYC/status/661916388550819840" target="_blank">NYPD Quotas: The Damage Done to our Cops, to Our Communities, to Our Cities</a>.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. as well, the New York League of Conservation Voters will host <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1671238586451166/" target="_blank">an event</a> to honor the Food Bank of New York City and celebrate the momentum gained by greener buildings, renewable energy, well-funded neighborhood parks, and cleaner waterways initiatives. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is expected to make remarks at the event.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another event at 6 p.m., at Baruch College, “<a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/177740722569383/" target="_blank">The Counterattack: The Media, The War on Women and How to Fight Back</a>” is hosted by state Senator Liz Krueger and will focus on anti-women statements and positions taken by presidential candidates and other prominent politicians. The event is co-sponsored by a wide variety of women’s rights groups and city-based elected officials at all levels.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:30 p.m. the Civilian Complaint Board will hold a <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ccrb/html/about/meetings.shtml" target="_blank">public meeting</a> at the City College of New York.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>At the<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank"> New York State Legislature</a> on Tuesday, at 11 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the Assembly Standing Committee on Health, and the Assembly Standing Committee on Codes will meet to address the “Heroin and Synthetic Drug Crisis.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Tuesday: 9:30 a.m. the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet to discuss a land use application and at 10 a.m. the Committee on Juvenile Justice will meet for a tour of the Crossroads Juvenile Center.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8 a.m. Tuesday, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton will discuss his priorities and challenges facing the police at the Citizens Budget Commission breakfast meeting. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5977-peace-dividend-approach-continues-bratton-and-de-blasio-say" target="_blank">our recent look at Bratton’s commitment to his “peace dividend” approach to policing New York City</a>.]</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, a public forum “<a href="http://www.cssny.org/page/event/detail/communityservicesociety/wrtb" target="_blank">Paid Family Leave for the Health of Working Families</a>” will host several speakers including state Senator Joseph Addabbo and a slew of medical professionals, scholars, and insurers supporting Addabbo’s push for paid family leave in New York. The event is sponsored by the Community Service Society, Scholars Strategy Network-NYC Chapter, The Murphy Institute at CUNY, and the New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 9 a.m. the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College will continue with its Food Policy for Breakfast Seminar Series with <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/food-policy-for-breakfast-zoning-and-the-citys-food-system-opportunities-to-shape-healthier-food-registration-19018776673?utm_source=You're+Invited!+Food+Policy+for+Breakfast:+Zoning+and+the+City's+Food+System&amp;utm_campaign=Food+Policy+for+Breakfast+Zoning&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank">“Zoning and the City’s Food System: Opportunities to Shape Healthier Food Environments in NYC</a>.” The panelists will be Daniel Hernandez, Deputy Commissioner for Neighborhood Strategies of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development; Shai Lauros, Director of Community Development for Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation; Javier Lopez, Deputy Director of the Center for Health Equity, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 9:30 a.m. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will hold a Queens Borough Cabinet <a href="http://queensbp.org/event/queens-borough-cabinet-meeting-2-2-3-2-2-2-3/?instance_id=1354" target="_blank">meeting</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday at 10 a.m. at his Harlem office, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, along with various elected officials, NYPD representatives,&nbsp;Hon. Tamiko A. Amaker, and Irwin Shaw, Attorney-in-Charge of the Legal Aid Society's Manhattan Office, will announce the "Clean Slate" warrant forgiveness program, which is scheduled for Saturday.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Tuesday, there will be a press conference on preventing wage theft, at Tweed Courthouse, at which Comptroller Scott Stringer will speak.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Cornell Tech will offer its first official tour of the Roosevelt Island campus construction on Tuesday. “Development of the first phase of the campus is currently underway and due to open in 2017. Cornell Tech is opening the construction site to press to see the visible transformation of the site,” at 11 a.m. Tuesday.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday,&nbsp;"First Lady Chirlane McCray will lead an announcement about a new initiative related to mothers and mental health in the upcoming mental health roadmap, ThriveNYC."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m. state Assembly Democrats will meet in Albany for an off-session meeting, according to<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8581887/assembly-democrats-plan-nov-17-return-albany" target="_blank"> Politico New York</a>. This is happening right after Senate Republicans met on November 10.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Contracts Committee of the Panel for Educational Policy will meet. The full PEP meets Wednesday evening.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday evening, state Senator&nbsp;Adriano Espaillat hosts an Inwood housing forum at Washington Heights Academy; MBP Gale Brewer will be among the other elected officials to speak.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:30 p.m. Senator Daniel Squadron will host an MTA Bus <a href="http://www.nysenate.gov/initiatives/daniel-l-squadron/1117-mta-bus-town-hall" target="_blank">Town Hall</a>, looking at issues raised by constituents at his Community Convention. Representatives from the MTA will hear suggestions on how to improve services. The event is co-sponsored by a variety of other elected officials from Manhattan, local community boards, and Riders Alliance.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will host a <a href="http://brooklyn-usa.org/event/verizon-fios-in-brooklyn-a-public-forum-to-discuss-the-fios-rollout/" target="_blank">public forum</a> on Verizon FiOS in Brooklyn, allowing residents and businesses to comment on the service.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>At the<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank"> New York State Legislature</a> on Wednesday: a 10 a.m. hearing on “Examining Issues Relating to Poverty among our Senior Citizens” by several committees, and, at 10:30 a.m., a hearing of the Assembly Standing Committee on elections to discuss “enhancing voter accessibility.” Both hearings are in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Wednesday: at 10 a.m. the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Elections will meet to listen to the Mayor’s Message as delivered by Janet Alvarez of the New York City Tax Commission; and at 1 p.m. the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will convene to discuss a number of land use applications.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will host the 6th annual Financial Crimes and CyberSecurity Symposium, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Along with Vance, the conference will be headlined by FBI Director James Comey; Federal Reserve Bank of N.Y. General Counsel and Executive V.P. Thomas Baxter; and City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall,&nbsp;The rally will be led by "New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL), a citywide coalition of leading community based organizations, CUNY programs, libraries and union training programs. In addition to affected students, teachers and other allies, City Council Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca will speak out in support of adult literacy programs...Nearly 100 adult learners, educators and their supporters will rally...to call attention to an action taken by the City in the most recent budget they believe has been swept under the rug: the elimination of adult literacy classes for over 6,000 individuals. The coalition will call on the Mayor and City Council to restore the classes and expand the City's limited adult literacy infrastructure."</p> <p dir="ltr">On Wednesday at 2 p.m., the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School will hold “<a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rikers-island-reform-it-or-shut-it-down-tickets-19210250376" target="_blank">Rikers Island: Reform it - or Shut It Down</a>?” The event will feature an extensive panel of experts and stakeholders moderated by Errol Louis of NY1. Speakers will include, among others, Elizabeth Glazer, director, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice; Martin Horn, executive director, NYS Sentencing Commission; Glenn E. Martin, founder and president, JustLeadershipUSA; Carmen Perez, executive director, The Gathering for Justice and co-founder of Justice League NYC; Jeff Smith, assistant professor of politics and advocacy, Milano School; and Scott Stringer, city comptroller.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. state Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will give keynote remarks at “<a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/event/who-represents-us-status-black-women-elected-office" target="_blank">Who Represents Us? The Status of Black Women in Elected Office</a>,” hosted by The Brennan Center for Justice.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also at 6 p.m. Wednesday, The Murphy Institute will host a <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/participatory-budgeting-in-new-york-city-tickets-19401736115" target="_blank">discussion</a> about the role of participatory budgeting in the democratization of urban planning and asses the merits of the practice so far. Speakers include, among others: Celina Su, Political Science, CUNY; City Council Member Jumaane Williams, District 45; and Josh Lerner, Director Participatory Budgeting Project. [Read our recent look at the topic: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5946-participatory-budgeting-grows-in-nyc-why-isnt-every-council-member-doing-it" target="_blank">Participatory Budgeting Grows in NYC: Why Isn’t Every Council Member Doing It?</a>]</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, City &amp; State NY will hold its <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/city-state-staten-island-special-issue-launch-reception-tickets-18962809273" target="_blank">Staten Island Special Issue Launch Reception</a> at the Staten Island Museum. The event will feature Staten Island Borough President James Oddo.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At the<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank"> New York State Legislature</a> on Thursday: at 11 a.m. the Assembly Standing Committee on Education and the Assembly Subcommittee on Students with Special Needs will hold a hearing in White Plains to discuss New York schools for deaf and blind students.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will meet for oversight on private sector workers and problems with worker rights, organizing and unionization.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. the Committee on Land Use will meet.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Governmental Operation and the Committee on Finance will meet to discuss a number of bills related to the Environmental Control Board. The bills seek to clarify and reform procedures that occur among city agencies, businesses, and the Environmental Control Board (ECB) in the event of an ECB violation.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Higher Education will meet for oversight of student unions and non-academic spaces in CUNY universities, discussing whether they are a luxury or a necessity.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. Thursday, MBP Gale Brewer hosts a Borough Board meeting.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Thursday at noon, the Manhattan Institute’s “The Beat MI” program will host a discussion, &nbsp;“<a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/nyc-quality-life-issues-7990.html" target="_blank">NYC Quality Of Life Issues: Are We Thriving Or Just Surviving?</a>” featuring NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton; Phil Walzak, senior advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellows Jason L. Riley and Fred Siegel.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5:30 p.m. Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Council Members Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Fernando Cabrera, Rosie Mendez, I. Daneek Miller, Annabel Palma, and Richie Torres will host a <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCouncil/status/664840853270106112" target="_blank">Puerto Rican Heritage</a> celebration at the Council Chambers in City Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Thursday the <a href="http://www.learndoe.org/pep/upcoming-pep-11192015/" target="_blank">Panel for Educational Policy</a> will meet in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:30 p.m. the New School, in preparation of the United Nations Conference of the Parties, will host a seminar to examine the role of young people in affecting environmental policy and promoting sustainable urban environments: “<a href="http://www.equityforchildren.org/climate-change-cities-and-youth-engagement-november-19-at-the-new-school-new-york-city/" target="_blank">Climate Change, Cities and Youth Engagement</a>.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7 p.m. Thursday, “The NYC Young Republican <a href="http://www.meetup.com/NYYRCInc/events/225562689/" target="_blank">Monthly Meetup</a>,” with guest speakers TBA as of Sunday.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Daily News <a href="http://m.nydailynews.com/news/politics/lovett-cuomo-clinton-seek-tougher-gun-laws-gala-article-1.2435852" target="_blank">is reporting</a> that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will introduce Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Thursday evening&nbsp;"when she receives a "leadership" award named after his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, at a Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence dinner at Cipriani on Broadway."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>At the<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">&nbsp;New York State Legislature</a>&nbsp;on Friday: at 10:30 a.m. the Assembly Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, the Assembly Standing Committee on Energy, and the Assembly Subcommittee on Infrastructure will meet to evaluate “Natural Gas Safety Efforts by Utilities.”</p> <p dir="ltr">On Friday at 10 a.m. at Civic Hall, the state Board of Elections and the New York City Campaign Finance Board will host a&nbsp;<a href="http://civichall.org/events/following-the-money/" target="_blank">session</a>&nbsp;to preview new state campaign finance data reporting and to discuss how campaign finance data can be made more useful for the general public.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Friday evening at the LGBT Center in Manhattan,&nbsp;"Advocates, allies, and researchers will gather to release and discuss "Transgender Health and Economic Insecurity: A report from the 2015 NYS LGBT Health and Human Services Needs Assessment." The event is being co-sponsored by the Empire State Pride Agenda, The LGBT Community Center, and Strength in Numbers Consulting Group, with research funding provided by the AIDS Institute of the NYS Department of Health."</p> <p dir="ltr">On Saturday beginning at 9 a.m., Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will offer New York citizens with outstanding summons warrants a chance for a “<a href="https://twitter.com/NYPD23Pct/status/654712896329375744" target="_blank">Clean Slate</a>” by resolving their minor offenses on site, without the threat of arrest.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Saturday at 10 a.m., the first of many&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hmi.org/BrklynLGBTQyouthsummit" target="_blank">LGBTQ Youth Summits</a>&nbsp;in New York City will be taking place in Brooklyn. The&nbsp;Hetrick-Martin Institute in collaboration with New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the New York City Council LGBTQ Caucus, and community partners will conduct an LGBTQ Youth Summit in each of New York City’s five boroughs in order to empower LGBTQ youth in NYC.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Colin O'Connor, Konstantine Beridze, and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p>