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/mova 2017-10-23T04:40:16+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com City Resets First Budget Hearing for New Veterans Affairs Department 2016-04-04T05:00:00+00:00 2016-04-04T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6261:city-resets-first-budget-hearing-for-new-veterans-affairs-department Super User <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/22166669023_a966c09374_z.jpg" alt="veterans outside city hall flags" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo:&nbsp;Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office</p> <hr /> <p>In December, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law the City Council bill creating a separate, dedicated Veterans Affairs department which would take over responsibility from the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA) in handling services for more than 200,000 military veterans living in New York City.</p> <p dir="ltr">By law, the new department will be official on April 10 and the fiscal year 2017 budget being negotiated between the de Blasio administration and the City Council will outline its first agency allocation and spending plan. The city’s fiscal year begins July 1.</p> <p dir="ltr">As part of ongoing Council hearings on the mayor’s $82 billion preliminary budget, the new veterans affairs department was scheduled for a session on March 21. As is usually the case in such hearings, where agency heads and other administration officials testify before a Council committee, MOVA Commissioner Loree Sutton would have testified, Council members would have asked her questions, and advocates and members of the public would have aired their concerns.</p> <p dir="ltr">But, owing to the transition of veterans affairs from the Mayor’s Office to a full-fledged department, the hearing was deferred. “It doesn’t officially become a department in name till April 10,” said Joe Bello, a member of the city’s Veterans Advisory Board, “and it doesn’t become a real department budgetary-wise till July 1. So there was really no preliminary budget to discuss.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The Council veterans affairs committee’s preliminary budget hearing couldn’t really occur because the mayor and his budget office had not established a budget for the new veterans affairs department in the initial spending plan.</p> <p dir="ltr">Instead, it will be taken up when the administration and City Council get down to brass tacks during executive budget negotiations. The Council will soon release its preliminary budget response, which will trigger closed-door discussions and lead to the mayor’s release of his revised spending plan later in April, followed by another round of hearings. The new veterans department is expected to be included in the executive budget and to have a budget hearing thereafter.</p> <p dir="ltr">Last year, the MOVA budget was $1.9 million, up from $600,000 the previous year, “the largest increase in its 29 year existence,” according to the <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/vets/downloads/pdf/annual-reports/2015.pdf" target="_blank">VAB’s annual report</a>. &nbsp;Between January and July 2015, MOVA’s full-time staff increased from six to 20.</p> <p dir="ltr">The administration is also doubling down on its commitments through other initiatives. In <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/queens/news/2016/03/29/queens-gets-first-satellite-office-of-veteran-affairs.html" target="_blank">late March</a>, the first veterans affairs satellite office opened in Queens. Then, on March 28, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and MOVA <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/305-16/mayor-s-fund-advance-new-york-city-mayor-s-office-veterans-affairs-two" target="_blank">announced</a> partnerships with the private sector to end veteran homelessness, with an investment of $750,000. It’s not clear yet, however, what the total budget for fiscal 2017 will entail.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As we've said, we are determining costs for the new agency and expect it to be reflected in the executive budget,” said Amy Spitalnick, spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget. “We look forward to working with the Council on this and more throughout the budget process.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Spitalinick declined to provide details of what the executive budget may include.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bello from the VAB, a Navy veteran, is not worried about the preliminary budget hearing being scrapped. “As an advocate, I just want them to get it right,” he said. He expects significant increases in the budget and said the department could have as many as 35 staffers by the end of the year. “They gotta ramp up personnel. They gotta ramp up services,” he added.</p> <p dir="ltr">City services for military veterans include helping connect them to federal programs and often deal with housing, education, employment, and health care needs.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bello spoke of the ThriveNYC mental health roadmap the city has released, which touches on veterans, and mentioned conversations with the de Blasio administration on veteran homelessness as well. He wasn’t sure if the latter would be directly tackled by the new department or remain under the purview of the Department of Homeless Services.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I don’t know what I’m expecting,” said Kristen Rouse, an Army veteran and president and founding director of NYC Veterans Alliance, an advocacy group. Rouse is a bit more skeptical than Bello, insisting on a line-by-line breakdown of the department’s budget. “They’ve never put out a policy paper saying, ‘Here’s what we’re doing on veterans services and here’s how much we’re spending,’” she said. “The administration has quoted a lot of different numbers to us.”</p> <p dir="ltr">While she appreciates the administration’s initiatives, she hopes for an explanation of the budget to the veterans community and outreach for advice from veterans once a hearing is set. “I would hope that members of our community will be notified so we can contribute to it,” she said. Bello echoed the sentiment and said the VAB has been soliciting comments online from veterans in the city. “The public and advocates wouldn’t be able to give feedback if there wasn’t a hearing,” he said.</p> <p>A spokesperson for City Council Member Eric Ulrich, chair of the veterans affairs committee, insisted that the Council will hear from veterans themselves. “We look forward to working collaboratively with all the interested parties to ensure New York City provides the highest level of service to our veterans,” said Kevin Tschirhart, Ulrich’s director of communications. “Issues regarding the budget will be taken up at the executive budget hearings and will be finalized in coming months.”</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/22166669023_a966c09374_z.jpg" alt="veterans outside city hall flags" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo:&nbsp;Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office</p> <hr /> <p>In December, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law the City Council bill creating a separate, dedicated Veterans Affairs department which would take over responsibility from the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA) in handling services for more than 200,000 military veterans living in New York City.</p> <p dir="ltr">By law, the new department will be official on April 10 and the fiscal year 2017 budget being negotiated between the de Blasio administration and the City Council will outline its first agency allocation and spending plan. The city’s fiscal year begins July 1.</p> <p dir="ltr">As part of ongoing Council hearings on the mayor’s $82 billion preliminary budget, the new veterans affairs department was scheduled for a session on March 21. As is usually the case in such hearings, where agency heads and other administration officials testify before a Council committee, MOVA Commissioner Loree Sutton would have testified, Council members would have asked her questions, and advocates and members of the public would have aired their concerns.</p> <p dir="ltr">But, owing to the transition of veterans affairs from the Mayor’s Office to a full-fledged department, the hearing was deferred. “It doesn’t officially become a department in name till April 10,” said Joe Bello, a member of the city’s Veterans Advisory Board, “and it doesn’t become a real department budgetary-wise till July 1. So there was really no preliminary budget to discuss.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The Council veterans affairs committee’s preliminary budget hearing couldn’t really occur because the mayor and his budget office had not established a budget for the new veterans affairs department in the initial spending plan.</p> <p dir="ltr">Instead, it will be taken up when the administration and City Council get down to brass tacks during executive budget negotiations. The Council will soon release its preliminary budget response, which will trigger closed-door discussions and lead to the mayor’s release of his revised spending plan later in April, followed by another round of hearings. The new veterans department is expected to be included in the executive budget and to have a budget hearing thereafter.</p> <p dir="ltr">Last year, the MOVA budget was $1.9 million, up from $600,000 the previous year, “the largest increase in its 29 year existence,” according to the <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/vets/downloads/pdf/annual-reports/2015.pdf" target="_blank">VAB’s annual report</a>. &nbsp;Between January and July 2015, MOVA’s full-time staff increased from six to 20.</p> <p dir="ltr">The administration is also doubling down on its commitments through other initiatives. In <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/queens/news/2016/03/29/queens-gets-first-satellite-office-of-veteran-affairs.html" target="_blank">late March</a>, the first veterans affairs satellite office opened in Queens. Then, on March 28, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and MOVA <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/305-16/mayor-s-fund-advance-new-york-city-mayor-s-office-veterans-affairs-two" target="_blank">announced</a> partnerships with the private sector to end veteran homelessness, with an investment of $750,000. It’s not clear yet, however, what the total budget for fiscal 2017 will entail.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As we've said, we are determining costs for the new agency and expect it to be reflected in the executive budget,” said Amy Spitalnick, spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget. “We look forward to working with the Council on this and more throughout the budget process.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Spitalinick declined to provide details of what the executive budget may include.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bello from the VAB, a Navy veteran, is not worried about the preliminary budget hearing being scrapped. “As an advocate, I just want them to get it right,” he said. He expects significant increases in the budget and said the department could have as many as 35 staffers by the end of the year. “They gotta ramp up personnel. They gotta ramp up services,” he added.</p> <p dir="ltr">City services for military veterans include helping connect them to federal programs and often deal with housing, education, employment, and health care needs.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bello spoke of the ThriveNYC mental health roadmap the city has released, which touches on veterans, and mentioned conversations with the de Blasio administration on veteran homelessness as well. He wasn’t sure if the latter would be directly tackled by the new department or remain under the purview of the Department of Homeless Services.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I don’t know what I’m expecting,” said Kristen Rouse, an Army veteran and president and founding director of NYC Veterans Alliance, an advocacy group. Rouse is a bit more skeptical than Bello, insisting on a line-by-line breakdown of the department’s budget. “They’ve never put out a policy paper saying, ‘Here’s what we’re doing on veterans services and here’s how much we’re spending,’” she said. “The administration has quoted a lot of different numbers to us.”</p> <p dir="ltr">While she appreciates the administration’s initiatives, she hopes for an explanation of the budget to the veterans community and outreach for advice from veterans once a hearing is set. “I would hope that members of our community will be notified so we can contribute to it,” she said. Bello echoed the sentiment and said the VAB has been soliciting comments online from veterans in the city. “The public and advocates wouldn’t be able to give feedback if there wasn’t a hearing,” he said.</p> <p>A spokesperson for City Council Member Eric Ulrich, chair of the veterans affairs committee, insisted that the Council will hear from veterans themselves. “We look forward to working collaboratively with all the interested parties to ensure New York City provides the highest level of service to our veterans,” said Kevin Tschirhart, Ulrich’s director of communications. “Issues regarding the budget will be taken up at the executive budget hearings and will be finalized in coming months.”</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
City Set to Hit Functional Zero Veteran Homelessness, Though Challenges Remain 2015-11-13T04:57:17+00:00 2015-11-13T04:57:17+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5986:city-set-to-hit-functional-zero-veteran-homelessness-though-challenges-remain Super User <p><img alt="bdb veteran parade" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/bdb_veteran_parade.jpg" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio at the Veterans Day parade (photo via the mayor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>City officials said Thursday that New York is on course to house all of its homeless veterans by the end of this year. At a City Council hearing held by the general welfare and veterans committees, de Blasio administration representatives said they would meet a previous promise to find housing for all military veterans without.</p> <p>"When Mayor de Blasio first took office in January 2014, there were over 1,600 homeless men and women who served our country in our shelters or in our city streets," said Loree Sutton, the commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs and a former Brigadier General. Adding that the administration has drastically reduced that number, Sutton said that "our street homeless count today is only eight veterans."</p> <p>Ninety-three percent of New York City's homeless or recently homeless veterans, Sutton added, currently have a rental subsidy or are in the process of getting one, and more than 300 are currently in the process of moving from shelter into a new apartment.</p> <p>The hearing and its positive news followed Tuesday's victory for New York City veterans: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5979-first-report-under-new-law-will-give-key-data-to-coming-veterans-department" target="_blank">the announcement</a> that the city would create a new Department of Veterans Services to replace the the understaffed, underfunded, and under-performing Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs. City leaders, veterans, and veteran advocates celebrated Tuesday and Wednesday, which was Veterans Day.</p> <p>"This is good news, indeed," Sutton said Thursday.</p> <p>The story is not quite simple, of course.</p> <p>"Obviously, the number that jumps out to me is eight street-homeless veterans in New York City by your count," said Council Member Stephen Levin, chair of the general welfare committee, in Q&amp;A with Sutton after her initial testimony. "How do you determine that count? Are those people that you have an open case for? Are those people that you've identified as a veteran? Do you think that there are other homeless veterans living out in the street that you might not know of?"</p> <p>According to Sutton, "multiple vectors" are used to count veterans, such as counts from peer-to-peer coordinators and MOVA's housing outreach team.</p> <p>The question of the real number of street-homeless veterans was raised later at the hearing by Coco Culhane, director and founder of the Urban Justice Center's Veterans Advocacy Group.</p> <p>"I just want to say that I know that our client database has the names of men and women who are homeless and DHS [Department of Homeless Services] doesn't have those names," Culhane said. "And I think it's ludicrous to say that 'we know every single homeless veteran out there.'"</p> <p>In her testimony before the Council members, Culhane said that there are "at least twenty" homeless veterans not accounted for by the Department of Homeless Services, which collaborates with MOVA on veterans and housing.</p> <p>And, she added, only 20 percent of homeless rent vouchers issued by the DHS Living in Communities Program (LINC) - a component of the city's plan to house all veterans - <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151109/fort-greene/80-percent-of-homeless-rent-vouchers-arent-being-used-city-says" target="_blank">are being used</a>. Landlords often don't accept them - an issue for veterans and non-veterans that the city must combat.</p> <p>"I think that we need to absolutely celebrate the success of how much progress has been made," Culhane said of reducing homelessness among military veterans. "But keep in mind that 'functional zero' is a dangerous term, I think, and it signals to the public that we accomplished something and we're set and tax dollars solved it and we can move on, which is not true at all."</p> <p>Maintaining functional zero and being in compliance with the Mayor's Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, the plan for mayors nationwide created by the Obama administration, will require that the city house all homeless veterans within 90 days of their loss of housing. In his February State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5555-in-state-of-the-city-de-blasio-pledges-to-end-veteran-homelessness-in-nyc" target="_blank">promised</a> to house all veterans by the end of the year - de Blasio signed onto the challenge when it was created in June 2014.</p> <p>Though the mayor has been unpopular with veteran advocacy groups, his support for the creation of the new department for veterans services may signal a turning point. Announcing an "end" to veteran homelessness in the city could help too.</p> <p>"I think [the mayor's effort to end veteran homelessness] is a great idea," Dwight Curry, a Gulf War veteran and member of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told Gotham Gazette on Tuesday at a rally to celebrate the new department. "I think it's a beautiful idea because there's too many of us that are homeless. There's a lot of guys who've got a lot of psychological problems who can't really deal with society as we know it."</p> <p>Veteran advocates, who spoke at Thursday's hearing, were cautiously pleased about the city getting to functional zero. In her remarks, NYC Veterans Alliance Director Kristen Rouse echoed Culhane's concerns about the grasp the city has on the actual number of homeless veterans.</p> <p>"When the city talks about functional zero, we must take into account the many veterans who still remain invisible to the system," Rouse said. "And that younger veterans in particular, who are contending with New York City's stark economic realities, may be at risk for homelessness in the near or long-term."</p> <p>Part of what veterans and advocates want to see from MOVA and then the department that replaces it is a focus on helping veterans access physical and mental health care, jobs, housing, and, for those who own businesses, city contracting opportunities. The city will also be expected to better help veterans returning home to find quickly find affordable housing.</p> <p>Even when veterans successfully find housing, the expensive market creates difficulties for sustaining their apartments, Rouse pointed out.</p> <p>"Veterans must be included in any city effort to provide affordable housing, not just for the recently homeless, but to prevent veteran homelessness in the future."</p> <p>***<br />by Ryan Brady, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img alt="bdb veteran parade" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/bdb_veteran_parade.jpg" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio at the Veterans Day parade (photo via the mayor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>City officials said Thursday that New York is on course to house all of its homeless veterans by the end of this year. At a City Council hearing held by the general welfare and veterans committees, de Blasio administration representatives said they would meet a previous promise to find housing for all military veterans without.</p> <p>"When Mayor de Blasio first took office in January 2014, there were over 1,600 homeless men and women who served our country in our shelters or in our city streets," said Loree Sutton, the commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs and a former Brigadier General. Adding that the administration has drastically reduced that number, Sutton said that "our street homeless count today is only eight veterans."</p> <p>Ninety-three percent of New York City's homeless or recently homeless veterans, Sutton added, currently have a rental subsidy or are in the process of getting one, and more than 300 are currently in the process of moving from shelter into a new apartment.</p> <p>The hearing and its positive news followed Tuesday's victory for New York City veterans: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5979-first-report-under-new-law-will-give-key-data-to-coming-veterans-department" target="_blank">the announcement</a> that the city would create a new Department of Veterans Services to replace the the understaffed, underfunded, and under-performing Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs. City leaders, veterans, and veteran advocates celebrated Tuesday and Wednesday, which was Veterans Day.</p> <p>"This is good news, indeed," Sutton said Thursday.</p> <p>The story is not quite simple, of course.</p> <p>"Obviously, the number that jumps out to me is eight street-homeless veterans in New York City by your count," said Council Member Stephen Levin, chair of the general welfare committee, in Q&amp;A with Sutton after her initial testimony. "How do you determine that count? Are those people that you have an open case for? Are those people that you've identified as a veteran? Do you think that there are other homeless veterans living out in the street that you might not know of?"</p> <p>According to Sutton, "multiple vectors" are used to count veterans, such as counts from peer-to-peer coordinators and MOVA's housing outreach team.</p> <p>The question of the real number of street-homeless veterans was raised later at the hearing by Coco Culhane, director and founder of the Urban Justice Center's Veterans Advocacy Group.</p> <p>"I just want to say that I know that our client database has the names of men and women who are homeless and DHS [Department of Homeless Services] doesn't have those names," Culhane said. "And I think it's ludicrous to say that 'we know every single homeless veteran out there.'"</p> <p>In her testimony before the Council members, Culhane said that there are "at least twenty" homeless veterans not accounted for by the Department of Homeless Services, which collaborates with MOVA on veterans and housing.</p> <p>And, she added, only 20 percent of homeless rent vouchers issued by the DHS Living in Communities Program (LINC) - a component of the city's plan to house all veterans - <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151109/fort-greene/80-percent-of-homeless-rent-vouchers-arent-being-used-city-says" target="_blank">are being used</a>. Landlords often don't accept them - an issue for veterans and non-veterans that the city must combat.</p> <p>"I think that we need to absolutely celebrate the success of how much progress has been made," Culhane said of reducing homelessness among military veterans. "But keep in mind that 'functional zero' is a dangerous term, I think, and it signals to the public that we accomplished something and we're set and tax dollars solved it and we can move on, which is not true at all."</p> <p>Maintaining functional zero and being in compliance with the Mayor's Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, the plan for mayors nationwide created by the Obama administration, will require that the city house all homeless veterans within 90 days of their loss of housing. In his February State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5555-in-state-of-the-city-de-blasio-pledges-to-end-veteran-homelessness-in-nyc" target="_blank">promised</a> to house all veterans by the end of the year - de Blasio signed onto the challenge when it was created in June 2014.</p> <p>Though the mayor has been unpopular with veteran advocacy groups, his support for the creation of the new department for veterans services may signal a turning point. Announcing an "end" to veteran homelessness in the city could help too.</p> <p>"I think [the mayor's effort to end veteran homelessness] is a great idea," Dwight Curry, a Gulf War veteran and member of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told Gotham Gazette on Tuesday at a rally to celebrate the new department. "I think it's a beautiful idea because there's too many of us that are homeless. There's a lot of guys who've got a lot of psychological problems who can't really deal with society as we know it."</p> <p>Veteran advocates, who spoke at Thursday's hearing, were cautiously pleased about the city getting to functional zero. In her remarks, NYC Veterans Alliance Director Kristen Rouse echoed Culhane's concerns about the grasp the city has on the actual number of homeless veterans.</p> <p>"When the city talks about functional zero, we must take into account the many veterans who still remain invisible to the system," Rouse said. "And that younger veterans in particular, who are contending with New York City's stark economic realities, may be at risk for homelessness in the near or long-term."</p> <p>Part of what veterans and advocates want to see from MOVA and then the department that replaces it is a focus on helping veterans access physical and mental health care, jobs, housing, and, for those who own businesses, city contracting opportunities. The city will also be expected to better help veterans returning home to find quickly find affordable housing.</p> <p>Even when veterans successfully find housing, the expensive market creates difficulties for sustaining their apartments, Rouse pointed out.</p> <p>"Veterans must be included in any city effort to provide affordable housing, not just for the recently homeless, but to prevent veteran homelessness in the future."</p> <p>***<br />by Ryan Brady, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> First Report Under New Law Will Give Key Data to Coming Veterans Department 2015-11-11T01:06:11+00:00 2015-11-11T01:06:11+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5979:first-report-under-new-law-will-give-key-data-to-coming-veterans-department Super User <p><img alt="sutton presser new dept" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/sutton_presser_new_dept.jpg" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Tuesday's celebratory press conference (<a href="https://twitter.com/nylag/status/664116664833867777" target="_blank">photo</a>: @nylag)</span></p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">On the eve of Veterans Day, the City Council passed a much-celebrated bill to create a new Department of Veterans Services, which will replace the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs in serving New York City’s large military veteran population. While the new department will still be under the mayor’s administration, it will now have access to more resources and be the subject of sharper Council oversight.</p> <p dir="ltr">And, thanks to a previously passed bill sponsored by Council Member Paul Vallone, who sits on the Council’s veterans affairs committee, the new department will have important data to help it direct resources for veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It really is historic, creating a full-blown agency,” Vallone said Monday in a phone interview as the bill heads to Mayor Bill de Blasio for his signature. Vallone hopes that the mayor, who expressed his support for the bill after having been against it for some time, will be quick to sign the bill into law so the agency can be set up in time for preliminary budget discussions early next year.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="paul vallone william alatriste june 2014" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/paul_vallone_william_alatriste_june_2014.jpg" width="450" height="300" /><span style="font-size: 10pt;">(Council Member Paul Vallone (William Alatriste))</span></p> <p dir="ltr">Veteran advocacy groups and the City Council have been pushing for a separate agency for years, arguing that the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs has been underfunded, understaffed, and unable to effectively serve more than 200,000 veterans who call the city home. The new agency will provide for increased accountability. “Now we can really play a direct role,” Vallone said of City Council oversight and influence on the department’s budget.</p> <p dir="ltr">Veterans and veteran advocates are overjoyed at this victory. “(MOVA) was primarily symbolic all these years,” said Kristen Rouse, a veteran and founding director of NYC Veterans Alliance. Insisting that MOVA has historically relied on the whims of the mayoral administration, Rouse said the new department will have the staffing and resources necessary to truly coordinate services for veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new department will also be bolstered by fresh data generated by the city on use of services by veterans in seven key categories. Mandated by the Vallone-sponsored bill passed by the City Council in February, the data is supposed to help determine the degree to which veterans avail themselves of existing services designed to help them secure income and housing, and to identify areas where city government should strengthen or modify services to meet the needs of city veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">The report, the first edition of which was presented to Council Member Vallone and his colleagues in time for Veterans Day and was viewed by Gotham Gazette, contains data related to certain housing applications by veterans and their spouses, as well as vending license applications and permits, and civil service exams.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Earlier there was a void of information and now we have the data,” said Vallone of the report, which will help the city determine to what extent veterans are taking advantage of city services and may indicate where gaps in communication lie.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s the beginning of being able to use facts to solve problems,” said Rouse. “The more the city knows, the more they’re able to do.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The seven data points the administration must report under the law and the number indicated in the first report, which covers calendar year 2014:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">The total number of Mitchell-Lama housing applications received from veterans or their surviving spouses and total number approved by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development: 71 and 66, respectively.</li> <li dir="ltr">The total number of fee-exempt mobile food vending licenses and food vending permits issued to veterans by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to veterans: 95 and 65, respectively.</li> <li dir="ltr">The total number of veterans who submitted an application to the Department of Consumer Affairs for a general vending license and the number issued to veterans: 570 and 447, respectively.</li> <li dir="ltr">The total number of veterans residing in the city who utilized a HUD-VASH housing voucher (which help house homeless veterans): 2,268.</li> <li dir="ltr">The total number of civil service examination applications received by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services for which the applicant claimed a veterans credit: 3,475.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">It will take some time before the City Council or the new Department of Veterans Affairs can do much with this new data, but MOVA and the Council can at least consider it. After celebrating Veterans Day Wednesday, the Council’s veterans affairs committee meets Thursday to look at progress being made in ending homelessness among military veterans.</p> <p style="text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="vallone and presser iava" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/Image_127.jpg" width="450" height="300" /><span style="font-size: 10pt;">(photo: William Alatriste)</span></p> <p dir="ltr">In the meantime, spirits remain high about the coming new department.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is a tremendous victory for the veterans movement,” said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, in a statement. Rieckhoff said the passage of the bill is a “truly historic Veterans Day gift for veteran activists” across the city. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">In a Tuesday <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5978-creating-the-department-of-veterans-services" target="_blank">Gotham Gazette op-ed celebrating the news</a>, veteran and veterans advocate Joe Bello, of NYMetroVets, thanked the many elected officials and advocates who contributed to the victory.</p> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1739320&amp;GUID=0D5918DB-F678-48A3-8EE5-D6165B32BF62&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">bill</a> to create the new department, sponsored by veterans committee Chair Council Member Eric Ulrich and supported by Vallone, traversed a rocky road to reach passage. Until last week, the mayor refused to support the proposal as did his commissioner of veterans affairs, Loree Sutton. But, after Mayor de Blasio reached an agreement with the Council <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5978-creating-the-department-of-veterans-services" target="_blank">last week</a>, the bill sailed through with unanimous support Tuesday and is sure to be signed by de Blasio, who in all likelihood will name Sutton the commissioner of the new department.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I liken it to how fifteen years ago, people would’ve thought that an agency dedicated to emergency management was duplicative,” Rouse said of OEM, reflecting. “Now we take for granted a separate agency which is absolutely essential.”</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@samarkhurhsid</a></p> <p><img alt="sutton presser new dept" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/sutton_presser_new_dept.jpg" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Tuesday's celebratory press conference (<a href="https://twitter.com/nylag/status/664116664833867777" target="_blank">photo</a>: @nylag)</span></p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">On the eve of Veterans Day, the City Council passed a much-celebrated bill to create a new Department of Veterans Services, which will replace the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs in serving New York City’s large military veteran population. While the new department will still be under the mayor’s administration, it will now have access to more resources and be the subject of sharper Council oversight.</p> <p dir="ltr">And, thanks to a previously passed bill sponsored by Council Member Paul Vallone, who sits on the Council’s veterans affairs committee, the new department will have important data to help it direct resources for veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It really is historic, creating a full-blown agency,” Vallone said Monday in a phone interview as the bill heads to Mayor Bill de Blasio for his signature. Vallone hopes that the mayor, who expressed his support for the bill after having been against it for some time, will be quick to sign the bill into law so the agency can be set up in time for preliminary budget discussions early next year.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="paul vallone william alatriste june 2014" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/paul_vallone_william_alatriste_june_2014.jpg" width="450" height="300" /><span style="font-size: 10pt;">(Council Member Paul Vallone (William Alatriste))</span></p> <p dir="ltr">Veteran advocacy groups and the City Council have been pushing for a separate agency for years, arguing that the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs has been underfunded, understaffed, and unable to effectively serve more than 200,000 veterans who call the city home. The new agency will provide for increased accountability. “Now we can really play a direct role,” Vallone said of City Council oversight and influence on the department’s budget.</p> <p dir="ltr">Veterans and veteran advocates are overjoyed at this victory. “(MOVA) was primarily symbolic all these years,” said Kristen Rouse, a veteran and founding director of NYC Veterans Alliance. Insisting that MOVA has historically relied on the whims of the mayoral administration, Rouse said the new department will have the staffing and resources necessary to truly coordinate services for veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new department will also be bolstered by fresh data generated by the city on use of services by veterans in seven key categories. Mandated by the Vallone-sponsored bill passed by the City Council in February, the data is supposed to help determine the degree to which veterans avail themselves of existing services designed to help them secure income and housing, and to identify areas where city government should strengthen or modify services to meet the needs of city veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">The report, the first edition of which was presented to Council Member Vallone and his colleagues in time for Veterans Day and was viewed by Gotham Gazette, contains data related to certain housing applications by veterans and their spouses, as well as vending license applications and permits, and civil service exams.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Earlier there was a void of information and now we have the data,” said Vallone of the report, which will help the city determine to what extent veterans are taking advantage of city services and may indicate where gaps in communication lie.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s the beginning of being able to use facts to solve problems,” said Rouse. “The more the city knows, the more they’re able to do.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The seven data points the administration must report under the law and the number indicated in the first report, which covers calendar year 2014:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">The total number of Mitchell-Lama housing applications received from veterans or their surviving spouses and total number approved by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development: 71 and 66, respectively.</li> <li dir="ltr">The total number of fee-exempt mobile food vending licenses and food vending permits issued to veterans by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to veterans: 95 and 65, respectively.</li> <li dir="ltr">The total number of veterans who submitted an application to the Department of Consumer Affairs for a general vending license and the number issued to veterans: 570 and 447, respectively.</li> <li dir="ltr">The total number of veterans residing in the city who utilized a HUD-VASH housing voucher (which help house homeless veterans): 2,268.</li> <li dir="ltr">The total number of civil service examination applications received by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services for which the applicant claimed a veterans credit: 3,475.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">It will take some time before the City Council or the new Department of Veterans Affairs can do much with this new data, but MOVA and the Council can at least consider it. After celebrating Veterans Day Wednesday, the Council’s veterans affairs committee meets Thursday to look at progress being made in ending homelessness among military veterans.</p> <p style="text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" alt="vallone and presser iava" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/Image_127.jpg" width="450" height="300" /><span style="font-size: 10pt;">(photo: William Alatriste)</span></p> <p dir="ltr">In the meantime, spirits remain high about the coming new department.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is a tremendous victory for the veterans movement,” said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, in a statement. Rieckhoff said the passage of the bill is a “truly historic Veterans Day gift for veteran activists” across the city. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">In a Tuesday <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5978-creating-the-department-of-veterans-services" target="_blank">Gotham Gazette op-ed celebrating the news</a>, veteran and veterans advocate Joe Bello, of NYMetroVets, thanked the many elected officials and advocates who contributed to the victory.</p> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1739320&amp;GUID=0D5918DB-F678-48A3-8EE5-D6165B32BF62&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">bill</a> to create the new department, sponsored by veterans committee Chair Council Member Eric Ulrich and supported by Vallone, traversed a rocky road to reach passage. Until last week, the mayor refused to support the proposal as did his commissioner of veterans affairs, Loree Sutton. But, after Mayor de Blasio reached an agreement with the Council <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5978-creating-the-department-of-veterans-services" target="_blank">last week</a>, the bill sailed through with unanimous support Tuesday and is sure to be signed by de Blasio, who in all likelihood will name Sutton the commissioner of the new department.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I liken it to how fifteen years ago, people would’ve thought that an agency dedicated to emergency management was duplicative,” Rouse said of OEM, reflecting. “Now we take for granted a separate agency which is absolutely essential.”</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@samarkhurhsid</a></p> The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 9 2015-11-08T05:00:00+00:00 2015-11-08T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5975:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-9 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>Wednesday is Veterans Day, with parades, resource fairs, and events to honor and aid veterans taking place before, on, and after the day itself. Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold a breakfast reception to honor the military veterans Wednesday morning. On Thursday, the City Council will hold a hearing on veteran homelessness, which the mayor vowed to end by the end of this year as part of a national pledge.</p> <p>The mayor and the City Council agreed last week to create a new Department of Veterans Services, removing the agency from the Mayor's Office and making veterans affairs its own city department, which will give it more resources and Council oversight. There will be a celebratory rally outside of City Hall on Tuesday at 11 a.m., then the veterans affairs committee of the Council will vote through the department bill, followed by the full Council.</p> <p>Could this be the week that First Lady Chirlane McCray unveils her much-anticipated "Mental Health Roadmap"? The week of Veterans Day would make sense considering the mental health challenges many veterans face. There's been no indication this is the week, but the 'roadmap' has been slated for release this fall. [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 McCray's mental health roadmap</a>]</p> <p>According to Citizens Budget Commission (CBC), the City will release its first quarter modification to the FY2016 budget this week. "In advance of that release, CBC <a href="http://www.cbcny.org/sites/default/files/PRESENTATION_11062015.pdf" target="_blank">compares</a> the Mayor's budget savings agenda, called the Citywide Savings Program, or CSP, with the Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG) in fiscal years 2010 to 2015."</p> <p>After a marathon Friday press conference at which de Blasio answered dozens of questions from assembled reporters on a wide variety of subjects, the mayor had a quiet weekend. De Blasio continues to be scrutinized for his approach to the media, his administration's transparency, and several policy areas in which he is having the most challenges, such as homelessness, policing, and education. We'll see what this week holds other than a focus on veterans and the budget. On Monday morning the mayor is set to meet with members of the city's congressional delegation and then hold a media availability - at which he'll take both on- and off-topic questions.</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://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li>At 10:30 a.m. the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will convene to discuss several Land Use Applications in Brooklyn.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. the Committee on Land Use will meet.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 10 a.m.,&nbsp;Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams "will honor Brooklyn's military heroes at his "Start Strong, Finish Strong" resource fair for veterans...Additional speakers will include Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Loree K. Sutton, a retired Army brigadier general, and USAG Fort Hamilton Command Sergeant Kevin Fauntleroy. Borough President Adams will speak about Brooklyn's commitment to its veterans, including his efforts to restore the Brooklyn War Memorial and to address mental health challenges facing the community."</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 11 a.m., New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, along with Hetrick-Martin Institute CEO Thomas Krever and the LGBTQ Caucus of the City Council will unveil “HMI Goes Citywide For LGBTQ Youth,” a new initiative to address the challenges LGBTQ youth face in New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">"On Monday, Mayor de Blasio will meet with members of the New York Congressional Delegation at City Hall to discuss a number‎ of issues impacting New York City. This meeting is closed press.&nbsp;After, [at 11:30 a.m.] the Mayor and members of the Congressional Delegation will hold a media availability on the Zadroga Act on the steps of City Hall," according to his public schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr">At noon Monday, Crain’s New York Business will host its “<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20151015" target="_blank">Crain’s Business Hall of Fame Luncheon</a>” to celebrate businesspeople who have transformed the city through their philanthropic and professional lives. The list of honorees include Ms. Pamela Brier, President and Chief Executive Officer, Maimonides Medical Center; Mr.Laurence Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock; Ms. Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus, Ogilvy &amp; Mather; Mr. Alan Patricof, Managing Director Greycroft; The Honorable Richard Ravitch, Former Lieutenant Governor, New York; Ms. Emily Rafferty, President Emeritus, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Mr. Steven Roth, Chairman and CEO, Vornado Realty Trust. EisnerAmper will sponsor the event.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Public Advocate Letitia James will “announce measures to expand affordability of NYC child care.” Joined by parents, advocates and other stakeholders, James will hold a press conference about the costs and accessibility of child care in New York City, releasing a report and outlining five policies to help increase accessibility, capacity, and affordability.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. Monday at City Hal, the correction officers union will hold a press conference&nbsp;"following the vicious attack on a correction officer by two Rikers inmates."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will deliver remarks at a pre-K family forum at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal will co-host a town hall meeting at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center on West 65th Street.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also at 7 p.m. Monday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will speak at New York Historical Society’s “Debt of Honor” program.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>TUESDAY</strong><br />Tuesday is a “Fight for $15” day of action, with many events planned to bring attention to wage issues and push for a $15 per hour minimum wage. Unions, advocacy groups, elected officials, and others will participate. Worker strikes, rallies, and marches will take place throughout the day all over the city and the country.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:30 a.m., Mayor de Blasio&nbsp;"will deliver remarks at a Fight for $15 rally to raise the minimum wage...Immediately following his remarks, the Mayor will appear in several one-on-one interviews with local television networks to discuss the need to raise the minimum wage." At 2:15 p.m., the Mayor will appear live on WBLS 107.5 and at 2:30 p.m., on NY1. "In the evening, the Mayor will attend the 70th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner."</p> <p dir="ltr">State Senate Republicans will convene in Albany on Tuesday to discuss their 2016 agenda. (A week later Assembly Democrats will meet in the capital,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8581887/assembly-democrats-plan-nov-17-return-albany" target="_blank">according to Politico New York</a>.)</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday at 8 a.m., Chancellor of the State University of of New York Nancy Zimpher will speak at the Citizens Budget Commission breakfast at the Harvard Club. Zimpher will discuss SUNY projects and priorities.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 9 a.m. Tuesday the Board of Corrections will hold a meeting.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Eric Ulrich, who chairs the Council’s veterans affairs committee, military veterans, and advocates will celebrate the imminent creation of a new City Department of Veterans Services.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Tuesday, the City Council will convene for a full-body Stated Meeting, which, as always, will be prefaced by a press conference hosted by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at 12:30 p.m.</p> <p dir="ltr">Gov. Cuomo will make an announcement Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. in Manhattan at Foley Square, likely at a Fight for $15 event.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:30 p.m. the Committee on Drugs and Law of the New York City Bar Association will host a <a href="https://services.nycbar.org/iMIS/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=DRU111015&amp;WebsiteKey=f71e12f3-524e-4f8c-a5f7-0d16ce7b3314" target="_blank">discussion</a> on marijuana policy in New York. Panelists will include City Council Member Rafael Espinal, state Senator Jeff Klein, Vocal New York’s Alyssa Aguilera, and others.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7 p.m. Tuesday, “Trans-Pacific Partnership: Who Wins and Who Loses in This Secret Deal?”, a panel event presented by the Big Apple Coffee Party and moderated by Zephyr Teachout, Fordham law professor and CEO of Mayday PAC.</p> <p dir="ltr">The only City Council Participatory Budgeting <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/pb/events.shtml" target="_blank">event</a> of the week is on Tuesday: Council Member David Greenfield (District 44, Brooklyn), 6:30 p.m.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WEDNESDAY</strong><br />Wednesday is Veterans Day. At 8 a.m. Mayor de Blasio will hold a breakfast reception to honor and remember military veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Wednesday evening, many New York politicos, policy wonks, and others will gather to celebrate the 25th anniversary of City Journal, the Manhattan Institute policy publication.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THURSDAY</strong><br />On Thursday at 8 a.m. Association for Better New York will host a <a href="https://www.abny.org/Content/Events/EventTickets.aspx?EventID=182&amp;utm_source=ABNY+Event+Invitations+-+Non-members&amp;utm_campaign=ebc8e0c451-ABNY_Nonmembers_Breakfast_Carolyn_Maloney_Round3&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_e4e1abe544-ebc8e0c451-381180997" target="_blank">breakfast</a> with Congressional Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who will speak about the &nbsp;projects, as well as her other priorities.</p> <p dir="ltr">The next public meeting of the New York City Campaign Finance Board will be Thursday at 10 a.m.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will hold a <a href="http://queensbp.org/event/queens-borough-presidents-land-use-hearing-2-2-2-2-3-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2/?instance_id=1352" target="_blank">Public Land Use Hearing</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Politico New York hosts <a href="http://www.politico.com/events/2015/11/new-york-playbook-215348" target="_blank">New York Playbook</a> Lunch, a discussion with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, hosted by playbook writers Azi Paybarah, Jimmy Vielkind, and Mike Allen.</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 Transportation will meet for an oversight hearing on transportation deserts. The Committee will hear two bills: one to mandate a DOT study looking at the feasibility of a light rail system; another to mandate a study on transportation deserts. It will also look at resolutions calling on the MTA to allow commuters to pay the metrocard fare on commuter rails and to conduct a study on unused railroad rights.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Parks and Recreation will meet to hear CM Mark Levine’s bill that would create a taskforce to study the effects of building shadows on parks.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Aging will meet for oversight on DFTA’s home care program.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet to discuss a bill that would require residential buildings to have photoelectric smoke detectors.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Environmental Protection will meet to discuss two bills aimed at reducing noise by sightseeing helicopters.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will convene for oversight of DSNY’s 2016 snow plan, and the introduction of two bills that would identify pedestrian bridges and create plans for de-snowing and de-icing them and make exemptions for senior citizens and persons with disabilities from being penalized for failing to remove snow from on sidewalks.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m. the Committee on Veterans, jointly with the Committee on General Welfare will meet for oversight of the City’s efforts to end homelessness among military veterans.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at New York Law School: <a href="https://nyls.wufoo.com/forms/impact-thursday-2/" target="_blank">Law and the Lives of Young Black Men,</a>&nbsp;"featuring&nbsp;Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives; Alphonso B. David, Counsel to the Governor; and Nicholas Turner, President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice. Moderated by Professor Mercer Givhan, New York Law School."</p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday evening, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is holding a campaign fundraiser, a <a href="https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/hjcuomo" target="_blank">reception</a> with Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the honorary guest.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the Bronx Borough Board will host a public hearing regarding the Zoning for Quality and Affordability and the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing proposals of Mayor de Blasio through the City Planning department and toward his housing plan.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio will host a town hall meeting focused on education in Jackson Heights, Queens, Thursday evening. Council Member Daniel Dromm, who chairs the City Council education committee, will welcome de Blasio and his team to the district.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, the New York City Department of Records and Information Services and WomensActivism.NYC will host the <a href="https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10039568" target="_blank">celebration</a> of the 200th o birthday of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Women's Suffrage Centennial. Sponsored by the City of New York, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, The Cooper Union, and Lebenthal Asset Management, the event is expected to be attended by elected officials including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.</p> <p><strong>FRIDAY</strong><br />On Friday at 8:15 a.m. Vicki Been, the Commissioner for Housing Preservation and Development, will <a href="https://nyls.wufoo.com/forms/vicki-been-citylaw-breakfast/" target="_blank">speak </a>at the latest New York City Law School CityLaw breakfast event.</p> <p>On Saturday: "Newly appointed New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will give her first public address in New York City on Nov. 14 at the Council of School Supervisors &amp; Administrators' (CSA) 48th Educational Leadership Conference...Elia will deliver the keynote at CSA's Professional Development Plenary."</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>Wednesday is Veterans Day, with parades, resource fairs, and events to honor and aid veterans taking place before, on, and after the day itself. Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold a breakfast reception to honor the military veterans Wednesday morning. On Thursday, the City Council will hold a hearing on veteran homelessness, which the mayor vowed to end by the end of this year as part of a national pledge.</p> <p>The mayor and the City Council agreed last week to create a new Department of Veterans Services, removing the agency from the Mayor's Office and making veterans affairs its own city department, which will give it more resources and Council oversight. There will be a celebratory rally outside of City Hall on Tuesday at 11 a.m., then the veterans affairs committee of the Council will vote through the department bill, followed by the full Council.</p> <p>Could this be the week that First Lady Chirlane McCray unveils her much-anticipated "Mental Health Roadmap"? The week of Veterans Day would make sense considering the mental health challenges many veterans face. There's been no indication this is the week, but the 'roadmap' has been slated for release this fall. [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 McCray's mental health roadmap</a>]</p> <p>According to Citizens Budget Commission (CBC), the City will release its first quarter modification to the FY2016 budget this week. "In advance of that release, CBC <a href="http://www.cbcny.org/sites/default/files/PRESENTATION_11062015.pdf" target="_blank">compares</a> the Mayor's budget savings agenda, called the Citywide Savings Program, or CSP, with the Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG) in fiscal years 2010 to 2015."</p> <p>After a marathon Friday press conference at which de Blasio answered dozens of questions from assembled reporters on a wide variety of subjects, the mayor had a quiet weekend. De Blasio continues to be scrutinized for his approach to the media, his administration's transparency, and several policy areas in which he is having the most challenges, such as homelessness, policing, and education. We'll see what this week holds other than a focus on veterans and the budget. On Monday morning the mayor is set to meet with members of the city's congressional delegation and then hold a media availability - at which he'll take both on- and off-topic questions.</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://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li>At 10:30 a.m. the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will convene to discuss several Land Use Applications in Brooklyn.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. the Committee on Land Use will meet.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 10 a.m.,&nbsp;Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams "will honor Brooklyn's military heroes at his "Start Strong, Finish Strong" resource fair for veterans...Additional speakers will include Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Loree K. Sutton, a retired Army brigadier general, and USAG Fort Hamilton Command Sergeant Kevin Fauntleroy. Borough President Adams will speak about Brooklyn's commitment to its veterans, including his efforts to restore the Brooklyn War Memorial and to address mental health challenges facing the community."</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 11 a.m., New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, along with Hetrick-Martin Institute CEO Thomas Krever and the LGBTQ Caucus of the City Council will unveil “HMI Goes Citywide For LGBTQ Youth,” a new initiative to address the challenges LGBTQ youth face in New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">"On Monday, Mayor de Blasio will meet with members of the New York Congressional Delegation at City Hall to discuss a number‎ of issues impacting New York City. This meeting is closed press.&nbsp;After, [at 11:30 a.m.] the Mayor and members of the Congressional Delegation will hold a media availability on the Zadroga Act on the steps of City Hall," according to his public schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr">At noon Monday, Crain’s New York Business will host its “<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20151015" target="_blank">Crain’s Business Hall of Fame Luncheon</a>” to celebrate businesspeople who have transformed the city through their philanthropic and professional lives. The list of honorees include Ms. Pamela Brier, President and Chief Executive Officer, Maimonides Medical Center; Mr.Laurence Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock; Ms. Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus, Ogilvy &amp; Mather; Mr. Alan Patricof, Managing Director Greycroft; The Honorable Richard Ravitch, Former Lieutenant Governor, New York; Ms. Emily Rafferty, President Emeritus, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Mr. Steven Roth, Chairman and CEO, Vornado Realty Trust. EisnerAmper will sponsor the event.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Public Advocate Letitia James will “announce measures to expand affordability of NYC child care.” Joined by parents, advocates and other stakeholders, James will hold a press conference about the costs and accessibility of child care in New York City, releasing a report and outlining five policies to help increase accessibility, capacity, and affordability.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. Monday at City Hal, the correction officers union will hold a press conference&nbsp;"following the vicious attack on a correction officer by two Rikers inmates."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will deliver remarks at a pre-K family forum at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal will co-host a town hall meeting at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center on West 65th Street.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also at 7 p.m. Monday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will speak at New York Historical Society’s “Debt of Honor” program.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>TUESDAY</strong><br />Tuesday is a “Fight for $15” day of action, with many events planned to bring attention to wage issues and push for a $15 per hour minimum wage. Unions, advocacy groups, elected officials, and others will participate. Worker strikes, rallies, and marches will take place throughout the day all over the city and the country.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:30 a.m., Mayor de Blasio&nbsp;"will deliver remarks at a Fight for $15 rally to raise the minimum wage...Immediately following his remarks, the Mayor will appear in several one-on-one interviews with local television networks to discuss the need to raise the minimum wage." At 2:15 p.m., the Mayor will appear live on WBLS 107.5 and at 2:30 p.m., on NY1. "In the evening, the Mayor will attend the 70th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner."</p> <p dir="ltr">State Senate Republicans will convene in Albany on Tuesday to discuss their 2016 agenda. (A week later Assembly Democrats will meet in the capital,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8581887/assembly-democrats-plan-nov-17-return-albany" target="_blank">according to Politico New York</a>.)</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday at 8 a.m., Chancellor of the State University of of New York Nancy Zimpher will speak at the Citizens Budget Commission breakfast at the Harvard Club. Zimpher will discuss SUNY projects and priorities.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 9 a.m. Tuesday the Board of Corrections will hold a meeting.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Eric Ulrich, who chairs the Council’s veterans affairs committee, military veterans, and advocates will celebrate the imminent creation of a new City Department of Veterans Services.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Tuesday, the City Council will convene for a full-body Stated Meeting, which, as always, will be prefaced by a press conference hosted by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at 12:30 p.m.</p> <p dir="ltr">Gov. Cuomo will make an announcement Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. in Manhattan at Foley Square, likely at a Fight for $15 event.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:30 p.m. the Committee on Drugs and Law of the New York City Bar Association will host a <a href="https://services.nycbar.org/iMIS/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=DRU111015&amp;WebsiteKey=f71e12f3-524e-4f8c-a5f7-0d16ce7b3314" target="_blank">discussion</a> on marijuana policy in New York. Panelists will include City Council Member Rafael Espinal, state Senator Jeff Klein, Vocal New York’s Alyssa Aguilera, and others.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7 p.m. Tuesday, “Trans-Pacific Partnership: Who Wins and Who Loses in This Secret Deal?”, a panel event presented by the Big Apple Coffee Party and moderated by Zephyr Teachout, Fordham law professor and CEO of Mayday PAC.</p> <p dir="ltr">The only City Council Participatory Budgeting <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/pb/events.shtml" target="_blank">event</a> of the week is on Tuesday: Council Member David Greenfield (District 44, Brooklyn), 6:30 p.m.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WEDNESDAY</strong><br />Wednesday is Veterans Day. At 8 a.m. Mayor de Blasio will hold a breakfast reception to honor and remember military veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Wednesday evening, many New York politicos, policy wonks, and others will gather to celebrate the 25th anniversary of City Journal, the Manhattan Institute policy publication.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THURSDAY</strong><br />On Thursday at 8 a.m. Association for Better New York will host a <a href="https://www.abny.org/Content/Events/EventTickets.aspx?EventID=182&amp;utm_source=ABNY+Event+Invitations+-+Non-members&amp;utm_campaign=ebc8e0c451-ABNY_Nonmembers_Breakfast_Carolyn_Maloney_Round3&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_e4e1abe544-ebc8e0c451-381180997" target="_blank">breakfast</a> with Congressional Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who will speak about the &nbsp;projects, as well as her other priorities.</p> <p dir="ltr">The next public meeting of the New York City Campaign Finance Board will be Thursday at 10 a.m.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will hold a <a href="http://queensbp.org/event/queens-borough-presidents-land-use-hearing-2-2-2-2-3-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2/?instance_id=1352" target="_blank">Public Land Use Hearing</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Politico New York hosts <a href="http://www.politico.com/events/2015/11/new-york-playbook-215348" target="_blank">New York Playbook</a> Lunch, a discussion with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, hosted by playbook writers Azi Paybarah, Jimmy Vielkind, and Mike Allen.</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 Transportation will meet for an oversight hearing on transportation deserts. The Committee will hear two bills: one to mandate a DOT study looking at the feasibility of a light rail system; another to mandate a study on transportation deserts. It will also look at resolutions calling on the MTA to allow commuters to pay the metrocard fare on commuter rails and to conduct a study on unused railroad rights.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Parks and Recreation will meet to hear CM Mark Levine’s bill that would create a taskforce to study the effects of building shadows on parks.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Aging will meet for oversight on DFTA’s home care program.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. the Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet to discuss a bill that would require residential buildings to have photoelectric smoke detectors.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Environmental Protection will meet to discuss two bills aimed at reducing noise by sightseeing helicopters.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will convene for oversight of DSNY’s 2016 snow plan, and the introduction of two bills that would identify pedestrian bridges and create plans for de-snowing and de-icing them and make exemptions for senior citizens and persons with disabilities from being penalized for failing to remove snow from on sidewalks.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m. the Committee on Veterans, jointly with the Committee on General Welfare will meet for oversight of the City’s efforts to end homelessness among military veterans.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at New York Law School: <a href="https://nyls.wufoo.com/forms/impact-thursday-2/" target="_blank">Law and the Lives of Young Black Men,</a>&nbsp;"featuring&nbsp;Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives; Alphonso B. David, Counsel to the Governor; and Nicholas Turner, President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice. Moderated by Professor Mercer Givhan, New York Law School."</p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday evening, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is holding a campaign fundraiser, a <a href="https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/hjcuomo" target="_blank">reception</a> with Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the honorary guest.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the Bronx Borough Board will host a public hearing regarding the Zoning for Quality and Affordability and the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing proposals of Mayor de Blasio through the City Planning department and toward his housing plan.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio will host a town hall meeting focused on education in Jackson Heights, Queens, Thursday evening. Council Member Daniel Dromm, who chairs the City Council education committee, will welcome de Blasio and his team to the district.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, the New York City Department of Records and Information Services and WomensActivism.NYC will host the <a href="https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10039568" target="_blank">celebration</a> of the 200th o birthday of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Women's Suffrage Centennial. Sponsored by the City of New York, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, The Cooper Union, and Lebenthal Asset Management, the event is expected to be attended by elected officials including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.</p> <p><strong>FRIDAY</strong><br />On Friday at 8:15 a.m. Vicki Been, the Commissioner for Housing Preservation and Development, will <a href="https://nyls.wufoo.com/forms/vicki-been-citylaw-breakfast/" target="_blank">speak </a>at the latest New York City Law School CityLaw breakfast event.</p> <p>On Saturday: "Newly appointed New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will give her first public address in New York City on Nov. 14 at the Council of School Supervisors &amp; Administrators' (CSA) 48th Educational Leadership Conference...Elia will deliver the keynote at CSA's Professional Development Plenary."</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> City's Veterans Community Meets to Assess Policy, Build Cohesion 2015-07-29T18:56:23+00:00 2015-07-29T18:56:23+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5830:citys-veterans-community-meets-to-assess-policy-build-cohesion Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/veterans_policy_event_pic.jpg" alt="veterans policy event pic" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">From Tuesday's event (<a href="https://www.facebook.com/NYCVeteransAlliance" target="_blank">photo</a>: NYC Veterans Alliance via Facebook)</span></p> <hr /> <p>A steady stream of hands shot in the air as the speaker asked audience members to indicate if they had served their country, beginning with Vietnam and ending post-9/11.</p> <p>At a forum on New York City Veterans Policy Tuesday night, hosted by the New York City Veterans Alliance, veterans and veteran advocates of diverse ages and backgrounds gathered to discuss the issues facing their community, including homelessness, funding for employment, healthcare and other services, and even how to define the term 'veteran.' The event occurred amid <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5712-with-focus-on-mental-health-push-for-new-city-veterans-agency-continues" target="_blank">ongoing debate</a> over how well city government is attending to veterans' needs and organizing its resources to best provide support to the hundreds of thousands of veterans living in the city.</p> <p>"I would say different era veterans are having much different experiences in NYC. A lot of the student vets, there's a lot more support for them with the new GI bill, they're doing a lot better overall. And they're a lot more active in honing the community and helping with various student organizations and veterans associations at schools," said Vadim Panasyuk, who served in Iraq and works at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). "But other era veterans that are struggling— from more forgotten conflicts, Korea, Vietnam— those vets are still struggling, and find themselves in legal whirlpool of all the different VSOs [veteran support organizations] and dealing with misinformation from one service provider to another and it becomes very discouraging to seek out help."</p> <p>Iraq War veteran Tireak Tulloch, a spokesman for IAVA, agreed. "If you're a veteran from a different era, [service providers] don't know what to do with you," Tulloch said.</p> <p>Vietnam veteran Lee Covino, who recently served as Vice-Chairman of the City's Veterans Advisory Board, described witnessing an "identity crisis."</p> <p>"You have people who are separated by campaigns...you have a huge population out there and one of the things that irks me is when a vet tells me, 'I'm not a vet,'" Covino said. "That's nonsense. You're an era and you need to organize that way."</p> <p>The efficacy and availability of resources for veterans was a key part of Tuesday night's discussion, with NYC Veterans Alliance interim director Kristen Rouse noting in her opening remarks that the city committed to a "notable" <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5794-a-budget-victory-for-nyc-military-veterans-de-blasio-bello" target="_blank">increase in funding</a> for veterans in the fiscal year 2016 budget.</p> <p>"I think there's been tremendous progress and the city has come together, but...There's a real sense to me of a lack of cohesion of all these different efforts," said Coco Culhane, the founding director of the Veteran Advocacy Project at the Urban Justice Center. "And there's not a whole lot of infrastructure they can turn to at the city level and especially for veterans who are not eligible for these federal VA dollars. The city is their safety net and we need to be there for them so I think we have a long way to go, even with just acknowledging veterans."</p> <p>There is conversation at the city level over whether the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs, or MOVA, should <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5712-with-focus-on-mental-health-push-for-new-city-veterans-agency-continues" target="_blank">become its own city agency</a>, removed from within the mayor's office, but still under the mayor's purview. Creating a separate Department of Veterans Affairs, as called for by a City Council bill that has had one public hearing but does not have Mayor Bill de Blasio's support, would likely give work to support veterans more clarity, resources, and oversight.</p> <p>"You need people who know what they're doing to serve this population and having experts but also having oversight. If we're going to address all of the issues that are included in that report," Rouse told Gotham Gazette referring to <a href="https://nycveteransalliance.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/report_nycveteransalliance.pdf" target="_blank">the report</a> NYC Veterans Alliance recently released, "if we want to properly address this stuff, there has to be an accountable agency that has programmatic oversight of what these different city agencies are doing." The report, which surveyed almost 500 veterans in the New York metropolitan area, identified veterans' key concerns, including improving access to the VA suicide hotline and increasing oversight of veteran service organizations that receive city funding.</p> <p>Comedian and television host John Oliver delivered opening remarks describing his experience being married to a veteran. "It's hard being married to a veteran because you can't complain about your day," Oliver quipped. "'Oh, you had a bad day writing jokes? Shut up!'"</p> <p>But Oliver also took a more serious turn, underlining the importance of doing more than just saying "thank you" to military veterans.</p> <p>"It's too easy to say 'thank you,' but you're not actually doing anything. There can be a real seduction in people having lovely commercials on TV, introducing veterans at football games, but it's not doing anything to fix infrastructure," Oliver said.</p> <p>Moderator Phoebe Gavin, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, commented that "the average American is just not very connected to the [military] campaigns that have occurred," adding that many might not have a veteran in family. "There's just not as much connection to campaigns as there used to be...we've been at the mall all this time," Gavin said of most Americans going about their business, like shopping, while a small group serves in the military or has a family member doing so.</p> <p>In an interview with Gotham Gazette prior to the forum, Oliver highlighted the work organizations Team Rubicon and Mission Continues do to assist veterans' transition back to civilian life. Team Rubicon unites military veterans with first responders to deploy emergency response teams, giving veterans the opportunity to put the skills they learned in the armed forces to use responding to natural disasters.</p> <p>"They are a good example of providing practical assistance," Oliver said. "And most veterans don't want help, they're not a group that will complain, they don't want to be treated like a charity case. They want to be given opportunities."</p> <p>***<br />by Catie Edmondson, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/CatieEdmondson" target="_blank">@CatieEdmondson</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/veterans_policy_event_pic.jpg" alt="veterans policy event pic" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">From Tuesday's event (<a href="https://www.facebook.com/NYCVeteransAlliance" target="_blank">photo</a>: NYC Veterans Alliance via Facebook)</span></p> <hr /> <p>A steady stream of hands shot in the air as the speaker asked audience members to indicate if they had served their country, beginning with Vietnam and ending post-9/11.</p> <p>At a forum on New York City Veterans Policy Tuesday night, hosted by the New York City Veterans Alliance, veterans and veteran advocates of diverse ages and backgrounds gathered to discuss the issues facing their community, including homelessness, funding for employment, healthcare and other services, and even how to define the term 'veteran.' The event occurred amid <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5712-with-focus-on-mental-health-push-for-new-city-veterans-agency-continues" target="_blank">ongoing debate</a> over how well city government is attending to veterans' needs and organizing its resources to best provide support to the hundreds of thousands of veterans living in the city.</p> <p>"I would say different era veterans are having much different experiences in NYC. A lot of the student vets, there's a lot more support for them with the new GI bill, they're doing a lot better overall. And they're a lot more active in honing the community and helping with various student organizations and veterans associations at schools," said Vadim Panasyuk, who served in Iraq and works at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). "But other era veterans that are struggling— from more forgotten conflicts, Korea, Vietnam— those vets are still struggling, and find themselves in legal whirlpool of all the different VSOs [veteran support organizations] and dealing with misinformation from one service provider to another and it becomes very discouraging to seek out help."</p> <p>Iraq War veteran Tireak Tulloch, a spokesman for IAVA, agreed. "If you're a veteran from a different era, [service providers] don't know what to do with you," Tulloch said.</p> <p>Vietnam veteran Lee Covino, who recently served as Vice-Chairman of the City's Veterans Advisory Board, described witnessing an "identity crisis."</p> <p>"You have people who are separated by campaigns...you have a huge population out there and one of the things that irks me is when a vet tells me, 'I'm not a vet,'" Covino said. "That's nonsense. You're an era and you need to organize that way."</p> <p>The efficacy and availability of resources for veterans was a key part of Tuesday night's discussion, with NYC Veterans Alliance interim director Kristen Rouse noting in her opening remarks that the city committed to a "notable" <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5794-a-budget-victory-for-nyc-military-veterans-de-blasio-bello" target="_blank">increase in funding</a> for veterans in the fiscal year 2016 budget.</p> <p>"I think there's been tremendous progress and the city has come together, but...There's a real sense to me of a lack of cohesion of all these different efforts," said Coco Culhane, the founding director of the Veteran Advocacy Project at the Urban Justice Center. "And there's not a whole lot of infrastructure they can turn to at the city level and especially for veterans who are not eligible for these federal VA dollars. The city is their safety net and we need to be there for them so I think we have a long way to go, even with just acknowledging veterans."</p> <p>There is conversation at the city level over whether the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs, or MOVA, should <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5712-with-focus-on-mental-health-push-for-new-city-veterans-agency-continues" target="_blank">become its own city agency</a>, removed from within the mayor's office, but still under the mayor's purview. Creating a separate Department of Veterans Affairs, as called for by a City Council bill that has had one public hearing but does not have Mayor Bill de Blasio's support, would likely give work to support veterans more clarity, resources, and oversight.</p> <p>"You need people who know what they're doing to serve this population and having experts but also having oversight. If we're going to address all of the issues that are included in that report," Rouse told Gotham Gazette referring to <a href="https://nycveteransalliance.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/report_nycveteransalliance.pdf" target="_blank">the report</a> NYC Veterans Alliance recently released, "if we want to properly address this stuff, there has to be an accountable agency that has programmatic oversight of what these different city agencies are doing." The report, which surveyed almost 500 veterans in the New York metropolitan area, identified veterans' key concerns, including improving access to the VA suicide hotline and increasing oversight of veteran service organizations that receive city funding.</p> <p>Comedian and television host John Oliver delivered opening remarks describing his experience being married to a veteran. "It's hard being married to a veteran because you can't complain about your day," Oliver quipped. "'Oh, you had a bad day writing jokes? Shut up!'"</p> <p>But Oliver also took a more serious turn, underlining the importance of doing more than just saying "thank you" to military veterans.</p> <p>"It's too easy to say 'thank you,' but you're not actually doing anything. There can be a real seduction in people having lovely commercials on TV, introducing veterans at football games, but it's not doing anything to fix infrastructure," Oliver said.</p> <p>Moderator Phoebe Gavin, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, commented that "the average American is just not very connected to the [military] campaigns that have occurred," adding that many might not have a veteran in family. "There's just not as much connection to campaigns as there used to be...we've been at the mall all this time," Gavin said of most Americans going about their business, like shopping, while a small group serves in the military or has a family member doing so.</p> <p>In an interview with Gotham Gazette prior to the forum, Oliver highlighted the work organizations Team Rubicon and Mission Continues do to assist veterans' transition back to civilian life. Team Rubicon unites military veterans with first responders to deploy emergency response teams, giving veterans the opportunity to put the skills they learned in the armed forces to use responding to natural disasters.</p> <p>"They are a good example of providing practical assistance," Oliver said. "And most veterans don't want help, they're not a group that will complain, they don't want to be treated like a charity case. They want to be given opportunities."</p> <p>***<br />by Catie Edmondson, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/CatieEdmondson" target="_blank">@CatieEdmondson</a></p> Mayor & Council Announce $78.5B Fiscal 2016 Budget Deal 2015-06-23T10:54:38+00:00 2015-06-23T10:54:38+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5784:mayor-a-council-announce-785b-fiscal-2016-budget-deal Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/MMV_BdB_budget_deal.jpg" alt="MMV BdB budget deal" height="429" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Mayor &amp; Speaker announce budget (photo: William Alatriste)</span></p> <hr /> <p>A little after 10 p.m. Monday night and more than a week before deadline, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced that they had reached a deal on a balanced fiscal year 2016 city budget. The $78.5 billion budget is for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and includes additional spending from the mayor's Executive Budget, released in May, for several Council priorities - including the hiring of 1,297 new NYPD officers. Along with the expanded NYPD headcount, the budget includes funding for six-day library service around the city, parks workers, senior citizen services, a city bail fund, and other key items that were negotiated over the past months. The budget also reflects new agency savings and increased tax revenue, thus showing only a $200 million increase from the mayor's executive budget.</p> <p>De Blasio gave credit to his budget team, led by Office of Management and Budget Director Dean Feulihan, and Mark-Viverito to hers, led by Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who was the third speaker Monday evening after de Blasio and Mark-Viverito. The mayor and speaker gave what each sees as the highlights from their perspective, as did Ferreras-Copeland, then the press assembled in the rotunda at City Hall peppered the mayor with questions about why he had relented to the Council push - two years in the making - to add significantly to the NYPD force. Explaining that the two sides had agreed to key cost savings like a cap on NYPD overtime, de Blasio also indicated that he and council leadership believe the added personpower will allow NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to implement true neighborhood policing. There will also be new officers devoted "to counter-terror work."</p> <p>In a release to the media, de Blasio's office touts the budget as moving forward "key initiatives to tackle income inequality and lift up families across the five boroughs, while protecting and strengthening the City's long-term fiscal health."</p> <p>When he spoke, de Blasio named three standout aspects to him: increased funding toward the city's most struggling, or "renewal", schools specifically for extended learning time and health services; additional funding for libraries that will return them to six-day service; and the plan for an expanded NYPD headcount. In the statement released by his office, he said, "We're strengthening the NYPD's ranks, devoting new officers to counter-terror work and neighborhood policing, while securing vital fiscal reforms in overtime and civilianization. We are also making critical investments in our renewal schools, libraries, and so much more."</p> <p>For her part, Mark-Viverito highlighted the investment in seniors, which, according to the mayor's office, includes "$4.3 million to eliminate waitlists for the Department for the Aging's homecare program, and $2 million to expand elder abuse prevention," as well as "$750,000 – growing in the out years – to fund support services through the Seniors in Affordable Rental Apartments (SARA) Program; 30 percent of those units are set aside for homeless seniors." Referring to strong ongoing lobbying efforts by seniors and their Council member allies (chiefly led by Council Members Margaret Chin and Paul Vallone), Mark-Viverito acknowledged the "active," "vocal," and fast-growing population of aging New Yorkers.</p> <p>In a statement, Mark-Viverito also highlighted new Council spending, saying, "From establishing a Citywide bail fund, to creating new jobs for young adults, to strengthening the City's commitment to veterans and hiring 1,297 more NYPD officers to keep us safe, our budget makes New York City a better place to call home." The Council is dedicating $1.4 million to create a new bail fund, part of&nbsp;"$280 million in Council initiatives that will support New Yorkers throughout the City."</p> <p>The goal of the bail fund is "to keep those accused of non-violent, low-level offenses out of jail. The Council's Bail Fund will provide bail of up to $2,000 and will save the City millions of dollars in incarceration costs and will help make the City's criminal justice system more just," according to a Council press release.</p> <p>The budget includes additional funding toward parks that had been lobbied for by Council members and advocates, including almost $700,000 to extend beach season one week past Labor Day.</p> <p>The deal received a mostly positive response from Council Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine, who said in a statement,&nbsp;"I am thrilled that the City Council has restored funding for gardeners and maintenance workers--saving 150 vitally needed jobs, and protecting a critical resource for parks in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. I am also excited that we will be extending the beach season, allowing countless New Yorkers to enjoy these resources for a week past Labor Day," said Council Member Mark Levine. "I am disappointed the budget does not provide additional funds for community gardens, playground staff, mid-sized parks, and other important needs our park system faces. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and my colleagues in the Council to bring greater resources to a park system that has been underfunded for far too long."</p> <p>While de Blasio noted the increased funding heading toward the renewal schools that are the focus of much Department of Education effort and outside scrutiny, there are other key school-related additions to the budget, including $6.6 million for the DOE to "hire 50 additional physical education teachers and conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to address barriers and move schools toward full physical education compliance." There was a City Council hearing last week focused on the city's continued violation of state physical education requirements. This move in the budget may slow Council attempts to enact legislation requiring more reporting by the DOE on physical education programming, staffing, and space.</p> <p>There's also "$17.9 million to phase-in breakfast in the classroom at 530 elementary schools, serving 339,000 students" by fiscal year 2018. While money for this Council priority, otherwise known as "breakfast after the bell," is included, there is no expansion of universal free lunch, which the Council had been pushing for. Last year, the program was instituted in middle schools, where all students are now provided lunch at no charge, but the mayor said that the results of the program were underwhelming and that instead of expanding it to elementary and/or high schools, the city would first look to do more outreach around the middle school offering and see if there is a noted improvement in year two.</p> <p>The budget includes "$1.14 million to fund 80 additional school crossing guards," which will help contribute to the mayor's Vision Zero traffic and pedestrian safety work around schools, and more money for teachers to spend on their classrooms. On Twitter, the United Federation of Teachers <a href="https://twitter.com/UFT/status/613300551548321792" target="_blank">thanked</a> Mark-Viverito specifically, noting that&nbsp;"The city budget contains a 62% increase in Teacher's Choice funds. Teachers should get $125 next school year, up from $77."</p> <p>One point of contention, especially heightened of late, has been funding and function at the Mayor's Office of Veteran Affairs. There has been a push to pass a Council bill that would create a new Department of Veterans Affairs, moving the work outside of the mayor's office (though still under the mayor's control) and allowing for increased funding and Council oversight. That bill is likely stalled in the Council, though it has over thirty sponsors, while the new budget includes "$1.5 million in new staff and resources to meet the Mayor's goal of ending veteran homelessness, and $335,000 to fund a team of Veterans Service Officers that will be deployed in communities throughout the five boroughs," according to the mayor's office.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the NYPD investment for nearly 1,300 new officers is much of what everyone is talking about. The mayor had pushed back against Council pleas (and even a few from Bratton) for hiring 1,000 new officers during both the fiscal 2015 and 2016 budget processes. This budget, however, includes "$170 million to add new uniformed officers to the NYPD, coupled with vital reforms in overtime and civilianization that will generate over $70 million in savings when fully phased-in. The new officers will be dedicated to counter-terror efforts and neighborhood policing – central to Commissioner Bratton's reengineering of the Department to bring police and community closer together while keeping crime low," according to the mayor's office.</p> <p>Police reform advocates expressed immediate displeasure with the compromise and budget watchdogs shared concern about the choice's fiscal ramifications. The Police Reform Organizing Project, or PROP, released a statement saying, in part, "Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council leaders have made a truly terrible decision to add 1300 or so new officers to the NYPD's headcount. Rather than solve problems it will aggravate existing difficulties, deepening the racial, social, and economic inequities that plague our city and adding to the antagonism and distrust that communities of color already feel toward the police and the criminal justice system." De Blasio and others, of course, argue differently, saying that more officers will allow the NYPD to develop stronger community relationships and do more preventative policing.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Citizens Budget Commission said in a statement, "The FY 16 adopted budget announced by the Mayor and the Council this evening adds approximately $200 million in spending for additional police, social service providers and other programs. Although there is additional revenue available to fund these costs in the coming fiscal year, the agreed upon additions are an added risk to the City's fiscal health in future years, when budget gaps are already projected and when an inevitable economic downturn will erode the revenue required to pay for recurring expenses."</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/MMV_BdB_budget_deal.jpg" alt="MMV BdB budget deal" height="429" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Mayor &amp; Speaker announce budget (photo: William Alatriste)</span></p> <hr /> <p>A little after 10 p.m. Monday night and more than a week before deadline, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced that they had reached a deal on a balanced fiscal year 2016 city budget. The $78.5 billion budget is for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and includes additional spending from the mayor's Executive Budget, released in May, for several Council priorities - including the hiring of 1,297 new NYPD officers. Along with the expanded NYPD headcount, the budget includes funding for six-day library service around the city, parks workers, senior citizen services, a city bail fund, and other key items that were negotiated over the past months. The budget also reflects new agency savings and increased tax revenue, thus showing only a $200 million increase from the mayor's executive budget.</p> <p>De Blasio gave credit to his budget team, led by Office of Management and Budget Director Dean Feulihan, and Mark-Viverito to hers, led by Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who was the third speaker Monday evening after de Blasio and Mark-Viverito. The mayor and speaker gave what each sees as the highlights from their perspective, as did Ferreras-Copeland, then the press assembled in the rotunda at City Hall peppered the mayor with questions about why he had relented to the Council push - two years in the making - to add significantly to the NYPD force. Explaining that the two sides had agreed to key cost savings like a cap on NYPD overtime, de Blasio also indicated that he and council leadership believe the added personpower will allow NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to implement true neighborhood policing. There will also be new officers devoted "to counter-terror work."</p> <p>In a release to the media, de Blasio's office touts the budget as moving forward "key initiatives to tackle income inequality and lift up families across the five boroughs, while protecting and strengthening the City's long-term fiscal health."</p> <p>When he spoke, de Blasio named three standout aspects to him: increased funding toward the city's most struggling, or "renewal", schools specifically for extended learning time and health services; additional funding for libraries that will return them to six-day service; and the plan for an expanded NYPD headcount. In the statement released by his office, he said, "We're strengthening the NYPD's ranks, devoting new officers to counter-terror work and neighborhood policing, while securing vital fiscal reforms in overtime and civilianization. We are also making critical investments in our renewal schools, libraries, and so much more."</p> <p>For her part, Mark-Viverito highlighted the investment in seniors, which, according to the mayor's office, includes "$4.3 million to eliminate waitlists for the Department for the Aging's homecare program, and $2 million to expand elder abuse prevention," as well as "$750,000 – growing in the out years – to fund support services through the Seniors in Affordable Rental Apartments (SARA) Program; 30 percent of those units are set aside for homeless seniors." Referring to strong ongoing lobbying efforts by seniors and their Council member allies (chiefly led by Council Members Margaret Chin and Paul Vallone), Mark-Viverito acknowledged the "active," "vocal," and fast-growing population of aging New Yorkers.</p> <p>In a statement, Mark-Viverito also highlighted new Council spending, saying, "From establishing a Citywide bail fund, to creating new jobs for young adults, to strengthening the City's commitment to veterans and hiring 1,297 more NYPD officers to keep us safe, our budget makes New York City a better place to call home." The Council is dedicating $1.4 million to create a new bail fund, part of&nbsp;"$280 million in Council initiatives that will support New Yorkers throughout the City."</p> <p>The goal of the bail fund is "to keep those accused of non-violent, low-level offenses out of jail. The Council's Bail Fund will provide bail of up to $2,000 and will save the City millions of dollars in incarceration costs and will help make the City's criminal justice system more just," according to a Council press release.</p> <p>The budget includes additional funding toward parks that had been lobbied for by Council members and advocates, including almost $700,000 to extend beach season one week past Labor Day.</p> <p>The deal received a mostly positive response from Council Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine, who said in a statement,&nbsp;"I am thrilled that the City Council has restored funding for gardeners and maintenance workers--saving 150 vitally needed jobs, and protecting a critical resource for parks in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. I am also excited that we will be extending the beach season, allowing countless New Yorkers to enjoy these resources for a week past Labor Day," said Council Member Mark Levine. "I am disappointed the budget does not provide additional funds for community gardens, playground staff, mid-sized parks, and other important needs our park system faces. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and my colleagues in the Council to bring greater resources to a park system that has been underfunded for far too long."</p> <p>While de Blasio noted the increased funding heading toward the renewal schools that are the focus of much Department of Education effort and outside scrutiny, there are other key school-related additions to the budget, including $6.6 million for the DOE to "hire 50 additional physical education teachers and conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to address barriers and move schools toward full physical education compliance." There was a City Council hearing last week focused on the city's continued violation of state physical education requirements. This move in the budget may slow Council attempts to enact legislation requiring more reporting by the DOE on physical education programming, staffing, and space.</p> <p>There's also "$17.9 million to phase-in breakfast in the classroom at 530 elementary schools, serving 339,000 students" by fiscal year 2018. While money for this Council priority, otherwise known as "breakfast after the bell," is included, there is no expansion of universal free lunch, which the Council had been pushing for. Last year, the program was instituted in middle schools, where all students are now provided lunch at no charge, but the mayor said that the results of the program were underwhelming and that instead of expanding it to elementary and/or high schools, the city would first look to do more outreach around the middle school offering and see if there is a noted improvement in year two.</p> <p>The budget includes "$1.14 million to fund 80 additional school crossing guards," which will help contribute to the mayor's Vision Zero traffic and pedestrian safety work around schools, and more money for teachers to spend on their classrooms. On Twitter, the United Federation of Teachers <a href="https://twitter.com/UFT/status/613300551548321792" target="_blank">thanked</a> Mark-Viverito specifically, noting that&nbsp;"The city budget contains a 62% increase in Teacher's Choice funds. Teachers should get $125 next school year, up from $77."</p> <p>One point of contention, especially heightened of late, has been funding and function at the Mayor's Office of Veteran Affairs. There has been a push to pass a Council bill that would create a new Department of Veterans Affairs, moving the work outside of the mayor's office (though still under the mayor's control) and allowing for increased funding and Council oversight. That bill is likely stalled in the Council, though it has over thirty sponsors, while the new budget includes "$1.5 million in new staff and resources to meet the Mayor's goal of ending veteran homelessness, and $335,000 to fund a team of Veterans Service Officers that will be deployed in communities throughout the five boroughs," according to the mayor's office.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the NYPD investment for nearly 1,300 new officers is much of what everyone is talking about. The mayor had pushed back against Council pleas (and even a few from Bratton) for hiring 1,000 new officers during both the fiscal 2015 and 2016 budget processes. This budget, however, includes "$170 million to add new uniformed officers to the NYPD, coupled with vital reforms in overtime and civilianization that will generate over $70 million in savings when fully phased-in. The new officers will be dedicated to counter-terror efforts and neighborhood policing – central to Commissioner Bratton's reengineering of the Department to bring police and community closer together while keeping crime low," according to the mayor's office.</p> <p>Police reform advocates expressed immediate displeasure with the compromise and budget watchdogs shared concern about the choice's fiscal ramifications. The Police Reform Organizing Project, or PROP, released a statement saying, in part, "Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council leaders have made a truly terrible decision to add 1300 or so new officers to the NYPD's headcount. Rather than solve problems it will aggravate existing difficulties, deepening the racial, social, and economic inequities that plague our city and adding to the antagonism and distrust that communities of color already feel toward the police and the criminal justice system." De Blasio and others, of course, argue differently, saying that more officers will allow the NYPD to develop stronger community relationships and do more preventative policing.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Citizens Budget Commission said in a statement, "The FY 16 adopted budget announced by the Mayor and the Council this evening adds approximately $200 million in spending for additional police, social service providers and other programs. Although there is additional revenue available to fund these costs in the coming fiscal year, the agreed upon additions are an added risk to the City's fiscal health in future years, when budget gaps are already projected and when an inevitable economic downturn will erode the revenue required to pay for recurring expenses."</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> With Focus on Mental Health, Push for New City Veterans Agency Continues 2015-05-06T19:24:06+00:00 2015-05-06T19:24:06+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5712:with-focus-on-mental-health-push-for-new-city-veterans-agency-continues Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/vets_at_hearing.jpg" alt="vets at hearing" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Veterans at Wednesday's City Council hearing (photo: William Alatriste)</span>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>The City Council’s Committee on Veterans held an oversight hearing Wednesday to gauge the effectiveness of the Mayor’s Office of Veteran Affairs (MOVA).</p> <p dir="ltr">The hearing seemed the latest chapter in <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/04/8567036/ulrich-pressures-de-blasio-veterans-bill" target="_blank">a renewed push</a> for a separate Department of Veterans Affairs by Council Member Eric Ulrich, who chairs the veterans committee, and like-minded council members and advocates. Ulrich introduced <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1739320&amp;GUID=0D5918DB-F678-48A3-8EE5-D6165B32BF62&amp;Options=ID|Text|&amp;Search=Veterans+Department" target="_blank">a bill</a> last year which would create a new department to deal with veteran affairs, removing the office from directly within the mayor’s in order to increase its profile, funding, and transparency. “Ideally such an agency would be fully funded and would act as a one-stop shop for any need that a veteran might have,” Ulrich said at Wednesday’s hearing. He stressed that MOVA needs dedicated funding and personnel to better serve New York City’s 225,000 veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">MOVA Commissioner and retired Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton testified before the committee and reiterated her office’s top strategic priorities in serving veterans’ needs, namely ending veteran homelessness, focusing on mental and behavioral health for veterans, and developing employment opportunities for veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5555-in-state-of-the-city-de-blasio-pledges-to-end-veteran-homelessness-in-nyc" target="_blank">announced</a> at his 2015 State of the City address that he would end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and Sutton indicated today that she was confident of reaching that goal.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Mission and strategy drive programs and budget,” Sutton said in her testimony. She repeatedly stressed that MOVA’s work goes beyond it’s own budget and personnel, working with multiple city agencies to help veterans in need.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sutton has yet to take a public position on Ulrich’s bill, and it is clear that the de Blasio administration is in no rush to back it. Responding to Council Member Fernando Cabrera’s query on whether an independent agency could be more effective, Sutton said, “I will keep that as an open question going forward. My pledge to the mayor, to the taxpayers, to the veterans, to the families in New York, is to make the best use of the resources that we currently have. We’re in the midst of doing that right now. Once I have convinced myself that we have maximized the resources that we have, then we’ll be in a position to assess what might make sense going down the road. “</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked, Mayor de Blasio has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5541-support-grows-for-new-veterans-department-mayor-must-be-convinced" target="_blank">not supported</a> the idea of creating a new agency. The proposal received overwhelming support today from veterans advocates and organizations and even the office of Public Advocate Letitia James. “Disappointingly, our Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs is not funded in a way that reflects the actual needs of our veterans,” said Oswaldo Pereira, a veteran and outreach coordinator for the public advocate’s office, who was speaking on behalf of James. “Veterans deserve to have a department that can truly serve their needs,” he added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Joseph Bello, founder of NY MetroVets, criticized Commissioner Sutton for her silence on a new veterans department. “It is time to create a free-standing direct services agency that can not only have preliminary and executive budget hearings on veterans issues, but can funnel contracts awarded to veteran service providers in the boroughs directly, instead of through other city agencies that are unfamiliar with these groups.”</p> <p dir="ltr">There was much focus at the hearing on mental health issues, a concern raised by committee members Cabrera and Paul Vallone. Sutton told Cabrera that mental health issues were “an area in the system that could use some additional development.” Toward that, she pointed out MOVA’s partnership with First Lady Chirlane McCray through the <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/05/8567418/mccray-announces-new-city-funding-mental-health" target="_blank">recently announced</a> Mental Health Roadmap due to be released in the fall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Vallone was quick to point out that the $54 million plan failed to mention veterans. “When I see this go up and I don’t see my veterans in here, I gotta fight for it,” Vallone said. Sutton promised the committee, however, that when the final strategy is released, veterans would figure significantly.</p> <p dir="ltr">Representing the Veterans Mental Health Coalition of New York City, Melissa Earle also called for expanding MOVA to the level of a department. “With a department dedicated to serving veterans, greater resources and funding can be secured to better overcome the complex challenges of veterans of all generations,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ulrich’s bill has a veto-proof 40 co-sponsors (in the 51-member body) and he has indicated that he would be willing to push it forward even without the mayor’s support.&nbsp;</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/vets_at_hearing.jpg" alt="vets at hearing" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Veterans at Wednesday's City Council hearing (photo: William Alatriste)</span>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>The City Council’s Committee on Veterans held an oversight hearing Wednesday to gauge the effectiveness of the Mayor’s Office of Veteran Affairs (MOVA).</p> <p dir="ltr">The hearing seemed the latest chapter in <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/04/8567036/ulrich-pressures-de-blasio-veterans-bill" target="_blank">a renewed push</a> for a separate Department of Veterans Affairs by Council Member Eric Ulrich, who chairs the veterans committee, and like-minded council members and advocates. Ulrich introduced <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1739320&amp;GUID=0D5918DB-F678-48A3-8EE5-D6165B32BF62&amp;Options=ID|Text|&amp;Search=Veterans+Department" target="_blank">a bill</a> last year which would create a new department to deal with veteran affairs, removing the office from directly within the mayor’s in order to increase its profile, funding, and transparency. “Ideally such an agency would be fully funded and would act as a one-stop shop for any need that a veteran might have,” Ulrich said at Wednesday’s hearing. He stressed that MOVA needs dedicated funding and personnel to better serve New York City’s 225,000 veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">MOVA Commissioner and retired Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton testified before the committee and reiterated her office’s top strategic priorities in serving veterans’ needs, namely ending veteran homelessness, focusing on mental and behavioral health for veterans, and developing employment opportunities for veterans.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5555-in-state-of-the-city-de-blasio-pledges-to-end-veteran-homelessness-in-nyc" target="_blank">announced</a> at his 2015 State of the City address that he would end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and Sutton indicated today that she was confident of reaching that goal.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Mission and strategy drive programs and budget,” Sutton said in her testimony. She repeatedly stressed that MOVA’s work goes beyond it’s own budget and personnel, working with multiple city agencies to help veterans in need.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sutton has yet to take a public position on Ulrich’s bill, and it is clear that the de Blasio administration is in no rush to back it. Responding to Council Member Fernando Cabrera’s query on whether an independent agency could be more effective, Sutton said, “I will keep that as an open question going forward. My pledge to the mayor, to the taxpayers, to the veterans, to the families in New York, is to make the best use of the resources that we currently have. We’re in the midst of doing that right now. Once I have convinced myself that we have maximized the resources that we have, then we’ll be in a position to assess what might make sense going down the road. “</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked, Mayor de Blasio has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5541-support-grows-for-new-veterans-department-mayor-must-be-convinced" target="_blank">not supported</a> the idea of creating a new agency. The proposal received overwhelming support today from veterans advocates and organizations and even the office of Public Advocate Letitia James. “Disappointingly, our Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs is not funded in a way that reflects the actual needs of our veterans,” said Oswaldo Pereira, a veteran and outreach coordinator for the public advocate’s office, who was speaking on behalf of James. “Veterans deserve to have a department that can truly serve their needs,” he added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Joseph Bello, founder of NY MetroVets, criticized Commissioner Sutton for her silence on a new veterans department. “It is time to create a free-standing direct services agency that can not only have preliminary and executive budget hearings on veterans issues, but can funnel contracts awarded to veteran service providers in the boroughs directly, instead of through other city agencies that are unfamiliar with these groups.”</p> <p dir="ltr">There was much focus at the hearing on mental health issues, a concern raised by committee members Cabrera and Paul Vallone. Sutton told Cabrera that mental health issues were “an area in the system that could use some additional development.” Toward that, she pointed out MOVA’s partnership with First Lady Chirlane McCray through the <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/05/8567418/mccray-announces-new-city-funding-mental-health" target="_blank">recently announced</a> Mental Health Roadmap due to be released in the fall.</p> <p dir="ltr">Vallone was quick to point out that the $54 million plan failed to mention veterans. “When I see this go up and I don’t see my veterans in here, I gotta fight for it,” Vallone said. Sutton promised the committee, however, that when the final strategy is released, veterans would figure significantly.</p> <p dir="ltr">Representing the Veterans Mental Health Coalition of New York City, Melissa Earle also called for expanding MOVA to the level of a department. “With a department dedicated to serving veterans, greater resources and funding can be secured to better overcome the complex challenges of veterans of all generations,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ulrich’s bill has a veto-proof 40 co-sponsors (in the 51-member body) and he has indicated that he would be willing to push it forward even without the mayor’s support.&nbsp;</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid</a></p>