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/new-york-state-legislature 2017-12-11T18:59:16+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Another Legislative Session Ends with Thousands Still in Solitary 2016-06-27T04:00:00+00:00 2016-06-27T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6415:another-legislative-session-ends-with-thousands-still-in-solitary Amanda Sherwin <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/5685335098_c082a1d534_z.jpg" alt="prison photo bob" width="600" height="398" /></p> <p><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobjagendorf/5685335098/" target="_blank">photo: Bob Jagendorf</a></p> <hr /> <p>Earlier this month, I saw <a href="http://www.juliasteeleallen.com/portfolio/mariposa/" target="_blank">Mariposa &amp; the Saint: From Solitary Confinement, A Play Through Letters</a>. Actress and activist Julia Steele Allen plays Sara Foneseca, or Mariposa, as she is referred to in the play, and uses Mariposa&rsquo;s own words to express her experiences in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at a women&rsquo;s prison in California. For the past ten years the two women have been corresponding through letters; the play is a collaboration that grew from this communication.</p> <p>In one of the most disturbing parts of the play, Mariposa shares in a letter to Allen that a woman in the prison has committed suicide. Mariposa seems frantic and in shock at the calm response from the prison personnel. She exclaims there was no sense of urgency. It seems, she says, as if they were saying, &ldquo;nothing to see here folks, just your average, run of the mill, scheduled suicide.&rdquo; Mariposa tries to keep her spirits up although it is evident that she is slowly fading. At one point in the play she explains she refused to leave her cell -- even to shower -- for eight months.</p> <p>The performance was followed by a workshop discussion on the issue of solitary confinement during which Regina, who was incarcerated in Albion Correctional Facility near Buffalo, New York, shared horror stories of her own experiences in &ldquo;the box.&rdquo; She noted that many of her peers were not even allowed to send or receive letters, practices considered privilege and meted out by the guards, despite being one of the only forms of human communication they had left.</p> <p>There are 2.5 million people incarcerated today in the United States, and while it&rsquo;s rare for the experiences of these people to be given a public viewing such as Mariposa provides, public demands to reform prison conditions and to end mass incarceration are growing. As are calls to end the torturous practice of solitary confinement.</p> <p>Allen has brought &ldquo;Mariposa &amp; the Saint&rdquo; on a national tour of eight states, including New York, which all have active campaigns and pending legislation to end or reform the conditions of solitary confinement. Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act (A. 4401/S. 2659) is a piece of legislation that has yet to pass through the New York State Legislature, despite being introduced for years. This bill would create substantive alternatives to solitary confinement, place strict limitations on the use and permitted durations of confinement, and improve due process protections for people facing disciplinary infractions.</p> <p>The <a href="http://nycaic.org" target="_blank">Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement in New York (CAIC)</a>, a community group consisting of advocates, legal service providers, formerly incarcerated community members, and family members, has supported the HALT Solitary Confinement Act since 2014.</p> <p>Last month, &ldquo;Mariposa &amp; the Saint&rdquo; was performed for members of the state Legislature, hosted by the Women of Color Sub-Committee of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, &amp; Asian Legislative caucus including Assemblymembers Maritza Davila and Latoya Joyner, along with Assemblymember Jeffrion L. Aubry, and state Senator Bill Perkins. Additionally, in early May, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z99h989IHb0&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">CAIC organized a lobby day</a> which resulted in HALT now boasting more than 60 sponsors in the Assembly. Despite this support, the bill did not pass this year and remained in the Assembly&rsquo;s Crime Victims, Crime and Correction committee until the end of the session. What was left out of the final Albany deals earlier this month was prison reform for thousands in solitary confinement, which has been denounced by Pope Francis, the <a href="http://solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/SpecRapTortureAug2011.pdf" target="_blank">United Nations Special Rapporteur</a>, and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/barack-obama-why-we-must-rethink-solitary-confinement/2016/01/25/29a361f2-c384-11e5-8965-0607e0e265ce_story.html" target="_blank">President Obama</a>.</p> <p>The play was performed on Friday, June 10 at The New Settlement Community Campus in the Bronx, located in Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie&rsquo;s home district in hopes of adding pressure to the Speaker so that he would use his authority to bring HALT to a vote before the session ended.</p> <p>Solitary confinement is torture and can lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences such as depression, alienation, suicide, and withdrawal. Solitary Watch estimates <a href="http://solitarywatch.com/facts/faq/" target="_blank">80,000 to 100,000 incarcerated people</a> are held in some form of isolated confinement at any time in the United States, most spending 23 or more hours a day in their cells. Dr. Terry Kupers told The <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/health/solitary-confinement-mental-illness.html?mwrsm=Email&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times</a>, &ldquo;many [formerly incarcerated individuals] still carried the psychological legacy of their confinement.&rdquo;</p> <p>New York State legislators did not act to reform the torture happening in their state prisons. Governor Cuomo, state legislators, and all New Yorkers must see and say that solitary is torture. It is time that we all demand reforms to end, or at least significantly limit, the use of solitary here in New York.</p> <p>***<br />Jennie Encalada is a Brooklyn-based social worker and activist. On Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/jenjeno07" target="_blank">@jenjeno07</a>.&nbsp;Mariposa &amp; the Saint completed it's 2015-2016 national tour this June, <a href="http://www.juliasteeleallen.com" target="_blank">but has further plans</a>.&nbsp;Learn more about <a href="http://www.NYCAIC.org" target="_blank">the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement</a> (CAIC).</p> <p>

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

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/5685335098_c082a1d534_z.jpg" alt="prison photo bob" width="600" height="398" /></p> <p><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobjagendorf/5685335098/" target="_blank">photo: Bob Jagendorf</a></p> <hr /> <p>Earlier this month, I saw <a href="http://www.juliasteeleallen.com/portfolio/mariposa/" target="_blank">Mariposa &amp; the Saint: From Solitary Confinement, A Play Through Letters</a>. Actress and activist Julia Steele Allen plays Sara Foneseca, or Mariposa, as she is referred to in the play, and uses Mariposa&rsquo;s own words to express her experiences in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at a women&rsquo;s prison in California. For the past ten years the two women have been corresponding through letters; the play is a collaboration that grew from this communication.</p> <p>In one of the most disturbing parts of the play, Mariposa shares in a letter to Allen that a woman in the prison has committed suicide. Mariposa seems frantic and in shock at the calm response from the prison personnel. She exclaims there was no sense of urgency. It seems, she says, as if they were saying, &ldquo;nothing to see here folks, just your average, run of the mill, scheduled suicide.&rdquo; Mariposa tries to keep her spirits up although it is evident that she is slowly fading. At one point in the play she explains she refused to leave her cell -- even to shower -- for eight months.</p> <p>The performance was followed by a workshop discussion on the issue of solitary confinement during which Regina, who was incarcerated in Albion Correctional Facility near Buffalo, New York, shared horror stories of her own experiences in &ldquo;the box.&rdquo; She noted that many of her peers were not even allowed to send or receive letters, practices considered privilege and meted out by the guards, despite being one of the only forms of human communication they had left.</p> <p>There are 2.5 million people incarcerated today in the United States, and while it&rsquo;s rare for the experiences of these people to be given a public viewing such as Mariposa provides, public demands to reform prison conditions and to end mass incarceration are growing. As are calls to end the torturous practice of solitary confinement.</p> <p>Allen has brought &ldquo;Mariposa &amp; the Saint&rdquo; on a national tour of eight states, including New York, which all have active campaigns and pending legislation to end or reform the conditions of solitary confinement. Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act (A. 4401/S. 2659) is a piece of legislation that has yet to pass through the New York State Legislature, despite being introduced for years. This bill would create substantive alternatives to solitary confinement, place strict limitations on the use and permitted durations of confinement, and improve due process protections for people facing disciplinary infractions.</p> <p>The <a href="http://nycaic.org" target="_blank">Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement in New York (CAIC)</a>, a community group consisting of advocates, legal service providers, formerly incarcerated community members, and family members, has supported the HALT Solitary Confinement Act since 2014.</p> <p>Last month, &ldquo;Mariposa &amp; the Saint&rdquo; was performed for members of the state Legislature, hosted by the Women of Color Sub-Committee of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, &amp; Asian Legislative caucus including Assemblymembers Maritza Davila and Latoya Joyner, along with Assemblymember Jeffrion L. Aubry, and state Senator Bill Perkins. Additionally, in early May, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z99h989IHb0&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">CAIC organized a lobby day</a> which resulted in HALT now boasting more than 60 sponsors in the Assembly. Despite this support, the bill did not pass this year and remained in the Assembly&rsquo;s Crime Victims, Crime and Correction committee until the end of the session. What was left out of the final Albany deals earlier this month was prison reform for thousands in solitary confinement, which has been denounced by Pope Francis, the <a href="http://solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/SpecRapTortureAug2011.pdf" target="_blank">United Nations Special Rapporteur</a>, and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/barack-obama-why-we-must-rethink-solitary-confinement/2016/01/25/29a361f2-c384-11e5-8965-0607e0e265ce_story.html" target="_blank">President Obama</a>.</p> <p>The play was performed on Friday, June 10 at The New Settlement Community Campus in the Bronx, located in Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie&rsquo;s home district in hopes of adding pressure to the Speaker so that he would use his authority to bring HALT to a vote before the session ended.</p> <p>Solitary confinement is torture and can lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences such as depression, alienation, suicide, and withdrawal. Solitary Watch estimates <a href="http://solitarywatch.com/facts/faq/" target="_blank">80,000 to 100,000 incarcerated people</a> are held in some form of isolated confinement at any time in the United States, most spending 23 or more hours a day in their cells. Dr. Terry Kupers told The <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/health/solitary-confinement-mental-illness.html?mwrsm=Email&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times</a>, &ldquo;many [formerly incarcerated individuals] still carried the psychological legacy of their confinement.&rdquo;</p> <p>New York State legislators did not act to reform the torture happening in their state prisons. Governor Cuomo, state legislators, and all New Yorkers must see and say that solitary is torture. It is time that we all demand reforms to end, or at least significantly limit, the use of solitary here in New York.</p> <p>***<br />Jennie Encalada is a Brooklyn-based social worker and activist. On Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/jenjeno07" target="_blank">@jenjeno07</a>.&nbsp;Mariposa &amp; the Saint completed it's 2015-2016 national tour this June, <a href="http://www.juliasteeleallen.com" target="_blank">but has further plans</a>.&nbsp;Learn more about <a href="http://www.NYCAIC.org" target="_blank">the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement</a> (CAIC).</p> <p>

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

</p>
New York’s Next Climate and Community Protections 2016-06-15T04:00:00+00:00 2016-06-15T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6397:new-york-s-next-climate-and-community-protections Amanda Sherwin <p><img alt="NYRenews3" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2015/NYRenews3.jpg" height="400" width="600" /></p> <hr /> <p>A major shift in the climate debate is taking place across New York and a new front in the discussion is emerging. No longer faraway images of drowning polar bears and epic glacial melt, climate change has moved into our own backyards, devastating our local neighborhoods. And no one knows this better than New York’s working families.</p> <p>Extreme weather destroys upstate farmers’ crops and keeps hourly employees from getting to work. Air pollution exacerbates chronic health conditions, triggering asthma attacks and other health problems, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. And when a major storm hits, working families, particularly those from communities of color, are the last to see relief.</p> <p>What once was solely an environmental debate for some has been transformed into an economic and social justice one. The frontlines of the crisis have made this so.</p> <p>It was especially apparent here in New York during Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. Both storms caused massive flooding, knocked out power and water supplies, and displaced tens of thousands of families. Long-standing issues with toxic mold were revealed and compounded, and rodent infestations surged.</p> <p>These problems were uncovered and exacerbated by storms like Irene and Sandy but they were not new. Policy choices and disinvestment in infrastructure over the last decade have caused working families across New York to live in an ongoing state of neglect, putting them at a disproportionate risk during major weather events.</p> <p>But our future is not written in stone, and it’s time we bring justice and opportunity to the working people who are most impacted by climate change.</p> <p>That’s why a coalition of more than 70 organizations including the most influential community leaders, grassroots activists, unions, and environmental justice advocates have banded together to stem the tide of climate change in New York. They are workers, immigrants, and people of color from both upstate and downstate New York. And they are throwing their support behind the strongest climate protection bill in the country – the NYS Climate &amp; Community Protection Act (<a target="_blank" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A10342&amp;term=2015">A.10342</a>/<a target="_blank" href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2015/S8005">S.8005</a>).</p> <p>This bill would make Governor Cuomo’s climate and clean energy commitments legally enforceable and set specific benchmarks and reporting requirements to ensure emissions reductions and rapid deployment of clean, renewable energy. And it would ensure the new clean energy economy creates good jobs by applying a prevailing wage to both construction and operations projects that include energy spending. In short, it would clean our air, improve our health, make our communities safer, and create new opportunities with a next-generation green economy.</p> <p>The NYS Climate &amp; Community Protection Act recently passed the state Assembly after a massive convergence of New Yorkers at the state Capitol demanded lawmakers support the bill. It is now being moved through the state Senate by Senator Diane Savino, who championed the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-community-risk-and-resiliency-act">2014 Community Risk and Resiliency Act</a> that was signed into law just after the People's Climate March, along with cosponsors Senators Tony Avella and Brad Hoylman.</p> <p>We have an opportunity right now to set an example for the rest of the country to follow. The time is now for New York to rise to the occasion and make our state the gold standard for clean, renewable energy. That’s why we’re calling on Governor Cuomo and the rest of the state’s lawmakers to see this bill through, so New Yorkers get the climate change protections they need and New York gets the next-generation green economy it deserves.</p> <p>***<br />Elizabeth Yeampierre is executive director of <a target="_blank" href="http://uprose.org/">UPROSE</a>. On Twitter <a target="_blank" href="https://twitter.com/yeampierre?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">@yeampierre</a>.<br />Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez is president of the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nysna.org/">New York State Nurses Association</a>. On Twitter <a target="_blank" href="https://twitter.com/nynurses">@NYSNA</a>.</p> <p>

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

</p>
<p><img alt="NYRenews3" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2015/NYRenews3.jpg" height="400" width="600" /></p> <hr /> <p>A major shift in the climate debate is taking place across New York and a new front in the discussion is emerging. No longer faraway images of drowning polar bears and epic glacial melt, climate change has moved into our own backyards, devastating our local neighborhoods. And no one knows this better than New York’s working families.</p> <p>Extreme weather destroys upstate farmers’ crops and keeps hourly employees from getting to work. Air pollution exacerbates chronic health conditions, triggering asthma attacks and other health problems, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. And when a major storm hits, working families, particularly those from communities of color, are the last to see relief.</p> <p>What once was solely an environmental debate for some has been transformed into an economic and social justice one. The frontlines of the crisis have made this so.</p> <p>It was especially apparent here in New York during Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. Both storms caused massive flooding, knocked out power and water supplies, and displaced tens of thousands of families. Long-standing issues with toxic mold were revealed and compounded, and rodent infestations surged.</p> <p>These problems were uncovered and exacerbated by storms like Irene and Sandy but they were not new. Policy choices and disinvestment in infrastructure over the last decade have caused working families across New York to live in an ongoing state of neglect, putting them at a disproportionate risk during major weather events.</p> <p>But our future is not written in stone, and it’s time we bring justice and opportunity to the working people who are most impacted by climate change.</p> <p>That’s why a coalition of more than 70 organizations including the most influential community leaders, grassroots activists, unions, and environmental justice advocates have banded together to stem the tide of climate change in New York. They are workers, immigrants, and people of color from both upstate and downstate New York. And they are throwing their support behind the strongest climate protection bill in the country – the NYS Climate &amp; Community Protection Act (<a target="_blank" href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A10342&amp;term=2015">A.10342</a>/<a target="_blank" href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2015/S8005">S.8005</a>).</p> <p>This bill would make Governor Cuomo’s climate and clean energy commitments legally enforceable and set specific benchmarks and reporting requirements to ensure emissions reductions and rapid deployment of clean, renewable energy. And it would ensure the new clean energy economy creates good jobs by applying a prevailing wage to both construction and operations projects that include energy spending. In short, it would clean our air, improve our health, make our communities safer, and create new opportunities with a next-generation green economy.</p> <p>The NYS Climate &amp; Community Protection Act recently passed the state Assembly after a massive convergence of New Yorkers at the state Capitol demanded lawmakers support the bill. It is now being moved through the state Senate by Senator Diane Savino, who championed the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-community-risk-and-resiliency-act">2014 Community Risk and Resiliency Act</a> that was signed into law just after the People's Climate March, along with cosponsors Senators Tony Avella and Brad Hoylman.</p> <p>We have an opportunity right now to set an example for the rest of the country to follow. The time is now for New York to rise to the occasion and make our state the gold standard for clean, renewable energy. That’s why we’re calling on Governor Cuomo and the rest of the state’s lawmakers to see this bill through, so New Yorkers get the climate change protections they need and New York gets the next-generation green economy it deserves.</p> <p>***<br />Elizabeth Yeampierre is executive director of <a target="_blank" href="http://uprose.org/">UPROSE</a>. On Twitter <a target="_blank" href="https://twitter.com/yeampierre?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">@yeampierre</a>.<br />Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez is president of the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nysna.org/">New York State Nurses Association</a>. On Twitter <a target="_blank" href="https://twitter.com/nynurses">@NYSNA</a>.</p> <p>

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

</p>
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 31 2016-05-30T04:00:00+00:00 2016-05-30T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6365:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-may-31 Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></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>This week we're continuing to look for developments in the investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio, his administration and allies and into Governor Andrew Cuomo's economic development programs, his administration and allies.</p> <p>Meanwhile, there are nine legislative session days left in Albany, if lawmakers use them all, including this week’s Wednesday and Thursday meetings. Mayoral control of New York City schools must be dealt with - it is due to expire at the end of June. There are a variety of other high-profile issues that may see legislation, like changes to the state's laws around child sex abuse and daily fantasy sports betting, as well as government ethics reforms like limiting the LLC loophole or modifying pension forfeiture laws; but lawmakers may do very little and get out of town. All 213 seats in the Assembly (150) and Senate (63) are up for election this fall and legislators may be eager to devote their full attention to their home districts, campaign fundraising, and re-election efforts.</p> <p>And as we hit June, it's also crunch time in city budget season, so we're following the final negotiations between Mayor de Blasio and the City Council. It has been a fairly quiet budget season, though the Council is pushing for several additions to funding before a final budget is adopted by the July 1 start of the new fiscal year. Those items include additional funding for arts programs, summer camps, and summer youth employment.</p> <p>While it is a fairly quiet post-holiday week in terms of events, there are several hearings at the Council and more to be aware of - see 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">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday - Memorial Day</strong></p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Mayor de Blasio has no public events scheduled Tuesday. The same goes for Gov. Cuomo.</p> <p>On Tuesday at 9 a.m. at Fordham University, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña “will deliver brief remarks at a professional development for bilingual educators, hosted by the DOE's Division of English Language Learners and Student Support.”</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Tuesday: at 1 p.m., the Committee on Environmental Protection will hold an oversight hearing on facilitating solar energy production in the city.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Tuesday at the David Dinkins Municipal Building, there will be a Gun Violence Awareness Month press conference. Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Jumaane Williams, Vanessa Gibson, and Laurie Cumbo; representatives from the de Blasio administration; and leading community activists will speak.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday</strong><br />Both houses of the state Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p>On Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Albany, the Senate Standing Committee on Banks <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">will hold</a> a hearing examining credit and capital access for Minority and Women Owned Businesses.</p> <p>On Wednesday, The Fund for the City of New York will announce the recipients of the 2016 Sloan Public Service Awards, the leading independent honor for City employees given each year to those who have built long careers serving New Yorkers. This year’s recipients—who have worked for the City for a combined 200 years—include longtime employees of the NYPD, MTA, Human Resources Administration, Department of Health and Hospitals, Department of Environmental Protection, and Department for the Aging.</p> <p>On Wednesday evening,&nbsp;"Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., together with Council Members Ritchie Torres and James Vacca, will co-host the borough’s sixth annual LGBTQ &amp; Allies Pride Awards Ceremony."</p> <p><strong>Thursday</strong><br />Both houses of the state Legislature are in session on Thursday in Albany.</p> <p>On Thursday&nbsp;City Council Member Andy King will hold a “Wear Orange/National Gun Violence Awareness Day” press conference at 7 a.m. in front of PS 111..."Dedicating themselves to reducing the deadly crisis of gun violence, more than 100 public school students will be dressed in orange -- the official color of National Gun Violence Awareness Month -- to speak out against gun violence." Then, at 8 a.m., Council Member King "and the Justice League NYC will kick off the “March4Ramarley” March...at 749 E. 229th St...The group will march 17 miles from the home of the slain Bronx teen Ramarley Graham, to 1 Police Plaza, Manhattan, calling on Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton to fire all the NYPD officers involved in the killing of Graham."</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton will highlight improvements the community has made over the last year and present his policy priorities for 2016 and beyond at his State of the District Address, to be delivered in conjunction with a Community Resource Fair.</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li>9:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet.</li> <li>10 a.m., the Committee on Women’s Issues will hold a hearing on three bills that would require free feminine hygiene products be provided to inmates at the Department of Correction, supplied by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene at temporary shelters, and supplied by DOHMH to all schools. [Read more about the bills and what to expect at the hearing: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6362-council-to-hear-bills-on-providing-tampons-at-shelters-prisons-schools" target="_blank">Council to Hear Bills on Providing Tampons at Prisons, Shelters &amp; Schools</a>]</li> <li>11 a.m., the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses will meet.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend</strong><br />At the City Council on Friday at 10 a.m., the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency will hold an oversight hearing on the financing of the city’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy.</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">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Aaron Holmes and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></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>This week we're continuing to look for developments in the investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio, his administration and allies and into Governor Andrew Cuomo's economic development programs, his administration and allies.</p> <p>Meanwhile, there are nine legislative session days left in Albany, if lawmakers use them all, including this week’s Wednesday and Thursday meetings. Mayoral control of New York City schools must be dealt with - it is due to expire at the end of June. There are a variety of other high-profile issues that may see legislation, like changes to the state's laws around child sex abuse and daily fantasy sports betting, as well as government ethics reforms like limiting the LLC loophole or modifying pension forfeiture laws; but lawmakers may do very little and get out of town. All 213 seats in the Assembly (150) and Senate (63) are up for election this fall and legislators may be eager to devote their full attention to their home districts, campaign fundraising, and re-election efforts.</p> <p>And as we hit June, it's also crunch time in city budget season, so we're following the final negotiations between Mayor de Blasio and the City Council. It has been a fairly quiet budget season, though the Council is pushing for several additions to funding before a final budget is adopted by the July 1 start of the new fiscal year. Those items include additional funding for arts programs, summer camps, and summer youth employment.</p> <p>While it is a fairly quiet post-holiday week in terms of events, there are several hearings at the Council and more to be aware of - see 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">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday - Memorial Day</strong></p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Mayor de Blasio has no public events scheduled Tuesday. The same goes for Gov. Cuomo.</p> <p>On Tuesday at 9 a.m. at Fordham University, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña “will deliver brief remarks at a professional development for bilingual educators, hosted by the DOE's Division of English Language Learners and Student Support.”</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Tuesday: at 1 p.m., the Committee on Environmental Protection will hold an oversight hearing on facilitating solar energy production in the city.</p> <p>At 1 p.m. Tuesday at the David Dinkins Municipal Building, there will be a Gun Violence Awareness Month press conference. Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Jumaane Williams, Vanessa Gibson, and Laurie Cumbo; representatives from the de Blasio administration; and leading community activists will speak.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday</strong><br />Both houses of the state Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p>On Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Albany, the Senate Standing Committee on Banks <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">will hold</a> a hearing examining credit and capital access for Minority and Women Owned Businesses.</p> <p>On Wednesday, The Fund for the City of New York will announce the recipients of the 2016 Sloan Public Service Awards, the leading independent honor for City employees given each year to those who have built long careers serving New Yorkers. This year’s recipients—who have worked for the City for a combined 200 years—include longtime employees of the NYPD, MTA, Human Resources Administration, Department of Health and Hospitals, Department of Environmental Protection, and Department for the Aging.</p> <p>On Wednesday evening,&nbsp;"Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., together with Council Members Ritchie Torres and James Vacca, will co-host the borough’s sixth annual LGBTQ &amp; Allies Pride Awards Ceremony."</p> <p><strong>Thursday</strong><br />Both houses of the state Legislature are in session on Thursday in Albany.</p> <p>On Thursday&nbsp;City Council Member Andy King will hold a “Wear Orange/National Gun Violence Awareness Day” press conference at 7 a.m. in front of PS 111..."Dedicating themselves to reducing the deadly crisis of gun violence, more than 100 public school students will be dressed in orange -- the official color of National Gun Violence Awareness Month -- to speak out against gun violence." Then, at 8 a.m., Council Member King "and the Justice League NYC will kick off the “March4Ramarley” March...at 749 E. 229th St...The group will march 17 miles from the home of the slain Bronx teen Ramarley Graham, to 1 Police Plaza, Manhattan, calling on Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton to fire all the NYPD officers involved in the killing of Graham."</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton will highlight improvements the community has made over the last year and present his policy priorities for 2016 and beyond at his State of the District Address, to be delivered in conjunction with a Community Resource Fair.</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li>9:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet.</li> <li>10 a.m., the Committee on Women’s Issues will hold a hearing on three bills that would require free feminine hygiene products be provided to inmates at the Department of Correction, supplied by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene at temporary shelters, and supplied by DOHMH to all schools. [Read more about the bills and what to expect at the hearing: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6362-council-to-hear-bills-on-providing-tampons-at-shelters-prisons-schools" target="_blank">Council to Hear Bills on Providing Tampons at Prisons, Shelters &amp; Schools</a>]</li> <li>11 a.m., the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses will meet.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend</strong><br />At the City Council on Friday at 10 a.m., the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency will hold an oversight hearing on the financing of the city’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy.</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">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Aaron Holmes and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Major City Issues at Play in Politically Charged, Post-Budget Legislative Session 2016-04-06T22:49:29+00:00 2016-04-06T22:49:29+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6267:major-city-issues-at-play-in-politically-charged-post-budget-legislative-session Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/26096555691_00e0f8bb7b_z.jpg" alt="cuomo budget paid leave pic" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo announces the budget deal (photo via The Governor's Office)</span></p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo dismissed the idea of extending state government's legislative session this year to tackle ethics reform during an appearance in Binghamton on Wednesday. "We have a relatively light agenda because we did so much work in the budget," the governor said. "We passed the minimum wage increase, we passed paid family leave, we passed a great package for the middle class, we passed a great package for upstate New York, more education funding than ever before."</p> <p>It's a concerning statement for some advocates and elected officials who see the session full of unresolved issues - including, but beyond ethics - especially ones that impact New York City, issues that the governor himself tackled during his January State of the State speech or has since brought to the table. Some advocates take the governor's statement as an acknowledgement that he traded away issues Senate Republicans oppose to get a minimum wage increase, and not only in the budget, but for the rest of the legislative session that has just begun and is scheduled to end in June.</p> <p>All-important control of the State Senate will be up for grabs again in November, but a key battle in the overall war will be decided on April 19 in the contest to fill the seat vacated by former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, recently convicted on federal corruption charges. The April special and impending November elections mean legislators are anxious to get back to their districts while avoiding political landmines.</p> <p>Ethics reforms are one of the many issues jettisoned from budget talks that lawmakers say were dominated by minimum wage negotiations. Major issues of particular importance to New York City yet to be addressed this year include mayoral control of schools; a multitude of criminal justice reforms, some of which were introduced by Cuomo; housing programs, including a replacement for the 421-a property tax credit aimed at spurring affordable housing development; and two education matters that have been linked in the past: The DREAM Act and the education investment tax credit.</p> <p><strong>Mayoral Control</strong><br />Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and his conference have used Mayor Bill de Blasio as a progressive boogieman since the mayor tried to help Democrats win control of the chamber in 2014. Last year Flanagan successfully beat back the mayor's push for a seven-year extension of mayoral control, getting his negotiating partners to settle on one year. He again maneuvered discussion of renewal out of this year's budget discussions and before a spending deal was even announced, he <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com:8080/index.php/government/6241-senate-schedules-de-blasio-for-two-hearings-on-mayoral-control-of-city-schools" target="_blank">scheduled hearings on mayoral control</a> for May 4 in Albany and May 19 in New York City. Mayoral control is due to sunset on June 30.</p> <p>Many Democrats expect Senate Republicans to delay actually acting on mayoral control until as late as possible in order to keep de Blasio "in check." With no other sensible alternative, de Blasio has been gracious about the situation so far, saying he plans to attend the hearings "personally" and welcomes the chance for "dialogue" on the issue.</p> <p><strong>Criminal Justice Reforms</strong><br />Gov. Cuomo has supported <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6249-criminal-justice-reform-again-given-little-attention-in-budget-negotiations" target="_blank">three major criminal justice reforms</a> over the last two years: Raise the Age, an effort to end New York's practice of treating 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system; an effort to create independent review of police killings of civilians; and a program to increase data reporting of the race and ethnicity of individuals involved in police interactions. Unable to deliver on the first two last year, Cuomo took executive action. He moved 16- and 17-year-olds out of adult prisons and gave Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office the discretion to look into police killings of civilians. Advocates were pleased, but acknowledged both issues still needed to be addressed in law.</p> <p>This year Cuomo has proposed a bill that would give his office the ability to convene an investigation into police killings of civilians but only if certain criteria is met. He has continued to push for Raise the Age but not with the urgency supporters would like. They point out that even being held in separate facilities from older inmates, 16- and 17-year-olds are still treated as adults when arrested and tried, which make negative outcomes and criminal records more likely.</p> <p>On Tuesday, supporters of a bill that would mandate the state collect data on police interactions with the public gathered in Albany to push Senate Republicans and Cuomo to act on an issue they call "common sense."</p> <p>The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Joseph Lentol and state Senator Daniel Squadron, both Brooklyn Democrats, would require the state to collect and report data on the number of tickets and misdemeanor arrests across the state; the number of civilian deaths in police custody or during an arrest; the race, ethnicity, and sex of those charged with misdemeanors and violations; and the geographic location of enforcement-related activity and arrest-related deaths. Lentol said the bill is not "anti-police" but a "transparency" and "open government" tool to improve relations between police and communities across the state. Lentol prodded Gov. Cuomo to act, noting that Cuomo has a similar bill that has failed to garner support.</p> <p>"Yet again, communities of color were left behind in New York State budget negotiations, with no meaningful advancement of any criminal justice reforms," said Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY. "Passing the STAT Act this legislative session provides an opportunity for Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to show they value the safety and dignity of all New Yorkers."</p> <p>Squadron told Gotham Gazette that the bill is one that Senate Republicans "put in a black box, a dark room," never to be seen again. "This isn't something we have debated. We haven't heard their argument against it, it just disappears." Lentol, however, said that he believes police unions are using their influence to block the bill.</p> <p>Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, Democrat of Queens, supports Lentol's bill and said that he feels his constituents and advocates are growing frustrated that the Senate fails to vote on criminal justice reforms year after year. "I think the governor is really going to have to move on some of these bills and not just wave his hands in the air and say 'It's the Republicans'" Aubry said. "We know he can get what he wants. He has an election coming up and he's got to deliver for these communities."</p> <p>A spokesperson for the governor, Dani Lever, said in a statement that&nbsp;"The governor has and continues to push for comprehensive criminal justice reform to address the treatment of juveniles in the system and the prosecution of fatality cases involving law enforcement. Despite the legislature's failure to agree on these reforms, the governor has taken bold action and issued executive orders appointing a special prosecutor in police cases (the first of its kind in the country) and removing juveniles from adult state prisons. Until the legislature passes real reforms, the governor's executive orders will remain in effect."</p> <p><strong>Housing</strong><br />Last year in an unprecedented move, Cuomo put the fate of the 421-a tax abatement program in the hands of the two stakeholder industries - real estate developers and construction unions. Whatever deal they reached on wages in new housing developments utilizing 421-a was to be enacted into law with other reforms to the program, but if they failed, 421-a would sunset. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6038-negotiations-to-extend-important-affordable-housing-tax-break-said-to-reach-impasse" target="_blank">Negotiations floundered</a> and 421-a is dead.</p> <p>The program is thought to be essential to affordable housing production in New York City, making it profitable for developers to build new rental housing with some affordable units included. When Cuomo rejected compromise legislation crafted by de Blasio last June, it was one of the final straws to break de Blasio's back (along with the mayoral control compromise and more), <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">leading to his now-infamous tirade</a> against the governor on June 30. De Blasio's affordable housing goals rely on 421-a-related production.</p> <p>On Monday, Cuomo <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/albany-newsmakers/2016/04/4/ny1-online--governor-cuomo-breaks-down-state-budget.html" target="_blank">told NY1's Errol Louis</a> that he is looking for a replacement. "You can have a fair program that pays a fair rate to the unions and also a fair rate of profit to the developers," Cuomo said. "I believe there is that balance to be struck. But they have to strike that balance. We're still trying, but the Legislature is not going to approve a plan that kicks the labor unions out of the affordable housing business."</p> <p>Bill Murrow, the governor's top aide, followed up those comments on Tuesday during a Crain's New York Business breakfast event, indicating that labor and real estate are indeed negotiating again. "The developers, REBNY, and the construction trades...they'll find some common ground. I am hopeful that sometime between now and June that something will actually happen," Mulrow <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/04/8595747/cuomo-administration-hopeful-about-421-successor?top-featured-image" target="_blank">said</a>.</p> <p>On Tuesday, tenant advocates gathered in Albany to demand that negotiations on 421-a or something like must also include strengthening rent regulations. Delsenia Glover, campaign manager for the Alliance for Tenant Power opened the press conference by condemning the deal that renewed the rent laws last year. "We pretty much got nothing," she said. "At the time Governor Cuomo said they were the 'strongest rent laws in history.' It's not true, we got nothing." Members of the crowd shouted "He lied!"</p> <p>Glover said she has been disturbed to hear "lamentations" that 421-a is dead, saying she was glad a "giveaway to luxury developers" and "$1.1 billion tax suck" was dead and that assertions that developers won't be able to build affordable housing without it is patently false.</p> <p>"Our demand," said Glover, "is this: If 421-a or anything that looks like 421-a is revived or created then the rent laws must be reopened, we get rid of vacancy bonus, fix preferential rents, and then maybe we can have a conversation."</p> <p>A number of legislators who spoke after Glover pushed against the idea of any 421-a renewal. Assembly Member Walter Mosley of Brooklyn said he doesn't use the term '421-a' because "We don't want nothin' like 421-a to resurface, but ultimately we understand if anything like 421-a comes to the floor then we reopen the rent laws. Without that we have no discussion."</p> <p>Assembly Housing Chair Keith Wright, who introduced a plan of something of a 421-a alternative earlier this year to a tepid response, brought up his proposal in front of the audience that was openly hostile to any replacement. Wright's plan would utilize the state's abandoned property fund to give a subsidy of $100,000 per affordable unit at a cost of about $200 million per year, compared to 421-a's 25-year property tax break and $1 billion annual tax revenue price tag.</p> <p>"The plan was not...people were intrigued by the idea," Wright told the crowd, seeming to catch himself in an effort to promote the measure, "but listen anything in Albany takes a minute to work up to, but we are still pushing that plan, but we are still under siege."</p> <p>Wright is a close ally of Cuomo and many expect that his plan was the first shot fired in an effort to restore a 421-a plan. The fact that Cuomo and Wright are openly pushing a replacement and that Senate Republicans are likely to want to deliver for real estate developers makes many advocates think it is a question of "when" not "if" a 421-a replacement comes to the floor of both houses. They hope to keep up public pressure to win some sort of concessions when it takes place.</p> <p><strong>Other Education Issues</strong><br />Last year Cuomo tried to connect the DREAM Act that would allow the undocumented access to college tuition assistance and the education tax credit that would give benefits to those who donate to private schools. The DREAM Act has massive support in the Assembly, which has passed the measure repeatedly over the last few years and the education tax credit is a favorite of Senate Republicans. Cuomo's bid at linkage failed last year (he did not attempt to link them again this year, but did include both in his executive budget), but both issues remain on the table and the fact that they were left out of the budget has rankled a number of lawmakers.</p> <p>Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat from Brooklyn who caucuses with Republicans, was said to be so upset that Republicans didn't demand the education tax credit be part of the budget that he didn't conference with them during budget negotiations (he was then the lone Senate "no" vote on the minimum wage and education budget bill). Meanwhile, DREAM supporters like Sen. Jose Peralta, a Democrat from Queens, railed against its exclusion during the late-night budget debate.</p> <p>For supporters of each measure the problem seems to be that opposition to the other measure has become a litmus test for some in their party's base. Senate Republicans have included language touting the disinclusion of the DREAM Act in the budget on the Senate website, listing it as an accomplishment:</p> <p>"Rejecting the Use of Taxpayer Dollars to Fund College Tuition for Illegal Immigrants:</p> <p>"The final budget rejects an Executive Budget proposal that would have cost state taxpayers $27 million and reward people who are here illegally by giving them free college tuition. The measure would have extended all other criteria, exemptions or opportunities found within the education law - including all scholarship and tuition assistance programs funded with state tax dollars - to illegal immigrants while hardworking middle-class families are already being forced to take out massive college loans to pay for higher education."</p> <p>Meanwhile, public school advocates are entrenched against the education tax credit, saying that it is a taxpayer giveaway to millionaires who will flood their favored schools with donations using up the credit before average families can utilize it. The Alliance for Quality Education, a teachers union-aligned group, has held press conferences and briefings against the policy this year.</p> <p><strong>Albany Tradition</strong><br />If the past is indeed prologue than it is a safe bet that many of these issues will not come to a vote in both houses this year. With an important special election, a presidential race, and the entire Legislature up for (re)election, leaders will likely be looking to rest on the work they did in the budget and get back to their districts. While there will be a lot of noise made by the media and good government groups around ethics reform, no one who knows Albany is holding their breath.</p> <p>Mayoral control of city schools is the only key policy related to New York City facing an expiration date and <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com:8080/index.php/government/6241-senate-schedules-de-blasio-for-two-hearings-on-mayoral-control-of-city-schools" target="_blank">all-but-sure to see action</a>. The questions are what Senate Republicans demand in exchange for extension, how long it is extended for, and how much they make de Blasio sweat in the process.</p> <p>Including Wednesday, April 6, there are currently 25 session days remaining until <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/calendar/" target="_blank">its scheduled</a> end on June 16.</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/26096555691_00e0f8bb7b_z.jpg" alt="cuomo budget paid leave pic" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo announces the budget deal (photo via The Governor's Office)</span></p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo dismissed the idea of extending state government's legislative session this year to tackle ethics reform during an appearance in Binghamton on Wednesday. "We have a relatively light agenda because we did so much work in the budget," the governor said. "We passed the minimum wage increase, we passed paid family leave, we passed a great package for the middle class, we passed a great package for upstate New York, more education funding than ever before."</p> <p>It's a concerning statement for some advocates and elected officials who see the session full of unresolved issues - including, but beyond ethics - especially ones that impact New York City, issues that the governor himself tackled during his January State of the State speech or has since brought to the table. Some advocates take the governor's statement as an acknowledgement that he traded away issues Senate Republicans oppose to get a minimum wage increase, and not only in the budget, but for the rest of the legislative session that has just begun and is scheduled to end in June.</p> <p>All-important control of the State Senate will be up for grabs again in November, but a key battle in the overall war will be decided on April 19 in the contest to fill the seat vacated by former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, recently convicted on federal corruption charges. The April special and impending November elections mean legislators are anxious to get back to their districts while avoiding political landmines.</p> <p>Ethics reforms are one of the many issues jettisoned from budget talks that lawmakers say were dominated by minimum wage negotiations. Major issues of particular importance to New York City yet to be addressed this year include mayoral control of schools; a multitude of criminal justice reforms, some of which were introduced by Cuomo; housing programs, including a replacement for the 421-a property tax credit aimed at spurring affordable housing development; and two education matters that have been linked in the past: The DREAM Act and the education investment tax credit.</p> <p><strong>Mayoral Control</strong><br />Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and his conference have used Mayor Bill de Blasio as a progressive boogieman since the mayor tried to help Democrats win control of the chamber in 2014. Last year Flanagan successfully beat back the mayor's push for a seven-year extension of mayoral control, getting his negotiating partners to settle on one year. He again maneuvered discussion of renewal out of this year's budget discussions and before a spending deal was even announced, he <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com:8080/index.php/government/6241-senate-schedules-de-blasio-for-two-hearings-on-mayoral-control-of-city-schools" target="_blank">scheduled hearings on mayoral control</a> for May 4 in Albany and May 19 in New York City. Mayoral control is due to sunset on June 30.</p> <p>Many Democrats expect Senate Republicans to delay actually acting on mayoral control until as late as possible in order to keep de Blasio "in check." With no other sensible alternative, de Blasio has been gracious about the situation so far, saying he plans to attend the hearings "personally" and welcomes the chance for "dialogue" on the issue.</p> <p><strong>Criminal Justice Reforms</strong><br />Gov. Cuomo has supported <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6249-criminal-justice-reform-again-given-little-attention-in-budget-negotiations" target="_blank">three major criminal justice reforms</a> over the last two years: Raise the Age, an effort to end New York's practice of treating 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system; an effort to create independent review of police killings of civilians; and a program to increase data reporting of the race and ethnicity of individuals involved in police interactions. Unable to deliver on the first two last year, Cuomo took executive action. He moved 16- and 17-year-olds out of adult prisons and gave Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office the discretion to look into police killings of civilians. Advocates were pleased, but acknowledged both issues still needed to be addressed in law.</p> <p>This year Cuomo has proposed a bill that would give his office the ability to convene an investigation into police killings of civilians but only if certain criteria is met. He has continued to push for Raise the Age but not with the urgency supporters would like. They point out that even being held in separate facilities from older inmates, 16- and 17-year-olds are still treated as adults when arrested and tried, which make negative outcomes and criminal records more likely.</p> <p>On Tuesday, supporters of a bill that would mandate the state collect data on police interactions with the public gathered in Albany to push Senate Republicans and Cuomo to act on an issue they call "common sense."</p> <p>The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Joseph Lentol and state Senator Daniel Squadron, both Brooklyn Democrats, would require the state to collect and report data on the number of tickets and misdemeanor arrests across the state; the number of civilian deaths in police custody or during an arrest; the race, ethnicity, and sex of those charged with misdemeanors and violations; and the geographic location of enforcement-related activity and arrest-related deaths. Lentol said the bill is not "anti-police" but a "transparency" and "open government" tool to improve relations between police and communities across the state. Lentol prodded Gov. Cuomo to act, noting that Cuomo has a similar bill that has failed to garner support.</p> <p>"Yet again, communities of color were left behind in New York State budget negotiations, with no meaningful advancement of any criminal justice reforms," said Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY. "Passing the STAT Act this legislative session provides an opportunity for Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to show they value the safety and dignity of all New Yorkers."</p> <p>Squadron told Gotham Gazette that the bill is one that Senate Republicans "put in a black box, a dark room," never to be seen again. "This isn't something we have debated. We haven't heard their argument against it, it just disappears." Lentol, however, said that he believes police unions are using their influence to block the bill.</p> <p>Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, Democrat of Queens, supports Lentol's bill and said that he feels his constituents and advocates are growing frustrated that the Senate fails to vote on criminal justice reforms year after year. "I think the governor is really going to have to move on some of these bills and not just wave his hands in the air and say 'It's the Republicans'" Aubry said. "We know he can get what he wants. He has an election coming up and he's got to deliver for these communities."</p> <p>A spokesperson for the governor, Dani Lever, said in a statement that&nbsp;"The governor has and continues to push for comprehensive criminal justice reform to address the treatment of juveniles in the system and the prosecution of fatality cases involving law enforcement. Despite the legislature's failure to agree on these reforms, the governor has taken bold action and issued executive orders appointing a special prosecutor in police cases (the first of its kind in the country) and removing juveniles from adult state prisons. Until the legislature passes real reforms, the governor's executive orders will remain in effect."</p> <p><strong>Housing</strong><br />Last year in an unprecedented move, Cuomo put the fate of the 421-a tax abatement program in the hands of the two stakeholder industries - real estate developers and construction unions. Whatever deal they reached on wages in new housing developments utilizing 421-a was to be enacted into law with other reforms to the program, but if they failed, 421-a would sunset. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6038-negotiations-to-extend-important-affordable-housing-tax-break-said-to-reach-impasse" target="_blank">Negotiations floundered</a> and 421-a is dead.</p> <p>The program is thought to be essential to affordable housing production in New York City, making it profitable for developers to build new rental housing with some affordable units included. When Cuomo rejected compromise legislation crafted by de Blasio last June, it was one of the final straws to break de Blasio's back (along with the mayoral control compromise and more), <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">leading to his now-infamous tirade</a> against the governor on June 30. De Blasio's affordable housing goals rely on 421-a-related production.</p> <p>On Monday, Cuomo <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/albany-newsmakers/2016/04/4/ny1-online--governor-cuomo-breaks-down-state-budget.html" target="_blank">told NY1's Errol Louis</a> that he is looking for a replacement. "You can have a fair program that pays a fair rate to the unions and also a fair rate of profit to the developers," Cuomo said. "I believe there is that balance to be struck. But they have to strike that balance. We're still trying, but the Legislature is not going to approve a plan that kicks the labor unions out of the affordable housing business."</p> <p>Bill Murrow, the governor's top aide, followed up those comments on Tuesday during a Crain's New York Business breakfast event, indicating that labor and real estate are indeed negotiating again. "The developers, REBNY, and the construction trades...they'll find some common ground. I am hopeful that sometime between now and June that something will actually happen," Mulrow <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/04/8595747/cuomo-administration-hopeful-about-421-successor?top-featured-image" target="_blank">said</a>.</p> <p>On Tuesday, tenant advocates gathered in Albany to demand that negotiations on 421-a or something like must also include strengthening rent regulations. Delsenia Glover, campaign manager for the Alliance for Tenant Power opened the press conference by condemning the deal that renewed the rent laws last year. "We pretty much got nothing," she said. "At the time Governor Cuomo said they were the 'strongest rent laws in history.' It's not true, we got nothing." Members of the crowd shouted "He lied!"</p> <p>Glover said she has been disturbed to hear "lamentations" that 421-a is dead, saying she was glad a "giveaway to luxury developers" and "$1.1 billion tax suck" was dead and that assertions that developers won't be able to build affordable housing without it is patently false.</p> <p>"Our demand," said Glover, "is this: If 421-a or anything that looks like 421-a is revived or created then the rent laws must be reopened, we get rid of vacancy bonus, fix preferential rents, and then maybe we can have a conversation."</p> <p>A number of legislators who spoke after Glover pushed against the idea of any 421-a renewal. Assembly Member Walter Mosley of Brooklyn said he doesn't use the term '421-a' because "We don't want nothin' like 421-a to resurface, but ultimately we understand if anything like 421-a comes to the floor then we reopen the rent laws. Without that we have no discussion."</p> <p>Assembly Housing Chair Keith Wright, who introduced a plan of something of a 421-a alternative earlier this year to a tepid response, brought up his proposal in front of the audience that was openly hostile to any replacement. Wright's plan would utilize the state's abandoned property fund to give a subsidy of $100,000 per affordable unit at a cost of about $200 million per year, compared to 421-a's 25-year property tax break and $1 billion annual tax revenue price tag.</p> <p>"The plan was not...people were intrigued by the idea," Wright told the crowd, seeming to catch himself in an effort to promote the measure, "but listen anything in Albany takes a minute to work up to, but we are still pushing that plan, but we are still under siege."</p> <p>Wright is a close ally of Cuomo and many expect that his plan was the first shot fired in an effort to restore a 421-a plan. The fact that Cuomo and Wright are openly pushing a replacement and that Senate Republicans are likely to want to deliver for real estate developers makes many advocates think it is a question of "when" not "if" a 421-a replacement comes to the floor of both houses. They hope to keep up public pressure to win some sort of concessions when it takes place.</p> <p><strong>Other Education Issues</strong><br />Last year Cuomo tried to connect the DREAM Act that would allow the undocumented access to college tuition assistance and the education tax credit that would give benefits to those who donate to private schools. The DREAM Act has massive support in the Assembly, which has passed the measure repeatedly over the last few years and the education tax credit is a favorite of Senate Republicans. Cuomo's bid at linkage failed last year (he did not attempt to link them again this year, but did include both in his executive budget), but both issues remain on the table and the fact that they were left out of the budget has rankled a number of lawmakers.</p> <p>Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat from Brooklyn who caucuses with Republicans, was said to be so upset that Republicans didn't demand the education tax credit be part of the budget that he didn't conference with them during budget negotiations (he was then the lone Senate "no" vote on the minimum wage and education budget bill). Meanwhile, DREAM supporters like Sen. Jose Peralta, a Democrat from Queens, railed against its exclusion during the late-night budget debate.</p> <p>For supporters of each measure the problem seems to be that opposition to the other measure has become a litmus test for some in their party's base. Senate Republicans have included language touting the disinclusion of the DREAM Act in the budget on the Senate website, listing it as an accomplishment:</p> <p>"Rejecting the Use of Taxpayer Dollars to Fund College Tuition for Illegal Immigrants:</p> <p>"The final budget rejects an Executive Budget proposal that would have cost state taxpayers $27 million and reward people who are here illegally by giving them free college tuition. The measure would have extended all other criteria, exemptions or opportunities found within the education law - including all scholarship and tuition assistance programs funded with state tax dollars - to illegal immigrants while hardworking middle-class families are already being forced to take out massive college loans to pay for higher education."</p> <p>Meanwhile, public school advocates are entrenched against the education tax credit, saying that it is a taxpayer giveaway to millionaires who will flood their favored schools with donations using up the credit before average families can utilize it. The Alliance for Quality Education, a teachers union-aligned group, has held press conferences and briefings against the policy this year.</p> <p><strong>Albany Tradition</strong><br />If the past is indeed prologue than it is a safe bet that many of these issues will not come to a vote in both houses this year. With an important special election, a presidential race, and the entire Legislature up for (re)election, leaders will likely be looking to rest on the work they did in the budget and get back to their districts. While there will be a lot of noise made by the media and good government groups around ethics reform, no one who knows Albany is holding their breath.</p> <p>Mayoral control of city schools is the only key policy related to New York City facing an expiration date and <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com:8080/index.php/government/6241-senate-schedules-de-blasio-for-two-hearings-on-mayoral-control-of-city-schools" target="_blank">all-but-sure to see action</a>. The questions are what Senate Republicans demand in exchange for extension, how long it is extended for, and how much they make de Blasio sweat in the process.</p> <p>Including Wednesday, April 6, there are currently 25 session days remaining until <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/calendar/" target="_blank">its scheduled</a> end on June 16.</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 4 2016-04-03T05:00:00+00:00 2016-04-03T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6260:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-april-4 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></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>We're about two weeks from New York's April 19 presidential primary vote. The three remaining Republican candidates and two remaining Democrats have been campaigning in New York, which is more in play than it has been in several cycles. Hillary Clinton is set to hold events in New York City and Albany Monday, including a rally with Gov. Cuomo and a meeting with state Assembly Democrats, and while the candidates are also paying attention to Wisconsin as the week begins, New York already has a great deal of their and the nation's focus. It should be an exciting and dramatic two weeks. As this week begins, the Clinton and Sanders campaigns continue to spar over whether there will be a Democratic debate in New York before the state votes.</p> <p>All three Republican candidates - Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich - are set to attend the New York GOP's annual gala, set for April 14. The candidates are expected to campaign in New York over the next two weeks.</p> <p>The day of the New York presidential primaries, April 19, is also the date of special elections in the state Legislature, including the races to replace both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both those races appear competitive two weeks out. The Senate race is especially important given that Democrats are eyeing this year's elections as a chance to take control of the chamber - they already have a wide majority in the Assembly.</p> <p>Monday will see return to a focus on the recently-passed state budget. Hillary Clinton will rally in New York City Monday with Gov. Cuomo and others to celebrate that the budget includes a path to a $15 per hour minimum wage and a paid family leave policy.</p> <p>There is sure to be more analysis of the $147-plus billion budget this week, it was passed Friday after much last-minute negotiating (a deal was announced just a few hours before the midnight Thursday deadline, with voting by the Legislature taking place through Thursday evening and into Friday - the state's fiscal year begins April 1). The new budget was met with some criticism, largely over the process by which it was agreed upon and passed with little time for review by lawmakers and the public, and much celebration, especially over the minimum wage and paid family leave provisions, as well as increased funding for education, transportation infrastructure, and more. There is a lot of budget language to digest as the details have been made public.</p> <p>The Legislature is due in Albany for three days of post-budget legislative session this week. Including this week, there are 27 days of session scheduled between now and its scheduled end on June 16. Issues to address include mayoral control of New York City schools, which expires at the end of June (the Senate will hold two May hearings, it recently announced, at which Mayor de Blasio is expected to testify), a property tax abatement program to spur affordable housing development (renewing or replacing the expired 421-a program), raising the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16, the Dream Act, and much more - including government ethics reform, which the governor says will be his top priority after none was included in the budget deal.</p> <p>On Monday we expect the City Council's official response to Mayor Bill de Blasio's $82 billion preliminary budget plan. The Council has held a month of budget hearings and now has the state budget to consider, so it is able to give its response to the mayor, who will take it and the state budget into account as he prepares his executive budget. When de Blasio releases his updated spending plan in a few weeks, it will kick off another round of Council budget hearings as the two sides head toward a deal by the end of June and the July 1 start of the city's new fiscal year. Since major cuts in funding to the city from the state that Gov. Cuomo had in his budget plan were taken out of the final deal, there will be little drama to the city budget process the rest of the way. The biggest bone of contention appears to be whether the mayor is insisting on enough agency savings. There will also be small battles over things like <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6240-library-funding-one-discrepancy-in-quiet-city-budget-season" target="_blank">levels of library funding</a>.</p> <p>Many eyes are also <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">on East New York as the week begins</a>. A large area of the Brooklyn community is set to be rezoned, the first of 15 neighborhoods where the de Blasio administration plans to significantly change land use rules to facilitate more housing and community improvements, but the clock is ticking as the administration and local stakeholders, led by City Council Member Rafael Espinal, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">negotiate the final details of the plan</a>. There is no zoning subcommittee or land use committee vote scheduled as of Sunday evening, but one could be scheduled if a deal is reached. The parties have until the end of the month to reach and pass a deal.</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>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Council’s preliminary budget response to Mayor de Blasio is expected on Monday.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Monday at the Javits Center in Manhattan, The Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice will hold a "victory rally for $15 minimum wage and paid family leave"&nbsp;- participants will include "Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; Hillary Clinton; George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Chair of the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice; labor leaders; advocates and minimum wage workers." City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is expected to attend the rally, according to her schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 1 p.m. at 1 Police Plaza,&nbsp;"Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton will host a press conference to discuss monthly crime stats," according to the mayor's public schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Transportation will meet to discuss several items, such as the provision of certain parking privileges for press vehicles, the requirement of curb extensions at certain dangerous intersections, and the establishment of Earth Day 2016 as a car-free day for private and all non-essential city vehicles.</li> <li dir="ltr">10:30 a.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will meet to discuss various candidates for appointment to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Board of Corrections, and the City Planning Commission.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet to address several land use applications.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Contracts will hold an oversight meeting on the challenges facing nonprofits in city contracting.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 11:30 a.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña&nbsp;will visit "a Model Dual Language Program to make an announcement," at High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at noon,&nbsp;"At a press conference Monday, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance will release a new report on Mayor de Blasio's OneNYC Plan, his administration's blueprint for increasing the city's environmental sustainability and resiliency. The report shows that six low-income communities of color on the waterfront designated by the city as Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas (SMIAs)—the South Bronx, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Newtown Creek, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the North Shore of Staten Island—are still the most vulnerable to the threats of climate change and not sufficiently protected by the OneNYC Plan. A number of constructive recommendations for strengthening the plan are offered in the detailed report."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks&nbsp;"at 32BJ Security Contract Rally" at the Wall Street Bull. At 9 p.m., Stringer will appear on BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank (BronxNet TV or Bronxnet.org).</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7:30 p.m. Monday in Albany, the burgeoning Museum of Political Corruption will host a <a href="http://www.museumofpoliticalcorruption.org/news.html" target="_blank">roundtable discussion and public forum</a> on political corruption following a reception and fundraiser. Speakers include Frank Anechiarico, professor of government and law at Hamilton College; Blair Horner, Executive Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group; Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law School professor and Congressional candidate; Jimmy Vielkind, Politico NY Albany bureau chief; and Thomas Bass, SUNY Albany professor, who will moderate.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8 a.m., Bill Mulrow, secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo will <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20160317" target="_blank">discuss</a> the administration’s budget goals and legislative priorities, including a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, and infrastructure projects, at a Crain’s New York Business event. Moderating the conversation will be Crain’s New York editor Erik Engquist and Ken Lovett of the Daily News.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Tuesday on the Upper East Side,&nbsp;the launch of LinkNYC Kiosks with free Wi-Fi and more, featuring City Council Member Ben Kallos, Assistant Commissioner Telecommunications Planning at NYC Department of Information and Technology Stanley Shor and LinkNYC General Manager Jen Hensley (86th Street and 3rd Avenue, South East Corner).</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Tuesday: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Immigration will address a resolution calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a decision in U.S. v. Texas, which overturns the Fifth Circuit’s ruling and upholds the implementation of President Obama’s expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m., a town hall meeting to discuss the 2017 referendum to hold a New York constitutional convention will be held at the University at Buffalo. The event will feature a number of experts, such as Gerald Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz and Henrik Dullea, who served as director of state operations and policy management for Governor Mario Cuomo from 1983-91, who will discuss what a constitutional convention would look like and the issues at stake in constitutional reform.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m., The Coalition to End Broken Windows will launch a two-day <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breaking-broken-windows-tickets-21796569125" target="_blank">conference</a>, Breaking Broken Windows, at the CUNY Graduate Center. Participants will evaluate, debate, and debunk Broken Windows policing theory, which “contends that policing disorder leads to reductions in serious crime.” They will also analyze the era of mass criminalization and imprisonment while working towards alternative solutions for a better future for New York City. Speakers include a variety of academics, advocates, and journalists, including Noha Arafa, of New Yorkers Against Bratton, Janine Jackson of Fairness &amp; Accuracy in Reporting, and Professor Alex Vitale of Brooklyn College.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Queens, "City Council "Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Access Queens will host a Town Hall on the 7 train with New York City Transit President Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim. At this event, 7 train riders, angry and frustrated by seemingly endless delays, overcrowding, and weekend and evening closures, will have the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns directly with the president of New York City Transit."</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Manhattan Institute and the Fordham Institute will host a <a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/future-charter-schools—and-school-choice—-nyc-8621.html?et=5c3c75c9f5a6e1fc8f4bc64f46e771fc" target="_blank">conference</a> beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to address “The Future of Charter Schools—And School Choice—In NYC,” following a recent study ranking U.S. cities on various school-choice metrics (by the Fordham Institute) finding that local political support for charters in NYC has fallen from 8th to 26th place, and the city’s overall ranking from 3rd to 12th. Speakers include Priscilla Wohlstetter, professor at Teachers College, Columbia University; James Merriman, president of the New York City Charter School Center; Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute; and Charles Sahm, Director of Education Policy at the Manhattan Institute.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet to address several resolutions on Nicholas’ Law, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, Congressional funding for gun violence research, safeguards against wrongful convictions, and opposing the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Economic Development will hear a bill requiring a survey and study of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity among the leadership of city contractors.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will meet to address several issues deferred from the meeting of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Governmental Operations will meet to evaluate the structure and content of the preliminary Mayor’s Management Report.</li> </ul> <p>On Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Albany,&nbsp;"State Senator Liz Krueger will hold a forum on modernizing sales tax collection in New York State. New York State's current system of sales tax collection has not kept up with changes in retail payment methods and technological innovation. This forum will evaluate proposals for modernizing the collection of sales tax to improve its efficiency for retailers and to reduce the potential for fraud through sales tax suppression. One tax researcher has estimated that sales tax suppression costs New York State $1.7 billion in revenue annually. A number of other states and countries have adopted or are exploring the adoption of new technologies to address these issues."</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host a <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/moving-beyond-the-rhetoric-creating-a-diverse-workplace-in-the-21st-c-tickets-22062477464?ct=t(March+Programs+Week+3+(03082016))&amp;mc_eid=[UNIQID]&amp;mc_cid=6d60e307a9" target="_blank">panel</a> to discuss “Moving Beyond the Rhetoric: Creating a Diverse Workplace in the 21st Century.” Panelists include professionals leading Bloomberg LP’s Diversity and Inclusion group; Kristen Titus, Founding Director of NYC Tech Talent Pipeline; Anthony Crowell, President of New York Law School; Eulas Boyd, Dean of Admissions at Brooklyn Law School; and Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs” and will discuss their experiences in building and instituting workplace diversity policies.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Columbia’s schools of International and Public Affairs and Law will host a public policy forum about policing, criminal justice reform, and public integrity. Loretta Lynch, the 83rd Attorney General of the U.S., will deliver the keynote address. Former Mayor David Dinkins, who the event is named for and is a professor at Columbia, will deliver remarks. Professor Ester Fuchs will moderate a panel on&nbsp;on "Criminal Justice Reform and Public Integrity" featuring Mark Peters, Commissioner, NYC Department of Investigation; Daniel C. Richman, Paul J. Keller Professor of Law, Columbia Law School; Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney; Nicholas Turner, President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice. (This event is by invitation only.)</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to address a land use application and introduce a bill establishing a temporary program to resolve outstanding penalties imposed by the environmental control board.</li> <li dir="ltr">1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body stated meeting, which will be prefaced as usual by a pre-stated press conference hosted by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">State Legislature hearings Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Insurance and the Assembly Standing Committee on Health will be hosting a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/write/upload/publichearing/20160318.pdf" target="_blank">public hearing</a> to evaluate the process of modifying or enhancing health insurance coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">Noon in Oakdale, the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction will host a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">public meeting</a> to examine the issues facing communities in the wake of increased heroin abuse.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Thursday, the MTA will hold a <a href="http://web.mta.info/mta/news/hearings/" target="_blank">public hearing</a> about a proposal to restore service to the N and Q lines in connection with the opening of Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway, expected to be completed late this year.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara <a href="https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/715551466505814016" target="_blank">is scheduled to deliver</a> the keynote speech at the New York Press Association Spring <a href="https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/tab2.aspx?EventID=1812032" target="_blank">Convention</a>, which will begin at 9 a.m. Friday.</p> <p>At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo will join the ROLE Call in hosting the NYC Fatherhood and Family Enrichment Conference at Port Richmond High School. This <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nyc-fatherhood-and-family-enrichment-conference-2016-tickets-21128906127" target="_blank">event</a> aims to enhance Fatherhood Engagement by offering seminars and workshops in family and fatherhood services.</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 Kelly Fan and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></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>We're about two weeks from New York's April 19 presidential primary vote. The three remaining Republican candidates and two remaining Democrats have been campaigning in New York, which is more in play than it has been in several cycles. Hillary Clinton is set to hold events in New York City and Albany Monday, including a rally with Gov. Cuomo and a meeting with state Assembly Democrats, and while the candidates are also paying attention to Wisconsin as the week begins, New York already has a great deal of their and the nation's focus. It should be an exciting and dramatic two weeks. As this week begins, the Clinton and Sanders campaigns continue to spar over whether there will be a Democratic debate in New York before the state votes.</p> <p>All three Republican candidates - Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich - are set to attend the New York GOP's annual gala, set for April 14. The candidates are expected to campaign in New York over the next two weeks.</p> <p>The day of the New York presidential primaries, April 19, is also the date of special elections in the state Legislature, including the races to replace both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both those races appear competitive two weeks out. The Senate race is especially important given that Democrats are eyeing this year's elections as a chance to take control of the chamber - they already have a wide majority in the Assembly.</p> <p>Monday will see return to a focus on the recently-passed state budget. Hillary Clinton will rally in New York City Monday with Gov. Cuomo and others to celebrate that the budget includes a path to a $15 per hour minimum wage and a paid family leave policy.</p> <p>There is sure to be more analysis of the $147-plus billion budget this week, it was passed Friday after much last-minute negotiating (a deal was announced just a few hours before the midnight Thursday deadline, with voting by the Legislature taking place through Thursday evening and into Friday - the state's fiscal year begins April 1). The new budget was met with some criticism, largely over the process by which it was agreed upon and passed with little time for review by lawmakers and the public, and much celebration, especially over the minimum wage and paid family leave provisions, as well as increased funding for education, transportation infrastructure, and more. There is a lot of budget language to digest as the details have been made public.</p> <p>The Legislature is due in Albany for three days of post-budget legislative session this week. Including this week, there are 27 days of session scheduled between now and its scheduled end on June 16. Issues to address include mayoral control of New York City schools, which expires at the end of June (the Senate will hold two May hearings, it recently announced, at which Mayor de Blasio is expected to testify), a property tax abatement program to spur affordable housing development (renewing or replacing the expired 421-a program), raising the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16, the Dream Act, and much more - including government ethics reform, which the governor says will be his top priority after none was included in the budget deal.</p> <p>On Monday we expect the City Council's official response to Mayor Bill de Blasio's $82 billion preliminary budget plan. The Council has held a month of budget hearings and now has the state budget to consider, so it is able to give its response to the mayor, who will take it and the state budget into account as he prepares his executive budget. When de Blasio releases his updated spending plan in a few weeks, it will kick off another round of Council budget hearings as the two sides head toward a deal by the end of June and the July 1 start of the city's new fiscal year. Since major cuts in funding to the city from the state that Gov. Cuomo had in his budget plan were taken out of the final deal, there will be little drama to the city budget process the rest of the way. The biggest bone of contention appears to be whether the mayor is insisting on enough agency savings. There will also be small battles over things like <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6240-library-funding-one-discrepancy-in-quiet-city-budget-season" target="_blank">levels of library funding</a>.</p> <p>Many eyes are also <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">on East New York as the week begins</a>. A large area of the Brooklyn community is set to be rezoned, the first of 15 neighborhoods where the de Blasio administration plans to significantly change land use rules to facilitate more housing and community improvements, but the clock is ticking as the administration and local stakeholders, led by City Council Member Rafael Espinal, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6262-with-clock-ticking-east-new-york-negotiations-to-heat-up" target="_blank">negotiate the final details of the plan</a>. There is no zoning subcommittee or land use committee vote scheduled as of Sunday evening, but one could be scheduled if a deal is reached. The parties have until the end of the month to reach and pass a deal.</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>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Council’s preliminary budget response to Mayor de Blasio is expected on Monday.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Monday at the Javits Center in Manhattan, The Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice will hold a "victory rally for $15 minimum wage and paid family leave"&nbsp;- participants will include "Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; Hillary Clinton; George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Chair of the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice; labor leaders; advocates and minimum wage workers." City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is expected to attend the rally, according to her schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 1 p.m. at 1 Police Plaza,&nbsp;"Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton will host a press conference to discuss monthly crime stats," according to the mayor's public schedule.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Transportation will meet to discuss several items, such as the provision of certain parking privileges for press vehicles, the requirement of curb extensions at certain dangerous intersections, and the establishment of Earth Day 2016 as a car-free day for private and all non-essential city vehicles.</li> <li dir="ltr">10:30 a.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will meet to discuss various candidates for appointment to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Board of Corrections, and the City Planning Commission.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet to address several land use applications.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Contracts will hold an oversight meeting on the challenges facing nonprofits in city contracting.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 11:30 a.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña&nbsp;will visit "a Model Dual Language Program to make an announcement," at High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies in Manhattan.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at noon,&nbsp;"At a press conference Monday, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance will release a new report on Mayor de Blasio's OneNYC Plan, his administration's blueprint for increasing the city's environmental sustainability and resiliency. The report shows that six low-income communities of color on the waterfront designated by the city as Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas (SMIAs)—the South Bronx, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Newtown Creek, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the North Shore of Staten Island—are still the most vulnerable to the threats of climate change and not sufficiently protected by the OneNYC Plan. A number of constructive recommendations for strengthening the plan are offered in the detailed report."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks&nbsp;"at 32BJ Security Contract Rally" at the Wall Street Bull. At 9 p.m., Stringer will appear on BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank (BronxNet TV or Bronxnet.org).</p> <p dir="ltr">At 7:30 p.m. Monday in Albany, the burgeoning Museum of Political Corruption will host a <a href="http://www.museumofpoliticalcorruption.org/news.html" target="_blank">roundtable discussion and public forum</a> on political corruption following a reception and fundraiser. Speakers include Frank Anechiarico, professor of government and law at Hamilton College; Blair Horner, Executive Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group; Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law School professor and Congressional candidate; Jimmy Vielkind, Politico NY Albany bureau chief; and Thomas Bass, SUNY Albany professor, who will moderate.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8 a.m., Bill Mulrow, secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo will <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20160317" target="_blank">discuss</a> the administration’s budget goals and legislative priorities, including a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, and infrastructure projects, at a Crain’s New York Business event. Moderating the conversation will be Crain’s New York editor Erik Engquist and Ken Lovett of the Daily News.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Tuesday on the Upper East Side,&nbsp;the launch of LinkNYC Kiosks with free Wi-Fi and more, featuring City Council Member Ben Kallos, Assistant Commissioner Telecommunications Planning at NYC Department of Information and Technology Stanley Shor and LinkNYC General Manager Jen Hensley (86th Street and 3rd Avenue, South East Corner).</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Tuesday: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Immigration will address a resolution calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a decision in U.S. v. Texas, which overturns the Fifth Circuit’s ruling and upholds the implementation of President Obama’s expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m., a town hall meeting to discuss the 2017 referendum to hold a New York constitutional convention will be held at the University at Buffalo. The event will feature a number of experts, such as Gerald Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz and Henrik Dullea, who served as director of state operations and policy management for Governor Mario Cuomo from 1983-91, who will discuss what a constitutional convention would look like and the issues at stake in constitutional reform.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m., The Coalition to End Broken Windows will launch a two-day <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breaking-broken-windows-tickets-21796569125" target="_blank">conference</a>, Breaking Broken Windows, at the CUNY Graduate Center. Participants will evaluate, debate, and debunk Broken Windows policing theory, which “contends that policing disorder leads to reductions in serious crime.” They will also analyze the era of mass criminalization and imprisonment while working towards alternative solutions for a better future for New York City. Speakers include a variety of academics, advocates, and journalists, including Noha Arafa, of New Yorkers Against Bratton, Janine Jackson of Fairness &amp; Accuracy in Reporting, and Professor Alex Vitale of Brooklyn College.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Queens, "City Council "Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Access Queens will host a Town Hall on the 7 train with New York City Transit President Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim. At this event, 7 train riders, angry and frustrated by seemingly endless delays, overcrowding, and weekend and evening closures, will have the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns directly with the president of New York City Transit."</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Manhattan Institute and the Fordham Institute will host a <a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/future-charter-schools—and-school-choice—-nyc-8621.html?et=5c3c75c9f5a6e1fc8f4bc64f46e771fc" target="_blank">conference</a> beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to address “The Future of Charter Schools—And School Choice—In NYC,” following a recent study ranking U.S. cities on various school-choice metrics (by the Fordham Institute) finding that local political support for charters in NYC has fallen from 8th to 26th place, and the city’s overall ranking from 3rd to 12th. Speakers include Priscilla Wohlstetter, professor at Teachers College, Columbia University; James Merriman, president of the New York City Charter School Center; Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute; and Charles Sahm, Director of Education Policy at the Manhattan Institute.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet to address several resolutions on Nicholas’ Law, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, Congressional funding for gun violence research, safeguards against wrongful convictions, and opposing the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Economic Development will hear a bill requiring a survey and study of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity among the leadership of city contractors.</li> <li dir="ltr">11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will meet to address several issues deferred from the meeting of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses.</li> <li dir="ltr">1 p.m., the Committee on Governmental Operations will meet to evaluate the structure and content of the preliminary Mayor’s Management Report.</li> </ul> <p>On Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Albany,&nbsp;"State Senator Liz Krueger will hold a forum on modernizing sales tax collection in New York State. New York State's current system of sales tax collection has not kept up with changes in retail payment methods and technological innovation. This forum will evaluate proposals for modernizing the collection of sales tax to improve its efficiency for retailers and to reduce the potential for fraud through sales tax suppression. One tax researcher has estimated that sales tax suppression costs New York State $1.7 billion in revenue annually. A number of other states and countries have adopted or are exploring the adoption of new technologies to address these issues."</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host a <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/moving-beyond-the-rhetoric-creating-a-diverse-workplace-in-the-21st-c-tickets-22062477464?ct=t(March+Programs+Week+3+(03082016))&amp;mc_eid=[UNIQID]&amp;mc_cid=6d60e307a9" target="_blank">panel</a> to discuss “Moving Beyond the Rhetoric: Creating a Diverse Workplace in the 21st Century.” Panelists include professionals leading Bloomberg LP’s Diversity and Inclusion group; Kristen Titus, Founding Director of NYC Tech Talent Pipeline; Anthony Crowell, President of New York Law School; Eulas Boyd, Dean of Admissions at Brooklyn Law School; and Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs” and will discuss their experiences in building and instituting workplace diversity policies.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Columbia’s schools of International and Public Affairs and Law will host a public policy forum about policing, criminal justice reform, and public integrity. Loretta Lynch, the 83rd Attorney General of the U.S., will deliver the keynote address. Former Mayor David Dinkins, who the event is named for and is a professor at Columbia, will deliver remarks. Professor Ester Fuchs will moderate a panel on&nbsp;on "Criminal Justice Reform and Public Integrity" featuring Mark Peters, Commissioner, NYC Department of Investigation; Daniel C. Richman, Paul J. Keller Professor of Law, Columbia Law School; Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney; Nicholas Turner, President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice. (This event is by invitation only.)</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to address a land use application and introduce a bill establishing a temporary program to resolve outstanding penalties imposed by the environmental control board.</li> <li dir="ltr">1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body stated meeting, which will be prefaced as usual by a pre-stated press conference hosted by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">State Legislature hearings Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">10 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Insurance and the Assembly Standing Committee on Health will be hosting a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/write/upload/publichearing/20160318.pdf" target="_blank">public hearing</a> to evaluate the process of modifying or enhancing health insurance coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act.</li> <li dir="ltr">Noon in Oakdale, the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction will host a <a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=hear" target="_blank">public meeting</a> to examine the issues facing communities in the wake of increased heroin abuse.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Thursday, the MTA will hold a <a href="http://web.mta.info/mta/news/hearings/" target="_blank">public hearing</a> about a proposal to restore service to the N and Q lines in connection with the opening of Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway, expected to be completed late this year.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara <a href="https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/715551466505814016" target="_blank">is scheduled to deliver</a> the keynote speech at the New York Press Association Spring <a href="https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/tab2.aspx?EventID=1812032" target="_blank">Convention</a>, which will begin at 9 a.m. Friday.</p> <p>At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo will join the ROLE Call in hosting the NYC Fatherhood and Family Enrichment Conference at Port Richmond High School. This <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nyc-fatherhood-and-family-enrichment-conference-2016-tickets-21128906127" target="_blank">event</a> aims to enhance Fatherhood Engagement by offering seminars and workshops in family and fatherhood services.</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 Kelly Fan and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Criminal Justice Reform Again Given Little Attention in Budget Negotiations 2016-03-29T05:00:00+00:00 2016-03-29T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6249:criminal-justice-reform-again-given-little-attention-in-budget-negotiations Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/18532201992_d568c22e11_z.jpg" alt="cuomo prison visit dannemora" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo in Dannemora&nbsp;(photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders rush to deliver an on-time budget, criminal justice reform advocates aren't holding out hope that any of their major legislative priorities will be included in the final document. Advocates are resigned that many of their priorities, which are backed by Cuomo and included in his executive budget, will be pushed to the post-budget legislative session.</p> <p>A budget is due by midnight Thursday, with the new fiscal year beginning on Friday, April 1, but a deal must be in place sooner so that bills can be drafted and voted on. The legislative session then extends into June. Cuomo and legislative leaders said Tuesday that they were getting close to settling the major funding and policy differences that would be included in the budget, with no mention of criminal justice issues.</p> <p>For some advocates it is no surprise given the complexities of their issues, like the push to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility in New York and legislation to amend state law to create a special prosecutor to preside over investigations of police killings of civilians.</p> <p>To others, it isn't surprising for an entirely different reason: they are used to seeing Cuomo pitch major criminal justice reforms during his State of the State address only to abandon them during budget negotiations due to push back from Senate Republicans.</p> <p>"For years we've seen this pattern where the governor comes out with big bold ideas in January but he doesn't follow through," said Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, a community organizing and reform group. "We know the governor is very powerful and can move things when he wants to. He should be acting on these issues that really impact the low-income communities of color who are really his base."</p> <p>The Cuomo administration did not return request for comment.</p> <p>Legislators who support criminal justice reforms say they've been focused on the budget and won't likely return to other legislative issues until next week.</p> <p>Aguilera noted that Cuomo has previously pitched decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana only to abandon the issue. Last year Cuomo dropped "Raise the Age" and legislation to create a special prosecutor to investigate police killings of civilians during budget negotiations. He has also previously abandoned a push to provide inmates with a college education.</p> <p>However, last year while facing pressure to act from family members of the deceased, advocates, and legislators, Cuomo <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5908-cuomo-takes-additional-executive-action-on-criminal-justice" target="_blank">issued an executive order</a> giving Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the ability to investigate police killings of civilians under certain circumstances. The order allows the Attorney General to investigate any case involving a police killing of a civilian and to take over a case from a local District Attorney.</p> <p>The bill Cuomo is backing this year would allow an independent monitor to look into cases if a grand jury decided to not move forward against an officer or if a District Attorney did not put the case before a grand jury in a "reasonable" time. The monitor could then make a recommendation to the Governor. The Attorney General would no longer have a role.</p> <p>Advocates see the proposal, which is not garnering momentum, as a substantial weakening of Cuomo's executive order. Aguilera said she is concerned the current environment might not be ideal for getting the special prosecutor bill her group supports. "Our biggest fear really is seeing a rolling back of our victory. We fought for the executive order which was a very good, solid executive order. We are realistic that the current leadership in the state Senate means it might not be the right time for a stronger bill. We need to protect the current executive order. We don't want to see a watering down of what we already have," she said.</p> <p>Supporters of the plan to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York are more optimistic about their chances. New York is currently <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age" target="_blank">one of just two states</a>, with North Carolina, to try 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.</p> <p>"I think it's going to be a priority for the governor once other priorities are taken care of," said Paige Pierce, CEO of Families Together New York State. "We aren't surprised or unhappy it is being dealt with outside of the budget. We want the attention paid to it that it deserves."</p> <p>The issue of how to treat <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age" target="_blank">16- and 17-year-olds in the state's criminal justice system</a> is complicated. Senate Republicans don't want to be soft on crime, or give the appearance of being so, while Assembly Democrats want to provide a host of alternatives to criminal court.</p> <p>Lawmakers and advocates say that last year they came close to compromise legislation. "We got so close last session, we just ran out of time," said Stephanie Gendell, associate executive director for policy and government relations at Citizen's Committee for Children of New York.</p> <p>Gendell said that legislators from both sides of the aisle were motivated to deliver on legislation when they heard <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5945-one-raise-the-age-story-at-center-of-push-for-legislative-action" target="_blank">details of how 16- and 17-year-olds were treated</a>. "Certain pieces of Raise the Age just aren't controversial to anyone. That's why we got so close," said Gendell. "Legislators were surprised to hear that a 16-year-old arrested can be held all night without parental notification, without anyone knowing. The more people learn the more they are motivated to act."</p> <p>Cuomo did push last year to leave funding in the budget to enact Raise the Age reforms were a deal reached, and that money was there, but no deal occurred. The governor included similar language in <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/EO147.pdf" target="_blank">this year's executive budget</a>. Advocates are anxious to see if the language makes the final budget bills, setting the stage for an agreement in the months ahead. Cuomo also has bail reform on his agenda for the legislative session ahead.</p> <p>The governor, Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan continue to negotiate the budget framework.</p> <p>With no legislative deal reached last year Cuomo<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5797-cuomos-executive-action-on-raise-the-age-prompts-questions" target="_blank"> took executive action</a>, placing all 16- and 17-year-old inmates in an alternative facility. He followed up by pushing the issue again in this year's State of the State address. The Assembly put forward its own version of the bill in its one-house budget. Senate Republicans have indicated some interest in compromising on reform legislation.</p> <p>"Part of why this doesn't get passed in the budget is that it is a very comprehensive piece of legislation," said Gendell. "Out bill is very long and there is a lot to it. When we get to legislative session we can talk more about the details. Senator Flanagan said he didn't want to deal with Raise the Age in the budget, he didn't say he didn't want it to happen at all."</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5797-cuomos-executive-action-on-raise-the-age-prompts-questions" target="_blank">Cuomo's Executive Action on Raise the Age Prompts Questions</a>]</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/18532201992_d568c22e11_z.jpg" alt="cuomo prison visit dannemora" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo in Dannemora&nbsp;(photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders rush to deliver an on-time budget, criminal justice reform advocates aren't holding out hope that any of their major legislative priorities will be included in the final document. Advocates are resigned that many of their priorities, which are backed by Cuomo and included in his executive budget, will be pushed to the post-budget legislative session.</p> <p>A budget is due by midnight Thursday, with the new fiscal year beginning on Friday, April 1, but a deal must be in place sooner so that bills can be drafted and voted on. The legislative session then extends into June. Cuomo and legislative leaders said Tuesday that they were getting close to settling the major funding and policy differences that would be included in the budget, with no mention of criminal justice issues.</p> <p>For some advocates it is no surprise given the complexities of their issues, like the push to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility in New York and legislation to amend state law to create a special prosecutor to preside over investigations of police killings of civilians.</p> <p>To others, it isn't surprising for an entirely different reason: they are used to seeing Cuomo pitch major criminal justice reforms during his State of the State address only to abandon them during budget negotiations due to push back from Senate Republicans.</p> <p>"For years we've seen this pattern where the governor comes out with big bold ideas in January but he doesn't follow through," said Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, a community organizing and reform group. "We know the governor is very powerful and can move things when he wants to. He should be acting on these issues that really impact the low-income communities of color who are really his base."</p> <p>The Cuomo administration did not return request for comment.</p> <p>Legislators who support criminal justice reforms say they've been focused on the budget and won't likely return to other legislative issues until next week.</p> <p>Aguilera noted that Cuomo has previously pitched decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana only to abandon the issue. Last year Cuomo dropped "Raise the Age" and legislation to create a special prosecutor to investigate police killings of civilians during budget negotiations. He has also previously abandoned a push to provide inmates with a college education.</p> <p>However, last year while facing pressure to act from family members of the deceased, advocates, and legislators, Cuomo <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5908-cuomo-takes-additional-executive-action-on-criminal-justice" target="_blank">issued an executive order</a> giving Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the ability to investigate police killings of civilians under certain circumstances. The order allows the Attorney General to investigate any case involving a police killing of a civilian and to take over a case from a local District Attorney.</p> <p>The bill Cuomo is backing this year would allow an independent monitor to look into cases if a grand jury decided to not move forward against an officer or if a District Attorney did not put the case before a grand jury in a "reasonable" time. The monitor could then make a recommendation to the Governor. The Attorney General would no longer have a role.</p> <p>Advocates see the proposal, which is not garnering momentum, as a substantial weakening of Cuomo's executive order. Aguilera said she is concerned the current environment might not be ideal for getting the special prosecutor bill her group supports. "Our biggest fear really is seeing a rolling back of our victory. We fought for the executive order which was a very good, solid executive order. We are realistic that the current leadership in the state Senate means it might not be the right time for a stronger bill. We need to protect the current executive order. We don't want to see a watering down of what we already have," she said.</p> <p>Supporters of the plan to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York are more optimistic about their chances. New York is currently <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age" target="_blank">one of just two states</a>, with North Carolina, to try 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.</p> <p>"I think it's going to be a priority for the governor once other priorities are taken care of," said Paige Pierce, CEO of Families Together New York State. "We aren't surprised or unhappy it is being dealt with outside of the budget. We want the attention paid to it that it deserves."</p> <p>The issue of how to treat <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age" target="_blank">16- and 17-year-olds in the state's criminal justice system</a> is complicated. Senate Republicans don't want to be soft on crime, or give the appearance of being so, while Assembly Democrats want to provide a host of alternatives to criminal court.</p> <p>Lawmakers and advocates say that last year they came close to compromise legislation. "We got so close last session, we just ran out of time," said Stephanie Gendell, associate executive director for policy and government relations at Citizen's Committee for Children of New York.</p> <p>Gendell said that legislators from both sides of the aisle were motivated to deliver on legislation when they heard <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5945-one-raise-the-age-story-at-center-of-push-for-legislative-action" target="_blank">details of how 16- and 17-year-olds were treated</a>. "Certain pieces of Raise the Age just aren't controversial to anyone. That's why we got so close," said Gendell. "Legislators were surprised to hear that a 16-year-old arrested can be held all night without parental notification, without anyone knowing. The more people learn the more they are motivated to act."</p> <p>Cuomo did push last year to leave funding in the budget to enact Raise the Age reforms were a deal reached, and that money was there, but no deal occurred. The governor included similar language in <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/EO147.pdf" target="_blank">this year's executive budget</a>. Advocates are anxious to see if the language makes the final budget bills, setting the stage for an agreement in the months ahead. Cuomo also has bail reform on his agenda for the legislative session ahead.</p> <p>The governor, Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan continue to negotiate the budget framework.</p> <p>With no legislative deal reached last year Cuomo<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5797-cuomos-executive-action-on-raise-the-age-prompts-questions" target="_blank"> took executive action</a>, placing all 16- and 17-year-old inmates in an alternative facility. He followed up by pushing the issue again in this year's State of the State address. The Assembly put forward its own version of the bill in its one-house budget. Senate Republicans have indicated some interest in compromising on reform legislation.</p> <p>"Part of why this doesn't get passed in the budget is that it is a very comprehensive piece of legislation," said Gendell. "Out bill is very long and there is a lot to it. When we get to legislative session we can talk more about the details. Senator Flanagan said he didn't want to deal with Raise the Age in the budget, he didn't say he didn't want it to happen at all."</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5797-cuomos-executive-action-on-raise-the-age-prompts-questions" target="_blank">Cuomo's Executive Action on Raise the Age Prompts Questions</a>]</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Democrats and Republicans Run Parallel Races in Special Elections Created by Corruption 2016-03-13T21:06:49+00:00 2016-03-13T21:06:49+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6221:democrats-republicans-run-parallel-races-in-special-elections-created-by-corruption Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/mcgrath_senate.jpg" alt="mcgrath senate" width="600" height="368" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Chris McGrath, Republican candidate for state Senate (photo: @McGrath4Senate)</span>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>Both groups are accustomed to scrapping for power and attention. With two recent federal corruption convictions, each saw an opportunity to grab more. And now, in downtown Manhattan and Nassau County Long Island, Republicans and Democrats are running parallel campaigns to seize upon a chance to flip one seat in each of the two houses of the New York State Legislature.&nbsp;</p> <p>Assembly Republicans and Senate Democrats again find themselves in similar positions - each trying to win a special election to replace a deposed leader by painting the majority candidate as a product of the man they are vying to replace and symbol of Albany dysfunction. The majority candidates, in turn, face questions about how much government reform they actually support.</p> <p>The races to replace former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, have become testament to the quirkiness of New York politics and the Albany tradition whereby legislative majorities look the other way and promulgate a system long-criticized for a lack of transparency and ethics.</p> <p>To be sure, the Senate race presents a far more likely opportunity for the minority party to pick up a seat, as well as a more consequential potential shift in the house with a near-equal balance of power. Democrats not only hold a far wider voter registration advantage in Manhattan, but in their control of the Assembly.</p> <p>Set for April 19, the two elections are unfolding against the backdrop of budget negotiations in Albany, which Silver and Skelos - along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo - dominated for years. It seemed likely earlier this year that budget season would include ethics reform as a major ingredient, however Cuomo, a Democrat, has rarely mentioned ethics since unveiling a significant reform platform during his State of the State address in January.</p> <p>On Friday, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6219-heastie-outlines-assembly-ethics-plan" target="_blank">outlined his chamber's ethics plan</a>, which aligns fairly closely with Cuomo's. Senate Republicans, on the other hand, have indicated that they see little need for further reforms to prevent and punish government corruption.</p> <p>Many believe that ethics reforms will be dropped from the budget, where Cuomo has the most leverage to negotiate them if he truly wants them enacted. In the legislative session to follow the budget, there's no urgency like during budget time and this year legislators will be in a hurry to get back to their districts for campaign season. It leaves many Albany observers and actors wondering whether there will be any tangible impact on Albany from the recent corruption convictions besides the two vacancies they created.</p> <p>In the special election to replace Skelos, Democratic Assembly Member Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, and Christopher McGrath, a personal injury attorney, face off in the Nassau County district.</p> <p>The stakes are particularly high as control of the 63-seat Senate depends on just a few swing districts. Democrats have tried to paint McGrath as part of the Republican county apparatus that supported Skelos. Senate Republicans have mostly pushed back against ethics reforms such as limiting outside income, closing the LLC loophole, and other tougher campaign finance laws, saying that there will always be bad apples and that previous reforms should be enough.</p> <p>McGrath has said he will not step away from his law practice if elected, something Democrats have seized on as Silver was convicted on charges of using state money in a scheme to receive kickbacks from his law firm. The new Assembly ethics plan unveiled on Friday includes both new limits to what legislators can make in outside income and a mandate that lawyer-legislators must earn their outside income through casework, not simply being "of counsel" at a firm.</p> <p>Democrats have played up Kaminsky's experience as a federal prosecutor and his condemnation of corruption across party lines. "Todd Kaminsky is exactly who Long Islanders need to clean up Albany," said Senator Chuck Schumer as he endorsed Kaminsky on Friday (pictured). "As a federal corruption prosecutor, Todd took on the tough cases and made sure that if you broke the law, you were held accountable - regardless of whether you are a Democrat or Republican."</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/kaminsky_schumer.jpg" alt="kaminsky schumer" style="margin: 5px; float: left;" width="250" height="334" /></p> <p>Republicans have countered that Kaminsky failed to break from Silver during his time as an Assembly member. They have also made Kaminsky's election about Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying that a Democratic majority would be a mechanism for spreading de Blasio's liberal agenda across the state.</p> <p>McGrath has supported Republican-backed measures to strip pensions from lawmakers convicted of corruption and to put term limits on legislative leaders.</p> <p>"How can [Todd Kaminsky] say he supports pension forfeiture, term limits for leaders but he and his NYC allies in Assembly won't pass either?" <a href="https://twitter.com/ScottReif1/status/703261489969414144" target="_blank">tweeted</a> Republican spokesperson Scott Reif late last month. Reif and Democratic spokesperson Mike Murphy have been regularly engaging in public arguments about the race on Twitter.</p> <p>The forfeiture issue became complicated when Senate Republicans passed a measure that would have any state employee forfeit their pension if convicted and unions pressed the Assembly to back a law limited to elected officials.</p> <p>"Despite all the bluster that ethics reform isn't important I think these convictions have changed their thinking," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group about Senate Republicans. "It's clearly changed their choice in candidates. They've picked a relative outsider in Chris McGrath." Horner said Senate Republicans also chose a relative unknown in their successful 2015 bid to replace Sen. Tom Libous, who was also convicted on federal charges, with relative unknown Fred Akshar.</p> <p>Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens, who heads the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, painted McGrath as a "Skelos crony" in an interview with Gotham Gazette. Gianaris referenced a Daily News story that reported McGrath represented a Republican political club and campaign manager and long-time friend of Skelos in a suit brought in 1997 by a former employee of the Nassau County Bridge Authority who said he was forced from his position after trying to remove a number of patronage hires.</p> <p>"What's past is prologue," said Gianaris. "When Nassau County Republicans had ethics trouble years ago they went to Chris McGrath and here they are after Skelos' conviction turning to him again."</p> <p>Democrats have hit McGrath for the association in attack ads. McGrath's campaign and representative of the Republican Majority have said that McGrath simply <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/gop-senate-candidate-represented-man-close-dean-skelos-blog-entry-1.2546542" target="_blank">represented his friend</a>.</p> <p>The race to replace Silver has similar theme, albeit with the shoes on the other feet, but is decidedly lower stakes. Assembly Republicans have little chance of taking a majority in their chamber for the foreseeable future, however winning Silver's seat would be a tremendous moral victory for them. Some Democrats have privately acknowledged that they expect Republican candidate Lester Chang to perform better than expected in what is an extremely Democratic district, thanks to a fractious Democratic nomination process.</p> <p>In that process, local Democrats decided to support a Silver disciple despite condemnation from many Democrats, Republicans, and government watchdogs.</p> <p>The special election process dictates that instead of a primary the local party apparatus picks a candidate. To name a Democratic nominee, four clubs marshalled their members, with three of them backing Alice Cancel, whose name will be on the party's ballot line. One of those clubs counts Silver's wife and their allies as its members. The result was a number of reform Democrats decrying the process. Yuh-Line Niou dropped out of the selection process in protest and his now running on the Working Families Party Line. She's been endorsed by Comptroller Scott Stringer and several others (Cancel happens to work under Stringer at the comptroller's office.)</p> <p>District Leader Paul Newell, who previously challenged Silver unsuccessfully, has decided to skip the special election and run in a Democratic primary in the fall when the seat will be up for grabs again. District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar also plans to run at that time.</p> <p>Cancel has done nothing to distance herself from Silver and has in fact praised him repeatedly. "For us, he was a hero — because of the things he brought to our community, because of the schools that we didn't have that were built because of his negotiations to get it done for the community. The money that he poured in for our seniors, for our daycare, for our Head Start. Why would we be attacking him?" Cancel said in <a href="http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/2016/02/our-interview-with-alice-cancel-democratic-nominee-in-the-65th-ad.html" target="_blank">an interview</a> with The Lo-Down about the selection process and her candidacy.</p> <p>"I think people are aware of both of those things," Newell told Gotham Gazette. "There is no question he did a lot for his district, but they are also aware that reform is necessary."</p> <p>Manhattan Republican Chair Adele Malpass said that she sees Cancel's candidacy as a clear indication that the Silver indictment had little impact on those in power. "It shows there is no consequence for corruption, there was no message received at all," Malpass told Gotham Gazette. "This was just business as usual. They had eight candidates to choose from and the one they picked was backed by Silver's wife and called him a hero. This is just the party boss system and people are afraid to challenge them."</p> <p>Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who has been an outspoken critic of the power enjoyed by both legislative majorities and their reticence toward reform, recently headlined a fundraiser for Chang and did some campaigning with him.</p> <p>"It is surprising to me to see Silver indicted, tried and convicted so quickly only to turn around and have his wife, and Judy Rapfogel involved in selecting his replacement," Kolb told Gotham Gazette, referring to Silver's former chief of staff. "And then on top of that, [Cancel] comes out and says [Silver's] a hero."</p> <p>Despite his previous criticism of both majorities Kolb offered a brighter interpretation of how the Senate Majority has handled filling Skelos' seat. "Yes local republicans were involved in the selection process, but Dean Skelos' family was not involved in selecting a candidate," Kolb told Gotham Gazette. "I think Todd Kaminsky is a handsome, experienced prosecutor, but he supported Shelly Silver and he didn't support the [pension] forfeiture amendment."</p> <p>Kolb said that if Chang is elected he will be able to vote his conscience and will not be ordered how to vote by leadership - something he says occurs in both the Senate and Assembly majorities.</p> <p>Horner, of NYPIRG, said he suspects that Gov. Cuomo and both majorities have been working to tamp down discussion of reform because it benefits them politically. "It's pretty clear the political establishment in New York does not want to allow any oxygen into the room on ethics," Horner told Gotham Gazette. "That air fuels the fire of voters anger and they want it to burn out, they want to smother. If it's not in the budget then I assume they will do it in June and they are hoping by then people won't be as angry. We need a champion and the governor is the obvious person to be that champion but he is choosing not to do it."</p> <p>It is unclear how much the Silver and Skelos convictions or the former leaders' ties to candidates seeking to replace them will have on voters. But, about 9 in 10 New Yorkers recently polled <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/02/siena-poll-corruption-a-serious-problem-but-education-remains-a-top-concern/" target="_blank">called</a> government corruption a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem in state government.</p> <p>U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who took down both Silver and Skelos, has repeatedly said that corruption in government is cultural, not partisan or regional.</p> <p>"In recent times, the New York Legislature has been marked by regular bribery, rampant kickbacks and a rancid culture," Bharara <a href="http://wamc.org/post/preet-bharara-linda#stream/0" target="_blank">said</a> during a talk in Albany last month. "Recent events paint a portrait of the show me the money culture in the worst possible way. It continues, by the way, to be a bipartisan affair, Republican and Democrat, in the Assembly and in the Senate, upstate and downstate."</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/mcgrath_senate.jpg" alt="mcgrath senate" width="600" height="368" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Chris McGrath, Republican candidate for state Senate (photo: @McGrath4Senate)</span>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>Both groups are accustomed to scrapping for power and attention. With two recent federal corruption convictions, each saw an opportunity to grab more. And now, in downtown Manhattan and Nassau County Long Island, Republicans and Democrats are running parallel campaigns to seize upon a chance to flip one seat in each of the two houses of the New York State Legislature.&nbsp;</p> <p>Assembly Republicans and Senate Democrats again find themselves in similar positions - each trying to win a special election to replace a deposed leader by painting the majority candidate as a product of the man they are vying to replace and symbol of Albany dysfunction. The majority candidates, in turn, face questions about how much government reform they actually support.</p> <p>The races to replace former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, have become testament to the quirkiness of New York politics and the Albany tradition whereby legislative majorities look the other way and promulgate a system long-criticized for a lack of transparency and ethics.</p> <p>To be sure, the Senate race presents a far more likely opportunity for the minority party to pick up a seat, as well as a more consequential potential shift in the house with a near-equal balance of power. Democrats not only hold a far wider voter registration advantage in Manhattan, but in their control of the Assembly.</p> <p>Set for April 19, the two elections are unfolding against the backdrop of budget negotiations in Albany, which Silver and Skelos - along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo - dominated for years. It seemed likely earlier this year that budget season would include ethics reform as a major ingredient, however Cuomo, a Democrat, has rarely mentioned ethics since unveiling a significant reform platform during his State of the State address in January.</p> <p>On Friday, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6219-heastie-outlines-assembly-ethics-plan" target="_blank">outlined his chamber's ethics plan</a>, which aligns fairly closely with Cuomo's. Senate Republicans, on the other hand, have indicated that they see little need for further reforms to prevent and punish government corruption.</p> <p>Many believe that ethics reforms will be dropped from the budget, where Cuomo has the most leverage to negotiate them if he truly wants them enacted. In the legislative session to follow the budget, there's no urgency like during budget time and this year legislators will be in a hurry to get back to their districts for campaign season. It leaves many Albany observers and actors wondering whether there will be any tangible impact on Albany from the recent corruption convictions besides the two vacancies they created.</p> <p>In the special election to replace Skelos, Democratic Assembly Member Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, and Christopher McGrath, a personal injury attorney, face off in the Nassau County district.</p> <p>The stakes are particularly high as control of the 63-seat Senate depends on just a few swing districts. Democrats have tried to paint McGrath as part of the Republican county apparatus that supported Skelos. Senate Republicans have mostly pushed back against ethics reforms such as limiting outside income, closing the LLC loophole, and other tougher campaign finance laws, saying that there will always be bad apples and that previous reforms should be enough.</p> <p>McGrath has said he will not step away from his law practice if elected, something Democrats have seized on as Silver was convicted on charges of using state money in a scheme to receive kickbacks from his law firm. The new Assembly ethics plan unveiled on Friday includes both new limits to what legislators can make in outside income and a mandate that lawyer-legislators must earn their outside income through casework, not simply being "of counsel" at a firm.</p> <p>Democrats have played up Kaminsky's experience as a federal prosecutor and his condemnation of corruption across party lines. "Todd Kaminsky is exactly who Long Islanders need to clean up Albany," said Senator Chuck Schumer as he endorsed Kaminsky on Friday (pictured). "As a federal corruption prosecutor, Todd took on the tough cases and made sure that if you broke the law, you were held accountable - regardless of whether you are a Democrat or Republican."</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/kaminsky_schumer.jpg" alt="kaminsky schumer" style="margin: 5px; float: left;" width="250" height="334" /></p> <p>Republicans have countered that Kaminsky failed to break from Silver during his time as an Assembly member. They have also made Kaminsky's election about Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying that a Democratic majority would be a mechanism for spreading de Blasio's liberal agenda across the state.</p> <p>McGrath has supported Republican-backed measures to strip pensions from lawmakers convicted of corruption and to put term limits on legislative leaders.</p> <p>"How can [Todd Kaminsky] say he supports pension forfeiture, term limits for leaders but he and his NYC allies in Assembly won't pass either?" <a href="https://twitter.com/ScottReif1/status/703261489969414144" target="_blank">tweeted</a> Republican spokesperson Scott Reif late last month. Reif and Democratic spokesperson Mike Murphy have been regularly engaging in public arguments about the race on Twitter.</p> <p>The forfeiture issue became complicated when Senate Republicans passed a measure that would have any state employee forfeit their pension if convicted and unions pressed the Assembly to back a law limited to elected officials.</p> <p>"Despite all the bluster that ethics reform isn't important I think these convictions have changed their thinking," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group about Senate Republicans. "It's clearly changed their choice in candidates. They've picked a relative outsider in Chris McGrath." Horner said Senate Republicans also chose a relative unknown in their successful 2015 bid to replace Sen. Tom Libous, who was also convicted on federal charges, with relative unknown Fred Akshar.</p> <p>Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens, who heads the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, painted McGrath as a "Skelos crony" in an interview with Gotham Gazette. Gianaris referenced a Daily News story that reported McGrath represented a Republican political club and campaign manager and long-time friend of Skelos in a suit brought in 1997 by a former employee of the Nassau County Bridge Authority who said he was forced from his position after trying to remove a number of patronage hires.</p> <p>"What's past is prologue," said Gianaris. "When Nassau County Republicans had ethics trouble years ago they went to Chris McGrath and here they are after Skelos' conviction turning to him again."</p> <p>Democrats have hit McGrath for the association in attack ads. McGrath's campaign and representative of the Republican Majority have said that McGrath simply <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/gop-senate-candidate-represented-man-close-dean-skelos-blog-entry-1.2546542" target="_blank">represented his friend</a>.</p> <p>The race to replace Silver has similar theme, albeit with the shoes on the other feet, but is decidedly lower stakes. Assembly Republicans have little chance of taking a majority in their chamber for the foreseeable future, however winning Silver's seat would be a tremendous moral victory for them. Some Democrats have privately acknowledged that they expect Republican candidate Lester Chang to perform better than expected in what is an extremely Democratic district, thanks to a fractious Democratic nomination process.</p> <p>In that process, local Democrats decided to support a Silver disciple despite condemnation from many Democrats, Republicans, and government watchdogs.</p> <p>The special election process dictates that instead of a primary the local party apparatus picks a candidate. To name a Democratic nominee, four clubs marshalled their members, with three of them backing Alice Cancel, whose name will be on the party's ballot line. One of those clubs counts Silver's wife and their allies as its members. The result was a number of reform Democrats decrying the process. Yuh-Line Niou dropped out of the selection process in protest and his now running on the Working Families Party Line. She's been endorsed by Comptroller Scott Stringer and several others (Cancel happens to work under Stringer at the comptroller's office.)</p> <p>District Leader Paul Newell, who previously challenged Silver unsuccessfully, has decided to skip the special election and run in a Democratic primary in the fall when the seat will be up for grabs again. District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar also plans to run at that time.</p> <p>Cancel has done nothing to distance herself from Silver and has in fact praised him repeatedly. "For us, he was a hero — because of the things he brought to our community, because of the schools that we didn't have that were built because of his negotiations to get it done for the community. The money that he poured in for our seniors, for our daycare, for our Head Start. Why would we be attacking him?" Cancel said in <a href="http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/2016/02/our-interview-with-alice-cancel-democratic-nominee-in-the-65th-ad.html" target="_blank">an interview</a> with The Lo-Down about the selection process and her candidacy.</p> <p>"I think people are aware of both of those things," Newell told Gotham Gazette. "There is no question he did a lot for his district, but they are also aware that reform is necessary."</p> <p>Manhattan Republican Chair Adele Malpass said that she sees Cancel's candidacy as a clear indication that the Silver indictment had little impact on those in power. "It shows there is no consequence for corruption, there was no message received at all," Malpass told Gotham Gazette. "This was just business as usual. They had eight candidates to choose from and the one they picked was backed by Silver's wife and called him a hero. This is just the party boss system and people are afraid to challenge them."</p> <p>Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who has been an outspoken critic of the power enjoyed by both legislative majorities and their reticence toward reform, recently headlined a fundraiser for Chang and did some campaigning with him.</p> <p>"It is surprising to me to see Silver indicted, tried and convicted so quickly only to turn around and have his wife, and Judy Rapfogel involved in selecting his replacement," Kolb told Gotham Gazette, referring to Silver's former chief of staff. "And then on top of that, [Cancel] comes out and says [Silver's] a hero."</p> <p>Despite his previous criticism of both majorities Kolb offered a brighter interpretation of how the Senate Majority has handled filling Skelos' seat. "Yes local republicans were involved in the selection process, but Dean Skelos' family was not involved in selecting a candidate," Kolb told Gotham Gazette. "I think Todd Kaminsky is a handsome, experienced prosecutor, but he supported Shelly Silver and he didn't support the [pension] forfeiture amendment."</p> <p>Kolb said that if Chang is elected he will be able to vote his conscience and will not be ordered how to vote by leadership - something he says occurs in both the Senate and Assembly majorities.</p> <p>Horner, of NYPIRG, said he suspects that Gov. Cuomo and both majorities have been working to tamp down discussion of reform because it benefits them politically. "It's pretty clear the political establishment in New York does not want to allow any oxygen into the room on ethics," Horner told Gotham Gazette. "That air fuels the fire of voters anger and they want it to burn out, they want to smother. If it's not in the budget then I assume they will do it in June and they are hoping by then people won't be as angry. We need a champion and the governor is the obvious person to be that champion but he is choosing not to do it."</p> <p>It is unclear how much the Silver and Skelos convictions or the former leaders' ties to candidates seeking to replace them will have on voters. But, about 9 in 10 New Yorkers recently polled <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/02/siena-poll-corruption-a-serious-problem-but-education-remains-a-top-concern/" target="_blank">called</a> government corruption a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem in state government.</p> <p>U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who took down both Silver and Skelos, has repeatedly said that corruption in government is cultural, not partisan or regional.</p> <p>"In recent times, the New York Legislature has been marked by regular bribery, rampant kickbacks and a rancid culture," Bharara <a href="http://wamc.org/post/preet-bharara-linda#stream/0" target="_blank">said</a> during a talk in Albany last month. "Recent events paint a portrait of the show me the money culture in the worst possible way. It continues, by the way, to be a bipartisan affair, Republican and Democrat, in the Assembly and in the Senate, upstate and downstate."</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 14 2016-03-13T06:00:00+00:00 2016-03-13T06:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6220:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-march-14 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" 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>Mayor Bill de Blasio has reason to smile as this week begins. Through negotiations with the City Council and outside critics, de Blasio appears to have gotten just about everyone on board with his citywide zoning changes and they are all-but-certain to be passed through the City Council over the next two weeks - first through committee this week, then the full Council on March 22. The City Planning Commission has to sign off on the tweaks in between. And there are tweaks, but the plans - Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) - will pass in forms close to what the city originally proposed. The two zoning amendments are major pieces of de Blasio's housing plan, which aims for 200,000 units of affordable housing to be built or preserved over ten years.</p> <p>De Blasio spent part of Sunday speaking at South Bronx and Harlem churches to sell his housing plans. The most significant concerns about the mayor's zoning proposals <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6178-richards-puts-communities-of-color-at-forefront-of-housing-debate" target="_blank">have come from communities of color</a> worried that the affordability levels of MIH are not deep enough. It appears that some of the tweaks being made to the plan will address these concerns. The de Blasio administration also continues to point to other elements of its housing plan aimed at creating affordable housing for the city's lowest income earners.</p> <p>The mayor will celebrate movement on his housing plans this week and he'll also hold a town hall on the subject in Brooklyn Monday night, hosted by City Council Member Mathieu Eugene. De Blasio will also travel to&nbsp;Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, responding to proposed federal cuts to anti-terrorism efforts - see below for details. And on Wednesday, de Blasio will speak at the New York City premiere of a new film promoting gun control - details also below.</p> <p>City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also spent part of Sunday at two churches, both in Brooklyn, where she discussed her criminal justice reform efforts.<br />[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6206-key-to-vision-of-closing-rikers-city-council-bail-fund-moves-through-state-process" target="_blank">City Council Bail Fund Moves Through State Process</a>]</p> <p>Meanwhile, budget business continues this week, with the fiscal year 2017 state budget due by the end of the month. The Assembly and Senate are moving toward passage of their one-house budgets, which will lead to intensified negotiations among Gov. Cuomo and the two majority leaders - Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, and Senate President John Flanagan, a Republican. There are <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6203-several-significant-questions-about-the-governors-budget" target="_blank">a variety of discrepancies</a> around funding levels and policy priorities. It's unclear if anything will be done in the budget <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6219-heastie-outlines-assembly-ethics-plan" target="_blank">on government ethics reform</a>. Not a necessity to passing a spending plan and with significant pushback from Republicans to what Cuomo and Heastie <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6219-heastie-outlines-assembly-ethics-plan" target="_blank">have proposed</a>, ethics could easily be bumped to further negotiations in the legislative session to follow the budget.</p> <p>City Council preliminary budget hearings on the mayor's $82 billion plan also continue this week. Catch up on our coverage of budget hearings thus far:<br />-<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6202-at-first-council-budget-hearing-concerns-over-city-savings-and-state-cuts" target="_blank">At First City Council Budget Hearing, Concerns About City Savings and State Cuts</a><br />-<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6212-government-investigator-explains-43-budget-bump" target="_blank">Government Investigator Explains 43% Budget Bump</a><br />-<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6215-underfunded-conflicts-of-interest-board-struggles-to-meet-mandates" target="_blank">Underfunded Conflicts of Interest Board Struggles to Meet Mandates</a></p> <p>Before Gov. Cuomo gets back to budget business in Albany this week, on Sunday Cuomo made his first visit to Hoosick Falls since the town's water contamination crisis broke. <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/03/cuomo-travels-to-hoosick-falls-defends-states-handling-of-water-contamination/" target="_blank">Cuomo insisted</a> that the state was not slow to act, pointed the finger at federal regulators and the media, and assured all that the state response is on the right track.</p> <p>And this week: "Comptroller Stringer will be in Israel along with a delegation of Latino leaders from New York City for a trip organized in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. He will arrive in Israel on Sunday evening and will depart on Thursday evening, arriving back in New York City on Friday, March 18."</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>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p>At 7:15 a.m. Monday, Mayor de Blasio will appear on CNN to discuss the presidential race. At 1:30 p.m. Monday, de Blasio will be in upper Manhattan to&nbsp;"host a press conference to discuss the preservation of affordable housing."&nbsp;At 4 p.m. de Blasio will hold a bill-signing ceremony at City Hall. At 7 p.m., de Blasio and City Council Member&nbsp;Mathieu Eugene "will host a town hall meeting with Brooklyn residents to discuss affordable housing" at P.S. 6.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Monday: At 10 a.m., the Committee on Governmental Operations will hold its preliminary budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Monday at Newtown High School in Queens, “New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Department of Education, Congresswoman Grace Meng and Education Chair Daniel Dromm announce groundbreaking pilot program that will position New York City at the forefront of a national dialogue on access to feminine hygiene products by providing free pads and tampons in select Queens and Bronx public schools restrooms, supporting better educational outcomes and bringing dignity to girls.” Feminine hygiene product dispensers will be placed in 25 public middle schools and high schools.<br />[Read more: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6119-city-council-members-move-to-improve-tampon-access" target="_blank">City Council Members Move to Improve Tampon Access</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At noon on Monday in Albany, “as budget bills advance in both the Senate and Assembly during Sunshine Week, good government and reform groups react to proposed ethics legislation.” Participating groups include Brennan Center, Citizens Union, Common Cause NY, League of Women Voters of NYS, NY Public Interest Research Group, and Reinvent Albany.<br />[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6219-heastie-outlines-assembly-ethics-plan" target="_blank">Heastie Outlines Assembly Ethics Reform Plan</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5:30 p.m. Monday, The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) will deliver a presentation to the Queens Borough Board, chaired by Borough President Melinda Katz, on two of its new economic growth initiatives: NYC Industrial Developer Fund and Futureworks NYC Growth Initiative. The initiatives aim to provide project financing for industrial real estate development projects in New York City and support the growth of promising companies by providing six early stage companies with $30,000 each over a two-year period, respectively.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday evening in Brooklyn, City Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams <a href="https://twitter.com/cmlauriecumbo/status/709099279361708033" target="_blank">will host</a> their annual "Shirley Chisolm Women of Distinction Celebration." Public Advocate Letitia James will deliver keynote remarks.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Tuesday</strong><br />Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, who represents Staten Island and part of Brooklyn,&nbsp;<a href="https://donovan.house.gov/media-center/in-the-news/donovan-hold-hearing-obama-anti-terror-funding-cuts" target="_blank">will chair a hearing</a>&nbsp;on President Barack Obama’s proposed cuts to anti-terrorism funding. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has strongly criticized the cuts, is expected to testify.</p> <p dir="ltr">At noon Tuesday, Greater New York City for Change and allies will <a href="http://www.greaternycforchange.org/in-the-news/" target="_blank">rally</a> in Albany to raise the minimum wage to $15.<br /><br />At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Tuesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 9:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet to discuss granting special permits in regard to the enlargement of an existing property in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The committee will also discuss amendments “concerning the use, bulk, and parking regulations in Brooklyn.”</li> <li dir="ltr">At 9:30 a.m., the Committee on General Welfare will meet for its preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet to discuss previous amendments to property tax laws and a current urban development project in Manhattan.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Juvenile Justice the Committee on Women’s Issues will meet for their joint preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Tuesday, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Daniel Dromm will host a Celebration of Irish Heritage and Culture in Council Chambers at City Hall.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8 a.m. Wednesday, New York Law School will <a href="http://www.nyls.edu/news-and-events/calendar/the-keys-to-the-future-of-nyc-real-estate/" target="_blank">host</a> a breakfast panel covering the future of New York City real estate. The panel will feature experts from Blackstone, Cushman and Wakefield, Related Companies, and Downtown Alliance, and will be moderated by Gerald Korngold, New York Law School Professor and The Center for Real Estate Studies Program Chair.<br /><br />At 9 a.m. Wednesday, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the Council transportation committee, will lead the launch of &nbsp;“Car Free NYC” at New York University’s Kimmel Center, which will lead to a “car-free” Earth Day in April.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the South Bronx Leadership <a href="https://sobro.org" target="_blank">Forum</a> will hold a discussion with Vicki Been, Commissioner of New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committees on Small Business and Economic Development will meet for a joint preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Education will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m., the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Wednesday, The Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) will host a public forum addressing how police reforms “preserve the racist status quo.”<br /><br />At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Carmen Fariña, New York City Schools Chancellor, “will <a href="http://www.alumni.pace.edu/s/1655/02-alumni/index.aspx?sid=1655&amp;pgid=1016&amp;gid=2&amp;cid=2298&amp;ecid=2298&amp;post_id=0" target="_blank">discuss</a> the changing state of public education” with Pace University President Stephen J. Friedman at the University’s Lower Manhattan campus.</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, "Matthew Gordon Lasner and Nicholas Dagen Bloom, the co-authors of Affordable Housing in New York: The People, Places, and Policies that Transformed a City <a href="http://cooper.edu/events-and-exhibitions/events/next-100-years-affordable-housing" target="_blank">host</a> a free, public panel discussion on the future of a livable New York City for the other 99%."<br /><br />At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, “Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA,” from Brave New Films, will <a href="http://nyagv.org/join-us-film-premiere-of-making-a-killing-march-16-in-nyc/" target="_blank">premiere</a> in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver introductory remarks before the premiere.</p> <p><strong>Thursday</strong><br />Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Thursday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. Thursday, The Rockefeller Institute of Government will <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#Constitutional_Convention_Strengthen_Ethics" target="_blank">host</a> “Facing the Global Immigration and Refugee Crisis” in Albany. The forum will reflect on past conflict and violence that has led to mass immigration and feature Maher Nasser, director of the Outreach Division for the United Nations’ Department of Public Information; Jill Peckenpaugh, director of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants; and Sana Mustafa, Bard College Student and Syrian Refugee.<br /><br />At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will meet on results of subcommittee meetings held recently and conduct other general business.</li> <li dir="ltr">At noon, the Committees on Land Use and Technology will meet for a joint preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Friday</strong><br />Friday is the second annual <a href="http://helenrosenthal.com/student-voter-registration-day/" target="_blank">Student Voter Registration Day</a> in New York City, which aims to get newly eligible voters registered in time to vote in April’s New York State presidential primary.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:15 a.m. Friday, Chair and CEO of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Shola Olatoye will be <a href="http://www.nyls.edu/center-for-new-york-city-law/center-for-new-york-city-law-events/city_law_breakfast_series/" target="_blank">speaking</a> at a CityLaw Breakfast at New York Law School.<br /><br />At noon Friday, state Senator Jesse Hamilton, colleagues, and partners will hold a press conference at the Howard Houses Community Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn to announce the “first technology and wellness center at a public housing site in the United States.” The “CAMPUS” will serve as a resource center for technology, health, and career development. Hamilton will be joined by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assembly Members Latrice Walk and Nick Perry, and other officials, residents, partners, and organizations.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Friday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Youth Services will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li>At 1 p.m., the Committee on Health will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <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 Leanna Carroll and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" 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>Mayor Bill de Blasio has reason to smile as this week begins. Through negotiations with the City Council and outside critics, de Blasio appears to have gotten just about everyone on board with his citywide zoning changes and they are all-but-certain to be passed through the City Council over the next two weeks - first through committee this week, then the full Council on March 22. The City Planning Commission has to sign off on the tweaks in between. And there are tweaks, but the plans - Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) - will pass in forms close to what the city originally proposed. The two zoning amendments are major pieces of de Blasio's housing plan, which aims for 200,000 units of affordable housing to be built or preserved over ten years.</p> <p>De Blasio spent part of Sunday speaking at South Bronx and Harlem churches to sell his housing plans. The most significant concerns about the mayor's zoning proposals <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6178-richards-puts-communities-of-color-at-forefront-of-housing-debate" target="_blank">have come from communities of color</a> worried that the affordability levels of MIH are not deep enough. It appears that some of the tweaks being made to the plan will address these concerns. The de Blasio administration also continues to point to other elements of its housing plan aimed at creating affordable housing for the city's lowest income earners.</p> <p>The mayor will celebrate movement on his housing plans this week and he'll also hold a town hall on the subject in Brooklyn Monday night, hosted by City Council Member Mathieu Eugene. De Blasio will also travel to&nbsp;Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, responding to proposed federal cuts to anti-terrorism efforts - see below for details. And on Wednesday, de Blasio will speak at the New York City premiere of a new film promoting gun control - details also below.</p> <p>City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also spent part of Sunday at two churches, both in Brooklyn, where she discussed her criminal justice reform efforts.<br />[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6206-key-to-vision-of-closing-rikers-city-council-bail-fund-moves-through-state-process" target="_blank">City Council Bail Fund Moves Through State Process</a>]</p> <p>Meanwhile, budget business continues this week, with the fiscal year 2017 state budget due by the end of the month. The Assembly and Senate are moving toward passage of their one-house budgets, which will lead to intensified negotiations among Gov. Cuomo and the two majority leaders - Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, and Senate President John Flanagan, a Republican. There are <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6203-several-significant-questions-about-the-governors-budget" target="_blank">a variety of discrepancies</a> around funding levels and policy priorities. It's unclear if anything will be done in the budget <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6219-heastie-outlines-assembly-ethics-plan" target="_blank">on government ethics reform</a>. Not a necessity to passing a spending plan and with significant pushback from Republicans to what Cuomo and Heastie <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6219-heastie-outlines-assembly-ethics-plan" target="_blank">have proposed</a>, ethics could easily be bumped to further negotiations in the legislative session to follow the budget.</p> <p>City Council preliminary budget hearings on the mayor's $82 billion plan also continue this week. Catch up on our coverage of budget hearings thus far:<br />-<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6202-at-first-council-budget-hearing-concerns-over-city-savings-and-state-cuts" target="_blank">At First City Council Budget Hearing, Concerns About City Savings and State Cuts</a><br />-<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6212-government-investigator-explains-43-budget-bump" target="_blank">Government Investigator Explains 43% Budget Bump</a><br />-<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6215-underfunded-conflicts-of-interest-board-struggles-to-meet-mandates" target="_blank">Underfunded Conflicts of Interest Board Struggles to Meet Mandates</a></p> <p>Before Gov. Cuomo gets back to budget business in Albany this week, on Sunday Cuomo made his first visit to Hoosick Falls since the town's water contamination crisis broke. <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2016/03/cuomo-travels-to-hoosick-falls-defends-states-handling-of-water-contamination/" target="_blank">Cuomo insisted</a> that the state was not slow to act, pointed the finger at federal regulators and the media, and assured all that the state response is on the right track.</p> <p>And this week: "Comptroller Stringer will be in Israel along with a delegation of Latino leaders from New York City for a trip organized in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. He will arrive in Israel on Sunday evening and will depart on Thursday evening, arriving back in New York City on Friday, March 18."</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>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p>At 7:15 a.m. Monday, Mayor de Blasio will appear on CNN to discuss the presidential race. At 1:30 p.m. Monday, de Blasio will be in upper Manhattan to&nbsp;"host a press conference to discuss the preservation of affordable housing."&nbsp;At 4 p.m. de Blasio will hold a bill-signing ceremony at City Hall. At 7 p.m., de Blasio and City Council Member&nbsp;Mathieu Eugene "will host a town hall meeting with Brooklyn residents to discuss affordable housing" at P.S. 6.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Monday: At 10 a.m., the Committee on Governmental Operations will hold its preliminary budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Monday at Newtown High School in Queens, “New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Department of Education, Congresswoman Grace Meng and Education Chair Daniel Dromm announce groundbreaking pilot program that will position New York City at the forefront of a national dialogue on access to feminine hygiene products by providing free pads and tampons in select Queens and Bronx public schools restrooms, supporting better educational outcomes and bringing dignity to girls.” Feminine hygiene product dispensers will be placed in 25 public middle schools and high schools.<br />[Read more: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6119-city-council-members-move-to-improve-tampon-access" target="_blank">City Council Members Move to Improve Tampon Access</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At noon on Monday in Albany, “as budget bills advance in both the Senate and Assembly during Sunshine Week, good government and reform groups react to proposed ethics legislation.” Participating groups include Brennan Center, Citizens Union, Common Cause NY, League of Women Voters of NYS, NY Public Interest Research Group, and Reinvent Albany.<br />[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6219-heastie-outlines-assembly-ethics-plan" target="_blank">Heastie Outlines Assembly Ethics Reform Plan</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">At 5:30 p.m. Monday, The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) will deliver a presentation to the Queens Borough Board, chaired by Borough President Melinda Katz, on two of its new economic growth initiatives: NYC Industrial Developer Fund and Futureworks NYC Growth Initiative. The initiatives aim to provide project financing for industrial real estate development projects in New York City and support the growth of promising companies by providing six early stage companies with $30,000 each over a two-year period, respectively.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday evening in Brooklyn, City Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams <a href="https://twitter.com/cmlauriecumbo/status/709099279361708033" target="_blank">will host</a> their annual "Shirley Chisolm Women of Distinction Celebration." Public Advocate Letitia James will deliver keynote remarks.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Tuesday</strong><br />Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, who represents Staten Island and part of Brooklyn,&nbsp;<a href="https://donovan.house.gov/media-center/in-the-news/donovan-hold-hearing-obama-anti-terror-funding-cuts" target="_blank">will chair a hearing</a>&nbsp;on President Barack Obama’s proposed cuts to anti-terrorism funding. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has strongly criticized the cuts, is expected to testify.</p> <p dir="ltr">At noon Tuesday, Greater New York City for Change and allies will <a href="http://www.greaternycforchange.org/in-the-news/" target="_blank">rally</a> in Albany to raise the minimum wage to $15.<br /><br />At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Tuesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 9:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet to discuss granting special permits in regard to the enlargement of an existing property in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The committee will also discuss amendments “concerning the use, bulk, and parking regulations in Brooklyn.”</li> <li dir="ltr">At 9:30 a.m., the Committee on General Welfare will meet for its preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet to discuss previous amendments to property tax laws and a current urban development project in Manhattan.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Juvenile Justice the Committee on Women’s Issues will meet for their joint preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Tuesday, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Daniel Dromm will host a Celebration of Irish Heritage and Culture in Council Chambers at City Hall.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8 a.m. Wednesday, New York Law School will <a href="http://www.nyls.edu/news-and-events/calendar/the-keys-to-the-future-of-nyc-real-estate/" target="_blank">host</a> a breakfast panel covering the future of New York City real estate. The panel will feature experts from Blackstone, Cushman and Wakefield, Related Companies, and Downtown Alliance, and will be moderated by Gerald Korngold, New York Law School Professor and The Center for Real Estate Studies Program Chair.<br /><br />At 9 a.m. Wednesday, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the Council transportation committee, will lead the launch of &nbsp;“Car Free NYC” at New York University’s Kimmel Center, which will lead to a “car-free” Earth Day in April.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the South Bronx Leadership <a href="https://sobro.org" target="_blank">Forum</a> will hold a discussion with Vicki Been, Commissioner of New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committees on Small Business and Economic Development will meet for a joint preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Education will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m., the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Wednesday, The Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) will host a public forum addressing how police reforms “preserve the racist status quo.”<br /><br />At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Carmen Fariña, New York City Schools Chancellor, “will <a href="http://www.alumni.pace.edu/s/1655/02-alumni/index.aspx?sid=1655&amp;pgid=1016&amp;gid=2&amp;cid=2298&amp;ecid=2298&amp;post_id=0" target="_blank">discuss</a> the changing state of public education” with Pace University President Stephen J. Friedman at the University’s Lower Manhattan campus.</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, "Matthew Gordon Lasner and Nicholas Dagen Bloom, the co-authors of Affordable Housing in New York: The People, Places, and Policies that Transformed a City <a href="http://cooper.edu/events-and-exhibitions/events/next-100-years-affordable-housing" target="_blank">host</a> a free, public panel discussion on the future of a livable New York City for the other 99%."<br /><br />At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, “Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA,” from Brave New Films, will <a href="http://nyagv.org/join-us-film-premiere-of-making-a-killing-march-16-in-nyc/" target="_blank">premiere</a> in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver introductory remarks before the premiere.</p> <p><strong>Thursday</strong><br />Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Thursday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 1 p.m. Thursday, The Rockefeller Institute of Government will <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#Constitutional_Convention_Strengthen_Ethics" target="_blank">host</a> “Facing the Global Immigration and Refugee Crisis” in Albany. The forum will reflect on past conflict and violence that has led to mass immigration and feature Maher Nasser, director of the Outreach Division for the United Nations’ Department of Public Information; Jill Peckenpaugh, director of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants; and Sana Mustafa, Bard College Student and Syrian Refugee.<br /><br />At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will meet on results of subcommittee meetings held recently and conduct other general business.</li> <li dir="ltr">At noon, the Committees on Land Use and Technology will meet for a joint preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Friday</strong><br />Friday is the second annual <a href="http://helenrosenthal.com/student-voter-registration-day/" target="_blank">Student Voter Registration Day</a> in New York City, which aims to get newly eligible voters registered in time to vote in April’s New York State presidential primary.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:15 a.m. Friday, Chair and CEO of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Shola Olatoye will be <a href="http://www.nyls.edu/center-for-new-york-city-law/center-for-new-york-city-law-events/city_law_breakfast_series/" target="_blank">speaking</a> at a CityLaw Breakfast at New York Law School.<br /><br />At noon Friday, state Senator Jesse Hamilton, colleagues, and partners will hold a press conference at the Howard Houses Community Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn to announce the “first technology and wellness center at a public housing site in the United States.” The “CAMPUS” will serve as a resource center for technology, health, and career development. Hamilton will be joined by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assembly Members Latrice Walk and Nick Perry, and other officials, residents, partners, and organizations.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">City Council</a> on Friday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Youth Services will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li>At 1 p.m., the Committee on Health will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <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 Leanna Carroll and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Next Steps the State Must Make to Create and Maintain Affordable Housing 2016-02-10T18:05:44+00:00 2016-02-10T18:05:44+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6161:next-steps-the-state-must-make-to-create-and-maintain-affordable-housing Super User <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/15148516147_f36f512ffe_z.jpg" alt="groundbreaking cuomo others" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo: a groundbreaking, via the Governor's Office</p> <hr /> <p>As the Legislature moves ahead with its 2016 session in Albany, a top priority must be creating and maintaining affordable housing across the state. We cannot be content with fellow New Yorkers sleeping in three-quarter houses, with too many to a room, because it’s the only alternative. It is only so long until the next severely rent burdened tenant - spending more than 50 percent of their earnings on rent - ends up homeless because they cannot afford their apartment.</p> <p dir="ltr">Governor Cuomo’s State of the State agenda – including 20,000 units of supportive housing over 15 years and 100,000 units of permanent affordable housing - is a welcome first step. Now, there are steps the Legislature should take to spur the development and protection of affordable housing. As President Obama’s call to end chronic homelessness among veterans displays, when government acts and we mobilize on that action, we can address long-term, entrenched issues and ensure individuals have a safe and affordable place to live.</p> <p dir="ltr">A high priority for Albany should be a new 421-a property tax credit for real estate developers who build affordable housing.</p> <p dir="ltr">After developers and labor were unable to come to an agreement on construction wages by January 15, the 421-a tax credit expired. Still, Albany can seize the opportunity and craft a new program that maximizes the cost-effective development of truly affordable housing. For example, a new 421-a credit should not include a tax break for condo development. Approximately two-thirds of New York City’s households are renters. Moreover, the median household income of renters in New York City - about $41,000 annually according to the Furman Center’s 2014 <a href="http://furmancenter.org/research/sonychan" target="_blank">State of New York City’s Housing &amp; Neighborhoods</a> - is unlikely enough to afford a co-op or condo.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Legislature must also adequately fund the 20,000 units of supportive housing announced by Cuomo. In particular, Albany must ensure state contracts with supportive housing providers promote the long-term viability of the units. A consistent challenge that we at Urban Pathways face in operating scattered-site supportive housing - apartments in various private buildings throughout communities - is that the service contracts lack rent escalations. As scattered-site units are in market-rate apartments, they are subject to rent increases, making rent escalation provisions critical to their preservation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lastly, after March of this year, the state will receive National Housing Trust Fund dollars. New York will be obligated to spend these funds - potentially $20 million - predominantly on rental housing for extremely low-income (ELI) households. ELI households are those with incomes at or below 30 percent of the area median income (ranging from about $18,150 for a one-person household to $29,500 for a four-person household in New York City). This is another opportunity for the state to invest in adequate exit options for homeless individuals throughout the state.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />Nicole Bramstedt is the Director of Policy at <a href="http://www.urbanpathways.org/" target="_blank">Urban Pathways</a>, a nonprofit social services and supportive housing organization. On Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/UrbanPathwaysNY" target="_blank">@UrbanPathwaysNY</a></p> <p dir="ltr">

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

</p>
<p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/15148516147_f36f512ffe_z.jpg" alt="groundbreaking cuomo others" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo: a groundbreaking, via the Governor's Office</p> <hr /> <p>As the Legislature moves ahead with its 2016 session in Albany, a top priority must be creating and maintaining affordable housing across the state. We cannot be content with fellow New Yorkers sleeping in three-quarter houses, with too many to a room, because it’s the only alternative. It is only so long until the next severely rent burdened tenant - spending more than 50 percent of their earnings on rent - ends up homeless because they cannot afford their apartment.</p> <p dir="ltr">Governor Cuomo’s State of the State agenda – including 20,000 units of supportive housing over 15 years and 100,000 units of permanent affordable housing - is a welcome first step. Now, there are steps the Legislature should take to spur the development and protection of affordable housing. As President Obama’s call to end chronic homelessness among veterans displays, when government acts and we mobilize on that action, we can address long-term, entrenched issues and ensure individuals have a safe and affordable place to live.</p> <p dir="ltr">A high priority for Albany should be a new 421-a property tax credit for real estate developers who build affordable housing.</p> <p dir="ltr">After developers and labor were unable to come to an agreement on construction wages by January 15, the 421-a tax credit expired. Still, Albany can seize the opportunity and craft a new program that maximizes the cost-effective development of truly affordable housing. For example, a new 421-a credit should not include a tax break for condo development. Approximately two-thirds of New York City’s households are renters. Moreover, the median household income of renters in New York City - about $41,000 annually according to the Furman Center’s 2014 <a href="http://furmancenter.org/research/sonychan" target="_blank">State of New York City’s Housing &amp; Neighborhoods</a> - is unlikely enough to afford a co-op or condo.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Legislature must also adequately fund the 20,000 units of supportive housing announced by Cuomo. In particular, Albany must ensure state contracts with supportive housing providers promote the long-term viability of the units. A consistent challenge that we at Urban Pathways face in operating scattered-site supportive housing - apartments in various private buildings throughout communities - is that the service contracts lack rent escalations. As scattered-site units are in market-rate apartments, they are subject to rent increases, making rent escalation provisions critical to their preservation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lastly, after March of this year, the state will receive National Housing Trust Fund dollars. New York will be obligated to spend these funds - potentially $20 million - predominantly on rental housing for extremely low-income (ELI) households. ELI households are those with incomes at or below 30 percent of the area median income (ranging from about $18,150 for a one-person household to $29,500 for a four-person household in New York City). This is another opportunity for the state to invest in adequate exit options for homeless individuals throughout the state.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />Nicole Bramstedt is the Director of Policy at <a href="http://www.urbanpathways.org/" target="_blank">Urban Pathways</a>, a nonprofit social services and supportive housing organization. On Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/UrbanPathwaysNY" target="_blank">@UrbanPathwaysNY</a></p> <p dir="ltr">

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

</p>
Corruption, Elections Loom Over Lengthy 2016 Legislative Agenda 2016-01-06T22:17:26+00:00 2016-01-06T22:17:26+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6067:corruption-elections-loom-over-2016-legislative-agenda Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/24195066305_18221d13db_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo announcement infrastructure" height="393" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo (photo:&nbsp;Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)</p> <hr /> <p>Lawmakers returning to Albany this week to kick off the 2016 legislative session are faced with a litany of unresolved issues from last year and the spectre of the recent convictions of two former legislative leaders.</p> <p>Add to that impending elections for all 213 legislative seats, some of which will be critical for the future of state Senate control and the prospect of future indictments hinted at by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and you have a recipe for potential paralysis.</p> <p>Familiar issues like raising the minimum wage, paid family leave, juvenile justice and criminal justice reforms are all on the table. Newer issues like regulating fantasy sports gambling and tweaks to the state's health insurance marketplace will also be up for discussion.</p> <p>Complicating some issues will be Gov. Andrew Cuomo's repeated 2015 use of executive action, which irked some legislators and, according to some advocates, let the air out of pushes for major legislation. But the elephant in the room remains how to deal with the plague of corruption that has dogged the capitol for years.</p> <p>There is a little extra motivation for the legislature to move on more comprehensive ethics fixes - when session ended in June, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Majority Leader Dean Skelos had merely been indicted on federal corruption charges, six months later both men have been convicted and will soon face sentencing. Further, their trials exposed how major donors are able to exploit the state's campaign finance system and how both Silver and Skelos were able to use their influence to pressure entities with business before the state to provide them and their associates with financial benefit.</p> <p>Cuomo has promised that ethics reform will be at the top of his 2016 agenda.</p> <p>Aside from the unprecedented legislative scandal, both houses of the legislature will also be preparing for an election season that many see as do or die for control of the state Senate, currently led by Republicans. Upcoming electoral contests could motivate leaders from both houses to compromise, or it could create more strife, legislative paralysis, and a blame game that will play out in the elections.</p> <p>Still, there are a variety of major policy issues at play as 2016 session begins, including:</p> <p><strong>Full-Time Legislature</strong><br />A number of good government groups, as well as Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and even U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, have posited that a better paid, full-time legislature might reduce certain kinds of corruption. Better pay might reduce the temptation to take bribes and with outside income banned it would be much harder for legislators to hide any ill-gotten gains.</p> <p>A number of Assembly Democrats say their conference has seriously discussed the possibility of advocating for a full-time legislative body. In a Dec. 7 <a href="http://www.bronxnet.org/tv/bronxtalk/viewvideo/6546/bronxtalk/bronxtalk--dec-7th-2015" target="_blank">interview</a> with Gary Axelbank of BronxTalk, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he wanted to see how stricter income disclosure rules passed last year work before he advocates a total ban on outside income.</p> <p>Heastie told Axelbank a full-time legislature would have to be paid considerably more. "Is the public ready to pay legislators $150,000-$160,000 a year?" Heastie asked. "If you're going to have people go full time, there's going to have to be a hefty pay raise from $79,500." Legislators haven't had a raise in 15 years, though a new commission is examining the rates and will issue recommendations.</p> <p>Majority Leader John Flanagan has repeatedly said he is steadfastly opposed to a full-time legislature. He said it on Wednesday's first session day, and last month he <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/12/flanagan-remains-opposed-to-full-time-legislature/" target="_blank">told reporters</a>, "We are ostensibly supposed to have, or legally supposed to have, a citizen Legislature or a part-time Legislature. I want the people with a depth of background. I think it's useful to have people from varying walks of life."</p> <p>Still, upon replacing Skelos, Flanagan gave up his second job, a move he explained Wednesday as important because of his time commitment as Senate leader, which comes with a stipend.</p> <p>Gov. Andrew Cuomo has noted that the constitution calls for a part-time legislature and Republican opposition to going full-time, but called the idea "something worth talking about." It's more likely that legislators compromise on a significant cap on outside income and additional rules.</p> <p><strong>LLC Loophole</strong><br />The now-infamous LLC loophole was featured during the Silver and Skelos corruption trials, but has been a cause of consternation among reformers for quite some time. In practice, the loophole allows anyone to game the campaign finance system by setting up multiple LLCs, or limited liability corporations, from which to donate to candidates for office.</p> <p>Cries to close the loophole reached fever pitch last session, but in the wake of the Silver and Skelos trials have become even louder. Glenwood Management, a Manhattan real estate firm at the center of the Silver and Skelos cases, used the loophole to subvert the state's campaign donation limits by creating a number of front companies. The firm has been the largest contributor in the state for years. The Assembly moved to close the loophole last year but the Senate refused to vote on the issue. The Assembly is poised to move again on the issue but it appears that they might face opposition not only from Senate Republicans but from Cuomo as well.</p> <p>Speaking with reporters in Manhattan on Dec. 13, Cuomo said that closing the LLC Loophole was "a priority." However, on Dec. 21, Cuomo said in a WNYC radio interview that closing the loophole would be ineffective because of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allows for independent expenditures on behalf of candidates.</p> <p>"You need people in office who are going to use their best judgment in office," Cuomo said on WNYC, "because you're not going to change the campaign finance system because of Citizens United."</p> <p>Cuomo also refused to return over a million dollars in donations from Glenwood Management. "If I believed that I could be influenced by a million dollars, or a thousand dollars, or fifty dollars, then I'm in the wrong place and I should resign immediately," <a href="http://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/cuomo-plans-ethics-bills-but-won-t-close-llc-loophole-1.11251226" target="_blank">he explained</a>.</p> <p><strong>Minimum Wage Hike</strong><br />Cuomo kicked off the rollout of his 2016 agenda with another rally for an eventual $15 hourly statewide minimum wage and by extending a path toward $15 per hour to 28,000 SUNY employees. Cuomo has promised to push the legislature to adopt his plan to get all workers across the state to at least $15 per hour over the next several years.</p> <p>Cuomo rapidly evolved his position on the minimum wage last year after opposing a hike to $13 per hour proposed by Democratic legislators. But, he utilized the state's wage board provision to boost the minimum wage plan for fast food workers to an eventual $15 per hour and has rallied across the state to push the legislature to support the same figure.</p> <p>The Assembly pushed for an eventual $15 minimum wage for New York City in its single-house budget last year and is expected to support Cuomo's push. There are some Democratic members from Upstate and Western New York who are concerned about backlash from business groups. Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has not written off the possibility of a path toward a $15 minimum wage and there are some who think he will look to compromise with Cuomo on the timeline for full implementation of the raise as a way to take the debate off the table before election season.</p> <p>Cuomo has already begun outlining tax reform, especially to reduce the burden on small businesses, which many see as part of the plan to get the minimum wage hike passed. A heightened minimum wage is popular around the state and has endeared the governor with many of his erstwhile liberal friends.</p> <p><strong>Tax on the Rich</strong><br />With one sentence of his remarks on the opening day of session, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie changed the expected dynamics of negotiations to come. "We will fight for a tax structure that promotes fairness, equity, common sense," Heastie said, adding that he wanted tax cuts for the working class and to ask "wealthy New Yorkers" to pay their "fair share."</p> <p>Cuomo has repeatedly rejected calls for a tax on the highest earners over the last few years - especially when the calls came from Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014. It isn't clear how hard Heastie will push on the issue but if it takes off it could eventually be used as leverage toward enacting a full minimum wage increase.</p> <p><strong>Criminal Justice Reform</strong><br />Last month the Cuomo administration made good on a promised executive action when it unveiled a plan to move 16- and 17-year-old inmates with medium and minimum security classifications to a juvenile facility in Hudson. The move is expected to impact up to 100 inmates. However, advocates are not satisfied. New York is still one of two states to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adults upon arrest.</p> <p>Criminal justice experts want the entire process changed in state law, something Cuomo has backed and tried to enact last year to no avail.</p> <p>While advocates plan to continue to push, and held a press conference on the first day of session to resume doing so, Cuomo's executive action may have reduced the legislature's appetite to act. A number of Senate Republicans were concerned about housing teens in adult prisons but are not convinced the entire criminal justice process should be altered. Meanwhile, Cuomo and Democrats from the Senate and Assembly have disagreed on exactly how the 16- and 17-year-olds should be processed by the courts.</p> <p>Meanwhile, having failed to build a consensus with the legislature on how to revamp the criminal justice system to address concerns about how police shootings of citizens are investigated, Cuomo issued an executive order last summer allowing the Attorney General to name a special prosecutor in such cases.</p> <p>The move angered some district attorneys and members of law enforcement but gave the governor a boost with progressive activists. However, Cuomo promised to evaluate how the order worked and return to the legislature with a plan to change the law.</p> <p>Members of the Assembly Majority are anxious to tackle the issue but Senate Republicans are unlikely to want to touch it - especially in an election year. A good gauge of where the issue stands in the pecking order will be to see what kind of mention it gets, if any, in Cuomo's State of the State address. A number of legislators say they expect Cuomo to declare victory on both of these criminal justice issues by pointing to his executive actions and thereby avoid any major legislative battles.</p> <p><strong>Car Service Apps</strong><br />In 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio decided he wanted to limit the expansion of Uber, the most popular car-service app, citing concerns about congestion. It was as if the mayor stepped on a landmine. Uber quickly mobilized its drivers and users and rolled out an effective public relations campaign, even enlisting Cuomo - who may not have needed much prodding to contradict de Blasio.</p> <p>The mayor walked away limping but with plans to return to the issue. Now the state has to decide how to handle Uber and Lyft's push to be allowed in New York, including in upstate cities. In late October, Cuomo indicated that he thinks the state should issue regulations as a whole. "You can't do Uber city by city," <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/10/8580407/cuomo-hints-new-de-blasio-fight-time-over-uber" target="_blank">Cuomo said</a>. Cuomo's former top advisor Matt Wing is now in charge of communications for Uber in the Northeast.</p> <p>Localities would need to give up oversight of transportation insurance and allow Uber to pool insurance for its drivers. The taxi industry, which is steadfastly opposed to Uber, is currently regulated city by city.</p> <p><strong>Fantasy Sports Gambling</strong><br />A number of Assembly Democrats are chomping at the bit to address the issue of fantasy sports betting sites like Draftkings and FanDuel, which were recently sued by AG Schneiderman for being illegal gambling in violation of New York law. Schneiderman then amended the suit to ask the companies to return all money it made from New Yorkers. Democratic Assemblymember Gary Pretlow told Gotham Gazette that he plans to come up with regulations, oversight, and consumer protections that could keep the sites alive should they be found illegal in the court battle.</p> <p>Meanwhile, a number of Senate Republicans are interested in ending any ambiguity about the legality of the sites by passing a bill stating that it is a game of skill and not of chance. Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer introduced such a bill in December. He told The Buffalo News in November that he hadn't spoken to representatives of the sites but was motivated by what he saw as Schneiderman's "overreach."</p> <p>"It's just once again. New York shouldn't have Uber, shouldn't have mixed martial arts, or sports betting. When all this commerce and activities is allowed in many other states, it just seems like one issue after another in New York," Ranzenhofer <a href="http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/state/ranzenhofer-bill-would-make-fantasy-sports-legal-in-new-york-20151116" target="_blank">told the Buffalo News</a>.</p> <p><strong>A Variety of Others</strong><br />Expect a major push from both houses of the legislature to restore education funding cuts.</p> <p>The Ultimate Fighting Championship is advancing a court case to force New York to allow them to hold events in the state and has even booked a spring date at Madison Square Garden to hold its mixed martial arts bouts (MMA). The legislature could intercede before the case is settled.</p> <p>Cuomo has already revealed a number of infrastructure related plans. Senate Republicans are looking to increase investment in the state's roads and bridges upstate while a number of city-based Democrats want to see the governor better invest in the MTA and do more to relieve congestion.</p> <p>A number of Assembly Democrats are looking for partners in the Senate Majority for <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5950-as-cuomo-pushes-for-federal-action-on-guns-new-york-measures-await-his-support" target="_blank">bills that would encourage guns are stored safely</a>. There are several other bills that address implementing employee training and stricter checks and balances for gun stores as well as ones that would allow police to take away guns belonging to perpetrators of domestic violence.</p> <p>Cuomo has been focused on national solutions to gun violence as of late but some Assembly Democrats think there is room <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5950-as-cuomo-pushes-for-federal-action-on-guns-new-york-measures-await-his-support" target="_blank">to pass smaller pieces of legislation</a> this year.</p> <p>The Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act, or GENDA, appears to have lost a great deal of momentum after Cuomo enacted a number of its tenets through executive order earlier this fall. The Empire State Pride Agenda, which had been backing the bill, announced it is closing its policy operations because it feels it has completed much of its work, but some advocates point out that Cuomo's GENDA order could quickly be undone by the next governor.</p> <p>The DREAM Act is another long-standing Democratic priority that many are unsure of its place in this year's agenda, which may be determined by whether Cuomo features it in his State of the State and budget.</p> <p>The Assembly and Senate majorities and the Independent Democratic Conference will have to settle their differences over how to implement paid family leave before they look to negotiate a final bill with the governor. "I'm always optimistic," IDC head Sen. Jeff Klein said of a resolution on paid family leave in November. "It is an extremely important issue resonates with residents across the state." Klein brought the policy up again in his opening remarks on the Senate floor, and Flanagan said a conversation would happen, but that the details must be determined. Heastie said the Assembly would again bass a paid family leave bill this year, as it has several years in a row.</p> <p>Generally speaking, Flanagan succinctly summed up his conference's priorities with his opening remarks on Wednesday, saying its focus will be "jobs, jobs, and jobs."</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/24195066305_18221d13db_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo announcement infrastructure" height="393" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo (photo:&nbsp;Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)</p> <hr /> <p>Lawmakers returning to Albany this week to kick off the 2016 legislative session are faced with a litany of unresolved issues from last year and the spectre of the recent convictions of two former legislative leaders.</p> <p>Add to that impending elections for all 213 legislative seats, some of which will be critical for the future of state Senate control and the prospect of future indictments hinted at by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and you have a recipe for potential paralysis.</p> <p>Familiar issues like raising the minimum wage, paid family leave, juvenile justice and criminal justice reforms are all on the table. Newer issues like regulating fantasy sports gambling and tweaks to the state's health insurance marketplace will also be up for discussion.</p> <p>Complicating some issues will be Gov. Andrew Cuomo's repeated 2015 use of executive action, which irked some legislators and, according to some advocates, let the air out of pushes for major legislation. But the elephant in the room remains how to deal with the plague of corruption that has dogged the capitol for years.</p> <p>There is a little extra motivation for the legislature to move on more comprehensive ethics fixes - when session ended in June, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Majority Leader Dean Skelos had merely been indicted on federal corruption charges, six months later both men have been convicted and will soon face sentencing. Further, their trials exposed how major donors are able to exploit the state's campaign finance system and how both Silver and Skelos were able to use their influence to pressure entities with business before the state to provide them and their associates with financial benefit.</p> <p>Cuomo has promised that ethics reform will be at the top of his 2016 agenda.</p> <p>Aside from the unprecedented legislative scandal, both houses of the legislature will also be preparing for an election season that many see as do or die for control of the state Senate, currently led by Republicans. Upcoming electoral contests could motivate leaders from both houses to compromise, or it could create more strife, legislative paralysis, and a blame game that will play out in the elections.</p> <p>Still, there are a variety of major policy issues at play as 2016 session begins, including:</p> <p><strong>Full-Time Legislature</strong><br />A number of good government groups, as well as Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and even U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, have posited that a better paid, full-time legislature might reduce certain kinds of corruption. Better pay might reduce the temptation to take bribes and with outside income banned it would be much harder for legislators to hide any ill-gotten gains.</p> <p>A number of Assembly Democrats say their conference has seriously discussed the possibility of advocating for a full-time legislative body. In a Dec. 7 <a href="http://www.bronxnet.org/tv/bronxtalk/viewvideo/6546/bronxtalk/bronxtalk--dec-7th-2015" target="_blank">interview</a> with Gary Axelbank of BronxTalk, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he wanted to see how stricter income disclosure rules passed last year work before he advocates a total ban on outside income.</p> <p>Heastie told Axelbank a full-time legislature would have to be paid considerably more. "Is the public ready to pay legislators $150,000-$160,000 a year?" Heastie asked. "If you're going to have people go full time, there's going to have to be a hefty pay raise from $79,500." Legislators haven't had a raise in 15 years, though a new commission is examining the rates and will issue recommendations.</p> <p>Majority Leader John Flanagan has repeatedly said he is steadfastly opposed to a full-time legislature. He said it on Wednesday's first session day, and last month he <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/12/flanagan-remains-opposed-to-full-time-legislature/" target="_blank">told reporters</a>, "We are ostensibly supposed to have, or legally supposed to have, a citizen Legislature or a part-time Legislature. I want the people with a depth of background. I think it's useful to have people from varying walks of life."</p> <p>Still, upon replacing Skelos, Flanagan gave up his second job, a move he explained Wednesday as important because of his time commitment as Senate leader, which comes with a stipend.</p> <p>Gov. Andrew Cuomo has noted that the constitution calls for a part-time legislature and Republican opposition to going full-time, but called the idea "something worth talking about." It's more likely that legislators compromise on a significant cap on outside income and additional rules.</p> <p><strong>LLC Loophole</strong><br />The now-infamous LLC loophole was featured during the Silver and Skelos corruption trials, but has been a cause of consternation among reformers for quite some time. In practice, the loophole allows anyone to game the campaign finance system by setting up multiple LLCs, or limited liability corporations, from which to donate to candidates for office.</p> <p>Cries to close the loophole reached fever pitch last session, but in the wake of the Silver and Skelos trials have become even louder. Glenwood Management, a Manhattan real estate firm at the center of the Silver and Skelos cases, used the loophole to subvert the state's campaign donation limits by creating a number of front companies. The firm has been the largest contributor in the state for years. The Assembly moved to close the loophole last year but the Senate refused to vote on the issue. The Assembly is poised to move again on the issue but it appears that they might face opposition not only from Senate Republicans but from Cuomo as well.</p> <p>Speaking with reporters in Manhattan on Dec. 13, Cuomo said that closing the LLC Loophole was "a priority." However, on Dec. 21, Cuomo said in a WNYC radio interview that closing the loophole would be ineffective because of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allows for independent expenditures on behalf of candidates.</p> <p>"You need people in office who are going to use their best judgment in office," Cuomo said on WNYC, "because you're not going to change the campaign finance system because of Citizens United."</p> <p>Cuomo also refused to return over a million dollars in donations from Glenwood Management. "If I believed that I could be influenced by a million dollars, or a thousand dollars, or fifty dollars, then I'm in the wrong place and I should resign immediately," <a href="http://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/cuomo-plans-ethics-bills-but-won-t-close-llc-loophole-1.11251226" target="_blank">he explained</a>.</p> <p><strong>Minimum Wage Hike</strong><br />Cuomo kicked off the rollout of his 2016 agenda with another rally for an eventual $15 hourly statewide minimum wage and by extending a path toward $15 per hour to 28,000 SUNY employees. Cuomo has promised to push the legislature to adopt his plan to get all workers across the state to at least $15 per hour over the next several years.</p> <p>Cuomo rapidly evolved his position on the minimum wage last year after opposing a hike to $13 per hour proposed by Democratic legislators. But, he utilized the state's wage board provision to boost the minimum wage plan for fast food workers to an eventual $15 per hour and has rallied across the state to push the legislature to support the same figure.</p> <p>The Assembly pushed for an eventual $15 minimum wage for New York City in its single-house budget last year and is expected to support Cuomo's push. There are some Democratic members from Upstate and Western New York who are concerned about backlash from business groups. Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has not written off the possibility of a path toward a $15 minimum wage and there are some who think he will look to compromise with Cuomo on the timeline for full implementation of the raise as a way to take the debate off the table before election season.</p> <p>Cuomo has already begun outlining tax reform, especially to reduce the burden on small businesses, which many see as part of the plan to get the minimum wage hike passed. A heightened minimum wage is popular around the state and has endeared the governor with many of his erstwhile liberal friends.</p> <p><strong>Tax on the Rich</strong><br />With one sentence of his remarks on the opening day of session, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie changed the expected dynamics of negotiations to come. "We will fight for a tax structure that promotes fairness, equity, common sense," Heastie said, adding that he wanted tax cuts for the working class and to ask "wealthy New Yorkers" to pay their "fair share."</p> <p>Cuomo has repeatedly rejected calls for a tax on the highest earners over the last few years - especially when the calls came from Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014. It isn't clear how hard Heastie will push on the issue but if it takes off it could eventually be used as leverage toward enacting a full minimum wage increase.</p> <p><strong>Criminal Justice Reform</strong><br />Last month the Cuomo administration made good on a promised executive action when it unveiled a plan to move 16- and 17-year-old inmates with medium and minimum security classifications to a juvenile facility in Hudson. The move is expected to impact up to 100 inmates. However, advocates are not satisfied. New York is still one of two states to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adults upon arrest.</p> <p>Criminal justice experts want the entire process changed in state law, something Cuomo has backed and tried to enact last year to no avail.</p> <p>While advocates plan to continue to push, and held a press conference on the first day of session to resume doing so, Cuomo's executive action may have reduced the legislature's appetite to act. A number of Senate Republicans were concerned about housing teens in adult prisons but are not convinced the entire criminal justice process should be altered. Meanwhile, Cuomo and Democrats from the Senate and Assembly have disagreed on exactly how the 16- and 17-year-olds should be processed by the courts.</p> <p>Meanwhile, having failed to build a consensus with the legislature on how to revamp the criminal justice system to address concerns about how police shootings of citizens are investigated, Cuomo issued an executive order last summer allowing the Attorney General to name a special prosecutor in such cases.</p> <p>The move angered some district attorneys and members of law enforcement but gave the governor a boost with progressive activists. However, Cuomo promised to evaluate how the order worked and return to the legislature with a plan to change the law.</p> <p>Members of the Assembly Majority are anxious to tackle the issue but Senate Republicans are unlikely to want to touch it - especially in an election year. A good gauge of where the issue stands in the pecking order will be to see what kind of mention it gets, if any, in Cuomo's State of the State address. A number of legislators say they expect Cuomo to declare victory on both of these criminal justice issues by pointing to his executive actions and thereby avoid any major legislative battles.</p> <p><strong>Car Service Apps</strong><br />In 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio decided he wanted to limit the expansion of Uber, the most popular car-service app, citing concerns about congestion. It was as if the mayor stepped on a landmine. Uber quickly mobilized its drivers and users and rolled out an effective public relations campaign, even enlisting Cuomo - who may not have needed much prodding to contradict de Blasio.</p> <p>The mayor walked away limping but with plans to return to the issue. Now the state has to decide how to handle Uber and Lyft's push to be allowed in New York, including in upstate cities. In late October, Cuomo indicated that he thinks the state should issue regulations as a whole. "You can't do Uber city by city," <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/10/8580407/cuomo-hints-new-de-blasio-fight-time-over-uber" target="_blank">Cuomo said</a>. Cuomo's former top advisor Matt Wing is now in charge of communications for Uber in the Northeast.</p> <p>Localities would need to give up oversight of transportation insurance and allow Uber to pool insurance for its drivers. The taxi industry, which is steadfastly opposed to Uber, is currently regulated city by city.</p> <p><strong>Fantasy Sports Gambling</strong><br />A number of Assembly Democrats are chomping at the bit to address the issue of fantasy sports betting sites like Draftkings and FanDuel, which were recently sued by AG Schneiderman for being illegal gambling in violation of New York law. Schneiderman then amended the suit to ask the companies to return all money it made from New Yorkers. Democratic Assemblymember Gary Pretlow told Gotham Gazette that he plans to come up with regulations, oversight, and consumer protections that could keep the sites alive should they be found illegal in the court battle.</p> <p>Meanwhile, a number of Senate Republicans are interested in ending any ambiguity about the legality of the sites by passing a bill stating that it is a game of skill and not of chance. Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer introduced such a bill in December. He told The Buffalo News in November that he hadn't spoken to representatives of the sites but was motivated by what he saw as Schneiderman's "overreach."</p> <p>"It's just once again. New York shouldn't have Uber, shouldn't have mixed martial arts, or sports betting. When all this commerce and activities is allowed in many other states, it just seems like one issue after another in New York," Ranzenhofer <a href="http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/state/ranzenhofer-bill-would-make-fantasy-sports-legal-in-new-york-20151116" target="_blank">told the Buffalo News</a>.</p> <p><strong>A Variety of Others</strong><br />Expect a major push from both houses of the legislature to restore education funding cuts.</p> <p>The Ultimate Fighting Championship is advancing a court case to force New York to allow them to hold events in the state and has even booked a spring date at Madison Square Garden to hold its mixed martial arts bouts (MMA). The legislature could intercede before the case is settled.</p> <p>Cuomo has already revealed a number of infrastructure related plans. Senate Republicans are looking to increase investment in the state's roads and bridges upstate while a number of city-based Democrats want to see the governor better invest in the MTA and do more to relieve congestion.</p> <p>A number of Assembly Democrats are looking for partners in the Senate Majority for <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5950-as-cuomo-pushes-for-federal-action-on-guns-new-york-measures-await-his-support" target="_blank">bills that would encourage guns are stored safely</a>. There are several other bills that address implementing employee training and stricter checks and balances for gun stores as well as ones that would allow police to take away guns belonging to perpetrators of domestic violence.</p> <p>Cuomo has been focused on national solutions to gun violence as of late but some Assembly Democrats think there is room <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5950-as-cuomo-pushes-for-federal-action-on-guns-new-york-measures-await-his-support" target="_blank">to pass smaller pieces of legislation</a> this year.</p> <p>The Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act, or GENDA, appears to have lost a great deal of momentum after Cuomo enacted a number of its tenets through executive order earlier this fall. The Empire State Pride Agenda, which had been backing the bill, announced it is closing its policy operations because it feels it has completed much of its work, but some advocates point out that Cuomo's GENDA order could quickly be undone by the next governor.</p> <p>The DREAM Act is another long-standing Democratic priority that many are unsure of its place in this year's agenda, which may be determined by whether Cuomo features it in his State of the State and budget.</p> <p>The Assembly and Senate majorities and the Independent Democratic Conference will have to settle their differences over how to implement paid family leave before they look to negotiate a final bill with the governor. "I'm always optimistic," IDC head Sen. Jeff Klein said of a resolution on paid family leave in November. "It is an extremely important issue resonates with residents across the state." Klein brought the policy up again in his opening remarks on the Senate floor, and Flanagan said a conversation would happen, but that the details must be determined. Heastie said the Assembly would again bass a paid family leave bill this year, as it has several years in a row.</p> <p>Generally speaking, Flanagan succinctly summed up his conference's priorities with his opening remarks on Wednesday, saying its focus will be "jobs, jobs, and jobs."</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p>