Gotham Gazette Sat, 20 Apr 2019 16:55:55 +0000 en-gb (Webmaster) Initial Movement on Private Prison Divestment by City Pension Funds Stringer town hall

Comptroller Stringer (photo: @scottmstringer)

New York City’s pension funds have faced criticism in the past for owning a stake, however small, in two for-profit private prison operators. On Thursday, one of the funds took the first significant step to recognize the issue by announcing a study of divestment from the controversial industry.

Comptroller Scott Stringer and the trustees of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), one of the city’s five pension funds, voted unanimously to pass a resolution on Thursday to explore how divestment from private prisons would affect the fund’s investment portfolio. The decision came three weeks after an announcement by the federal government that it would phase out its dependence on private prisons to house a decreasing number of federal inmates. A Department of Justice report, which formed the basis of that announcement, cited dangerous conditions at private prisons, increased costs, and inefficiency.

Soon after, Gotham Gazette reported on the city pension funds’ holdings in private prison companies and that the DOJ announcement gave a boost to some who have called for divestment from private prisons for years.

The comptroller, who is on the board of trustees of four of the five city pension funds, said he will introduce similar resolutions to the three other boards he sits on in the coming weeks and will encourage the last remaining fund to follow suit. All the pension funds together are worth about $160 billion, and their total investment in the two private prison firms, the GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, is about $20 million.

Within an hour of the the federal announcement, the value of GEO and CCA stocks nosedived, dropping about 40 percent by the end of the day, which meant that the the fund likely lost $8 million in value. Since then, GEO stocks have recovered by about 10.4 percent while CCA’s value fell another 11.4 percent. Individual stocks are part of larger holdings, which makes divesting a more complicated process than it might otherwise be.

“As trustees, we have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that we are acting in the best interests of our members while investing in ways that are consistent with our values as New Yorkers,” said Comptroller Stringer in a statement on Thursday. “We believe the time has come to study whether our holdings in private prisons meet both our fiduciary standard as well as our standard to invest responsibly. My fellow trustees and I will carefully review these findings and take action accordingly.” Besides Stringer, a number of elected officials sit on the board of trustees, including the public advocate and the five borough presidents.

While the announcement doesn’t state with certainty that the fund will divest, it’s more than likely given the decreased profitability of the investment and the growing resentment for an industry that many believe values profit over human lives.

“Prisons should not be profitable at the expense of humane conditions and safety,” said John Adler, director of the Mayor’s Office of Pensions and Investments and chair of the NYCERS Board, in Thursday’s announcement. “If NYCERS can responsibly divest from corporations that run private prisons, the City is eager to do its part in working to eliminate private prisons.”

While the resolution appears to be a direct response to the federal government’s announcement, pressure had been building on the comptroller and the pension funds for some time. Activists have been calling for divestment from private prison holdings and appealing to Stringer to use the leverage at his disposal, as he has successfully done to encourage values-based investment and decision-making by companies, including an effort to diversify corporate boardrooms.

On August 31, Gotham Gazette reported on the push by activists for divestment from private prisons, which was bolstered by the federal decision. One activist, perhaps the most pleased to hear Thursday’s news, is Randy Credico, a comedian, regular political candidate, and WBAI radio host. Credico has been a thorn in Stringer’s side for well over a year, targeting him directly, at times personally, to push the divestment issue. Credico, who has been a decades-long activist fighting against war and for criminal justice reform, and his allies have promoted online petitions and held protests outside Stringer’s office dressed in inmate clothing. Although Stringer is the financial advisor to the five pension funds, he does not have final say over investments.

Credico welcomed Stringer’s announcement but at the same time criticized him for taking too long to address the issue. “The difference between a statesman and a politician is, a statesman acts and a politician reacts,” Credico said. “[Stringer] is a politician and he reacted late to this....[H]e should’ve read the tea leaves a year ago.”

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Initial Movement on Private Prison Divestment by City Pension Funds Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Justice Department Decision Boosts Push for Private Prison Divestment GEO stock

A recent decision by the federal Department of Justice to scale back and eventually end the use of private prisons indirectly impacted New York City’s pension funds, reducing holding values by millions of dollars and leading to renewed calls from activists for the city to divest from the for-profit corporations that operate these prisons.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration took a major step against an industry that has long been criticized for its culture of violence, secrecy, and the devaluation of human life: private prisons. The administration announced that owing to a decrease in the federal prison population, it would begin to reduce its reliance on private prisons run by for-profit corporations.

The decision was also based on a DOJ report that determined private prisons to be costly, unsafe, and inefficient in reducing recidivism.

The effects on the industry were immediate, with stocks of the two largest private prison corporations in the United States, the GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), plummeting by about 40 percent in a day. They briefly rebounded and then fell again on Monday when the Department of Homeland Security indicated that it would evaluate, and possibly eliminate, the use of private immigration detention facilities.

This news has some impact here in New York, both financially and symbolically. Although New York State does not have any private prison facilities, New York City’s five pension funds together had roughly $20 million invested in the GEO Group and CCA as of May (GEO does have an immigration detention facility in Queens and a re-entry location in the Bronx). Considering the drop so far in the value of those stocks, the investment has likely lost close to $8 million. Although the number itself is a pittance compared to the altogether $160 billion pension fund, it’s largely the principle behind the investment which has raised concerns. Activists say it’s both a diminishing avenue of investment and one that contradicts the proclaimed progressive bonafides of the majority of the city’s elected officials.

“It may be a small amount but morally it’s bankrupt and financially it’s bankrupt too,” said Randy Credico, a WBAI radio host, regular political candidate, comedian, and activist who has been advocating for the city to divest from private prisons for years. He created End Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) to push the issue with online petitions and has organized protests in prison garb outside Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.

Credico stripes ErrolCredico (pictured, middle) said there is a national movement against mass incarceration, among both Democrats and Republicans, and that the only way private prison stocks could go up was if mass incarceration went up. “It’s only gonna get worse,” he said. “These stocks are going nowhere. They prey on human misery. They’re in the human cargo business.”

He called it a “dark mark” on New York’s history that the City is still invested in private prisons and said the city’s pension trustees need to follow the likes of Columbia University, General Electric, the United Methodist Church, Pershing Square Capital Management, and others that have all pulled out of private prison stocks.

Credico, as is evident by his protests, points namely to Stringer, who is the custodian and financial advisor to the five public pension funds in the city, for having failed to recognize a bad investment as well as not having stuck to his progressivism as an outspoken critic of mass incarceration. While Credico’s ire may be focused on Stringer, he is but one player in a larger investment game.

A spokesperson for the comptroller’s office spoke to Gotham Gazette about the process by which investments are made and said that the Comptroller, who is also on the Board of Trustees of four of the funds, does not have absolute authority over investments or even the choice of companies in which to invest. The Comptroller advises the five pension funds and the funds each approve of an asset allocation composed of a mixed bag of assets, including a significant amount invested in public equities. The majority of stocks owned by the funds are held in passive index funds, such as the S&P 500 or Russell 2000. The holdings in private prison companies were likely acquired through their ownership of these indices.

Stringer has sought to use his pension fund leverage on other issues, such as corporate board diversity.

The Obama administration’s announcement has not escaped the comptroller’s attention. “The Justice Department report made clear that the private prison industry’s claims of superior cost savings and effectiveness over government-run prisons do not stand up to close inspection,” Stringer said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “The private prison industry’s continued failures in safety and security as well as the legal and reputational risks inherent in the enterprise, compel us as fiduciaries to carefully consider whether holding these types of assets is prudent and in the best interest of City workers and retirees.”

Stringer’s statement seems to echo what activists have been saying for a long time. “The concept of asking pension funds to divest is a historical phenomenon that’s very justified,” said Bill Samuels, founder of EffectiveNY, a government watchdog group. Samuels is a part of EPIC, Credico’s advocacy group. He cited the state’s history of divestment movements, going back as early as the 1980s to protest apartheid in South Africa and the more recent push to divest from gun manufacturers and fossil fuels. “These types of issues have been present for decades,” Samuels said.

In the wake of the federal decision on private prisons, Samuels said it would be a logical move for the City to divest and one that is in line with “the most progressive city” in the nation. “If the President of the United States can speak out on it, then every government pension from Cleveland to California to New York City should speak out on it,” he said. “The president made a major decision. I would expect states or cities that haven’t done so to follow suit immediately.” He was charitable about Stringer’s role in the process, conceding that he couldn’t make the decision alone to divest as his state counterpart Tom DiNapoli did in October of last year.

The city’s leadership has in the past been trendsetters on divesting from increasingly unpopular companies or industries. Following the San Bernardino mass shooting in December of last year, when President Obama made a case for gun safety measures and limits on ownership of high-calibre assault weapons, Mayor Bill de Blasio submitted a resolution to the New York City Police Pension Fund to examine divestment from gun manufacturers. The mayor’s message was clear: the city should not be investing in an industry and product involved in “countless tragedies” across the country, and that the president’s executive action was “a turning point in the effort to end senseless acts of violence against Americans.”

De Blasio has criticized the private prison industry for years. When he was Public Advocate, he was a vocal opponent of the GEO Group’s practices at its Queens facility.

Current Public Advocate Letitia James, who sits on the board of the New York City Employee Retirement System, one of the five pension funds, said in a July 3 radio interview with Samuels that the city should divest from private prisons and that she was considering presenting a resolution to the board to that effect. She had also been behind the resolution to divest from gun retailers that the NYCERS board voted to approve in July.

Jamie Trinkle, campaign and research coordinator for Enlace, which coordinates a national private prison divestment campaign, said, “It’s pretty appalling when city governments invest the pensions of public employees into the future incarceration and detention of fellow residents and employees.” She pointed out that the DOJ announcement showed the fragility of these companies as far as the pension fund’s fiduciary priorities are concerned and that the time is ripe for them to divest their stake.

“The city should not be invested in the expansion of state and corporate control of communities of color, immigrants and the poor,” Trinkle said. “Instead they should be investing in community-based solutions that increase the wellbeing of these communities that have been most impacted by criminalization.”

In a letter sent on Monday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito urged the Department of Homeland Security to follow the DOJ’s example and stop contracting with private immigration detention facilities. When asked by Gotham Gazette if the speaker would support divestment from the same private prison firms that run these facilities, a spokesperson for the speaker said that her office hasn’t examined the issue closely but would be open to the idea.

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Justice Department Decision Boosts Push for Private Prison Divestment Tue, 30 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000
The New Yorker's Guide To The New City Government CityHall2

Photo by Bill Alatriste/City Council

NEW YORK — The historic overhaul of New York City government this year goes well beyond the mayor's office.

There are 21 new members of the City Council, four new borough presidents, and fresh, yet familiar, faces in the offices of Brooklyn district attorney, comptroller, and public advocate. With the city’s politics taking an increasingly liberal turn, there are few outright conservatives left in city government.

“Reapportionment and term limits combined to make the City Council younger, a little bit further to the left, perhaps less a product of traditional political organizations or machines, and demographically, a little more like the population of the city,” said Kenneth Sherrill, Chair of the Political Science Department at Hunter College.

New city officials include the first Mexican-American on City Council; old friends of incoming Police Commissioner Bill Bratton from his tenure during the 1990s; yet another member of the Queens Vallone clan; and a progressive new Brooklyn D.A., who has said he wants to re-train the borough's police officers. We've rounded up the full list here.



Bill de Blasio - De Blasio has been involved in New York City politics since he helped the last progressive mayor, David Dinkins, get elected in 1989. Between that first campaign and his mayoral victory, De Blasio served as the regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helped Hillary Clinton get elected to the U.S. Senate, spent eight years representing some of Brooklyn’s wealthier neighborhoods on the City Council, and, most recently, served as the city’s public advocate. In an attempt to deliver on a key campaign promise early on, De Blasio has spent the last few weeks drumming up support in Albany for a small tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-K. Dinkins, somewhat ironically and extremely publicly, recently told him to reconsider, saying “we might have more success” with a commuter tax.


Scott Stringer - Stringer left his post as Manhattan Borough President and took on former Gov. Elliot Spitzer in order to ascend to this quietly powerful office overseeing city finances. He brings with him experience as a trustee of the massiveNYCERS pension fund and a track record of spearheadingpopulist economic initiatives, including the New York City Taxpayer Receipt, a website that allows constituents totrack their tax dollars.

Public Advocate

Letitia "Tish" James - James has served Central Brooklyn on the City Council since 2003 and has opposed several major development and rezoning projects, including Atlantic Yards, which, for years, riled up residents around what is now the Barclays Center. Most recently, James joined progressive groups in calling for higher wages and a change in the city’s economic development policies, including more stringent requirements for banks and corporations that receive city subsidies.

Borough-wide offices

Brooklyn District Attorney

Kenneth P. Thompson - Thompson had tobeat incumbent Charles Hynes twice - first, in the primary, when Hynes was a Democrat, and again when Hynes became a Republican for the general election. In anacceptance speech, the first black Brooklyn DA said voters had chosen him as an alternative to "false accusation, fear-mongering, and race-baiting." As a federal attorney, Thompson prosecutedpolice brutality in Brooklyn and now aims to reduce false arrests byassigning prosecutors to police precincts in East New York and Brownsville. “It is not right to have someone subjected to stop-and-frisk, snake through the system and spend two days in jail just to get out," hetold the Daily News.

Brooklyn Borough President

Eric Adams (D, WF) - Counted as anold friend by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, Adams served 22 years in the NYPD before moving on to the State Senate, where he has represented Crown Heights, Flatbush, Sunset Park and Park Slope for the last eight years. A vocal critic of former Commissioner Ray Kelly when stop-and-frisk was on trial, Adams advocates for a "symbiotic relationship" between the police and the community.

Manhattan Borough President

Gale Brewer (D) - Brewer has been a Council member for the Upper West Side and North Clinton since 2002. Her most recent political efforts include a push tomake food trucks greener and to get the city toseek federal funding to expand CitiBike.

Queens Borough President

Melinda Katz (D) - Katz represented Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and other pockets of Queens during her seven-year tenure on the City Council between 2002 and 2009. While on the Council, she was chair of the land use committee, and played a key role in moving forward the massive rezoning the city underwent during the Bloomberg administration.

Staten Island Borough President

James Oddo (R) - After 15 years on the City Council, Oddo is passing his title of Republican minority leader on to fellow Staten Island politician Vincent Ignizio. When it comes to Sandy relief, Oddosupports an "acquisition for redevelopment" plan that would buy out homeowners, open Midland Beach up to developers, and give former residents the option of moving back in.

City Council


Corey Johnson (D) - D3 - Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea, West Village- Johnson, a prominent activist in the LGBT community, will take outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn's seat. Johnson most recently served as Chair of Community Board 4, which also made him aboard member of the Hudson Yards Development Corp. Johnson built much of his campaign around affordable housing, but has been thesubject of controversy as a former employee of GFI Development Co., which has erected its fair share of Brooklyn condos.

Ben Kallos (D) - D5 - Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island - Kallos, a lawyer and lifelong Upper East Sider, advocated for state constitutional reform as the Executive Director of the groupEffectiveNY and has put the issues of government accountability and transparency at the forefront of his campaign. He has also pledged to try toaid local businesses affected by the interminable Second Avenue subway construction.

Hellen Rosenthal (D) - D6 - Upper West Side and North Clinton - Rosenthal, who is coming from a post in the City Hall Budget Office, has been amajor supporter of participatory budgeting and has advocated bringing it to her district, where, in the past, she served as Chair of Community Board 7.

Mark Levine (D, WF) - D7 - parts of Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights/West Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Washington Heights, and part of UWS - Over the course of his uptown political career, Levine founded the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan and a credit union called the Neighborhood Trust. He also briefly ran the New York chapter of the controversial Teach for America program, of which he was an early participant. Levine's proposals for city schools includeexpanding the curriculum to teach about LGBT history, animal welfare, and environmental issues.


Laurie Cumbo (D) - D35 - Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and part of Bedford Stuyvesant - Cumbo is best known in Brooklyn for her leadership and expansion ofMoCADA, the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts, and other cultural programs she has jump-started. But Cumbo has had a rough start as a Council member. She already had toapologize to her new constituents for racially chargedcomments she made about the 'knockout attacks' in Crown Heights last month.

Robert Cornegy, Jr. (D) -D36- Bedford Stuvesant and parts of Crown Heights - Cornegy is transitioning from a position as Legislative Analyst for the Council's Aging and Veterans Committee. The former district leader and president of VIDA, Central Brooklyn's Vanguard Independent Democratic Association,eked out a primary win in a race that ended with a highly contested recount.

Rafael Espinal, Jr. (D) - D37- Cypress Hills, Bushwick, East New York, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville - Two years ago, Espinal, then 27, became the youngest member of the State Assembly, representing District 54. Most recently, hesponsored legislation related to domestic abuse and, in the past, has sponsored bills that would require insurance companies to expand women's health coverage. Espinal has said he is determined to repair the infrastructure in neighborhoods that have been "completely ignored" by the city, like Cypress Hills, where he grew up.

Carlos Menchaca (D) - D38 - Bayridge Towers, Greenwood Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace - Menchaca'srelief efforts in Red Hook following Hurricane Sandy helped him get the support he needed to beat his district's incumbent. Now, he and incoming Council Member Mark Treyger want tostart a Sandy relief committee on the City Council. Proudly claiming the dual titles of "first Mexican-American on the City Council" and "first openly gay legislator in Brooklyn," Menchaca cut his teeth in the offices of outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz and outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn.

Inez Barron (D) - D42 - NEIGHBORHOODS - In her five years representing State Assembly District 60, Barron hastaken a progressive stance on issues from gun regulation to sex education. She alsofought to end mayoral control of city schools after a decades-long career as a public school teacher and administrator. Barron's more incendiary husband, Charles, is passing her the torch in their Council district.

Alan Maisel (D) - D46 - Canarsie, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, part of Sheepshead Bay - Environmental issues and public safety, including 'fracking' regulation, have been prominent among the legislation Maisel hassponsored in his tenure serving State Assembly District 59. Much of Maisel's civic work in Brooklyn has been done through the international Jewish organization B'nai B'rith, although he has also served on his local school and community boards.

Mark Treyger (D) - D47 - Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, and Sea Gate - After Superstorm Sandy hit, Treyger founded STRONG, the Sandy Task Force Recovery Organized by Neighborhood Groups, and is now joining forces with fellow incoming Council Member Carlos Menchaca to call fora Sandy relief committee on the City Council. Treyger, long active in local politics, has been a high school teacher since 2005, with strong involvement in the United Federation of Teachers.

Chaim Deutsch (D) - D48 - Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach - Over the past 20 years, Deutsch, who has a strong foothold in Brooklyn's Jewish community, has taken community safety into his own hands as president of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol. He founded the Patrol in the early 1990s in response to rising crime and has worked closely with both Commissioner Bill Bratton and outgoing police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Deutsch even held an appreciation ceremony for Kelly, during which hepresented the city’s top cop with a mezuzah, which Jews hang in their doorways for protection. He alsopraised Bratton for having "excelled at police-community relations and law enforcement strategies" during his previous tenure on the NYPD.

Antonio Reynoso - D34 - Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn; Ridgewood in Queens - Reynoso is taking the seat of his former boss, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who he has been working for since 2007, most recently as her Chief of Staff. A Williamsburg native, Reynoso has made affordable housing his top issue, speaking out frequently about the neighborhood's luxury makeover. He beat out a seasoned politician, former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who was forced out of the Assembly earlier this year following a sexual harassment case.


Paul Vallone, Jr. (D) - D19 - College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, and Little Neck - Leaving his practice at Queens law firm Vallone and Vallone to take a seat on the City Council, Vallone seems to be leaving onefamily business for another. His father, former Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., served on the City Council for 25 years, leaving in 2001, when his brother, Peter, Jr., was elected to represent the 22nd District (his term is up this year). Beyond his family ties, Vallone has established thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for Queens high school students and based his campaign platform on a mix of progressive issues — such as women's access to birth control — and local issues like noise pollution from overhead flights.

Costa Constantinides (D) - D22 - Astoria, Long Island City, part of Jackson Heights, Rikers Island, Randalls Island, and Wards Island - In the district that includes the city's largest jail, Constantinides earned valuable campaign support from the Correctional Officers Benevolent Association. Constantinides aims to reduce both crime and unemployment by hiring more police officers. He has also been active in the fight for voter rights throughout the state as a member of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, and says it's time to dump thehundreds of outdoor trailer classrooms” that are disproportionately found in Queens schools.

Rory Lancman (D) - D24 - Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest Estates, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, and parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica and Rego Park - When Lancman attempted to run for Anthony Weiner's old seat in Congress last year,WNYC reported that he had made some enemies and that one source had even called him the "most hated member of the state Assembly." Lancman, a lawyer who served Assembly District 25 for six years, has also passed a significant volume of legislation, including theLibel Terrorism Protection Act, which aims to protect journalists writing about terrorism abroad from being hit with defamation lawsuits, and a host of bills related to equality andsafety in the workplace.

Daneek Miller (D) - D27 - St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Baisley Park, Addisleigh Park, and parts of Queens Village, Rosedale, and Springfield Gardens - In December, Millerreceived a "Champion of Labor" Award, along with Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James. In Southeast Queens, where subway service is spotty, Miller has championed bus drivers and riders as president of the local chapter of the Amalgamated Transportation Union. He also co-founded a mentor program called Brothers Unlimited.


Andrew Cohen (D) - D11 - Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, Norwood, and parts of Bedford Park, Wakefield, and Bronx Park East - Cohen, a Riverdale attorney, has had a long career in law, including several years as a court attorney to a Bronx Supreme Court Justice, legal counsel to State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, and a stint as an assistant adjunct at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has called for raising the minimum wage and has gained the support of the United Federation of Teachers.

Ritchie Torres (D) - D15 - Bathgate, Belmont, Crotona, Fordham, East Tremont, Van Nest and West Farms - Torres, only 24, is one of many young Latino Democrats making their way into city politics. He has worked with Councilman James Vacca since his 2005 campaign and was named his housing director in 2011. Torres, who grew up in NYCHA housing, has worked to create tenants' associations and to advocate for basic rights of NYCHA residents in the Bronx, like building improvements andheating.

Vanessa Gibson (D) - D16 - West Bronx, Morrisania, Highbridge, and Melrose - A Bronx transplant from Brooklyn, Gibson was elected to State Assembly District 77 in 2009, where she has focused on housing and social services. She began her political career as the Bronx district office manager for Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene.

Staten Island

Steven Matteo (R) - D50 - in Brooklyn, parts of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach; in Staten Island, Arrochar, Bulls Head, Concord, Dongan Hill, Emerson Hill, Fort Wadsworth, Grant City, Graniteville, Grasmere, Island of Meadows, Midland Beach, New Dorp, Prall's Island, Richmondtown, South Beach, Todt Hill, Travis, Westerleigh, Willowbrook - Sandy relief is still the number one priority in Staten Island, but Matteo has identified other issues affecting residents, including rampantprescription drug use. Matteo also said hehopes to work with the mayor  "to wrestle toll setting authority” from the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

This is an updated version which corrects the number of incoming City Council members to 21 and adds information on Councilman Antonio Reynoso.

The New Yorker's Guide To The New City Government Tue, 31 Dec 2013 16:55:08 +0000