Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/747 Sun, 22 Oct 2017 04:36:55 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Ten Days in the Life of a Police Reform Advocate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6197:ten-days-in-the-life-of-a-police-reform-advocate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6197:ten-days-in-the-life-of-a-police-reform-advocate prop nyc four members gangi

PROP volunteers, including the author (photo: @PROPNYC)


In a recent ten-day period I had experiences that taught me new things about bad NYPD practices, reinforced my cynicism about the lame way that mainstream politicians, including officials who self-identify as progressives, posture on policing issues, and strengthened my determination to press aggressively for fundamental and meaningful changes in NYPD policies. My organization, PROP - the Police Reform Organizing Project - continues to monitor NYPD practices and advocate for real change.

*On a monitoring visit to the Brooklyn criminal court -- PROP representatives and volunteers regularly observe proceedings in the arraignment parts of the city's criminal courts as a way of tracking NYPD 'broken windows' arrest practices -- I stood on a line of about 45 people waiting to pass through the metal detector. I was the only white person -- everyone else was African-American or Latino, the vast majority of whom dressed in clothes suggesting that they were members not of the well-to-do professional class, but of the low-income or working classes.

*On that morning, the Brooklyn misdemeanor arraignment part heard 34 cases, all men of color whom the police had arrested and locked up. Each of these men walked out of the courtroom, meaning essentially that no court official, including in most cases the prosecutors, considered the defendants dangerous or predatory. The charges included suspended license, theft of services (usually fare-beating), marijuana possession, disorderly conduct, and open alcohol container.

*At a meeting later that day, a fellow police reformer reported that he had recently attended a police/community meeting where neighborhood residents had a discussion with officials from the local precinct. The community members expressed concern about a recent armed robbery and asked what the police were doing about it. The officials responded by saying that they were "summonsing like crazy," meaning that police officers were issuing many criminal summonses to people in the neighborhood for representative 'broken windows' infractions/activities like being in the park after dark, littering, carrying an open alcohol container, or riding a bike on the sidewalk. Community members raised the pointed question: But what are you doing to actually investigate the crime and catch the perpetrators?

*At a meeting with a journalist and me, a police officer who is considering coming forward to publicize the ill effects of the NYPD's quota system on officers and New Yorkers alike, reported on the following matters: under the pressure to "make their numbers" each month, some officers working in a precinct with a cemetery within its borders will issue what are known as "cemetery summonses," meaning that they will enter the graveyard and write up tickets with the names of dead people that that they find on the tombstones. Some precincts - those that serve white well-to-do areas, for example - have no quotas. One of the first questions that an officer new to an inner-city precinct asks is: "What is the number?" And, again under the pressure of the quota system, some officers will for most of the month ignore a neighborhood "hot spot," a place where crime such as drug dealing or prostitution takes place in the open, and if they have not met their quotas, will round up the people at those sites at month's end.

*A PROP volunteer, a teacher who instructs students at night classes in the City College system, reported the following stories that he heard during a class discussion about discriminatory NYPD practices: two students of color, both women - one African-American and the other Latina - recounted unsettling encounters with officers on select buses in the Bronx. In one case the woman couldn't at first find the receipt when the officer approached her, so the officer began writing up the summons; she did eventually find it, but when she displayed it, the officer said that it was too late, that he had already filled out the ticket; she has refused to pay the fine and plans to fight the ticket. In the other case, the woman made a mistake in pressing the buttons of the ticket machine at the bus stop and ended up with 2 tickets for handicapped people which totaled the same amount, $2.50, as a regular ticket; the officer still issued a summons and, in this case, rather than take the time that she couldn't afford to oppose the summons, the woman paid the fine.

*PROP released an analysis of the NYPD's misdemeanor arrest practices for 2015, revealing that 87 percent of those arrests involved people of color compared to 85.8 percent in 2013 and 86.5 percent in 2014. To demonstrate the blatant racism associated with these practices, we focused on some specific kinds of arrests including theft of services, or fare-beating, which at 29,198 was the NYPD's most numerous arrest category for last year. Fully 92 percent involved people of color - in fact, in our year-and-a-half of court-monitoring work, we have observed only a handful of white defendants charged with theft of services. Spokespeople for City Hall and the Police Department made statements in response focused on safety on the subways, but that did not address the extraordinary racial imbalance reflected in the numbers that PROP had spotlighted.

Despite these numbers and accounts that demonstrate the undeniable racial bias and deep injustices involved in the NYPD's current application of quota-driven 'broken windows' policing, our city's leading politicians, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, announce and occasionally enact the softest kind of modifications that do nothing to fundamentally change or end the NYPD's abusive and discriminatory practices.

Out of political considerations - it would be too risky to promote the fundamental police reforms needed - they have effectively abandoned one of their main constituencies: low-income New Yorkers of color, leaving them to the harsh treatment and societal marginalization that result from the practices and policies of the NYPD and the city's criminal justice system.

It is up to us police reformers and other concerned New Yorkers to keep hammering away at these issues. Despite our frustration and disappointment of the moment, we know that silence will kill all hope of achieving our shared goal of a fair, safe, and inclusive city for all New Yorkers.

***
Bob Gangi is Director of the Police Reform Organizing Project. On Twitter @PROPNYC.

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

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Ten Days in the Life of a Police Reform Advocate Sat, 27 Feb 2016 14:20:35 +0000
Criminal Justice Reform Act is No Alternative to Broken Windows Policing http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6112:criminal-justice-reform-act-is-no-alternative-to-broken-windows-policing http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6112:criminal-justice-reform-act-is-no-alternative-to-broken-windows-policing  bratton times sq group

NYPD ceremony in Times Square (photo: @CommissBratton)


Monday morning the City Council will begin consideration of a series of bills, called the Criminal Justice Reform Act, which would limit the use of criminal penalties to manage a variety of low level “quality of life” offenses such as public drinking, park code violations, noise, and public urination. City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, chair of the public safety committee, said she hopes these changes will reduce the problem of excessive criminalization in communities of color, a sentiment echoed by Council Member Rory Lancman, chair of the courts committee, on WNYC radio last Friday. Lancman noted that too many areas of the city have experienced overpolicing and overcriminalization.

The Act, being spearheaded by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito,  already has broad support in the Council and the endorsement of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, and thus, Mayor de Blasio. It's encouraging that political leaders in New York City are exploring ways of reducing the impact of the criminal justice system on communities of color, but this package of reforms is at best a baby step, and at worst, may open the door to more racially discriminatory police actions.

The bills, if passed, would create new civil penalty options for these offences by allowing police to choose between a criminal summons and a civil one when encountering an offender, a choice made based on departmental guidelines. The criminal codes remain on the books per Bratton’s insistence, which he says is necessary so that officers can demand identification, conduct searches, and perform background checks.

With a criminal summons, people must appear in summons court and if they fail to do so a warrant is issued for their arrest. Over a million such arrest warrants are currently on the books, leading to numerous unfortunate encounters with the police, such as being arrested on the way to work or to pick children up from school.

The new civil process, to be administered by the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, will be more like traffic court in which people must pay a fine or perform community service, but no warrant will result from failure to comply. Instead, a civil judgement will be issued, which could result in the garnishment of wages or bank accounts, or seizure of property. This might also affect one’s credit rating. None of this will result in incarceration, which is positive, but the penalties can still be substantial, with fines ranging from $25 to $250 for a first offense.

In addition, these financial penalties are likely to fall heaviest on areas where quality-of-life, or broken windows, enforcement is the most widespread, removing resources from already poor communities. While some will escape these penalties through community service programs, many working poor will not.

Vincent Riggins, chair of the public safety committee of Community Board 5 in East New York has actually called for the return of half of all those fines to the local community board to be spent on community development projects. It is a great idea that would reduce the financial incentive that has driven excessive and discriminatory summonsing in places like Ferguson, MO.

Riggins has raised another important point. By leaving these offenses on the books, rather than truly decriminalizing them, the door is left open for the kinds of invasive policing experienced under stop, question, and frisk in recent years. By keeping open alcohol an offense, police will have “reasonable suspicion” to stop anyone drinking a beverage in a bag or unmarked container, potentially leading to exactly the kinds of unwarranted police intrusions that we have worked so hard to reduce. While Bratton rightly touts reductions in police enforcement encounters, racial disparities persist.

Another area of concern is the discretionary nature of the new rules. The NYPD insisted that it would only support the bill if it retained the ability to treat these offences as criminal when officers felt it appropriate. This gives them the ability to demand ID and run people for warrants. But what will determine who gets a civil summons, who gets a criminal one, and who gets run for warrants? There is a real risk that the more punitive practices will become heavily concentrated in exactly those poor, non-white communities that bore the brunt of stop, question, and frisk, and who bear the burden of most criminal summonses and low level arrests now.

Council Member Gibson says that there will be a process of determining policies for guiding officer discretion, and that the City Council is calling for the default to be a civil summons. This outcome, however, is far from assured, since the ultimate decision rests with the NYPD and the officer on the street. Therefore, there is a real risk that the police will perceive the need to take harsher and more invasive action in exactly the same places they do now, with milder penalties reserved for more prosperous parts of the city. If these changes are enacted, this must be monitored closely, something Council Members Jumaane Williams and Mark Levine are proposing through a bill mandating reporting by the NYPD.

Any reduction in the use of criminal penalties is welcome, but this measure retains an adherence to using punitive mechanisms to manage so called quality-of-life problems in keeping with the deeply conservative Broken Windows theory. There is nothing in the bill to develop non-punitive mechanisms for addressing community problems.

As one caller to WNYC pointed out, the current criminal penalties seem to be largely ineffective in reducing the amount of public urination, why should the civil penalties be any more effective? They won’t. The reality is that public bathrooms are largely non-existent in New York City. Other major cities around the world have much more developed amenities in place and have largely avoided this problem. If you don’t want people to pee in public, give them functional and accessible public bathrooms, not a choice between criminal and civil sanctions.

In addition, a lot of quality-of-life problems are driven by pervasive underemployment for youth of color, a lack of positive social activities for young people, and widespread homelessness. While the Mayor and City Council have started to acknowledge the extent of some of these problems, their focus has been primarily on hiring more police and tinkering with what kind of punitive sanctions to use, rather than a major redistribution of resources away from police, courts, and prisons, and towards housing, healthcare, and youth services.

In his book The Silent Black Majority, Michael Fortner shows that the push for criminal justice solutions to community problems was supported by many in poor black communities and my own research on the rise of quality-of-life policing in the ‘90s shows the same thing. But what I also found was that these communities also called for youth centers, improved housing, and better schools, but what they got was only the policing and prisons. It’s time our political leaders quit asking the NYPD for permission to really shift resources away from the criminal justice system and towards improving communities in positive ways.

In Los Angeles, the Youth Justice Coalition has called for redirecting 1% of all criminal justice spending ($100 million) in the county towards youth jobs, community centers, and violence reduction outreach workers. That would be real reform. The Police Reform Organizing Project here in New York is currently exploring a similar initiative on an even broader scale. Crime and disorder matter and need to be addressed, but we must strive to develop affirming rather than punitive solutions whenever possible. If the City Council is serious about reducing the negative impacts of the criminal justice system, it should start by revisiting its decision to expand the NYPD. More police with more discretion is not the answer.

***
Alex S. Vitale is associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and author of City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics. He is senior policy adviser to the Police Reform Organizing Project and serves on the New York State Advisory Committee to the US Civil Rights Commission. You can follow him on Twitter: @avitale

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

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Criminal Justice Reform Act is No Alternative to Broken Windows Policing Sun, 24 Jan 2016 19:01:27 +0000
More Evidence Punitive NYPD Youth Programs Fail http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6066:more-evidence-punitive-nypd-youth-programs-fail http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6066:more-evidence-punitive-nypd-youth-programs-fail Bratton NYPD

(photo via @NYPDnews)

 


 

This week the New York Times revealed the content of an internal NYPD report showing that a much lauded juvenile crime program doesn’t work. It’s yet another example of misguided punitive policing, offering little by way of actual progress.

Originally developed under the title “Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program” (J-RIP), it targets past juvenile offenders in hopes of preventing future crime. The original J-RIP program, which began in Brownsville in 2007 and expanded to East Harlem in 2009, targeted juvenile robbery offenders who were back in the community. These youths were given a clear message that they were under enhanced police supervision and would face significant consequences if rearrested. They were also offered mentoring and a few support services by police in hopes of steering them in the right direction.

In practice, the program offered little in the way of services. Young people were given a chance to participate in existing programs like the Police Athletic League (PAL) and were regularly visited by uniformed officers in their homes and on the streets. While these officers were supposed to be acting as mentors and monitors, defense lawyers reported that officers sometimes used these visits as a pretext to conduct searches and that they sometimes called attention to program relationships in front of other youth, potentially marking them as informants—a dangerous label in these neighborhoods.

No real services, such as job placement or family counseling were provided, and the officers involved had no special social services training, playing a primarily surveillance and enforcement role.

In April of 2014, NYPD Chief Joanne Jaffe, who developed the program, spoke at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School, where she lauded J-RIP as being highly effective. She provided data that showed that over the course of the program robberies in the targeted areas had fallen significantly. What she did not discuss, but the November 2014 NYPD evaluation report makes clear, is that the decline mirrored city-wide trends and that J-RIP participants were rearrested at the same or higher rates than youth with similar records in the same and nearby neighborhoods without J-RIP.

Even though the 2014 report showed there were no crime reductions under J-RIP, the NYPD has moved forward with an expansion of the program in a different guise.

In early 2015, the NYPD rolled out NYC Ceasefire, under the leadership of Susan Herman, Deputy Commissioner for Collaborative Policing. The new version focuses more on gun crimes and adds group “call-in” meetings in which the targeted youth are brought in and lectured by police and community members about the harmful effects of their violent actions and the potential enhanced consequences of additional violent offenses. They are then placed under extensive surveillance regimes and targeted for enhanced punishments if caught re-offending. They are also offered some minimal services, primarily in the form of a centralized referral phone number run by a local non-profit that is there to link young people to already existing programs.

J-RIP and NYC Ceasefire are both examples of “Focused Deterrence” programs. Developed by criminologist David Kennedy, and first implemented in Boston in 1996, they attempt to stop gun violence or other serious crime through intensive and targeted enforcement combined with support services.

Ideally this model begins with a community mobilization effort in partnership with local police. The goal is to send a unified message to young people that serious crime will no longer be tolerated. If it occurs, they will use every resource at their disposal (“pulling levers”) to not only apprehend the assailant but to disrupt the street life of young people involved in crime across the board. The hope is that young people will choose to avoid violence so that they can concentrate on socializing and low level criminality free of constant police harassment. This is based on research that showed that a great deal of shooting was not drug or robbery related but involved a constant tit for tat of revenge gunfire by rival factions of young people engaged primarily in turf battles.

The key is to break that cycle of retribution and gun carrying. To achieve this, young people believed to be involved in violence are called into meetings with local police and community leaders and threatened with intensive surveillance and enforcement if the gun violence doesn’t stop. These “call ins” are made possible in part because many of these young people are on probation or parole for past offenses.

In addition to more intensive enforcement efforts, there is usually an effort to develop some targeted social services with the hope that this will help draw some of these young people away from violence and towards education and employment opportunities.

This approach relies primarily on intensive punitive enforcement efforts such as surveillance, investigations, arrests, and intensified prosecutions. Also, the social services offered tend to be very thin, involving some counseling and recreational opportunities but rarely access to actual jobs or advanced educational placements.

Some youth are able to get GEDs and access some social programs, but very few wind up with jobs, much less well-paying or stable ones. In some cases the focus is on a variety of life skills and socialization classes which do nothing to create real opportunities for people and reinforce the ethos of personal responsibility that often ends up blaming the victim for their unemployment and educational failure in a community that tends to be incredibly poor, underserved, segregated, and dangerous.

Evaluation research of these programs does show some meaningful declines in crime that can even last for years. Overall, though, the results are quite thin. Most reductions are small, occur in only a few crime categories, and don’t last very long. They also continue to reinforce a punitive mindset about how to deal with young people in high crime, high poverty communities, most of whom are not white.

It is certainly true that violent crime is heavily concentrated among a fairly small population of young people in specific neighborhoods. It makes more sense to target them than indiscriminately stopping and frisking or arresting and summonsing hundreds of thousands of young people who have either done nothing wrong or engaged in minor misbehavior. Despite the claims of the Broken Windows theory, there really isn’t a strong connection between the two groups.

The problem lies not in the targeting, but in the methods used. Most young people who engage in serious criminality are already living in harsh and dangerous circumstances. They are fearful of other youth, abusive family members, and the prospect of a future of joblessness and poverty. They don’t need more threats and punishment in their lives.

They need stability, positive guidance, and real pathways out of poverty. This requires a long-term commitment to their well-being, not a telephone referral and home visits by the same people who arrest and harass them and their friends on the streets. It was Bill Bratton, in his first stint as NYPD commissioner, who pointed out that police officers are not social workers, they’re not trained for it, nor prepared for it, and that’s not their role. Why would they be the best-suited for engaging these young people as mentors or life skills trainers? They aren’t.

It makes much more sense to do two types of things.

First, we have to have a real conversation about entrenched racialized poverty concentrated in highly-segregated neighborhoods. These are the neighborhoods that continue to be the main source of violent crime problems. It is true that crime has declined overall without major reductions in poverty or segregation, but it’s also true that the crime that remains is concentrated in these areas. And, unlike aggressive policing and mass incarceration, doing something about racialized poverty and exclusion would have general benefits for society in terms of reducing poverty, inequality, and racial injustice.

Second, we need to use peer-based mentoring systems and outreach workers, who can talk to people from a shared position of living in one of these neighborhoods. The power of that connection for building credibility cannot be overstated. Recently, Mayor de Blasio has expanded a number of City Council-developed initiatives to use violence interrupters and other community-based and public health-oriented interventions to reduce gun violence.

So-called “cure violence” programs like SOS Crown Heights, and GMACC in East Flatbush are training young adults to break the cycle of violence through rumor control, gang truces, and ongoing engagement with youth out on the streets. They provide safe spaces for young people to talk out their problems and when well-funded, provide real services to them and their families to deal with problems of housing, education, and unemployment, as well as mental illness and substance abuse.

It’s time for Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD to abandon NYC Ceasefire and other focused deterrence initiatives that primarily criminalize young people. We already know that jails and prisons produce much worse life outcomes for these youth. Let’s stop relying on coercion and control and try more compassion and concern.

***
Alex S. Vitale is associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and author of City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics. He is senior policy adviser to the Police Reform Organizing Project and serves on the New York State Advisory Committee to the US Civil Rights Commission. You can follow him on Twitter: @avitale

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? E-mail editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com

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More Evidence Punitive NYPD Youth Programs Fail Wed, 06 Jan 2016 04:42:41 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 16 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5989:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-16 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5989:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-16 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

While former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's corruption trial continues this week, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos' gets started. Albany ethics and pay-to-play culture will continue to loom over and be laced throughout the day-to-day news out of the two trials. Just last week, leading good government groups seized on the timing of the two trials and news that New York received a "D-" on a national scorecard of states' efforts to create government transparency and prevent corruption to call for sweeping ethics reforms in Albany.

Meanwhile, people in New York City and elsewhere are on high alert and in mourning after the attacks that occurred in Paris on Friday. Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo, and other elected officials responded over the weekend with shows of solidarity and by taking measures to enhance law enforcement presence.

After participating in a Paris vigil in Manhattan Saturday, on Sunday de Blasio spoke at a ceremony commemorating World Day of Rememberance for Road Traffic Victims at City Hall. De Blasio has a busy Monday:

  • In the morning, he delivers remarks at the Ford Foundation's ConnectHome Broadband Initiative Roundtable.
  • At 11:30 a.m. at the Queens Museum, de Blasio and Council Member Julissa Ferraras-Copeland will host a press conference to make an announcement at
  • At 2 p.m. on Randall's Island, the mayor and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton will host a press conference to announce the first deployment of the NYPD's new Critical Response Command of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau.
  • Later, the Mayor will deliver remarks at the 20th Annual Met Museum Real Estate Council Benefit Dinner.

We're watching this week for any news about a NY/NY IV deal between the city and the state. NY/NY deals have created thousands of units of supportive housing, a homelessness prevention and reduction tool that provides housing and support services for people battling substance abuse, mental illness, and other problems. A City Council hearing had been scheduled for Monday in order to check the status of those negotiations and to pass a resolution calling on the city and state to come to a new agreement to provide new supportive housing units. But, the hearing was canceled on Friday - not long after Gotham Gazette had published a preview, which is still relevant and can be read here.

We're also looking for the launch of First Lady Chirlane McCray's "mental health roadmap." The roadmap, which has been delayed and the administration prefaced by releasing last week new data on mental illness and mental health challenges faced by New Yorkers. McCray is set to make one related announcement on Tuesday. Read our extensive preview of the mental health roadmap here.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.

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

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
At the New York State Legislature on Monday: at 10:30 a.m. at 250 Broadway, the Assembly Standing Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development will meet for oversight on the 2015-2016 budget.

On Monday, at 8:30 a.m.: “K2 in NYC: Promoting Public Health and Safety,” a summit co-hosted by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, the NYPD, and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to discuss the best ways to address the K2 synthetic drug crisis in New York City. Participants will include City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; Council Member Vanessa Gibson; DCA Commissioner Julie Menin; DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett; State Senator Jeff Klein; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; and individuals who have used and been impacted by K2.

On Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will deliver morning remarks at the Hispanic Federation's Annual Hispanic Education Summit; 9:30 a.m. at the CUNY Grad Center. In the evening, Fariña will deliver remarks at an event celebrating LiteracyINC's parent volunteers; 6:15 p.m. in Manhattan.

At 10 a.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Executive Economic Summit, in Manhattan.

At 10 a.m. at her office, Public Advocate Letitia James will host a meeting of the Public Advocate's LGBTQ Task Force.

At 11 a.m. The Internet Association, consisting of a large number of internet based companies, will launch the “New Yorkers for Ride Sharing” coalition in an attempt to motivate legislators to bring back app-based ridesharing services - like Uber and Lyft - in upstate New York.

At 5:30 p.m. the Queens Borough Board, led by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, will vote on the “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” and “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” proposals by the de Blasio administration.

At 6 p.m. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will hold a public hearing regarding those “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” and “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” proposals made by the Department of City Planning (Clinton School, 10 East 15th Street). [Read our look at the de Blasio administration's defense of their proposals and some of the pushback]

At 6 p.m. Monday, the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) will hold a discussion in Harlem on police quotas: “NYPD Quotas: The Damage Done to our Cops, to Our Communities, to Our Cities.”

At 6 p.m. as well, the New York League of Conservation Voters will host an event to honor the Food Bank of New York City and celebrate the momentum gained by greener buildings, renewable energy, well-funded neighborhood parks, and cleaner waterways initiatives. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is expected to make remarks at the event.

Another event at 6 p.m., at Baruch College, “The Counterattack: The Media, The War on Women and How to Fight Back” is hosted by state Senator Liz Krueger and will focus on anti-women statements and positions taken by presidential candidates and other prominent politicians. The event is co-sponsored by a wide variety of women’s rights groups and city-based elected officials at all levels.

At 6:30 p.m. the Civilian Complaint Board will hold a public meeting at the City College of New York.

Tuesday
At the New York State Legislature on Tuesday, at 11 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the Assembly Standing Committee on Health, and the Assembly Standing Committee on Codes will meet to address the “Heroin and Synthetic Drug Crisis.”

At the City Council on Tuesday: 9:30 a.m. the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet to discuss a land use application and at 10 a.m. the Committee on Juvenile Justice will meet for a tour of the Crossroads Juvenile Center.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton will discuss his priorities and challenges facing the police at the Citizens Budget Commission breakfast meeting. [Read our recent look at Bratton’s commitment to his “peace dividend” approach to policing New York City.]

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, a public forum “Paid Family Leave for the Health of Working Families” will host several speakers including state Senator Joseph Addabbo and a slew of medical professionals, scholars, and insurers supporting Addabbo’s push for paid family leave in New York. The event is sponsored by the Community Service Society, Scholars Strategy Network-NYC Chapter, The Murphy Institute at CUNY, and the New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign.

At 9 a.m. the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College will continue with its Food Policy for Breakfast Seminar Series with “Zoning and the City’s Food System: Opportunities to Shape Healthier Food Environments in NYC.” The panelists will be Daniel Hernandez, Deputy Commissioner for Neighborhood Strategies of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development; Shai Lauros, Director of Community Development for Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation; Javier Lopez, Deputy Director of the Center for Health Equity, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

At 9:30 a.m. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will hold a Queens Borough Cabinet meeting.

On Tuesday at 10 a.m. at his Harlem office, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, along with various elected officials, NYPD representatives, Hon. Tamiko A. Amaker, and Irwin Shaw, Attorney-in-Charge of the Legal Aid Society's Manhattan Office, will announce the "Clean Slate" warrant forgiveness program, which is scheduled for Saturday.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, there will be a press conference on preventing wage theft, at Tweed Courthouse, at which Comptroller Scott Stringer will speak. 

Cornell Tech will offer its first official tour of the Roosevelt Island campus construction on Tuesday. “Development of the first phase of the campus is currently underway and due to open in 2017. Cornell Tech is opening the construction site to press to see the visible transformation of the site,” at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, "First Lady Chirlane McCray will lead an announcement about a new initiative related to mothers and mental health in the upcoming mental health roadmap, ThriveNYC."

At 2 p.m. state Assembly Democrats will meet in Albany for an off-session meeting, according to Politico New York. This is happening right after Senate Republicans met on November 10.

At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Contracts Committee of the Panel for Educational Policy will meet. The full PEP meets Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday evening, state Senator Adriano Espaillat hosts an Inwood housing forum at Washington Heights Academy; MBP Gale Brewer will be among the other elected officials to speak.

At 6:30 p.m. Senator Daniel Squadron will host an MTA Bus Town Hall, looking at issues raised by constituents at his Community Convention. Representatives from the MTA will hear suggestions on how to improve services. The event is co-sponsored by a variety of other elected officials from Manhattan, local community boards, and Riders Alliance.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will host a public forum on Verizon FiOS in Brooklyn, allowing residents and businesses to comment on the service.

Wednesday
At the New York State Legislature on Wednesday: a 10 a.m. hearing on “Examining Issues Relating to Poverty among our Senior Citizens” by several committees, and, at 10:30 a.m., a hearing of the Assembly Standing Committee on elections to discuss “enhancing voter accessibility.” Both hearings are in Albany.

At the City Council on Wednesday: at 10 a.m. the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Elections will meet to listen to the Mayor’s Message as delivered by Janet Alvarez of the New York City Tax Commission; and at 1 p.m. the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will convene to discuss a number of land use applications.

On Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will host the 6th annual Financial Crimes and CyberSecurity Symposium, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Along with Vance, the conference will be headlined by FBI Director James Comey; Federal Reserve Bank of N.Y. General Counsel and Executive V.P. Thomas Baxter; and City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall, The rally will be led by "New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL), a citywide coalition of leading community based organizations, CUNY programs, libraries and union training programs. In addition to affected students, teachers and other allies, City Council Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca will speak out in support of adult literacy programs...Nearly 100 adult learners, educators and their supporters will rally...to call attention to an action taken by the City in the most recent budget they believe has been swept under the rug: the elimination of adult literacy classes for over 6,000 individuals. The coalition will call on the Mayor and City Council to restore the classes and expand the City's limited adult literacy infrastructure."

On Wednesday at 2 p.m., the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School will hold “Rikers Island: Reform it - or Shut It Down?” The event will feature an extensive panel of experts and stakeholders moderated by Errol Louis of NY1. Speakers will include, among others, Elizabeth Glazer, director, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice; Martin Horn, executive director, NYS Sentencing Commission; Glenn E. Martin, founder and president, JustLeadershipUSA; Carmen Perez, executive director, The Gathering for Justice and co-founder of Justice League NYC; Jeff Smith, assistant professor of politics and advocacy, Milano School; and Scott Stringer, city comptroller.

At 6 p.m. state Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will give keynote remarks at “Who Represents Us? The Status of Black Women in Elected Office,” hosted by The Brennan Center for Justice.

Also at 6 p.m. Wednesday, The Murphy Institute will host a discussion about the role of participatory budgeting in the democratization of urban planning and asses the merits of the practice so far. Speakers include, among others: Celina Su, Political Science, CUNY; City Council Member Jumaane Williams, District 45; and Josh Lerner, Director Participatory Budgeting Project. [Read our recent look at the topic: Participatory Budgeting Grows in NYC: Why Isn’t Every Council Member Doing It?]

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, City & State NY will hold its Staten Island Special Issue Launch Reception at the Staten Island Museum. The event will feature Staten Island Borough President James Oddo.

Thursday
At the New York State Legislature on Thursday: at 11 a.m. the Assembly Standing Committee on Education and the Assembly Subcommittee on Students with Special Needs will hold a hearing in White Plains to discuss New York schools for deaf and blind students.

At the City Council on Thursday:

  • At 10 a.m. the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will meet for oversight on private sector workers and problems with worker rights, organizing and unionization.
  • At 11 a.m. the Committee on Land Use will meet.
  • At 1 p.m. the Committee on Governmental Operation and the Committee on Finance will meet to discuss a number of bills related to the Environmental Control Board. The bills seek to clarify and reform procedures that occur among city agencies, businesses, and the Environmental Control Board (ECB) in the event of an ECB violation.
  • At 1 p.m. the Committee on Higher Education will meet for oversight of student unions and non-academic spaces in CUNY universities, discussing whether they are a luxury or a necessity.

At 8:30 a.m. Thursday, MBP Gale Brewer hosts a Borough Board meeting.

On Thursday at noon, the Manhattan Institute’s “The Beat MI” program will host a discussion,  “NYC Quality Of Life Issues: Are We Thriving Or Just Surviving?” featuring NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton; Phil Walzak, senior advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellows Jason L. Riley and Fred Siegel.

At 5:30 p.m. Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Council Members Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Fernando Cabrera, Rosie Mendez, I. Daneek Miller, Annabel Palma, and Richie Torres will host a Puerto Rican Heritage celebration at the Council Chambers in City Hall.

At 6 p.m. Thursday the Panel for Educational Policy will meet in Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m. the New School, in preparation of the United Nations Conference of the Parties, will host a seminar to examine the role of young people in affecting environmental policy and promoting sustainable urban environments: “Climate Change, Cities and Youth Engagement.”

At 7 p.m. Thursday, “The NYC Young Republican Monthly Meetup,” with guest speakers TBA as of Sunday.

The Daily News is reporting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will introduce Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Thursday evening "when she receives a "leadership" award named after his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, at a Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence dinner at Cipriani on Broadway."

Friday and the weekend
At the New York State Legislature on Friday: at 10:30 a.m. the Assembly Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, the Assembly Standing Committee on Energy, and the Assembly Subcommittee on Infrastructure will meet to evaluate “Natural Gas Safety Efforts by Utilities.”

On Friday at 10 a.m. at Civic Hall, the state Board of Elections and the New York City Campaign Finance Board will host a session to preview new state campaign finance data reporting and to discuss how campaign finance data can be made more useful for the general public.

On Friday evening at the LGBT Center in Manhattan, "Advocates, allies, and researchers will gather to release and discuss "Transgender Health and Economic Insecurity: A report from the 2015 NYS LGBT Health and Human Services Needs Assessment." The event is being co-sponsored by the Empire State Pride Agenda, The LGBT Community Center, and Strength in Numbers Consulting Group, with research funding provided by the AIDS Institute of the NYS Department of Health."

On Saturday beginning at 9 a.m., Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will offer New York citizens with outstanding summons warrants a chance for a “Clean Slate” by resolving their minor offenses on site, without the threat of arrest.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., the first of many LGBTQ Youth Summits in New York City will be taking place in Brooklyn. The Hetrick-Martin Institute in collaboration with New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the New York City Council LGBTQ Caucus, and community partners will conduct an LGBTQ Youth Summit in each of New York City’s five boroughs in order to empower LGBTQ youth in NYC.

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

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by Colin O'Connor, Konstantine Beridze, and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 16 Sun, 15 Nov 2015 01:38:42 +0000
Mayor & Council Announce $78.5B Fiscal 2016 Budget Deal http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5784:mayor-a-council-announce-785b-fiscal-2016-budget-deal http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5784:mayor-a-council-announce-785b-fiscal-2016-budget-deal MMV BdB budget deal

Mayor & Speaker announce budget (photo: William Alatriste)


A little after 10 p.m. Monday night and more than a week before deadline, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced that they had reached a deal on a balanced fiscal year 2016 city budget. The $78.5 billion budget is for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and includes additional spending from the mayor's Executive Budget, released in May, for several Council priorities - including the hiring of 1,297 new NYPD officers. Along with the expanded NYPD headcount, the budget includes funding for six-day library service around the city, parks workers, senior citizen services, a city bail fund, and other key items that were negotiated over the past months. The budget also reflects new agency savings and increased tax revenue, thus showing only a $200 million increase from the mayor's executive budget.

De Blasio gave credit to his budget team, led by Office of Management and Budget Director Dean Feulihan, and Mark-Viverito to hers, led by Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who was the third speaker Monday evening after de Blasio and Mark-Viverito. The mayor and speaker gave what each sees as the highlights from their perspective, as did Ferreras-Copeland, then the press assembled in the rotunda at City Hall peppered the mayor with questions about why he had relented to the Council push - two years in the making - to add significantly to the NYPD force. Explaining that the two sides had agreed to key cost savings like a cap on NYPD overtime, de Blasio also indicated that he and council leadership believe the added personpower will allow NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to implement true neighborhood policing. There will also be new officers devoted "to counter-terror work."

In a release to the media, de Blasio's office touts the budget as moving forward "key initiatives to tackle income inequality and lift up families across the five boroughs, while protecting and strengthening the City's long-term fiscal health."

When he spoke, de Blasio named three standout aspects to him: increased funding toward the city's most struggling, or "renewal", schools specifically for extended learning time and health services; additional funding for libraries that will return them to six-day service; and the plan for an expanded NYPD headcount. In the statement released by his office, he said, "We're strengthening the NYPD's ranks, devoting new officers to counter-terror work and neighborhood policing, while securing vital fiscal reforms in overtime and civilianization. We are also making critical investments in our renewal schools, libraries, and so much more."

For her part, Mark-Viverito highlighted the investment in seniors, which, according to the mayor's office, includes "$4.3 million to eliminate waitlists for the Department for the Aging's homecare program, and $2 million to expand elder abuse prevention," as well as "$750,000 – growing in the out years – to fund support services through the Seniors in Affordable Rental Apartments (SARA) Program; 30 percent of those units are set aside for homeless seniors." Referring to strong ongoing lobbying efforts by seniors and their Council member allies (chiefly led by Council Members Margaret Chin and Paul Vallone), Mark-Viverito acknowledged the "active," "vocal," and fast-growing population of aging New Yorkers.

In a statement, Mark-Viverito also highlighted new Council spending, saying, "From establishing a Citywide bail fund, to creating new jobs for young adults, to strengthening the City's commitment to veterans and hiring 1,297 more NYPD officers to keep us safe, our budget makes New York City a better place to call home." The Council is dedicating $1.4 million to create a new bail fund, part of "$280 million in Council initiatives that will support New Yorkers throughout the City."

The goal of the bail fund is "to keep those accused of non-violent, low-level offenses out of jail. The Council's Bail Fund will provide bail of up to $2,000 and will save the City millions of dollars in incarceration costs and will help make the City's criminal justice system more just," according to a Council press release.

The budget includes additional funding toward parks that had been lobbied for by Council members and advocates, including almost $700,000 to extend beach season one week past Labor Day.

The deal received a mostly positive response from Council Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine, who said in a statement, "I am thrilled that the City Council has restored funding for gardeners and maintenance workers--saving 150 vitally needed jobs, and protecting a critical resource for parks in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. I am also excited that we will be extending the beach season, allowing countless New Yorkers to enjoy these resources for a week past Labor Day," said Council Member Mark Levine. "I am disappointed the budget does not provide additional funds for community gardens, playground staff, mid-sized parks, and other important needs our park system faces. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and my colleagues in the Council to bring greater resources to a park system that has been underfunded for far too long."

While de Blasio noted the increased funding heading toward the renewal schools that are the focus of much Department of Education effort and outside scrutiny, there are other key school-related additions to the budget, including $6.6 million for the DOE to "hire 50 additional physical education teachers and conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to address barriers and move schools toward full physical education compliance." There was a City Council hearing last week focused on the city's continued violation of state physical education requirements. This move in the budget may slow Council attempts to enact legislation requiring more reporting by the DOE on physical education programming, staffing, and space.

There's also "$17.9 million to phase-in breakfast in the classroom at 530 elementary schools, serving 339,000 students" by fiscal year 2018. While money for this Council priority, otherwise known as "breakfast after the bell," is included, there is no expansion of universal free lunch, which the Council had been pushing for. Last year, the program was instituted in middle schools, where all students are now provided lunch at no charge, but the mayor said that the results of the program were underwhelming and that instead of expanding it to elementary and/or high schools, the city would first look to do more outreach around the middle school offering and see if there is a noted improvement in year two.

The budget includes "$1.14 million to fund 80 additional school crossing guards," which will help contribute to the mayor's Vision Zero traffic and pedestrian safety work around schools, and more money for teachers to spend on their classrooms. On Twitter, the United Federation of Teachers thanked Mark-Viverito specifically, noting that "The city budget contains a 62% increase in Teacher's Choice funds. Teachers should get $125 next school year, up from $77."

One point of contention, especially heightened of late, has been funding and function at the Mayor's Office of Veteran Affairs. There has been a push to pass a Council bill that would create a new Department of Veterans Affairs, moving the work outside of the mayor's office (though still under the mayor's control) and allowing for increased funding and Council oversight. That bill is likely stalled in the Council, though it has over thirty sponsors, while the new budget includes "$1.5 million in new staff and resources to meet the Mayor's goal of ending veteran homelessness, and $335,000 to fund a team of Veterans Service Officers that will be deployed in communities throughout the five boroughs," according to the mayor's office.

Meanwhile, the NYPD investment for nearly 1,300 new officers is much of what everyone is talking about. The mayor had pushed back against Council pleas (and even a few from Bratton) for hiring 1,000 new officers during both the fiscal 2015 and 2016 budget processes. This budget, however, includes "$170 million to add new uniformed officers to the NYPD, coupled with vital reforms in overtime and civilianization that will generate over $70 million in savings when fully phased-in. The new officers will be dedicated to counter-terror efforts and neighborhood policing – central to Commissioner Bratton's reengineering of the Department to bring police and community closer together while keeping crime low," according to the mayor's office.

Police reform advocates expressed immediate displeasure with the compromise and budget watchdogs shared concern about the choice's fiscal ramifications. The Police Reform Organizing Project, or PROP, released a statement saying, in part, "Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council leaders have made a truly terrible decision to add 1300 or so new officers to the NYPD's headcount. Rather than solve problems it will aggravate existing difficulties, deepening the racial, social, and economic inequities that plague our city and adding to the antagonism and distrust that communities of color already feel toward the police and the criminal justice system." De Blasio and others, of course, argue differently, saying that more officers will allow the NYPD to develop stronger community relationships and do more preventative policing.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Budget Commission said in a statement, "The FY 16 adopted budget announced by the Mayor and the Council this evening adds approximately $200 million in spending for additional police, social service providers and other programs. Although there is additional revenue available to fund these costs in the coming fiscal year, the agreed upon additions are an added risk to the City's fiscal health in future years, when budget gaps are already projected and when an inevitable economic downturn will erode the revenue required to pay for recurring expenses."

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
@tweetBenMax

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Mayor & Council Announce $78.5B Fiscal 2016 Budget Deal Tue, 23 Jun 2015 10:54:38 +0000