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  • Forget the Brooklyn Presidential Debate, the Real Battle is New York State

    silver skelos cuomo 2012

    Albany of yesteryear (photo via The Governor's Office on flickr)


    With an April 14 date set for the Clinton-Sanders Brooklyn debate, New York and Kings County are now center stage in the ever-engrossing presidential election. Though bringing the ninth Democratic presidential debate to Brooklyn might help New Yorkers become more informed voters, it also sadly serves as a timely distraction from the latest setback to progressive governance reforms in the Empire State.

    Thanks to the ...

  • Eviction Bonuses and Preferential Rents, Not 421-a, Should Be the Focus in Albany

    aff housing march rally

    An affordable housing march 


    We have long advocated for the elimination of the 421-a tax abatement because it has been nothing but a giveaway to developers masquerading as a means of affordable housing production. This is why affordable housing advocates across the city celebrated when 421-a expired on January 15.

    Since its expiration, arguments about its possible revival are popping up more and more frequently, along with lamentations about its demise. How quickly we forget the many published ...

  • Bharara Visits Capital He Upended

    bharara mortgage

    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (photo: @SDNYnews)


    For the last year a siege mentality has dominated the New York state capitol. And in some respect, Albany, or at least the political denizens who dwell within the capitol, does appear to be very much in the cross hairs of a conquering army headed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The main roads into town feature digital billboards flashing entreaties from the FBI urging New Yorkers to "REPORT CORRUPTION," along with a number for

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  • Assembly Democrats Reject Republican Rules Changes, Promise Own Proposals Soon

    kolb malliotakis

    Assembly Minority Leader Kolb and colleagues (photo via @NMalliotakis)


    A majority of Democrats in the New York State Assembly voted down a series of 13 rules changes proposed by their Republican counterparts designed to make the chamber more equitable and allow members of the minority to get their bills to a vote.

    While a push for rules changes led by Republican Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and their defeat by Assembly Democrats has become an annual Albany

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  • Good Government Groups Want Legislators to Pledge to Fight for Reform

    pledge

    The pledge (photo via @CitizensUnionNY)


    Lawmakers returned to Albany for the first day of the 2016 legislative session in the wake of two seismic corruption convictions of their former house leaders. Waiting for them were representatives of three leading good government groups, asking New York state legislators to sign a pledge to fight for good government reform.

    On the first day of session since both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were convicted on multiple federal corruption charges, good government groups unveiled a

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  • Skelos Conviction Greeted With Calls for Immediate Action on Reform

    Skelos Silver Cuomo 2012

    Dean Skelos in 2012, via The Governor's Office on flickr 


    Sen. Dean Skelos and his son Adam Skelos were convicted on eight federal corruption charges Friday. They were found guilty of a scheme where Dean Skelos used his power as Senate Majority Leader to influence companies to employ or pay his son. The conviction comes only a week after that of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on charges that he illegally used his influence for financial gain of $4 million.

    The convictions speak to a larger campaign by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose

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  • Tenant Activists Trace Road to Corruption Trials, Eye Elusive Reform

    rent protest albany

    Tenants sit-in at the Albany capitol


    "It's just surreal," said Jaron Benjamin a week after the conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and on the day of closing arguments in the federal corruption case against former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, knowing that those cases may have been bolstered by work he did years ago in the fight to strengthen the state's rent laws.

    In the span of less than a year Benjamin went from issuing a report exposing the connections among the real estate industry, holes in New York's campaign finance laws, and major

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  • Will Silver Conviction Be Tipping Point for 'Real' Reform?

    sheldon silver conviction

    Sheldon Silver in 2012 (photo via the Governor's Office)


    Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, thought to be the most powerful man in New York state government for decades, was found guilty Monday on seven counts of corruption in multiple schemes to monetize the power of his office. During the trial Silver's own defense attorney insisted that Albany itself was on trial and claimed that Silver's behavior was business as usual in Albany,

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  • 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 ...

  • Spurred by Buffalo Billion, Reformers Look to Fix State Business Subsidies

    Cuomo Buffalo thank you

    Cuomo in Buffalo (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    United States Attorney Preet Bharara's attention has been drawn away from his normal stomping grounds to Buffalo, intrigued by what critics say is a shadowy network of state authorities and state-controlled non-profits handing out large business subsidies and contracts with little to no oversight.

    Watchdogs say that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, through SUNY Polytechnic head ...

  • Reform Proposals Fly as Panel Evaluates Ethics Watchdog

    cuomo parade banner

    The governor's office, on the march (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    The 2011 law that created the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) to be the top ethics watchdog in the state contained a proviso that the body would be periodically reviewed to find ways to improve its functioning. That mandate fell upon the New York Ethics Review Commission, more commonly known as the JCOPE review commission, which held its first-ever public hearing on Wednesday at New York Law School in downtown Manhattan.

    The forum was sparsely attended with barely 20 people

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  • Alain Kaloyeros, Powerful Centerpiece of Buffalo Billion, Could Become Household Name

    Kaloyeros Cuomo Buffalo

    Alain Kaloyeros (photo via the Governor's Office on flickr)


    It is easy to spot Alain Kaloyeros, head of SUNY Polytechnic, around Albany. You can often see him jetting around Stuyvesant Plaza, an upscale shopping center basically next door to the campus he built, which features a spaceship-like structure rising out of the dirt of constant construction.

    It doesn't hurt that he drives a Ferrari Spider with the license plate "Dr. Nano." He is New

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  • Proposed Rikers Visitation Rules Stir Debate

    Johnny Perez of the Jails Action Coalition

    Johnny Perez of the Jails Action Coalition (photos: Meg O'Connor) 


    On Tuesday, City Council members, faith leaders, and activists spoke out against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed restrictions for visitors to Rikers Island jails. At a rally on the steps of City Hall organized by the Jails Action Coalition, speakers called de Blasio’s plan to limit visitors and physical contact by those who do visit inmates counterproductive and wrong.

    The proposed visitation limits were first

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  • Advocates Rally to Keep Solitary Confinement in Spotlight

    solitary confinement rally

    A rally to reform solitary confinement rules (photo: @NYCAIC)


    Last November he United Nations committee on torture found that the United States was not in compliance with its Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment because of excessive use of solitary confinement in prisons across the country.

    The UN found that use of solitary confinement of over 15 days amounts to torture. Nearly

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  • What is Flanagan Looking for From De Blasio on Mayoral Control?

    Flanagan Cuomo

    Sen. Flanagan, right, celebrates with the governor (Governor's Office via flickr)


    Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has made it no secret that he lacks confidence in Mayor Bill de Blasio's handling of the New York City schools. Made clear when the state recently extended de Blasio's control of city schools for just one year, on Monday in a New York Post op-ed Flanagan

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  • 18 Months of NYCHA Scrutiny, Reform and Conflict

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    Mayor de Blasio at a NYCHA announcement (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    "If we were to lose public housing," warns City Council Member Ritchie Torres, "we might have a shelter system overflowing with hundreds of thousands of people."

    With more than 400,000 residents, the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, is the largest public housing system in the country. Never far from the headlines due to ongoing problems, NYCHA is under even more scrutiny courtesy of a series of audits

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  • Despite Unprecedented Scandal, Calls for Special Ethics Session Fall on Deaf Ears

    john sampson

    Recently convicted former Sen. John Sampson (photo: @SampsonVictory)


    It would reason to think that the conviction of two legislative leaders would lead to a flurry of anti-corruption activity in any state capital. But in Albany, where the new normal appears to involve multiple convictions and indictments of sitting lawmakers every year, last week's crime blotter appears to have barely turned a head. The convictions of Republican Senate Deputy Leader Tom Libous and Democratic Sen. John Sampson, a former Majority Leader, on

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  • Black, Hispanic & Asian Caucus Faces Growing Pains, Tense Relationship with Cuomo

    Cuomo Schneiderman presser

    At the special prosecutor announcement (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    Gov. Andrew Cuomo was beaming. Touting the historical significance of the executive order he had just signed to give Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the authority to act as a special prosecutor in cases where police kill unarmed civilians, Cuomo smiled for photos. Often rivals, Cuomo and Schneiderman, who

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, July 20

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    It's hot in New York City! "With dangerously hot weather expected through Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio today urged New Yorkers to take steps to protect themselves and help others who may be at increased risk from the heat...an Air Quality Alert is in effect today through 11:00 p.m. Monday." At 11 a.m. Monday in Brooklyn, de Blasio "and members of the administration will hold a press conference at the Office of

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  • Policing Experts Focus on Public Trust, Accountability Measures

    bratton bdb policing plan

    NYPD Commissioner Bratton at a recent announcement (photo: @CommissBratton)


    Just one day after NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton resisted calls from City Council members pushing police reform legislation — which followed the news that 1297 new officers will be added

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  • In End of Session 'Scorecard,' Plenty for Next Year's Albany Agenda

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (L-R) (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    In the Democrat-controlled Assembly, it was 122-13; in the Republican-controlled Senate, 47-12. With those votes and a Governor Andrew Cuomo signature, a final policy package brought an underwhelming end to a tumultuous 2015 legislative session in New York's capital. 

    Look at ...

  • The Week That Was in New York Politics, June 22-26

    week in review bus readers

    photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


    Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday June 26

    PHOTOS OF THE WEEK:Gov. Cuomo shakes hands with Sen. Flanagan at their Thursday 'big ugly' announcement (top; via The Governor's Office on flickr); Mayor

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  • City Council Ready to Act on Bail Reform, Alone if Necessary

    Lancman MMV bail hearing

    CM Lancman & Speaker Mark-Viverito at Wednesday's hearing (photo: William Alatriste) 


    Wednesday’s oversight hearing made it clear— the question is not if the City Council will move to reform the city’s bail system, but how much reform will they be able to accomplish with their somewhat limited power.

    Though the Council appears

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  • Community Board Reform Bills, Including on Term Limits, to Be Heard

    dromm kallos

    CMs Dromm, middle, and Kallos, right, have intro'd reform bills (photo: William Alatriste)


    At a hearing of the City Council's Committee on Governmental Operations Thursday, issues of community board function will be taken up through bills to introduce term limits for board members and to add professional urban planners to board staff.

    The term-limit bill, introduced

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  • With Another LLC Loophole Vote Coming, Dwindling Optimism About Any Campaign Finance Reform

    Skelos Silver Cuomo

    Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    The State Senate Elections Committee is expected to vote Monday whether to advance a bill that would close a controversial loophole in state election law that allows wealthy donors to pour unlimited cash into campaign coffers through the use of multiple limited liability corporations, or LLCs.

    Sen. Daniel Squadron, a New York City Democrat and the bill's sponsor, has maneuvered the bill to a committee vote despite major

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