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Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

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Ritchie Torres

Ritchie Torres

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    Council Member Ritchie Torres (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    The polarizing issue of local retailers going cashless has gotten the attention of New York City Council members, and on Thursday a Council committee will hear testimony on the topic and consider competing legislative proposals.

    The Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing, chaired by Council Member Rafael Espinal, a Brooklyn Democrat, will hear the bills for the first time. One, ...

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    BOE ED Michael Ryan (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    Embattled City Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan testified before the City Council's Committees on Oversight and Government Operations on Tuesday, explaining that a perforated two-page ballot, never before used anywhere in the United States, was primarily to blame for the issues at polling sites across the city on Election Day.

    In a combative hearing initially presided over by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Ryan apologized, after being asked to do so, for the

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    (Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The Right to Know Act, a significant piece of police reform legislation passed by the City Council last December, is set to go into effect Friday and advocates who hoped it would transform street interactions between New Yorkers and police officers are worried that the NYPD may not fully comply with the new law.

    The Right to Know Act comprises two laws with requirements for how officers conduct themselves in street stops. The first, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat, mandates that

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    (photo via NYCHA)


    The myriad issues plaguing the New York City Housing Authority came to the fore at a town hall on Wednesday night, with NYCHA residents excoriating public officials and officials scrambling to respond.

    The town hall, hosted by BRIC TV at its downtown Brooklyn studio, featured an audience mainly consisting of NYCHA residents and a panel of City Council Members Alicka Ampry-Samuel and Ritchie Torres, NYCHA tenant leader Lisa Kenner, New York Daily News reporter Greg Smith, and NYCHA historian Nicholas Dagen Bloom, along with

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    Schaffer, Ulrich, Torres, Quinn, Gotbaum, Cho (l-r) (photo: @NYCCFB)


    Former and current New York City elected officials broadly praised the city’s campaign finance system at a panel at New York Law School on Wednesday, while acknowledging that it could be improved to incentivize more reliance on small donors and streamlined to encourage first-time candidates to run for office.

    The panel was hosted by the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and moderated by Daniel Cho, assistant executive director for candidate guidance and policy at the CFB. The panellists

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    Gov. Cuomo with top NYC officials and others (photo: Governor's office)


    Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order earlier this month to impose an external monitor on the crisis-plagued New York City Housing Authority has turned into a potential budget boondoggle for the city, with Mayor Bill de Blasio warning on Thursday of the “unforeseen consequences” the order could have on the city’s fiscal future.

    The governor’s

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    City Council members (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    The New York City Council is gearing up for a new agenda under Speaker Corey Johnson, with several newly created committees and fresh faces in the legislative body. As the Council begins to schedule its first committee hearings and readies for the reintroduction of legislation from the last session, there are a number of priorities that Council members are planning to pursue. Returning members say they want to pass bills that have been pending and build on their work from the last four

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    Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits


    January 17, 2018 - Max & Murphy Podcast: City Council Member Ritchie Torres

    ritchie torres 277px

    Bronx City Council Member Ritchie Torres is very excited about the new class of the City Council and his role in it -- he's been named by new Speaker Corey Johnson to chair the Committee on Oversight and Investigations,

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  • Mayor de Blasio Speaker Mark-Viverito

    (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    Melissa Mark-Viverito, the first Latina to preside over the 51-member New York City Council, leaves office having shepherded a progressive shift in the city’s direction, in conjunction with fellow Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio, a philosophically aligned partner in government who was the deciding factor in her winning the powerful speaker position four years ago.

    As arguably the second most powerful elected official in the city, Mark-Viverito oversaw an agenda of progressivism

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    Council Speaker Melisasa Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste, June 2015)


    The New York City Council concluded its four-year term on Tuesday with a marathon legislative blitz, passing 38 new bills at its last full-body meeting. The Council has seen more new legislation passed in the last four years than any other Council class seated before it, with a total of 714 bills approved (in comparison, the final full-body meeting under the previous speaker, Christine Quinn, the Council passed 29 bills in December, 2013).

    Under the leadership of

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    photo by William Alatriste/City Council


    The New York City Board of Elections has widely been acknowledged as a dysfunctional agency in need of urgent and sweeping reform, yet the political will for modernizing and professionalizing the board has not existed, at least in part because its current structure benefits those in power.

    Its system of appointments based on political patronage has long been a source of criticism and its mismanagement of election operations has frustrated voters and been the subject of City

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  • City Council speaker candidates

    The City Council speaker candidates (photo: William Alatriste)


    At the last public forum in the race to become the next speaker of the City Council, seven of the eight men contending for the Council’s top leadership spot took turns making their argument for why they would be the right person to continue Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s legacy of protecting and promoting the cause of women, transgender, and gender non-conforming New Yorkers. Though few new ideas emerged, for nearly two hours, the seven Council members pitched their progressive

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    City Council Speaker candidates (photo: William Alatriste)


    The eight men running to become the next speaker of the City Council are all Democrats who were re-elected in November to serve a final term in the body. None of them faced a strong challenger in their respective races, either in the primaries, which are largely determinative of overall results, or in the November 7 general election. Nevertheless, a few of the candidates raised significant campaign cash and spent it just as liberally as if they were running competitive races. As Gotham Gazette has

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    Corey Johnson, Francisco Moya, Joe Crowley (photo via @CoreyinNYC)


    The eight City Council members, all Democrats, who are competing to lead the 51-member legislative body as speaker for the next four years must convince numerous constituencies of their viability, including some combination of county party leaders, labor unions, the mayor, and other influential politicos. But, when the new Council class convenes in January, the vote will come down to the 51 Council members, and they are not without agency. The speaker candidates, all men, have for months been

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    CM Torres and the call for a state NYCHA monitor (photo: @RitchieTorres)


    As Mayor Bill de Blasio and leaders of the embattled New York City Housing Authority continue to respond to fallout from revelations that NYCHA had failed for years to comply with federal and local laws around lead paint inspections, some elected officials are renewing calls for the state take a more active role in the city’s massive public housing system.

    NYCHA, which has ...

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    [Note: this article has been updated based on fluctuations in the City Council calendar]

    A flurry of oversight hearings are filling the City Council calendar as the Council enters its final month of the four-year session, most notably a hearing slated to address controversies over NYCHA’s falsified lead inspection reports, a hearing to discuss the city’s progress in closing Rikers Island jails, and a hearing on integrating the city's

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    Jumaane Williams at a Right to Know Act rally (Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)


    In less than two months, the current class of the New York City Council ends its term, and eight incumbents who won reelection on Tuesday are running to lead the 51-member legislative body as its next speaker. It is an internal race influenced by county party affiliates, labor unions, Mayor Bill de Blasio, himself newly reelected, and others.

    As the clock ticks on this term and the speakership of Melissa Mark-Viverito, a de Blasio ally who is

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    Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits


    "Max & Murphy" is a podcast hosted by Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Jarrett Murphy of City Limits that began in 2016 as a brief discussion on the latest in housing policy but quickly expanded to lengthier discussions of a wide variety of political and policy issues, including interviews with candidates for office, elected and appointed government officials, advocates and other experts. In 2017 the show was an important stop for candidates for top city offices and in 2018 for candidates

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    Ruben Diaz Jr. (photo: @rubendiazjr)


    Just last month the annual Somos El Futuro legislative conference took place in Albany. Over 30 years ago a group of Latino elected officials and community leaders initiated the conference as a means to highlight issues important to Latinos and to shine a light on the plight of Latinos in New York. The visionary leadership of these early pioneers was to capitalize on and give consciousness to the ever-growing presence of Latinos in the state. Perhaps the name itself, Somos El Futuro -- We are the Future -- was not only a testament

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    Ritchie Torres (photo: John McCarten)


    City Council Member Ritchie Torres will introduce a bill on Thursday that aims to ensure landlords follow the law and keep the heat on for tenants when it should be.

    Torres’ bill, being introduced in partnership with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, would require landlords of buildings with more than three units to install tamper-proof heat sensors in the living room of each unit. These “temperature reporting devices” would be monitored by tenants, landlords, and the city’s housing

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    Council Member Torres, right (photo via NYCHA on Flickr)


    A new report by City Council Member Ritchie Torres’ office found a vast backlog in necessary repairs of sidewalks outside New York City public housing, particularly developments for senior citizens. Torres, a Bronx Democrat who chairs the Council’s Committee on Public Housing, believes this is a serious issue of public safety and will introduce a bill on Wednesday that would require the Department of Transportation to prioritize sidewalk reconstruction at senior-only developments

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    NYCHA Chair Olatoye at a NYCHA event (photo via NYCHA on Flickr)


    There are several pieces to the affordable housing puzzle in New York City. One is the city’s large public housing stock, home to about half a million people across the five boroughs. Another, at times overlapping piece is Section 8 vouchers, also known as Housing Choice Vouchers, which are federal subsidies that allow low-income tenants to live in a variety of locations, depending on where those vouchers are being accepted.

    The New

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  • right to know protest city hall

    A Right to Know Act rally


    Last week, City Council Members Ritchie Torres and Antonio Reynoso sent out a joint statement in which they addressed the ramifications of the impending retirement of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. “With the departure of William Bratton,” the statement reads, “we are reminded that administrative agreements are every bit as short-lived as commissioners themselves, coming and going in the moments we least expect.”

    The Council members were referring to an agreement between

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    City Council chambers (Sofie Hecht for Gotham Gazette)


    Hundreds of times a year, City Council members vote on pieces of legislation, including the city’s budget, land use matters, and a wide variety of bills and resolutions. Members almost always vote “yes” or “no.” But sometimes, Council members choose to abstain, actively deciding not to declare they are for or against what is in front of them, and in the 51-seat City Council, abstentions are used by members to widely varying degrees.

    In the New York State Assembly,

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  • Council Mayor budget

    The Mayor & the City Council (photo: William Alatriste)


    The City Council chambers at City Hall were filled with grief on Tuesday. Before the Council would conduct its business for the day -- approving an $82.1 billion budget for the city’s 2017 fiscal year -- members first paid their respects to the 49 people killed by a terrorist who shot patrons at a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday. One by one, Council members read out the names of victims and placed small electric candles on the dais at the front of the chamber. Almost every Council member

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