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Ritchie Torres

Ritchie Torres

  • City Council Members Outline Priorities for New Term

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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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  • Max & Murphy Podcast: City Council Member Ritchie Torres on The New Council & His New Role

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


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

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    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, with a promise to beef the

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  • Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Mayor-Made Speaker, Sought a Member-Driven Legacy

    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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  • Congratulations and Consternation as City Council Ends Term

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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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  • Council Speaker Candidates Hesitant to Criticize or Reform Party-Controlled Board of Elections

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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, All Men, Promise Gender Equity if Victorious

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    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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  • Inside the Fundraising and Spending of the City Council Speaker Candidates

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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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  • Council Speaker Candidates Give Generously to Colleagues

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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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  • What's the State Role in NYCHA Oversight?

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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 ...

  • City Council Ends Term with Flurry of Oversight Hearings

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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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  • The Right to Know Act and the City Council Speaker Race

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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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  • The Future of Latino Politics in New York City

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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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  • Bill Aims to Ensure Heat is On When It Should Be

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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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  • Bill Would Prioritize Repairs at NYCHA Senior Developments

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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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  • Visit to Bronxchester Shows NYCHA in Transition, Section 8 Concerns

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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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  • Procedural Move Could Lead to Vote on Right to Know Act

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    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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  • Use of Abstentions Varies Widely Among City Council Members

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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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  • With Few Reservations, Council Finalizes New $82 Billion City Budget

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    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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  • Bills Aim to Expand NYCHA Jobs Program, Measure Impact

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    photo via NYCHA on Flickr


    City Council Member Ritchie Torres and colleagues are introducing two new bills aimed at improving conditions and outcomes for residents of the city’s public housing. About half a million people live in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings.

    Torres, a Bronx Democrat and chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Housing, is hoping to spearhead a citywide expansion of a jobs program offered to residents of NYCHA and also proposing that the city track the health and effects of services provided to those

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  • NYCHA's 'Core Challenge'

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    Council Member Torres & "VP Nelson" at Twin Parks West (photo via NYCHA on flickr)


    In a special edition of "Max & Murphy on Housing," our weekly discussion of New York housing politics, City Council Member Ritchie Torres joined Jarrett Murphy and me to discuss the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, which Torres has oversight of as chair of the Council's public housing committee. Torres also grew up in NYCHA housing in the Bronx. The Democratic

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  • Calls for Candidates to Address Urban Issues in Presidential Race

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    Workers at a NYCHA building (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    For the first time in decades, New York has become a competitive battleground in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. As the race heats up in this delegate-rich state, the two Democratic candidates, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton, have ramped up their outreach, particularly in New York City, home to millions of Democrats.

    Each side has

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  • Questioning Importance, Council Members Spend Limited Time at Hearings

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    Council Member Van Bramer starts a hearing (photo: @JimmyVanBramer)


    On March 1, at perhaps the most important City Council hearing of the year, just three of the finance committee’s eleven members were present when the session began. The Council’s first hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $82 billion fiscal year 2017 preliminary budget began nine minutes after its scheduled time, at 10:09 a.m., more prompt than typical Council hearings. The City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, arrived three minutes later, just after the finance chair, Council Member

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  • City Council Raises Provoke Questions About Staff Pay

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    Members of the City Council (photo: William Alatriste) 


    As New York City Council members voted on a package of legislation that increased their salaries from $112,500 to $148,500, aides to two Council members stood silently in the balcony of the Council chambers, wearing white t-shirts that read, “Paycheck to Paycheck, Pay Raises for All.”

    The $36,000 salary bump for Council members is about the same amount of money that many of their staff members make in a year. These are aides filling roles such as

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  • Safe and Healthy Housing for All New Yorkers

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    (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    I just can't take the mice and the mold anymore.

    For years, I have lived in a Staten Island apartment in desperate need of repair. I live there with my daughter, and we've constantly struggled to get our landlord to fix the problems that make our home an unhealthy place to live.

    Over the past six years, we've frequently gone without heat and hot water, faced endless mold growing in our cabinets, and suffered rodent infestations that simply won't go away.

    We've asked the

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  • Eyeing Diversity, New Push for Demographic Data on Community Board Members

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    Council Member Ritchie Torres (photo: William Alatriste)


    In an effort to ensure that local community boards are representative of their neighborhoods, New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres will introduce a bill on Wednesday requiring the city to publish demographic information about board members.

    The bill, co-sponsored by Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Ben Kallos, is straightforward and reads much like a general population census. It would require the reporting of community board members’ names,

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