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Ritchie Torres

Ritchie Torres

  • City Council Ends Term with Flurry of Oversight Hearings

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


    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 segregated public schools.

    More than a dozen

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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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  • Resignation Highlights City Council Gender Imbalance

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito & others announce Young Women's Initiative (photo: William Alatriste)


    City Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo recently announced she will resign at the end of the year in order to attend to family matters. In vacating her seat, which she has held since 2005, Arroyo creates uncertainty about who will represent her Bronx district, but also brings to the forefront a larger issue about political representation in New York City: the number of women in the City

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  • Breaking Down the City Budget

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    Mayor & Speaker at budget announcement (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    Wednesday, July 1, marked the beginning of the new fiscal year under a $78.6 billion budget agreed upon by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council.

    When he unveiled his preliminary budget outline in February, de Blasio ...

  • The New Yorker's Guide To The New City Government

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    Photo by Bill Alatriste/City Council

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

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

    “Reapportionment and term limits combined to make the City

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