Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/scott-stringer 2018-02-19T12:29:13+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Comptroller Again Calls Out City on Vacant Land; City Again Punches Back 2018-02-13T05:00:00+00:00 2018-02-13T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7475:comptroller-again-calls-out-city-on-vacant-land-city-again-punches-back Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/stringer-vacant-lot-presser-raskin.jpg" alt="stringer vacant lot presser raskin" width="600" height="429" /></p> <p>Comptroller Stringer press conference at a vacant lot (photo: Sam Raskin)</p> <hr /> <p>Comptroller Scott Stringer held a press conference Monday morning in front of a vacant lot on West 115th Street to criticize the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for “dragging its feet” on creating affordable housing on empty city-owned land.</p> <p>Stringer released an update to his 2016 audit on vacant lots, which initiated a reshashing of a yearslong dispute between the comptroller and the de Blasio administration over the latter’s use of such land, or lack thereof. There are several points of conflict between Stringer’s office and HPD, and both sides continue to dispute the other’s numbers, intent, and competency. An escalating war of words and different presentations of data continue to cloud the reality of the city’s use of its vacant land, an essential piece of creating more affordable housing in a city desperate for it.</p> <p>Stringer’s office maintains that HPD’s efforts to create affordable housing on vacant lots has been lacking and it has not been open to the public about their practices. HPD, for its part, says that the city has achieved far more on the vacant lot front since 2016 than the audit suggests, and that any setbacks and slowness is par for the course, not due to ineptitude or an unwillingness to act.</p> <p>The comptroller’s analysis shows that as of late 2017 the city has not built upon over 1,000 parcels of undeveloped land in its possession. Since the initial audit was conducted two years ago, little progress has been made on filling these empty lots with affordable housing, according to Stringer’s follow-up report. The comptroller’s report claims that almost 90 percent of the land identified in the 2016 audit had yet to be utilized for affordable housing. What’s more, according to the report, HPD has fallen short of the progress it had promised in moving lots through the development process, only transferring 26 percent of its projected total to developers.</p> <p>“What the audit that we’re releasing today shows, they’ve done nothing. Nada,” Stringer said of HPD.</p> <p>According to Stringer, HPD’s failure to build on vacant city-owned land only helps to cement the city's affordable housing crisis. “We’re no longer just a tale of two cities -- were becoming a tale of two blocks, with luxury towers on one corner and struggling families on another,” he said.</p> <p>Stringer urged HPD to build on its vacant lots through non-profit developers to ensure the housing reflects the community's’ needs and to do so in a timely manner, while disclosing timelines on impending projects.</p> <p>In recent years, HPD has pushed back against the comptroller’s criticism, both in terms of its statistics and on whether it has been slow to act on building affordable housing on vacant lots, and did so following the press conference in a statement to Gotham Gazette, though it does acknowledge some delays in the pipeline.</p> <p>“HPD is aggressively developing its 1,000 remaining public sites for affordable housing, almost all of them small and hard to develop lots,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, through a spokesperson.</p> <p>“The comptroller’s report misrepresents the facts and denies the very real progress made by HPD over the last four years from Seward Park, which now has housing after decades of neglect, to the hundreds of small sites where affordable homes and apartments are in the works,” Torres-Spring continued. &nbsp;</p> <p>Similarly, in the agency’s written response to Stringer’s new report, HPD casted doubt on the significance of Stringer’s claim north of 1,000 parcels had not been utilized for affordable housing; many of these lots were not meant to be converted into affordable housing units to begin with, HPD said, because they lack the requisite size or infrastructure.</p> <p>HPD also argued it had achieved more in the two years since the first report than the audit had revealed. “HPD has conveyed or transferred more than 200 tax lots since the beginning of the audit,” HPD’s response reads. “Your special report fails to acknowledge this fact.”</p> <p>The written response went on explain that HPD had designated 450 of the 1,000 vacant lots for either Requests for Proposal or Request for Qualifications, while also noting that the number of buildable lots is actually closer to 600.</p> <p>HPD spokesperson Elizabeth Rohlfing explained that along with the misleading number of 1,000 empty lots the comptroller uses, Stringer’s report failed to appreciate the complications that arise and how many lots are unsuitable for housing development. Some of the empty parcels, HPD says, don’t have enough space for a residential building. “Maybe they’d be a good community garden or something,” Rohlfing said. “There are definitely lots like that.”</p> <p>Others are located in flood zones or had already been damaged by weather events in recent years. And according to HPD, the comptroller’s request that the agency allocate bids to non-profit developers is not compatible with the comptroller’s insistence they build housing as quickly as possible.</p> <p>In addition, Rohlfing explained why some projects run behind schedule.</p> <p>“We want to work with non-profits who are in the community who can bring something to the table,” Rohlfing said. “Sometimes that takes longer because they don’t necessarily have the capacity that some of these big, private developers have.”</p> <p>“We could just say, ‘We’ll give it to the person who could do it fastest.’ You could take that approach, but we’re not taking that approach,” she continued.</p> <p>Furthermore, in some cases, Rohlfing explained, progress has been stalled due to matters beyond the city’s control. Rohlfing cited Broadway Triangle, an area in Brooklyn where the Bloomberg administration planned to build affordable housing in 2009 but construction has been delayed due to a housing discrimination suit, as an example. “That’s been in litigation for almost a decade,” she said. “It would have been senseless to put a timeline for plots like that.” &nbsp;</p> <p>While HPD said the comptroller had painted with too broad a brush and didn’t acknowledge the challenges the city faces, Stringer’s office accused the agency of dishonesty and engaging in misdirection.</p> <p>“Here’s HPD’s track record. They distort numbers, twist the truth, and deflect attention from their inaction,” said Tyrone Stevens, press secretary for Comptroller Stringer, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “At a time when New Yorkers are suffering, the agency is giving intentionally misleading answers to questions it doesn’t want to answer.”</p> <p>He went on to accuse the agency of misrepresenting the numbers in the report, and shifting its reference points in terms of buildable lots and lots in the development pipeline. “HPD isn’t comparing apples and oranges — it's comparing apples and twinkies. Their claims are a repeat of the same baseless arguments they made two years ago.”</p> <p>Stevens characterized HPD’s pushback as “Groundhog Day for excuse-making” and urged the agency to “come clean” and address its issues.</p> <p>In a similar vein, Stringer said at the Monday press conference he believed the agency is opaque and slow-moving, albeit in less dramatic fashion. &nbsp;</p> <p>“The Housing and Preservation Department isn’t being straight with the public,” Stringer said.</p> <p>Stringer said that if HPD would act in accordance with his recommendations, it could help to ameliorate the affordability and homelessness crises in New York.</p> <p>To that end, the City Council <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7373-city-council-to-pass-bills-mandating-assessment-of-vacant-lots" target="_blank" rel="noopener">passed a set of bills</a> during the final days of the 2017 session -- two pieces of the Housing Not Warehousing Act -- which Mayor de Blasio signed into law and mandate that HPD conduct an assessment of the number of vacant lots it controls and the city establish a list of vacant properties throughout the city, respectively. Picture the Homeless, an advocacy group instrumental in pushing the legislation in the Council, was represented at Stringer’s press conference, which was centered around the connection between HPD’s use of city-owned vacant land and the housing and homelessness crises.</p> <p>“Many New Yorkers who have been living in the city for decades and who have helped revitalize New York’s economy and made it the city we enjoy today are being forced out because of high rent,” said Jose Rodriguez of Picture the Homeless. “No one should be forced out of community that they work in.”</p> <p>Stringer also delivered a larger critique of the city's affordable housing plan, arguing that the housing being built through de Blasio’s 300,000-unit, 12-year plan is too often not affordable to the residents of communities where it is being built. The mayor has defended his plan, which relies heavily on for-profit developers, increasing housing density, and mandating a certain percentage, usually around 25 percent, of newly-built housing developments include units with affordability requirements alongside many new market-rate rentals. The housing plan also utilizes nonprofit developers and HPD finances a variety of fully-affordable developments.</p> <p>Some, including Stringer, don't believe the approach is calibrated correctly, spawning gentrification and displacement instead of truly affordable housing. Some critics have said de Blasio is too focused on a larger number of overall units but not the level of affordability he would be able to create through more deeply subsidized housing.</p> <p>“At the end of the day, a lot of these rezonings are basically about building luxury development with smattering of temporary affordable housing,” Stringer said Monday, referring to areas where the de Blasio administration is allowing increased density, “that, unfortunately, is not affordable to the people in the communities.’</p> <p>“Sometimes there’s a disconnect between the housing that we’re building and the people who can access that affordable housing,” he added.</p> <p>Still, Stringer commended de Blasio. “I praise the mayor for making affordable housing a signature issue. He’s certainly elevated the debate,” Stringer said.</p> <p>But, Stringer argued, an affordable housing plan without making full use of city-owned empty lots would be an incomplete one. “I believe we need more tools in the toolbox,” he said. “Vacant land is a critical tool in that toolbox.”</p> <p> </p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/stringer-vacant-lot-presser-raskin.jpg" alt="stringer vacant lot presser raskin" width="600" height="429" /></p> <p>Comptroller Stringer press conference at a vacant lot (photo: Sam Raskin)</p> <hr /> <p>Comptroller Scott Stringer held a press conference Monday morning in front of a vacant lot on West 115th Street to criticize the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for “dragging its feet” on creating affordable housing on empty city-owned land.</p> <p>Stringer released an update to his 2016 audit on vacant lots, which initiated a reshashing of a yearslong dispute between the comptroller and the de Blasio administration over the latter’s use of such land, or lack thereof. There are several points of conflict between Stringer’s office and HPD, and both sides continue to dispute the other’s numbers, intent, and competency. An escalating war of words and different presentations of data continue to cloud the reality of the city’s use of its vacant land, an essential piece of creating more affordable housing in a city desperate for it.</p> <p>Stringer’s office maintains that HPD’s efforts to create affordable housing on vacant lots has been lacking and it has not been open to the public about their practices. HPD, for its part, says that the city has achieved far more on the vacant lot front since 2016 than the audit suggests, and that any setbacks and slowness is par for the course, not due to ineptitude or an unwillingness to act.</p> <p>The comptroller’s analysis shows that as of late 2017 the city has not built upon over 1,000 parcels of undeveloped land in its possession. Since the initial audit was conducted two years ago, little progress has been made on filling these empty lots with affordable housing, according to Stringer’s follow-up report. The comptroller’s report claims that almost 90 percent of the land identified in the 2016 audit had yet to be utilized for affordable housing. What’s more, according to the report, HPD has fallen short of the progress it had promised in moving lots through the development process, only transferring 26 percent of its projected total to developers.</p> <p>“What the audit that we’re releasing today shows, they’ve done nothing. Nada,” Stringer said of HPD.</p> <p>According to Stringer, HPD’s failure to build on vacant city-owned land only helps to cement the city's affordable housing crisis. “We’re no longer just a tale of two cities -- were becoming a tale of two blocks, with luxury towers on one corner and struggling families on another,” he said.</p> <p>Stringer urged HPD to build on its vacant lots through non-profit developers to ensure the housing reflects the community's’ needs and to do so in a timely manner, while disclosing timelines on impending projects.</p> <p>In recent years, HPD has pushed back against the comptroller’s criticism, both in terms of its statistics and on whether it has been slow to act on building affordable housing on vacant lots, and did so following the press conference in a statement to Gotham Gazette, though it does acknowledge some delays in the pipeline.</p> <p>“HPD is aggressively developing its 1,000 remaining public sites for affordable housing, almost all of them small and hard to develop lots,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, through a spokesperson.</p> <p>“The comptroller’s report misrepresents the facts and denies the very real progress made by HPD over the last four years from Seward Park, which now has housing after decades of neglect, to the hundreds of small sites where affordable homes and apartments are in the works,” Torres-Spring continued. &nbsp;</p> <p>Similarly, in the agency’s written response to Stringer’s new report, HPD casted doubt on the significance of Stringer’s claim north of 1,000 parcels had not been utilized for affordable housing; many of these lots were not meant to be converted into affordable housing units to begin with, HPD said, because they lack the requisite size or infrastructure.</p> <p>HPD also argued it had achieved more in the two years since the first report than the audit had revealed. “HPD has conveyed or transferred more than 200 tax lots since the beginning of the audit,” HPD’s response reads. “Your special report fails to acknowledge this fact.”</p> <p>The written response went on explain that HPD had designated 450 of the 1,000 vacant lots for either Requests for Proposal or Request for Qualifications, while also noting that the number of buildable lots is actually closer to 600.</p> <p>HPD spokesperson Elizabeth Rohlfing explained that along with the misleading number of 1,000 empty lots the comptroller uses, Stringer’s report failed to appreciate the complications that arise and how many lots are unsuitable for housing development. Some of the empty parcels, HPD says, don’t have enough space for a residential building. “Maybe they’d be a good community garden or something,” Rohlfing said. “There are definitely lots like that.”</p> <p>Others are located in flood zones or had already been damaged by weather events in recent years. And according to HPD, the comptroller’s request that the agency allocate bids to non-profit developers is not compatible with the comptroller’s insistence they build housing as quickly as possible.</p> <p>In addition, Rohlfing explained why some projects run behind schedule.</p> <p>“We want to work with non-profits who are in the community who can bring something to the table,” Rohlfing said. “Sometimes that takes longer because they don’t necessarily have the capacity that some of these big, private developers have.”</p> <p>“We could just say, ‘We’ll give it to the person who could do it fastest.’ You could take that approach, but we’re not taking that approach,” she continued.</p> <p>Furthermore, in some cases, Rohlfing explained, progress has been stalled due to matters beyond the city’s control. Rohlfing cited Broadway Triangle, an area in Brooklyn where the Bloomberg administration planned to build affordable housing in 2009 but construction has been delayed due to a housing discrimination suit, as an example. “That’s been in litigation for almost a decade,” she said. “It would have been senseless to put a timeline for plots like that.” &nbsp;</p> <p>While HPD said the comptroller had painted with too broad a brush and didn’t acknowledge the challenges the city faces, Stringer’s office accused the agency of dishonesty and engaging in misdirection.</p> <p>“Here’s HPD’s track record. They distort numbers, twist the truth, and deflect attention from their inaction,” said Tyrone Stevens, press secretary for Comptroller Stringer, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “At a time when New Yorkers are suffering, the agency is giving intentionally misleading answers to questions it doesn’t want to answer.”</p> <p>He went on to accuse the agency of misrepresenting the numbers in the report, and shifting its reference points in terms of buildable lots and lots in the development pipeline. “HPD isn’t comparing apples and oranges — it's comparing apples and twinkies. Their claims are a repeat of the same baseless arguments they made two years ago.”</p> <p>Stevens characterized HPD’s pushback as “Groundhog Day for excuse-making” and urged the agency to “come clean” and address its issues.</p> <p>In a similar vein, Stringer said at the Monday press conference he believed the agency is opaque and slow-moving, albeit in less dramatic fashion. &nbsp;</p> <p>“The Housing and Preservation Department isn’t being straight with the public,” Stringer said.</p> <p>Stringer said that if HPD would act in accordance with his recommendations, it could help to ameliorate the affordability and homelessness crises in New York.</p> <p>To that end, the City Council <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7373-city-council-to-pass-bills-mandating-assessment-of-vacant-lots" target="_blank" rel="noopener">passed a set of bills</a> during the final days of the 2017 session -- two pieces of the Housing Not Warehousing Act -- which Mayor de Blasio signed into law and mandate that HPD conduct an assessment of the number of vacant lots it controls and the city establish a list of vacant properties throughout the city, respectively. Picture the Homeless, an advocacy group instrumental in pushing the legislation in the Council, was represented at Stringer’s press conference, which was centered around the connection between HPD’s use of city-owned vacant land and the housing and homelessness crises.</p> <p>“Many New Yorkers who have been living in the city for decades and who have helped revitalize New York’s economy and made it the city we enjoy today are being forced out because of high rent,” said Jose Rodriguez of Picture the Homeless. “No one should be forced out of community that they work in.”</p> <p>Stringer also delivered a larger critique of the city's affordable housing plan, arguing that the housing being built through de Blasio’s 300,000-unit, 12-year plan is too often not affordable to the residents of communities where it is being built. The mayor has defended his plan, which relies heavily on for-profit developers, increasing housing density, and mandating a certain percentage, usually around 25 percent, of newly-built housing developments include units with affordability requirements alongside many new market-rate rentals. The housing plan also utilizes nonprofit developers and HPD finances a variety of fully-affordable developments.</p> <p>Some, including Stringer, don't believe the approach is calibrated correctly, spawning gentrification and displacement instead of truly affordable housing. Some critics have said de Blasio is too focused on a larger number of overall units but not the level of affordability he would be able to create through more deeply subsidized housing.</p> <p>“At the end of the day, a lot of these rezonings are basically about building luxury development with smattering of temporary affordable housing,” Stringer said Monday, referring to areas where the de Blasio administration is allowing increased density, “that, unfortunately, is not affordable to the people in the communities.’</p> <p>“Sometimes there’s a disconnect between the housing that we’re building and the people who can access that affordable housing,” he added.</p> <p>Still, Stringer commended de Blasio. “I praise the mayor for making affordable housing a signature issue. He’s certainly elevated the debate,” Stringer said.</p> <p>But, Stringer argued, an affordable housing plan without making full use of city-owned empty lots would be an incomplete one. “I believe we need more tools in the toolbox,” he said. “Vacant land is a critical tool in that toolbox.”</p> <p> </p> Candidates File Final Campaign Finance Reports of 2017 Election Cycle 2018-01-17T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-17T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7429:candidates-file-final-campaign-finance-reports-of-2017-election-cycle Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/27660778559_4de5300545_z.jpg" alt="de Blasio inauguration" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio at inauguration (photo: NYC Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The recent citywide municipal election saw more than $53 million in spending, with nearly $42 million in private funds raised by candidates and more than $17 million in public matching funds disbursed by the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Candidates just filed their <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/VSApps/WebForm_Finance_Summary.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">final campaign disclosures</a> with the Board, which were due Tuesday, showing the last weeks of activity as the election cycle came to a close, and totals for the full campaign cycle.</p> <p>The final filing period covered December 1, 2017 to January 11, 2018, therefore largely including the last spending outlays by campaigns, especially in contested general election races, and including those who ran for City Council speaker.</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who was handily reelected for a second and final term, spent a total $10.2 million on his campaign, raising $6.5 million in private funds. He received about $3.5 million from the CFB’s matching funds program, which provides a 6-to-1 match for small dollar donations up to $175 from city residents. As of Tuesday, de Blasio had spent $210,267 more than he had brought in, strangely leaving him a negative balance.</p> <p>As with most candidates, de Blasio’s major post-election expenditures went to payroll and campaign consultants that deal with issues such as compliance with election law. In the last disclosure period, Dec. 1-Jan. 11, de Blasio spent about $211,000, with $82,500 in payments to a campaign consultancy -- Kantor, Davidoff, Mandelker -- and much of the rest to campaign workers.</p> <p>De Blasio finished the cycle having brought in donations from 11,772 different donors, with an average donation of $556, according to CFB records. He raised about $4 million from within the five boroughs and more than $2.5 million from outside New York City.</p> <p>De Blasio’s Republican opponent, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, had a much smaller war chest, raising $1.2 million and getting about $2.5 million in public funds. She spent nearly all of it, about $3.7 million, leaving her $47,689 in the end. She spent $53,613 in the latest disclosure period.</p> <p>In a city with nearly seven Democrats for each Republican, the citywide Democratic incumbents stood at a great advantage. Like de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James vastly outraised and outspent their opponents and were comfortably reelected.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Stringer raised $2.3 million for his reelection, spending about $880,000 of it on his race. Although the comptroller was a participant in the matching funds program, his GOP opponent Michel Faulkner posed little competition and Stringer declined a potential public funds payment of nearly $600,000. After the election, Stringer transferred $1.3 million to another campaign account, Stringer For New York. He has $131,200 in cash on hand, money he is widely expected to use toward a mayoral run for 2021.</p> <p>Faulkner, a Harlem pastor and former professional football player, raised $281,706 in sum, much of which was his own money on loan. He ended up spending $405,963, leaving him $124,257 in the red. He participated in the matching funds program but did not qualify for any payments.</p> <p>Unlike Stringer, Public Advocate James decided to take public funds, controversially claiming that she faced a competitive opponent. James got $756,486 from the CFB and raised $947,530. After spending more than $1.6 million, including about $10,000 in the last period, she was left with a balance of $30,517. She is also widely expected to run for mayor next cycle.</p> <p>James’ opponent, Republican J.C. Polanco, raised just $26,456 and spent $27,076.</p> <p>Although the citywide positions saw a continuity of leadership, at the New York City Council, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito faced term limits and could not run for reelection. Her eventual successor was fellow Democrat Council Member Corey Johnson, a prolific fundraiser and retail campaigner who was reelected for a second and final term to Council District 3 in Manhattan. Johnson raised $507,416 and spent $415,993. He spent about $44,000 in the last disclosure period, leaving $91,423 in his campaign coffers. Johnson spent a good deal of money <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7356-inside-the-fundraising-of-the-city-council-speaker-candidates" target="_blank" rel="noopener">donating to his Council colleagues</a> in order to both help them win their elections and curry favor ahead of the January 3 speaker vote that he won.</p> <p>Johnson had a nominal, <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20170911/chelsea/city-council-general-election-marni-halasa" target="_blank" rel="noopener">albeit colorful</a>, opponent in Marni Halasa, a former legal journalist who runs a <a href="https://www.revolutionissexy.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">protest consulting group</a>. Halasa only raised $13,625, most of it from personal loans to her campaign, and spent all but $61.</p> <p>The five borough presidents mostly faced little competition, each of them being reelected with at least 75 percent of the vote.</p> <p>Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams raised $659,932 for his race and spent $350,656. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. brought in more than $1.3 million and dropped $927,404 on his race. Both are considered likely 2021 mayoral candidates.</p> <p>Manhattan BP Gale Brewer ran practically unopposed and spent $201,118, after raising $115,562 and receiving a $209,334 public funds payment. Queens BP Melinda Katz raised &nbsp;$980,312 and got another $567,464 in public funds, despite facing a weak underfunded opponent. She spent $1.4 million on her reelection bid, leaving her $145,263 in cash on hand.</p> <p>Staten Island BP James Oddo, the only Republican of the five, raised $138,891 and received $215,737 from the CFB. He had $154,336 left after spending $200,293.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/27660778559_4de5300545_z.jpg" alt="de Blasio inauguration" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio at inauguration (photo: NYC Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The recent citywide municipal election saw more than $53 million in spending, with nearly $42 million in private funds raised by candidates and more than $17 million in public matching funds disbursed by the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Candidates just filed their <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/VSApps/WebForm_Finance_Summary.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">final campaign disclosures</a> with the Board, which were due Tuesday, showing the last weeks of activity as the election cycle came to a close, and totals for the full campaign cycle.</p> <p>The final filing period covered December 1, 2017 to January 11, 2018, therefore largely including the last spending outlays by campaigns, especially in contested general election races, and including those who ran for City Council speaker.</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who was handily reelected for a second and final term, spent a total $10.2 million on his campaign, raising $6.5 million in private funds. He received about $3.5 million from the CFB’s matching funds program, which provides a 6-to-1 match for small dollar donations up to $175 from city residents. As of Tuesday, de Blasio had spent $210,267 more than he had brought in, strangely leaving him a negative balance.</p> <p>As with most candidates, de Blasio’s major post-election expenditures went to payroll and campaign consultants that deal with issues such as compliance with election law. In the last disclosure period, Dec. 1-Jan. 11, de Blasio spent about $211,000, with $82,500 in payments to a campaign consultancy -- Kantor, Davidoff, Mandelker -- and much of the rest to campaign workers.</p> <p>De Blasio finished the cycle having brought in donations from 11,772 different donors, with an average donation of $556, according to CFB records. He raised about $4 million from within the five boroughs and more than $2.5 million from outside New York City.</p> <p>De Blasio’s Republican opponent, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, had a much smaller war chest, raising $1.2 million and getting about $2.5 million in public funds. She spent nearly all of it, about $3.7 million, leaving her $47,689 in the end. She spent $53,613 in the latest disclosure period.</p> <p>In a city with nearly seven Democrats for each Republican, the citywide Democratic incumbents stood at a great advantage. Like de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James vastly outraised and outspent their opponents and were comfortably reelected.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Stringer raised $2.3 million for his reelection, spending about $880,000 of it on his race. Although the comptroller was a participant in the matching funds program, his GOP opponent Michel Faulkner posed little competition and Stringer declined a potential public funds payment of nearly $600,000. After the election, Stringer transferred $1.3 million to another campaign account, Stringer For New York. He has $131,200 in cash on hand, money he is widely expected to use toward a mayoral run for 2021.</p> <p>Faulkner, a Harlem pastor and former professional football player, raised $281,706 in sum, much of which was his own money on loan. He ended up spending $405,963, leaving him $124,257 in the red. He participated in the matching funds program but did not qualify for any payments.</p> <p>Unlike Stringer, Public Advocate James decided to take public funds, controversially claiming that she faced a competitive opponent. James got $756,486 from the CFB and raised $947,530. After spending more than $1.6 million, including about $10,000 in the last period, she was left with a balance of $30,517. She is also widely expected to run for mayor next cycle.</p> <p>James’ opponent, Republican J.C. Polanco, raised just $26,456 and spent $27,076.</p> <p>Although the citywide positions saw a continuity of leadership, at the New York City Council, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito faced term limits and could not run for reelection. Her eventual successor was fellow Democrat Council Member Corey Johnson, a prolific fundraiser and retail campaigner who was reelected for a second and final term to Council District 3 in Manhattan. Johnson raised $507,416 and spent $415,993. He spent about $44,000 in the last disclosure period, leaving $91,423 in his campaign coffers. Johnson spent a good deal of money <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7356-inside-the-fundraising-of-the-city-council-speaker-candidates" target="_blank" rel="noopener">donating to his Council colleagues</a> in order to both help them win their elections and curry favor ahead of the January 3 speaker vote that he won.</p> <p>Johnson had a nominal, <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20170911/chelsea/city-council-general-election-marni-halasa" target="_blank" rel="noopener">albeit colorful</a>, opponent in Marni Halasa, a former legal journalist who runs a <a href="https://www.revolutionissexy.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">protest consulting group</a>. Halasa only raised $13,625, most of it from personal loans to her campaign, and spent all but $61.</p> <p>The five borough presidents mostly faced little competition, each of them being reelected with at least 75 percent of the vote.</p> <p>Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams raised $659,932 for his race and spent $350,656. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. brought in more than $1.3 million and dropped $927,404 on his race. Both are considered likely 2021 mayoral candidates.</p> <p>Manhattan BP Gale Brewer ran practically unopposed and spent $201,118, after raising $115,562 and receiving a $209,334 public funds payment. Queens BP Melinda Katz raised &nbsp;$980,312 and got another $567,464 in public funds, despite facing a weak underfunded opponent. She spent $1.4 million on her reelection bid, leaving her $145,263 in cash on hand.</p> <p>Staten Island BP James Oddo, the only Republican of the five, raised $138,891 and received $215,737 from the CFB. He had $154,336 left after spending $200,293.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Max & Murphy Podcast: Big Political News to Start 2018 2018-01-03T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-03T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7400:max-murphy-big-political-news-to-start-2018 Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>January 3, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy:&nbsp;&nbsp;Big Political News to Start 2018<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bdb277px.jpg" alt="bdb277px" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>2018 has started with a bang in New York politics: already this week we've seen the re-inaugrations of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Comptroller Scott Stringer; the election of new City Council Speaker Corey Johnson; and Governor Cuomo delivering his 2018 State of the State address. For this episode of the podcast we recap and analyze those major political events and talk a bit about what's coming next.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/378371042&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>January 3, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy:&nbsp;&nbsp;Big Political News to Start 2018<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bdb277px.jpg" alt="bdb277px" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>2018 has started with a bang in New York politics: already this week we've seen the re-inaugrations of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Comptroller Scott Stringer; the election of new City Council Speaker Corey Johnson; and Governor Cuomo delivering his 2018 State of the State address. For this episode of the podcast we recap and analyze those major political events and talk a bit about what's coming next.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/378371042&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Sworn In for Second Term by Bernie Sanders, De Blasio Claims 'New Progressive Era' 2018-01-01T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-01T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7395:sworn-in-for-second-term-by-bernie-sanders-de-blasio-claims-new-progressive-era Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/bernie_bdb_oath_inaug_via_mayors_office.jpg" alt="de Blasio Bernie Sanders inauguration progressives" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>De Blasio is sworn in by Sanders (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, was sworn in for a second and final term at City Hall on a frigid Monday afternoon, in a ceremony attended by nearly a thousand people and starring United States Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.</p> <p>De Blasio’s oath of office was administered by Sanders, the popular progressive leader who has championed policies to benefit middle- and working-class Americans, similar to the mayor’s own politics. In a fiery introduction, Sanders railed against the Trump administration while praising de Blasio’s first term record. “Instead of pandering to billionaires we have a government here which has chosen to listen to the needs of working families,” Sanders said.</p> <p>The runner-up to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, Sanders had particular praise for the mayor’s signature universal pre-kindergarten program and also lauded the administration’s efforts in protecting immigrants, providing mental health services and tackling the affordability crisis through its affordable housing program. “The bottom line is that what Mayor de Blasio and his administration understand, is that in this country, in the home of Ellis Island, our job is to bring people together with love and compassion, and to end the divisions and the attacks that are taking place,” he said, casting the city’s efforts as wholly different from what is happening in the Republican-led federal government, especially the Trump administration.</p> <p>De Blasio also spoke loftily, as is his style, of the “essence” of his second term. In relatively brief remarks, in which he repeatedly acknowledged the freezing temperature, he raised New York City as a model for the nation. He noted the city’s record-low crime rate in 2017, with the lowest number of murders since 1951, making it “the safest big city in America” and pledged that he would also work to make it “the fairest big city” in the country. He hearkened back to his reelection campaign, and his promise to New Yorkers who have been left behind in the city’s rapid but uneven prosperity.</p> <p>“This is your city,” de Blasio said, repeating the slogan of his campaign and promising to pursue policies that promote affordability and “good-paying jobs.” De Blasio asserted that his administration “has begun a new progressive era in this city’s history.”</p> <p>And, without mentioning Donald Trump, de Blasio pledged to stand up in the face of the growing divisiveness that defined the country’s zeitgeist for much of the two years. “We know the overt and gleeful prejudice that is suddenly en vogue spits in the face of all that has made our city great,” the mayor said, “and we will not be passive in the face of regression. We will not ignore or deny the threat, we will confront it head on. To do anything less would be an affront to our very identity as New Yorkers.”</p> <p>Early in his remarks he congratulated the other two citywide elected officials, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer, fellow Democrats also beginning second terms. Notably, although both praised the mayor in their inaugural remarks, each also seemed to take digs at his administration. After crediting de Blasio for low crime and universal pre-K, Stringer spoke of the “sobering challenges” the city still faces, including a homelessness crisis that will see more than 60,000 people sleeping in shelters on Monday night. He decried the 33 percent increase in rents in the last ten years, while wages have not nearly grown apace, and the number of New Yorkers living in poverty. “Solving this crisis requires bold ideas and putting them into action,” he said.</p> <p>James spoke more than the other two of her first-term accomplishments, including some in which she was pitted against the de Blasio administration. She claimed victory, for instance, in ensuring that students with disabilities are provided air-conditioned school buses, for which she sued the administration. And she spoke of marching in the rain with housing advocates to demand a more equitable and ambitious affordable housing program, specifically citing a proposal that the de Blasio administration has pushed back against.</p> <p>It was a markedly different scene from four years ago, when de Blasio had been sworn in by former President Bill Clinton, with former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo also in attendance. On Monday Cuomo was on Long Island presiding over the oath of office for newly-elected Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat.</p> <p>Present at Monday’s New York City Hall ceremony were Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and many City Council members. Former Mayor David Dinkins was also there, as was actor and education activist Cynthia Nixon, a de Blasio ally who attended four years ago and is now rumored as a potential primary challenger to Cuomo in his reelection bid this year. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York snuck in late during de Blasio’s speech, having been at another event beforehand.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/bernie_bdb_oath_inaug_via_mayors_office.jpg" alt="de Blasio Bernie Sanders inauguration progressives" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>De Blasio is sworn in by Sanders (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, was sworn in for a second and final term at City Hall on a frigid Monday afternoon, in a ceremony attended by nearly a thousand people and starring United States Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.</p> <p>De Blasio’s oath of office was administered by Sanders, the popular progressive leader who has championed policies to benefit middle- and working-class Americans, similar to the mayor’s own politics. In a fiery introduction, Sanders railed against the Trump administration while praising de Blasio’s first term record. “Instead of pandering to billionaires we have a government here which has chosen to listen to the needs of working families,” Sanders said.</p> <p>The runner-up to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, Sanders had particular praise for the mayor’s signature universal pre-kindergarten program and also lauded the administration’s efforts in protecting immigrants, providing mental health services and tackling the affordability crisis through its affordable housing program. “The bottom line is that what Mayor de Blasio and his administration understand, is that in this country, in the home of Ellis Island, our job is to bring people together with love and compassion, and to end the divisions and the attacks that are taking place,” he said, casting the city’s efforts as wholly different from what is happening in the Republican-led federal government, especially the Trump administration.</p> <p>De Blasio also spoke loftily, as is his style, of the “essence” of his second term. In relatively brief remarks, in which he repeatedly acknowledged the freezing temperature, he raised New York City as a model for the nation. He noted the city’s record-low crime rate in 2017, with the lowest number of murders since 1951, making it “the safest big city in America” and pledged that he would also work to make it “the fairest big city” in the country. He hearkened back to his reelection campaign, and his promise to New Yorkers who have been left behind in the city’s rapid but uneven prosperity.</p> <p>“This is your city,” de Blasio said, repeating the slogan of his campaign and promising to pursue policies that promote affordability and “good-paying jobs.” De Blasio asserted that his administration “has begun a new progressive era in this city’s history.”</p> <p>And, without mentioning Donald Trump, de Blasio pledged to stand up in the face of the growing divisiveness that defined the country’s zeitgeist for much of the two years. “We know the overt and gleeful prejudice that is suddenly en vogue spits in the face of all that has made our city great,” the mayor said, “and we will not be passive in the face of regression. We will not ignore or deny the threat, we will confront it head on. To do anything less would be an affront to our very identity as New Yorkers.”</p> <p>Early in his remarks he congratulated the other two citywide elected officials, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer, fellow Democrats also beginning second terms. Notably, although both praised the mayor in their inaugural remarks, each also seemed to take digs at his administration. After crediting de Blasio for low crime and universal pre-K, Stringer spoke of the “sobering challenges” the city still faces, including a homelessness crisis that will see more than 60,000 people sleeping in shelters on Monday night. He decried the 33 percent increase in rents in the last ten years, while wages have not nearly grown apace, and the number of New Yorkers living in poverty. “Solving this crisis requires bold ideas and putting them into action,” he said.</p> <p>James spoke more than the other two of her first-term accomplishments, including some in which she was pitted against the de Blasio administration. She claimed victory, for instance, in ensuring that students with disabilities are provided air-conditioned school buses, for which she sued the administration. And she spoke of marching in the rain with housing advocates to demand a more equitable and ambitious affordable housing program, specifically citing a proposal that the de Blasio administration has pushed back against.</p> <p>It was a markedly different scene from four years ago, when de Blasio had been sworn in by former President Bill Clinton, with former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo also in attendance. On Monday Cuomo was on Long Island presiding over the oath of office for newly-elected Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat.</p> <p>Present at Monday’s New York City Hall ceremony were Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and many City Council members. Former Mayor David Dinkins was also there, as was actor and education activist Cynthia Nixon, a de Blasio ally who attended four years ago and is now rumored as a potential primary challenger to Cuomo in his reelection bid this year. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York snuck in late during de Blasio’s speech, having been at another event beforehand.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
City Eager to See Cuomo Sign M/WBE Contracting Bill Now on His Desk 2017-12-21T05:00:00+00:00 2017-12-21T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7385:city-eager-to-see-cuomo-sign-m-wbe-contracting-bill-now-on-his-desk Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/andrew-cuomo-35486744541_357b0411fe_z_1.jpg" alt="andrew cuomo 35486744541 357b0411fe z 1" width="600" height="405" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo signing (photo: Philip Kamrass/ Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)</p> <hr /> <p>A state bill to enhance New York City’s ability to award discretionary contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs), which was passed by both houses of the state Legislature in June, was delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk on December 19.</p> <p>The bill, which received unanimous support in the state Senate and passed the Assembly with a vote of 115-15, would allow the city to spend up to $150,000 on M/WBE contracts for small projects, without requiring a competitive bidding process that can be costly and time-consuming for applicants, often hindering M/WBEs, which tend to be smaller. Currently, the city is only allowed to give out discretionary contracts worth a maximum of $20,000 to small businesses and M/WBEs, while the state has a threshold of $200,000 for its government contracting.</p> <p>The legislation also lets the city consider a firm’s status as an M/WBE in “best value procurement,” which involves assessing factors other than the price of a contract bid. For instance, it prioritizes firms with a good history of complying with labor laws and a positive record of worker health and safety. &nbsp;</p> <p>“The governor and the state have shown a desire to have a robust M/WBE program,” said Jonnel Doris, director of the Mayor’s Office Of M/WBEs, in a phone interview. “The state has tools in their toolbelt that they’re using to advance the M/WBE program and the city does not have those same tools.”</p> <p>The governor has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to sign or veto it from when the bill was sent to him -- making for a deadline of midnight on Saturday, December 30. If he does not take any action, the bill automatically becomes law. A spokesperson for the governor’s office said the bill is under review.</p> <p>The bill would help the city get parity with the state, Doris explained. “We know it’s a transformative bill for us,” he said, noting that the city spent $109 million in fiscal year 2016 on contracts under the $20,000 discretionary threshold. Had the threshold been $150,000, Doris said, the value of contracts in that same period would’ve been $257 million. “That’s a 140 percent increase in opportunities that could’ve gone to M/WBEs, so again, it’s transformative and it’s real, and the M/WBE community has been asking for this change.”</p> <p>In September 2016, after significant pressure and criticism, Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/775-16/mayor-de-blasio-bold-new-vision-the-city-s-m-wbe-program/#/0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">committed</a> to increasing the city’s contract awards to M/WBEs to at least 30 percent of all city contract dollars by 2021. Just one month later, Comptroller Scott Stringer provided another in a string of criticisms of the administration on this issue, giving it a “D+” grade on its record with M/WBEs, noting that the city spent only 4.8 percent of it’s $15.3 billion contract budget on M/WBEs.</p> <p>The administration later pushed back against Stringer’s report, insisting that he should have evaluated the number of contracts awarded to M/WBEs rather than making a comparison with the total contract dollars paid out in a year, which includes payments for contracts awarded by the previous administration. The administration insists that the city is on track to meet its goal in 2021. According to Raul Contreras, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs, the city spent $1 billion with M/WBEs in fiscal year 2017, or about 11.4 percent of city contract dollars awarded in the year ending June 30.</p> <p>Although the state bill had failed in the state Legislature before, Doris is optimistic that this year’s overwhelming votes will ensure that Cuomo will sign the bill into law.</p> <p>“The M/WBE program is an economic development program, it’s a jobs program, it’s a community improvement and advancement program,” Doris said. “That’s what it truly is, because when you bring business opportunities to communities, the communities thrive.”</p> <p>State Senator Marisol Alcantara, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference from Manhattan, sponsored the bill in the Senate. "My team is still in conversation with the Governor's team about the bill, and are urging him to sign it,” said Alcantara, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman, a Queens Democrat, sponsored the companion legislation in the other chamber. “By raising the limit on discretionary contracts from $20,000 to $150,000, the state can give M/WBE's the tools to effectively compete for contracts that were historically denied to them and transform the lives of hundreds of small business owners,” Alcantara said.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/andrew-cuomo-35486744541_357b0411fe_z_1.jpg" alt="andrew cuomo 35486744541 357b0411fe z 1" width="600" height="405" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo signing (photo: Philip Kamrass/ Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)</p> <hr /> <p>A state bill to enhance New York City’s ability to award discretionary contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs), which was passed by both houses of the state Legislature in June, was delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk on December 19.</p> <p>The bill, which received unanimous support in the state Senate and passed the Assembly with a vote of 115-15, would allow the city to spend up to $150,000 on M/WBE contracts for small projects, without requiring a competitive bidding process that can be costly and time-consuming for applicants, often hindering M/WBEs, which tend to be smaller. Currently, the city is only allowed to give out discretionary contracts worth a maximum of $20,000 to small businesses and M/WBEs, while the state has a threshold of $200,000 for its government contracting.</p> <p>The legislation also lets the city consider a firm’s status as an M/WBE in “best value procurement,” which involves assessing factors other than the price of a contract bid. For instance, it prioritizes firms with a good history of complying with labor laws and a positive record of worker health and safety. &nbsp;</p> <p>“The governor and the state have shown a desire to have a robust M/WBE program,” said Jonnel Doris, director of the Mayor’s Office Of M/WBEs, in a phone interview. “The state has tools in their toolbelt that they’re using to advance the M/WBE program and the city does not have those same tools.”</p> <p>The governor has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to sign or veto it from when the bill was sent to him -- making for a deadline of midnight on Saturday, December 30. If he does not take any action, the bill automatically becomes law. A spokesperson for the governor’s office said the bill is under review.</p> <p>The bill would help the city get parity with the state, Doris explained. “We know it’s a transformative bill for us,” he said, noting that the city spent $109 million in fiscal year 2016 on contracts under the $20,000 discretionary threshold. Had the threshold been $150,000, Doris said, the value of contracts in that same period would’ve been $257 million. “That’s a 140 percent increase in opportunities that could’ve gone to M/WBEs, so again, it’s transformative and it’s real, and the M/WBE community has been asking for this change.”</p> <p>In September 2016, after significant pressure and criticism, Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/775-16/mayor-de-blasio-bold-new-vision-the-city-s-m-wbe-program/#/0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">committed</a> to increasing the city’s contract awards to M/WBEs to at least 30 percent of all city contract dollars by 2021. Just one month later, Comptroller Scott Stringer provided another in a string of criticisms of the administration on this issue, giving it a “D+” grade on its record with M/WBEs, noting that the city spent only 4.8 percent of it’s $15.3 billion contract budget on M/WBEs.</p> <p>The administration later pushed back against Stringer’s report, insisting that he should have evaluated the number of contracts awarded to M/WBEs rather than making a comparison with the total contract dollars paid out in a year, which includes payments for contracts awarded by the previous administration. The administration insists that the city is on track to meet its goal in 2021. According to Raul Contreras, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs, the city spent $1 billion with M/WBEs in fiscal year 2017, or about 11.4 percent of city contract dollars awarded in the year ending June 30.</p> <p>Although the state bill had failed in the state Legislature before, Doris is optimistic that this year’s overwhelming votes will ensure that Cuomo will sign the bill into law.</p> <p>“The M/WBE program is an economic development program, it’s a jobs program, it’s a community improvement and advancement program,” Doris said. “That’s what it truly is, because when you bring business opportunities to communities, the communities thrive.”</p> <p>State Senator Marisol Alcantara, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference from Manhattan, sponsored the bill in the Senate. "My team is still in conversation with the Governor's team about the bill, and are urging him to sign it,” said Alcantara, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman, a Queens Democrat, sponsored the companion legislation in the other chamber. “By raising the limit on discretionary contracts from $20,000 to $150,000, the state can give M/WBE's the tools to effectively compete for contracts that were historically denied to them and transform the lives of hundreds of small business owners,” Alcantara said.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Renewed Push to Pass State Homelessness Subsidy in 2018 2017-12-19T05:00:00+00:00 2017-12-19T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7377:renewed-push-to-pass-state-homelessness-subsidy-in-2018 Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/hevesi_albany_photo_mkink.jpg" alt="hevesi albany photo mkink" width="600" height="451" /></p> <p>Assemblymember Hevesi and activists (photo: @mkink)</p> <hr /> <p>Legislation to create a statewide rental supplement to curtail the growth of homelessness in New York, while generating savings for local social service agencies, is the focus of a renewed campaign ahead of the 2018 budget and legislative session.</p> <p>Despite support from the Democratic Assembly majority, as well minority state Senate Democrats, and the Independent Democratic Conference, which forms a ruling coalition with Senate Republicans, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi’s Home Stability Support plan fell off the negotiating table during 2017 budget talks.</p> <p><a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&amp;bn=A08178&amp;term=2017&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Actions=Y&amp;Text=Y&amp;Committee%26nbspVotes=Y&amp;Floor%26nbspVotes=Y" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The bill</a>, which would close the rental gap for low-income families and individuals who already receive housing subsidies, gained strong momentum from lawmakers and advocates at the start of the year, but disagreement over how much the program would cost ultimately derailed its inclusion in the budget that passed in early April, according to those familiar with negotiations.</p> <p>Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) leader Senator Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, wrote at least two op-eds and <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/jeffrey-d-klein/horrors-homeless-housing-new-yorks-unclean-unsafe-dangerous" target="_blank" rel="noopener">issued a report</a> promoting the legislation, but he and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie failed to persuade their colleagues in the negotiating room -- Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Governor Andrew Cuomo -- of the program’s efficacy.</p> <p>New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed the idea in public comments to state lawmakers, provided it would not be accompanied by unfunded local mandates; and the city’s four Democratic borough presidents <a href="http://thebronxchronicle.com/2017/04/03/borough-presidents-make-11th-hour-push-for-home-stability-support-as-budget-deadline-looms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">participated</a> in a last-minute push for its inclusion in the budget. In recent years, homelessness in the city has reached record numbers. There are about 63,000 homeless people in New York City, and thousands more around the state.</p> <p><span>New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who has also endorsed the bill, produced <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/nyregion/homeless-shelters-rent-subsidies.html?_r=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a report</a> evaluating the costs and benefits of the program. Noting that projecting the growth of homelessness and future eligibility for and utilization of the program is not an exact science, Stringer estimated that over a decade Hevesi’s proposed investment of $450 million a year from the state could reduce the city’s shelter population by 80 percent among families with children and 40 percent among single adults, and save the city millions of dollars.</span><a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/jeffrey-d-klein/horrors-homeless-housing-new-yorks-unclean-unsafe-dangerous" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><br /></a></p> <p>“Assemblymember Hevesi has put forward a bold new plan that deserves your serious consideration,” Stringer <a href="https://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/testimonies/testimony-of-new-york-city-comptroller-scott-m-stringer-before-the-joint-legislative-local-governments-hearing-on-the-2017-2018-executive-budget-proposal/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">testified</a> at a joint legislative budget hearing in January. “Home Stability Support is a potential long-term solution to this crisis that could offer a real path out of the shelter system for thousands of New Yorkers and save the city millions in shelter costs.”</p> <p>The subsidy would be made available to households or individuals “eligible for public assistance benefits and who are facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions.” Hevesi estimates that approximately 80,000 households are at-risk of homelessness, and that each year 19,000 more individuals become homeless than move to permanent housing from shelter. The program would replace all existing optional rent supplements and cover up to 85 percent of the fair market rent determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Localities would have the option to further raise the supplement up to 100 percent of the fair market rent at local expense.</p> <p>During budget talks, the state’s budget division produced its own estimate of what a fully utilized statewide homelessness prevention program, such as the one proposed by Hevesi, would cost and pegged it as $1 billion annually -- a figure it said the state could not afford. Citing the analysis by Stringer’s office, which, based on data from the Department of Homeless Services, predicted that only 30 percent of city residents who qualify for HSS would utilize the program, proponents of the plan soon returned to the table with a new number. By the time the proposal made it into the Assembly’s one-house budget, it had been whittled down to a $200 million investment that would be phased in over five years, or $40 million a year, essentially piloting the program.</p> <p>Ultimately, state budget officials, assuming full utilization of the program, determined that the program would be too costly and rejected the proposal, according to a spokesperson for the IDC.</p> <p>"Once we couldn't get it in the budget, it didn't even make sense to try," Hevesi said of the legislation, which he allowed to sit in the ways and means committee.</p> <p>Klein never introduced a “same as” bill in the Senate because the financial component made it impossible to introduce outside of budget negotiations, his spokesperson said.</p> <p>Housing advocates, including those who were involved in the negotiations, also expressed disappointment that the Assembly proposal didn’t make it into the state budget, which covers the current fiscal year that ends March 31, 2018.</p> <p>“Every year goes by we hit new records, and sheltering homeless people costs even more,” said Shelly Nortz, deputy executive director of policy for Coalition for the Homeless, part of a coalition of social service advocates who helped devise the legislation.</p> <p>Nortz said Hevesi’s bill represents a critical shift in homelessness policy towards prevention, while also resolving homelessness rapidly with adequate rent subsidies. “This will lower the demand for shelter dramatically and ultimately generate savings to offset the much lower cost of keeping people in their own homes,” said Nortz.</p> <p>This winter, Hevesi says he is visiting Republican and Democratic lawmakers in their districts hoping to drum up support for the bill the old fashioned way, by highlighting how the bill could directly impact their constituents. He says the <a href="http://www.homestabilitysupport.com/supporters-1/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">list of supporters</a> has grown, including every member of the IDC and Senate Democratic conference and at least three Republican senators.</p> <p>“This is the way they used to do it 30 years ago,” said Hevesi. “I believe that by the time the budget comes along, we will have a huge number of senators that will sign on to the legislation.” The bill is virtually guaranteed to pass through the Assembly, which is dominated by New York City Democrats, including Heastie, of the Bronx, and Hevesi, of Queens.</p> <p>Cuomo, who is believed to strongly oppose Hevesi’s housing subsidy, has been criticized for failing to adequately address the city’s homelessness crisis. His 2011 decision to end the state’s $85 million share for the Advantage subsidy program <a href="https://citylimits.org/2011/03/11/critics-of-homeless-program-fight-to-save-it/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">led to the program’s closure</a> and has been widely criticized as contributing to the city’s record homelessness numbers. The conditional subsidy program, which started in 2007 and was a joint city-state effort, helped people in shelters pay for permanent housing for up to two years, as long as they worked or participated in job training.</p> <p>While Cuomo has historically resisted calls for a new state-funded subsidy to fight homelessness, advocates were buoyed by the governor’s 2016-17 Homelessness Action Plan, in which he committed to building 20,000 supportive housing units over 15 years. A new statewide coalition of community and advocacy organizations that formed this fall, called the Upstate Downstate Housing Alliance, <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/12/15/upstate-downstate-call-on-cuomo-for-housing-reforms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">is pushing</a> for Cuomo to make housing a priority in 2018, speeding up these investments and taking other steps to address homelessness, including supporting Hevesi’s legislation.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the IDC says it continues to support Home Stability Support and is looking into how to address funding concerns for the coming session.</p> <p>Spokespersons for Cuomo and Flanagan, the Senate majority leader, did not respond to requests for comment about whether they would support a state homelessness-fighting subsidy program in 2018.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/hevesi_albany_photo_mkink.jpg" alt="hevesi albany photo mkink" width="600" height="451" /></p> <p>Assemblymember Hevesi and activists (photo: @mkink)</p> <hr /> <p>Legislation to create a statewide rental supplement to curtail the growth of homelessness in New York, while generating savings for local social service agencies, is the focus of a renewed campaign ahead of the 2018 budget and legislative session.</p> <p>Despite support from the Democratic Assembly majority, as well minority state Senate Democrats, and the Independent Democratic Conference, which forms a ruling coalition with Senate Republicans, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi’s Home Stability Support plan fell off the negotiating table during 2017 budget talks.</p> <p><a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&amp;bn=A08178&amp;term=2017&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Actions=Y&amp;Text=Y&amp;Committee%26nbspVotes=Y&amp;Floor%26nbspVotes=Y" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The bill</a>, which would close the rental gap for low-income families and individuals who already receive housing subsidies, gained strong momentum from lawmakers and advocates at the start of the year, but disagreement over how much the program would cost ultimately derailed its inclusion in the budget that passed in early April, according to those familiar with negotiations.</p> <p>Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) leader Senator Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, wrote at least two op-eds and <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/jeffrey-d-klein/horrors-homeless-housing-new-yorks-unclean-unsafe-dangerous" target="_blank" rel="noopener">issued a report</a> promoting the legislation, but he and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie failed to persuade their colleagues in the negotiating room -- Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Governor Andrew Cuomo -- of the program’s efficacy.</p> <p>New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed the idea in public comments to state lawmakers, provided it would not be accompanied by unfunded local mandates; and the city’s four Democratic borough presidents <a href="http://thebronxchronicle.com/2017/04/03/borough-presidents-make-11th-hour-push-for-home-stability-support-as-budget-deadline-looms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">participated</a> in a last-minute push for its inclusion in the budget. In recent years, homelessness in the city has reached record numbers. There are about 63,000 homeless people in New York City, and thousands more around the state.</p> <p><span>New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who has also endorsed the bill, produced <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/nyregion/homeless-shelters-rent-subsidies.html?_r=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a report</a> evaluating the costs and benefits of the program. Noting that projecting the growth of homelessness and future eligibility for and utilization of the program is not an exact science, Stringer estimated that over a decade Hevesi’s proposed investment of $450 million a year from the state could reduce the city’s shelter population by 80 percent among families with children and 40 percent among single adults, and save the city millions of dollars.</span><a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/jeffrey-d-klein/horrors-homeless-housing-new-yorks-unclean-unsafe-dangerous" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><br /></a></p> <p>“Assemblymember Hevesi has put forward a bold new plan that deserves your serious consideration,” Stringer <a href="https://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/testimonies/testimony-of-new-york-city-comptroller-scott-m-stringer-before-the-joint-legislative-local-governments-hearing-on-the-2017-2018-executive-budget-proposal/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">testified</a> at a joint legislative budget hearing in January. “Home Stability Support is a potential long-term solution to this crisis that could offer a real path out of the shelter system for thousands of New Yorkers and save the city millions in shelter costs.”</p> <p>The subsidy would be made available to households or individuals “eligible for public assistance benefits and who are facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions.” Hevesi estimates that approximately 80,000 households are at-risk of homelessness, and that each year 19,000 more individuals become homeless than move to permanent housing from shelter. The program would replace all existing optional rent supplements and cover up to 85 percent of the fair market rent determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Localities would have the option to further raise the supplement up to 100 percent of the fair market rent at local expense.</p> <p>During budget talks, the state’s budget division produced its own estimate of what a fully utilized statewide homelessness prevention program, such as the one proposed by Hevesi, would cost and pegged it as $1 billion annually -- a figure it said the state could not afford. Citing the analysis by Stringer’s office, which, based on data from the Department of Homeless Services, predicted that only 30 percent of city residents who qualify for HSS would utilize the program, proponents of the plan soon returned to the table with a new number. By the time the proposal made it into the Assembly’s one-house budget, it had been whittled down to a $200 million investment that would be phased in over five years, or $40 million a year, essentially piloting the program.</p> <p>Ultimately, state budget officials, assuming full utilization of the program, determined that the program would be too costly and rejected the proposal, according to a spokesperson for the IDC.</p> <p>"Once we couldn't get it in the budget, it didn't even make sense to try," Hevesi said of the legislation, which he allowed to sit in the ways and means committee.</p> <p>Klein never introduced a “same as” bill in the Senate because the financial component made it impossible to introduce outside of budget negotiations, his spokesperson said.</p> <p>Housing advocates, including those who were involved in the negotiations, also expressed disappointment that the Assembly proposal didn’t make it into the state budget, which covers the current fiscal year that ends March 31, 2018.</p> <p>“Every year goes by we hit new records, and sheltering homeless people costs even more,” said Shelly Nortz, deputy executive director of policy for Coalition for the Homeless, part of a coalition of social service advocates who helped devise the legislation.</p> <p>Nortz said Hevesi’s bill represents a critical shift in homelessness policy towards prevention, while also resolving homelessness rapidly with adequate rent subsidies. “This will lower the demand for shelter dramatically and ultimately generate savings to offset the much lower cost of keeping people in their own homes,” said Nortz.</p> <p>This winter, Hevesi says he is visiting Republican and Democratic lawmakers in their districts hoping to drum up support for the bill the old fashioned way, by highlighting how the bill could directly impact their constituents. He says the <a href="http://www.homestabilitysupport.com/supporters-1/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">list of supporters</a> has grown, including every member of the IDC and Senate Democratic conference and at least three Republican senators.</p> <p>“This is the way they used to do it 30 years ago,” said Hevesi. “I believe that by the time the budget comes along, we will have a huge number of senators that will sign on to the legislation.” The bill is virtually guaranteed to pass through the Assembly, which is dominated by New York City Democrats, including Heastie, of the Bronx, and Hevesi, of Queens.</p> <p>Cuomo, who is believed to strongly oppose Hevesi’s housing subsidy, has been criticized for failing to adequately address the city’s homelessness crisis. His 2011 decision to end the state’s $85 million share for the Advantage subsidy program <a href="https://citylimits.org/2011/03/11/critics-of-homeless-program-fight-to-save-it/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">led to the program’s closure</a> and has been widely criticized as contributing to the city’s record homelessness numbers. The conditional subsidy program, which started in 2007 and was a joint city-state effort, helped people in shelters pay for permanent housing for up to two years, as long as they worked or participated in job training.</p> <p>While Cuomo has historically resisted calls for a new state-funded subsidy to fight homelessness, advocates were buoyed by the governor’s 2016-17 Homelessness Action Plan, in which he committed to building 20,000 supportive housing units over 15 years. A new statewide coalition of community and advocacy organizations that formed this fall, called the Upstate Downstate Housing Alliance, <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/12/15/upstate-downstate-call-on-cuomo-for-housing-reforms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">is pushing</a> for Cuomo to make housing a priority in 2018, speeding up these investments and taking other steps to address homelessness, including supporting Hevesi’s legislation.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the IDC says it continues to support Home Stability Support and is looking into how to address funding concerns for the coming session.</p> <p>Spokespersons for Cuomo and Flanagan, the Senate majority leader, did not respond to requests for comment about whether they would support a state homelessness-fighting subsidy program in 2018.</p> <p>

***
by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
2017 New York City General Election Results 2017-11-07T05:00:00+00:00 2017-11-07T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7307:2017-new-york-city-general-election-results Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/38194538966_f0f9a3882c_z.jpg" alt="voting elections New York City" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio won reelection on Tuesday, earning about two-thirds of the vote in another low-turnout election -- about 1,070,000 voters cast ballots in the mayoral race. De Blasio's fellow incumbent citywide Democrats, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James, also won reelection, each with about three-quarters of the vote.</p> <p>Among the most notable other votes cast in New York this Election Day, the constitutional convention ballot question -- proposal one on the back of the ballot -- was resoundly defeated, with more than 83% voting "no" statewide. Proposition two, which would allow the stripping of pensions from elected officials convicted of corruption, passed, and proposition three, allowing some opening up of preserved upstate land for important infrastructure projects, also passed. All three were statewide referendums, as voters went to the polls across New York, including in some interesting mayoral and county executive contests.</p> <p>In New York City, though, de Blasio defeated six other candidates on the ballot, receiving about 66% of the vote, with Republican Nicole Malliotakis coming in second, earning about 28% of the vote. The other candidates -- Sal Albanese (Reform), Akeem Browder (Green), Mike Tolkin (Smart Cities), Bo Dietl (Dump the Mayor), and Aaron Commey (Libertarian) -- all finished at 2% or lower. Dietl, who raised and spent over $1 million and was included in both televised debates, got just 1% of the vote.</p> <p>Stringer's Republican opponent, Michel Faulkner, came in second in the comptroller race with nearly 20% of the vote. Green Party nominee Julia Willebrand and Libertarian Alex Merced came in distant third and fourth, respectively.</p> <p>James' Republican opponent, J.C. Polanco, came in second in the public advocate race with about 16% of the vote. Michael O'Reilly, the Conservative Party nominee, got about 8%; Green Party nominee James Lane about 2%; and Libertarian Devin Balkind under 1%.</p> <p>Democrats Eric Gonzalez and Cyrus Vance won their Brooklyn and Manhattan District Attorney races overwhelmingly.</p> <p>All five borough presidents were easily reelected with at least 75% of the vote: Gale Brewer in Manhattan; Ruben Diaz, Jr. in the Bronx; Eric Adams in Brooklyn; Melinda Katz in Queens -- all Democrats -- and James Oddo, a Republican, on Staten Island.</p> <p>Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh won a special election to the state Senate, taking the Brooklyn and Manhattan seat vacated by Daniel Squadron earlier this year.</p> <p>The following City Council results came in on Election Day -- it is worth noting that Council District 30, in Queens, appears headed to a recount after, in a bit of a surprise, incumbent Democrat City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley appers on the verge of losing to Robert Holden, who had lost the Democratic primary to Crowley but ran in the general on several ballot lines, including Republican.</p> <p>Council District 1: Margaret Chin, a Democrat, will win with about 50% of the vote, with Christopher Marte coming in second with about 37%. This, after Marte lost the Democratic primary to Chin by just over 200 votes.</p> <p>CD2: Carlina Rivera, Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD3: Corey Johnson, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD4: Keith Powers, Democrat, elected with 57% of the vote; Republican Rebecca Harary received about 31%; Liberal Party nominee Rachel Honig got 12%.</p> <p>CD5: Ben Kallos, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD6: Helen Rosenthal, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD7: Mark Levine, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD8: Diana Ayala, Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD9: Bill Perkins, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD10: Ydanis Rodriguez, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD11: Andrew Cohen, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD12: Andy King, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD13: Mark Gjonaj, Democrat, elected with 49% of the vote; Republican John Cerini received 36%; and Working Families Party nominee Marjorie Velazquez, who did not campaign in the general, received 13%</p> <p>CD14: Fernando Cabrera, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD15: Ritchie Torres, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD16: Vanessa Gibson, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD17: Rafael Salamanca, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD18: Ruben Diaz, Sr., Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD19: Paul Vallone, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected with 56% of the vote; Republican&nbsp;Konstantinos Poulidis received 25%; and Reform Party nominee Paul Graziano received 18%</p> <p>CD20: Peter Koo, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD21: Francisco Moya, Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD22: Costa Constantinides, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD23: Barry Grodenchik, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD24: Rory Lancman, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD25: Danny Dromm, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD26: Jimmy Van Bramer, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD27: I. Daneek Miller, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD28: Adrienne Adams, Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD29: Karen Koslowitz, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD30: TBD, either incumbent Elizabeth Crowley (Democrat) or challenger Robert Holden (Republican)</p> <p>CD31: Donovan Richards, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD32: Eric Ulrich, Republican,&nbsp;reelected with 66% of the vote; Democrat Mike Scala received about 34%</p> <p>CD33: Stephen Levin, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD34: Antonio Reynoso, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD35: Laurie Cumbo, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected with 68% of the vote; Green Party nominee Jabari Brisport received about 29%</p> <p>CD36: Robert Cornegy, Jr., Democrat,&nbsp;reelected,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD37: Rafael Espinal, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD38: Carlos Menchaca, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD39: Brad Lander, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD40: Mathieu Eugene, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected with 60% of the vote; Reform Party nominee Brian Cunningham received about 36%</p> <p>CD41: Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD42: Inez Barron, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD43: Justin Brannan, Democrat, elected with about 51% of the vote; Republican John Quaglione received about 47%</p> <p>CD44: Kalman Yeger, Democrat, elected, with 67% of the vote; Yoni Hikind, running on the Our Community line, received about 29%</p> <p>CD45: Jumaane Williams, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD46: Alan Maisel, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD47: Mark Treyger, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD48: Chaim Deutsch, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD49: Debroah Rose, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD50: Steve Matteo, Republican,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD51: Joseph Borelli, Republican,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/38194538966_f0f9a3882c_z.jpg" alt="voting elections New York City" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio won reelection on Tuesday, earning about two-thirds of the vote in another low-turnout election -- about 1,070,000 voters cast ballots in the mayoral race. De Blasio's fellow incumbent citywide Democrats, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James, also won reelection, each with about three-quarters of the vote.</p> <p>Among the most notable other votes cast in New York this Election Day, the constitutional convention ballot question -- proposal one on the back of the ballot -- was resoundly defeated, with more than 83% voting "no" statewide. Proposition two, which would allow the stripping of pensions from elected officials convicted of corruption, passed, and proposition three, allowing some opening up of preserved upstate land for important infrastructure projects, also passed. All three were statewide referendums, as voters went to the polls across New York, including in some interesting mayoral and county executive contests.</p> <p>In New York City, though, de Blasio defeated six other candidates on the ballot, receiving about 66% of the vote, with Republican Nicole Malliotakis coming in second, earning about 28% of the vote. The other candidates -- Sal Albanese (Reform), Akeem Browder (Green), Mike Tolkin (Smart Cities), Bo Dietl (Dump the Mayor), and Aaron Commey (Libertarian) -- all finished at 2% or lower. Dietl, who raised and spent over $1 million and was included in both televised debates, got just 1% of the vote.</p> <p>Stringer's Republican opponent, Michel Faulkner, came in second in the comptroller race with nearly 20% of the vote. Green Party nominee Julia Willebrand and Libertarian Alex Merced came in distant third and fourth, respectively.</p> <p>James' Republican opponent, J.C. Polanco, came in second in the public advocate race with about 16% of the vote. Michael O'Reilly, the Conservative Party nominee, got about 8%; Green Party nominee James Lane about 2%; and Libertarian Devin Balkind under 1%.</p> <p>Democrats Eric Gonzalez and Cyrus Vance won their Brooklyn and Manhattan District Attorney races overwhelmingly.</p> <p>All five borough presidents were easily reelected with at least 75% of the vote: Gale Brewer in Manhattan; Ruben Diaz, Jr. in the Bronx; Eric Adams in Brooklyn; Melinda Katz in Queens -- all Democrats -- and James Oddo, a Republican, on Staten Island.</p> <p>Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh won a special election to the state Senate, taking the Brooklyn and Manhattan seat vacated by Daniel Squadron earlier this year.</p> <p>The following City Council results came in on Election Day -- it is worth noting that Council District 30, in Queens, appears headed to a recount after, in a bit of a surprise, incumbent Democrat City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley appers on the verge of losing to Robert Holden, who had lost the Democratic primary to Crowley but ran in the general on several ballot lines, including Republican.</p> <p>Council District 1: Margaret Chin, a Democrat, will win with about 50% of the vote, with Christopher Marte coming in second with about 37%. This, after Marte lost the Democratic primary to Chin by just over 200 votes.</p> <p>CD2: Carlina Rivera, Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD3: Corey Johnson, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD4: Keith Powers, Democrat, elected with 57% of the vote; Republican Rebecca Harary received about 31%; Liberal Party nominee Rachel Honig got 12%.</p> <p>CD5: Ben Kallos, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD6: Helen Rosenthal, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD7: Mark Levine, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD8: Diana Ayala, Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD9: Bill Perkins, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD10: Ydanis Rodriguez, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD11: Andrew Cohen, Democrat, reelected</p> <p>CD12: Andy King, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD13: Mark Gjonaj, Democrat, elected with 49% of the vote; Republican John Cerini received 36%; and Working Families Party nominee Marjorie Velazquez, who did not campaign in the general, received 13%</p> <p>CD14: Fernando Cabrera, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD15: Ritchie Torres, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD16: Vanessa Gibson, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD17: Rafael Salamanca, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD18: Ruben Diaz, Sr., Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD19: Paul Vallone, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected with 56% of the vote; Republican&nbsp;Konstantinos Poulidis received 25%; and Reform Party nominee Paul Graziano received 18%</p> <p>CD20: Peter Koo, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD21: Francisco Moya, Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD22: Costa Constantinides, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD23: Barry Grodenchik, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD24: Rory Lancman, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD25: Danny Dromm, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD26: Jimmy Van Bramer, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD27: I. Daneek Miller, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD28: Adrienne Adams, Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD29: Karen Koslowitz, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD30: TBD, either incumbent Elizabeth Crowley (Democrat) or challenger Robert Holden (Republican)</p> <p>CD31: Donovan Richards, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD32: Eric Ulrich, Republican,&nbsp;reelected with 66% of the vote; Democrat Mike Scala received about 34%</p> <p>CD33: Stephen Levin, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD34: Antonio Reynoso, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD35: Laurie Cumbo, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected with 68% of the vote; Green Party nominee Jabari Brisport received about 29%</p> <p>CD36: Robert Cornegy, Jr., Democrat,&nbsp;reelected,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD37: Rafael Espinal, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD38: Carlos Menchaca, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD39: Brad Lander, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD40: Mathieu Eugene, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected with 60% of the vote; Reform Party nominee Brian Cunningham received about 36%</p> <p>CD41: Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Democrat, elected</p> <p>CD42: Inez Barron, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD43: Justin Brannan, Democrat, elected with about 51% of the vote; Republican John Quaglione received about 47%</p> <p>CD44: Kalman Yeger, Democrat, elected, with 67% of the vote; Yoni Hikind, running on the Our Community line, received about 29%</p> <p>CD45: Jumaane Williams, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD46: Alan Maisel, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD47: Mark Treyger, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD48: Chaim Deutsch, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD49: Debroah Rose, Democrat,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD50: Steve Matteo, Republican,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>CD51: Joseph Borelli, Republican,&nbsp;reelected</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Ahead of Election Day, Comptroller Audit Highlights Board of Elections Dysfunction 2017-11-03T18:54:01+00:00 2017-11-03T18:54:01+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7296:ahead-of-election-day-comptroller-audit-highlights-board-of-elections-dysfunction Samar Khurshid <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/unnamed-6.jpg" alt="unnamed 6" width="600" /></p> <p>Comptroller Scott Stringer (photo courtesy of Comptroller's office)</p> <hr /> <p>Just four days before voters head to the polls on Tuesday, November 7, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a damning report highlighting the dysfunctional election operations of the New York City Board of Elections, a quasi-city agency that administers elections in the city.</p> <p>Stringer’s audit was launched in response to the BOE’s purge of more than 117,000 voters from the rolls in Brooklyn last year, ahead of the April presidential primary. The purge prompted widespread outrage, triggering an investigation by the state Attorney General’s office and a lawsuit by Common Cause New York, a good government advocacy group. The BOE <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/city-board-elections-admits-it-broke-law-accepts-reforms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently admitted</a> to violating federal and state law in the case and agreed to implement reforms.</p> <p>Following the purge, auditors from the comptroller’s office monitored 156 poll sites over the course of three subsequent elections in 2016 -- the congressional primary in June, the state legislative primary in September and the November general election -- and found that 90 percent of the sample sites showed significant problems ranging from severe violations of election law to inadequate poll worker training and lack of access for people with disabilities.</p> <p>“We have uncovered deep dysfunction,” Stringer said at a news conference Friday where he released the report.</p> <p>At 82 sites, about 53 percent, auditors witnessed violations of federal and state election laws and also of the BOE’s own rules. At 14 percent of sites, affidavit ballots were mishandled, and at 10 percent of sites, voters received no assistance when they faced issues. Some poll workers even engaged in electioneering, telling voters which candidate to vote for. Stringer even singled out an “outrageous instance” in which a poll worker failed to notify a voter that their valid ballot had been rejected by a scanning machine. The ballot was marked void.</p> <p>The BOE failed to adequately staff poll sites, Stringer said, leading to “organizational and logistical chaos” at about 118 sites, or 76 percent. At one site, 41 percent of assigned poll workers did not show up, he noted. Stringer did emphasize that the blame does not fall on poll workers who are “overworked, undertrained and underpaid” and must work nearly 17 hours straight on election days (the state launched a pilot program this year to allow half-day shifts for polling workers). “These are, at their core, the failures of the Board of Elections,” he said.</p> <p>The audit found that 45 out of 156 polling sites failed to provide adequate assistance to voters with disabilities, with one out of ten sites being inaccessible. “It’s time to own up and fix the voter purge we see in every election,” Stringer said. “This purge happens under the radar...If we’re gonna have participatory democracy, we’ve got to get rid of the barriers to participating in voting.”</p> <p>New York has notoriously antiquated election laws and consistently lags behind most other states in voter turnout. The state ranked 41 of 50 for turnout in the November general last year. (In the city, which has seen a relatively tame election season this year with many incumbents running for reelection, only about 440,000 voters cast a ballot in the September 12 Democratic primary for mayor, just 14% of registered voters.)</p> <p>“The right to vote is a bedrock of our democracy, unfortunately our own New York City Board of Elections too often makes it harder for us to exercise those fundamental rights,” said City Council Member Dan Garodnick at Friday’s news conference.</p> <p>Garodnick called attention to another BOE failing, one he attempted to fix through legislation. For the September 12 primary, the BOE changed poll sites from last year for more than 200,000 voters but did not post notices to inform voters, as required under a law sponsored by Garodnick and passed by the City Council last year. “The Board of Elections does not have the right to pick and choose which local laws it is going to follow,” Garodnick said. <br /> <br />Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause NY, said the comptroller’s audit “sadly confirms” problems over which good government organizations have long cried foul. “The barriers to voting which incompetence sets up, as the comptroller pointed out, are simply unacceptable,” she said.</p> <p>Stringer’s report recommended that the BOE implement broader reforms, particularly for poll workers, including more hours of poll worker training, increased poll worker pay, and evaluating the pilot program on half-day shifts. “We haven’t had a new idea on how to run an election in this town in a hundred years, it’s ridiculous, it’s not sustainable,” Stringer said.</p> <p>“The Comptroller’s audit report once again confirms that the Board of Elections consistently fails the voters in exercising their right to vote,” said Seth Stein, a City Hall spokesperson, in an email. Stein said it was “shameful” that the BOE had to be forced by the courts into accepting reforms, and insisted that the agency needs to be restructured. While the BOE has city jurisdiction, it is controlled by state law, and is not answerable to the mayor.</p> <p>Stein reiterated that the BOE had refused to accept an offer of $20 million from de Blasio last year as an incentive to reform its operations. “It is essential that they do so now,” he added.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/unnamed-6.jpg" alt="unnamed 6" width="600" /></p> <p>Comptroller Scott Stringer (photo courtesy of Comptroller's office)</p> <hr /> <p>Just four days before voters head to the polls on Tuesday, November 7, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a damning report highlighting the dysfunctional election operations of the New York City Board of Elections, a quasi-city agency that administers elections in the city.</p> <p>Stringer’s audit was launched in response to the BOE’s purge of more than 117,000 voters from the rolls in Brooklyn last year, ahead of the April presidential primary. The purge prompted widespread outrage, triggering an investigation by the state Attorney General’s office and a lawsuit by Common Cause New York, a good government advocacy group. The BOE <a href="https://www.wnyc.org/story/city-board-elections-admits-it-broke-law-accepts-reforms/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently admitted</a> to violating federal and state law in the case and agreed to implement reforms.</p> <p>Following the purge, auditors from the comptroller’s office monitored 156 poll sites over the course of three subsequent elections in 2016 -- the congressional primary in June, the state legislative primary in September and the November general election -- and found that 90 percent of the sample sites showed significant problems ranging from severe violations of election law to inadequate poll worker training and lack of access for people with disabilities.</p> <p>“We have uncovered deep dysfunction,” Stringer said at a news conference Friday where he released the report.</p> <p>At 82 sites, about 53 percent, auditors witnessed violations of federal and state election laws and also of the BOE’s own rules. At 14 percent of sites, affidavit ballots were mishandled, and at 10 percent of sites, voters received no assistance when they faced issues. Some poll workers even engaged in electioneering, telling voters which candidate to vote for. Stringer even singled out an “outrageous instance” in which a poll worker failed to notify a voter that their valid ballot had been rejected by a scanning machine. The ballot was marked void.</p> <p>The BOE failed to adequately staff poll sites, Stringer said, leading to “organizational and logistical chaos” at about 118 sites, or 76 percent. At one site, 41 percent of assigned poll workers did not show up, he noted. Stringer did emphasize that the blame does not fall on poll workers who are “overworked, undertrained and underpaid” and must work nearly 17 hours straight on election days (the state launched a pilot program this year to allow half-day shifts for polling workers). “These are, at their core, the failures of the Board of Elections,” he said.</p> <p>The audit found that 45 out of 156 polling sites failed to provide adequate assistance to voters with disabilities, with one out of ten sites being inaccessible. “It’s time to own up and fix the voter purge we see in every election,” Stringer said. “This purge happens under the radar...If we’re gonna have participatory democracy, we’ve got to get rid of the barriers to participating in voting.”</p> <p>New York has notoriously antiquated election laws and consistently lags behind most other states in voter turnout. The state ranked 41 of 50 for turnout in the November general last year. (In the city, which has seen a relatively tame election season this year with many incumbents running for reelection, only about 440,000 voters cast a ballot in the September 12 Democratic primary for mayor, just 14% of registered voters.)</p> <p>“The right to vote is a bedrock of our democracy, unfortunately our own New York City Board of Elections too often makes it harder for us to exercise those fundamental rights,” said City Council Member Dan Garodnick at Friday’s news conference.</p> <p>Garodnick called attention to another BOE failing, one he attempted to fix through legislation. For the September 12 primary, the BOE changed poll sites from last year for more than 200,000 voters but did not post notices to inform voters, as required under a law sponsored by Garodnick and passed by the City Council last year. “The Board of Elections does not have the right to pick and choose which local laws it is going to follow,” Garodnick said. <br /> <br />Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause NY, said the comptroller’s audit “sadly confirms” problems over which good government organizations have long cried foul. “The barriers to voting which incompetence sets up, as the comptroller pointed out, are simply unacceptable,” she said.</p> <p>Stringer’s report recommended that the BOE implement broader reforms, particularly for poll workers, including more hours of poll worker training, increased poll worker pay, and evaluating the pilot program on half-day shifts. “We haven’t had a new idea on how to run an election in this town in a hundred years, it’s ridiculous, it’s not sustainable,” Stringer said.</p> <p>“The Comptroller’s audit report once again confirms that the Board of Elections consistently fails the voters in exercising their right to vote,” said Seth Stein, a City Hall spokesperson, in an email. Stein said it was “shameful” that the BOE had to be forced by the courts into accepting reforms, and insisted that the agency needs to be restructured. While the BOE has city jurisdiction, it is controlled by state law, and is not answerable to the mayor.</p> <p>Stein reiterated that the BOE had refused to accept an offer of $20 million from de Blasio last year as an incentive to reform its operations. “It is essential that they do so now,” he added.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Following Up with Comptroller Stringer on Several Debate Moments 2017-10-26T04:00:00+00:00 2017-10-26T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7279:following-up-with-comptroller-stringer-on-several-debate-moments Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/faulkner_stringer_nyc_votes_crop.jpg" alt="faulkner stringer comptroller debate election" width="600" height="458" /></p> <p>Faulkner, left, and Stringer, at the Comptroller debate (photo via @NYCVotes)</p> <hr /> <p>It appears that a relatively small number of people watched <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7260-comptroller-debate-focuses-on-stringer-s-record" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the lone debate</a> in the election for New York City Comptroller, which occurred on Tuesday, October 17 between incumbent Democrat Scott Stringer and his Republican challenger, Michel Faulkner. It is one of three citywide races, along with those for Mayor and Public Advocate, happening this fall.</p> <p>Conventional wisdom is that Stringer will handily win a second term on November 7, as he has the full backing of the Democratic establishment and significant fundraising and name recognition advantages over Faulkner and the other candidates who will be on the ballot: Libertarian Party nominee Alex Merced and Green Party nominee Julia Willebrand.</p> <p>During the hourlong debate, broadcast <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2017/10/18/ny1-city-comptroller-debate-michel-faulkner-scott-stringer-nyc-manhattan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">on NY1 television</a> and WNYC radio, Stringer mostly played it safe and defended his record, at times, especially early on, barely reacting as Faulkner criticized him from an adjacent podium. But in a handful of moments Stringer said especially newsworthy or curious things, taking positions or making statements worthy of follow-up. Gotham Gazette sent a short series of inquiries to the comptroller’s office for more information.</p> <p><strong>Closing Rikers Island</strong><br />The debate moment that got the most attention was Stringer declaring that the Rikers Island jail complex should be closed in three years, far short of the ten-year timeline announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat also favored to win reelection this year. Stringer was well ahead of de Blasio is backing the notion of closing the notorious jail complex, but had not made such a splashy public declaration of his desired timeframe.</p> <p>“Let’s do it in three years,” Stringer said at the debate, when asked about closing Rikers by WNYC’s Brigid Bergin, one of the panelists asking questions, and raising more than a few eyebrows of those who follow city politics closely. “It is inhumane. I’ve walked those corridors, I’ve talked to inmates. I’ve done the data analysis. And it is inhumane.”</p> <p>Asked for more detail on how Stringer got to the three-year goal and what that “data analysis” looked like, the comptroller’s office told Gotham Gazette that the ten-year timeline is simply too long, that if New York wants to be a leader in criminal justice reform, it must move faster. A Stringer spokesperson said the comptroller has floated the three-year timeline at community events, but offered no specifics for how the comptroller got there.</p> <p><strong>NYCHA Home Ownership</strong><br />At the comptroller debate, Faulkner explained his call for allowing some NYCHA residents an opportunity to own their apartments. Stringer expressed surprising support for the idea, which his office then walked back.</p> <p>“I believe that the NYCHA residents, the long-term residents should have an equity stake in NYCHA right now,” Faulkner said at the debate.</p> <p>Asked by moderator Errol Louis of NY1 whether NYCHA residents should indeed have a path to ownership, Stringer said, “I think that’s a wonderful idea, but let’s also figure out a way to actually make that happen. It’s easy to talk about it, but look, we have to get more access to loans, to credit, if we’re really going to change the landscape of home ownership for the people who struggle in our city but are building and investing their sweat equity in our communities. That is something that we have to look at, and I would definitely look towards that.”</p> <p>In a follow-up to the debate, Gotham Gazette asked Stringer’s office about his apparent openness to some home ownership among NYCHA tenants and what that might mean for a privatization of the nation’s largest public housing system. A spokesperson tried to make it abundantly clear that the comptroller does not believe in privatization of NYCHA in any way. The spokesperson said that Stringer didn’t want to shut the door in principle on encouraging homeownership if there is a viable path that does not eliminate much affordable housing. The details of such a plan would be essential, the spokesperson stressed.</p> <p>During the NYCHA discussion at the debate, Stringer touted his many audits of the housing authority and called for new funding streams, including his push for tens of millions of dollars in Battery Park City Authority proceeds to go toward NYCHA fixes.</p> <p><strong>A Specific Affordable Housing Plan</strong><br />A large group of churchgoers, NYCHA residents, senior citizens, and advocates recently rallied near City Hall to push for <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7249-city-hall-pushes-back-on-proposal-that-hits-core-tension-of-housing-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an affordable housing plan</a> from the Metro-IAF coalition led by two Brooklyn pastors and affordable housing builders. The plan, which has been <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7249-city-hall-pushes-back-on-proposal-that-hits-core-tension-of-housing-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rebuffed by the de Blasio administration</a>, calls for major additional investments in NYCHA repairs, 15,000 new units of senior housing on NYCHA land, and more.</p> <p>Stringer spoke at the City Hall rally, expressing his support for the plan, and reiterated it at the comptroller debate, referencing it without being specifically asked about it.</p> <p>“There is a broad coalition of churches that have come together to build, within NYCHA, 15,000 senior housing units,” Stringer said during the debate. “My office is looking at those numbers, I think it’s a realistic plan. I think that anything we do to build within NYCHA developments has to be with the community -- to go back to something that we don’t do a lot of anymore, which is community-based planning.”</p> <p>Asked why Stringer had come out in support of the plan to then say that his office is still looking at the numbers, the comptroller’s office said Stringer reviewed the Metro-IAF plan and believes it is viable, partly because it requires increased housing subsidies from the city that would allow for deeper levels of affordability, a desirable outcome the comptroller has been calling for more broadly as he has consistently criticized the de Blasio administration’s housing plan. More review is needed on the specifics, including how much more in subsidy the city can afford, the Stringer spokesperson said.</p> <p>Stringer looks forward to continuing the conversation, Gotham Gazette was told.</p> <p><strong>The Mayor’s Affordable Housing Plan More Broadly</strong><br />Including with regard to the Metro-IAF plan, Stringer has repeatedly said that de Blasio’s larger affordable housing plan is not affordable enough, that it is not reaching enough New Yorkers most in need. It has been part of his push to see the city build more affordable housing on city-owned vacant lots, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7251-key-to-affordable-housing-development-vacant-lots-remain-source-of-controversy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the source of much controversy and back-and-forth with the de Blasio administration</a>.</p> <p>Stringer said at the debate that “right now” the city is “building luxury developments with some affordable housing that is not affordable.” Apartments being built in East New York, for example, are not affordable to families currently living there, he said, in apparent reference to the neighborhood rezoning plan passed by the de Blasio administration with the City Council. “[I]t’s not adequate,” Stringer said of the overall approach, adding, “we have to be bigger in thinking about housing.”</p> <p>In response to a follow-up question from Gotham Gazette, Stringer’s spokesperson said that the current city housing plan is not geared enough toward those in deeper poverty and with current subsidies favoring low-income households, those with extremely low-income or virtually no income face even more pressure, especially when the rezonings are taken into consideration, given that they can risk furthering the threats of displacement.</p> <p>Stringer wants to see more work done with not-for-profit developers, the spokesperson said, and to add anti-displacement zoning to undercut tenant harassment.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7260-comptroller-debate-focuses-on-stringer-s-record" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Comptroller Debate Focuses on Stringer's Record</a>]</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/faulkner_stringer_nyc_votes_crop.jpg" alt="faulkner stringer comptroller debate election" width="600" height="458" /></p> <p>Faulkner, left, and Stringer, at the Comptroller debate (photo via @NYCVotes)</p> <hr /> <p>It appears that a relatively small number of people watched <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7260-comptroller-debate-focuses-on-stringer-s-record" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the lone debate</a> in the election for New York City Comptroller, which occurred on Tuesday, October 17 between incumbent Democrat Scott Stringer and his Republican challenger, Michel Faulkner. It is one of three citywide races, along with those for Mayor and Public Advocate, happening this fall.</p> <p>Conventional wisdom is that Stringer will handily win a second term on November 7, as he has the full backing of the Democratic establishment and significant fundraising and name recognition advantages over Faulkner and the other candidates who will be on the ballot: Libertarian Party nominee Alex Merced and Green Party nominee Julia Willebrand.</p> <p>During the hourlong debate, broadcast <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2017/10/18/ny1-city-comptroller-debate-michel-faulkner-scott-stringer-nyc-manhattan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">on NY1 television</a> and WNYC radio, Stringer mostly played it safe and defended his record, at times, especially early on, barely reacting as Faulkner criticized him from an adjacent podium. But in a handful of moments Stringer said especially newsworthy or curious things, taking positions or making statements worthy of follow-up. Gotham Gazette sent a short series of inquiries to the comptroller’s office for more information.</p> <p><strong>Closing Rikers Island</strong><br />The debate moment that got the most attention was Stringer declaring that the Rikers Island jail complex should be closed in three years, far short of the ten-year timeline announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat also favored to win reelection this year. Stringer was well ahead of de Blasio is backing the notion of closing the notorious jail complex, but had not made such a splashy public declaration of his desired timeframe.</p> <p>“Let’s do it in three years,” Stringer said at the debate, when asked about closing Rikers by WNYC’s Brigid Bergin, one of the panelists asking questions, and raising more than a few eyebrows of those who follow city politics closely. “It is inhumane. I’ve walked those corridors, I’ve talked to inmates. I’ve done the data analysis. And it is inhumane.”</p> <p>Asked for more detail on how Stringer got to the three-year goal and what that “data analysis” looked like, the comptroller’s office told Gotham Gazette that the ten-year timeline is simply too long, that if New York wants to be a leader in criminal justice reform, it must move faster. A Stringer spokesperson said the comptroller has floated the three-year timeline at community events, but offered no specifics for how the comptroller got there.</p> <p><strong>NYCHA Home Ownership</strong><br />At the comptroller debate, Faulkner explained his call for allowing some NYCHA residents an opportunity to own their apartments. Stringer expressed surprising support for the idea, which his office then walked back.</p> <p>“I believe that the NYCHA residents, the long-term residents should have an equity stake in NYCHA right now,” Faulkner said at the debate.</p> <p>Asked by moderator Errol Louis of NY1 whether NYCHA residents should indeed have a path to ownership, Stringer said, “I think that’s a wonderful idea, but let’s also figure out a way to actually make that happen. It’s easy to talk about it, but look, we have to get more access to loans, to credit, if we’re really going to change the landscape of home ownership for the people who struggle in our city but are building and investing their sweat equity in our communities. That is something that we have to look at, and I would definitely look towards that.”</p> <p>In a follow-up to the debate, Gotham Gazette asked Stringer’s office about his apparent openness to some home ownership among NYCHA tenants and what that might mean for a privatization of the nation’s largest public housing system. A spokesperson tried to make it abundantly clear that the comptroller does not believe in privatization of NYCHA in any way. The spokesperson said that Stringer didn’t want to shut the door in principle on encouraging homeownership if there is a viable path that does not eliminate much affordable housing. The details of such a plan would be essential, the spokesperson stressed.</p> <p>During the NYCHA discussion at the debate, Stringer touted his many audits of the housing authority and called for new funding streams, including his push for tens of millions of dollars in Battery Park City Authority proceeds to go toward NYCHA fixes.</p> <p><strong>A Specific Affordable Housing Plan</strong><br />A large group of churchgoers, NYCHA residents, senior citizens, and advocates recently rallied near City Hall to push for <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7249-city-hall-pushes-back-on-proposal-that-hits-core-tension-of-housing-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an affordable housing plan</a> from the Metro-IAF coalition led by two Brooklyn pastors and affordable housing builders. The plan, which has been <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7249-city-hall-pushes-back-on-proposal-that-hits-core-tension-of-housing-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rebuffed by the de Blasio administration</a>, calls for major additional investments in NYCHA repairs, 15,000 new units of senior housing on NYCHA land, and more.</p> <p>Stringer spoke at the City Hall rally, expressing his support for the plan, and reiterated it at the comptroller debate, referencing it without being specifically asked about it.</p> <p>“There is a broad coalition of churches that have come together to build, within NYCHA, 15,000 senior housing units,” Stringer said during the debate. “My office is looking at those numbers, I think it’s a realistic plan. I think that anything we do to build within NYCHA developments has to be with the community -- to go back to something that we don’t do a lot of anymore, which is community-based planning.”</p> <p>Asked why Stringer had come out in support of the plan to then say that his office is still looking at the numbers, the comptroller’s office said Stringer reviewed the Metro-IAF plan and believes it is viable, partly because it requires increased housing subsidies from the city that would allow for deeper levels of affordability, a desirable outcome the comptroller has been calling for more broadly as he has consistently criticized the de Blasio administration’s housing plan. More review is needed on the specifics, including how much more in subsidy the city can afford, the Stringer spokesperson said.</p> <p>Stringer looks forward to continuing the conversation, Gotham Gazette was told.</p> <p><strong>The Mayor’s Affordable Housing Plan More Broadly</strong><br />Including with regard to the Metro-IAF plan, Stringer has repeatedly said that de Blasio’s larger affordable housing plan is not affordable enough, that it is not reaching enough New Yorkers most in need. It has been part of his push to see the city build more affordable housing on city-owned vacant lots, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7251-key-to-affordable-housing-development-vacant-lots-remain-source-of-controversy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the source of much controversy and back-and-forth with the de Blasio administration</a>.</p> <p>Stringer said at the debate that “right now” the city is “building luxury developments with some affordable housing that is not affordable.” Apartments being built in East New York, for example, are not affordable to families currently living there, he said, in apparent reference to the neighborhood rezoning plan passed by the de Blasio administration with the City Council. “[I]t’s not adequate,” Stringer said of the overall approach, adding, “we have to be bigger in thinking about housing.”</p> <p>In response to a follow-up question from Gotham Gazette, Stringer’s spokesperson said that the current city housing plan is not geared enough toward those in deeper poverty and with current subsidies favoring low-income households, those with extremely low-income or virtually no income face even more pressure, especially when the rezonings are taken into consideration, given that they can risk furthering the threats of displacement.</p> <p>Stringer wants to see more work done with not-for-profit developers, the spokesperson said, and to add anti-displacement zoning to undercut tenant harassment.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7260-comptroller-debate-focuses-on-stringer-s-record" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Comptroller Debate Focuses on Stringer's Record</a>]</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Top City Electeds Skip Letter Wooing Amazon 2017-10-19T04:00:00+00:00 2017-10-19T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7266:top-city-electeds-skip-letter-wooing-amazon Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/wtc-orange-amazon-via-edc.jpg" alt="wtc orange amazon via edc" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>One World Trade Center lit up orange for Amazon (photo via NYC EDC)</p> <hr /> <p>New York is laying out the red carpet to entice online retail giant Amazon to locate its new corporate headquarters in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo promised a slew of incentives to support four official proposals from different regions that were submitted to the company on Wednesday, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lit up the city in orange at night as a fawning branding appeal.</p> <p>New York City’s own <a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/omgt5ywmgzundkv/Amazon%20Deck%20for%20Press%20-%2010.18.2017.pdf?dl=0&amp;utm_source=Press+Release&amp;utm_campaign=5db591fe9c-2017_10_18_NYC_Submits_Amazon_Proposal_PA&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_b804b7ba34-5db591fe9c-102476565" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bid</a> -- which included four possible business districts -- was backed by about 70 elected officials that represent the city, including members of Congress, state Senators and Assembly members, City Council members, borough presidents, and Public Advocate Letitia James. But at least four notable elected officials were conspicuously absent from the letter of support sent by the mayor’s office to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.</p> <p>Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and City Council Members Corey Johnson and Donovan Richards, both contenders to become the next Speaker of the City Council, did not sign on to the letter.</p> <p>“No city embodies the American traditions of innovation and creativity quite like New York City,” <a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/fa1bvw2m82molqv/Amazon%20Elected%20Letter.pdf?dl=0&amp;utm_source=Press+Release&amp;utm_campaign=5db591fe9c-2017_10_18_NYC_Submits_Amazon_Proposal_PA&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_b804b7ba34-5db591fe9c-102476565" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the letter</a> reads. “It has transformed from a Dutch settlement, to the nation’s first capital, to a booming industrial center. It became a port of hope for millions of immigrants looking for a better life, and a model for urban revitalization. From Broadway, the Bronx Zoo and the Brooklyn Bridge, to Citi Field and the shores of Staten Island, New York City is a place where history is made every day. Our tradition of reinvention matches yours, and we invite you to join us in writing our next chapters together.”</p> <p>A spokesperson for Stringer declined to comment. Multiple messages and emails sent to spokespeople for Heastie were not returned.</p> <p>“We’re excited about the prospect of new businesses coming to New York City,” said Jordan Gibbons, a spokesperson for Council Member Richards, “but before we support the plan, we need more information about job standards and impact on local businesses.”</p> <p>Council Member Johnson wrote in a text that he “didn’t sign on to [the] letter because I have concerns about Amazon’s labor record but also recognize 50K jobs would be good for the city.” &nbsp;</p> <p>As Johnson noted, Amazon’s second headquarters is expected to create 50,000 jobs and bring in roughly $5 billion in investment. One of the proposed areas for Amazon’s headquarters, Midtown West, falls in Johnson’s Manhattan district. City Council members representing other proposed sites for the headquarters signed on to the letter.</p> <p>Amazon’s announcement and request for proposals triggered a mad dash by dozens of cities across the country to lure the multi-billion-dollar company. To bolster their bids, some cities and states have promised enormous tax breaks while others have pledged infrastructure investments around a potential Amazon campus. Most have hedged their bets on being able to provide the optimum balance of tech talent, affordable and ample real estate, and an appealing quality of life. One municipality in Georgia even went so far as to <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/10/03/city-aims-name-new-town-company-amazon-georgia/727765001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">propose</a> creating an entirely new city named for the online retailer.</p> <p>Short of naming a new business district after Amazon, New York City’s pitch includes all those aspects. Culled from more than two dozen proposals from across the five boroughs, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with the Empire State Development Corporation, decided on four city areas that met Amazon’s criteria -- Midtown West, Long Island City, Lower Manhattan, and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. The city is banking on many factors, including its pool of 2.3 million residents who hold a bachelor’s degree and above -- a number higher than the combined comparable workforce of Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.</p> <p>The city has 296,000 workers in the tech industry and is growing rapidly in sectors of the economy where Amazon is diversifying, including media, advertising, fashion, and manufacturing.</p> <p>And the city is already an attractive destination for Amazon, which has a distribution and fulfillment center, corporate offices and retail space in the city with plans to expand in Manhattan. Amazon’s website says it has 1,000 employees in New York, plus seasonal additions around the winter holidays.</p> <p>An EDC spokesperson said the city cast a wide net seeking support for the proposal. “Considering how hard it is to get New Yorkers to agree on anything, the fact that we got so many signatures in such a short time was pretty impressive and overwhelming,” the spokesperson said, expressing optimism that New York would outmatch other cities with its bid.</p> <p>Asked at an unrelated Thursday news conference about his pursuit of Amazon when he has been opposed to Walmart opening in the city, de Blasio called it “apples and oranges.” “Amazon, there are some issues that need to be addressed with labor, there’s no two ways about it. But, at the same time, this is a company talking about potentially fundamentally changing the economy in New York City. Adding 50,000 jobs is a game-changer. And it’s something we need and we need more high-quality jobs for the people of New York City. So we can work on those labor issues and I’m happy to work on those labor issues, but no, I’m convinced that Amazon will be a net gain for New York City, unquestionably.”</p> <p>Responding to Johnson’s concerns, the EDC spokesperson said that Amazon’s presence in New York would afford the city an opportunity to engage directly with the firm and “work with them to advance our shared values.” Pointing out that it was premature to evaluate a deal that hasn’t yet been approved, the spokesperson said the city would be able to negotiate down the line to add guarantees to ensure the number of jobs created, salary levels and that jobs go to New Yorkers. “It’s pretty clear to us that they want to build the headquarters with the community, not in the community,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p>“It’s puzzling, I don’t know why you’d want to turn down a shot at 50,000 good-paying jobs,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, when asked why leaders like Stringer, Heastie, and Johnson would not sign on. He conceded that concerns about corporate subsidies are valid, but that the Amazon opportunity is too good to pass up. “It’s a big win for New York City if we can get it.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/wtc-orange-amazon-via-edc.jpg" alt="wtc orange amazon via edc" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>One World Trade Center lit up orange for Amazon (photo via NYC EDC)</p> <hr /> <p>New York is laying out the red carpet to entice online retail giant Amazon to locate its new corporate headquarters in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo promised a slew of incentives to support four official proposals from different regions that were submitted to the company on Wednesday, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lit up the city in orange at night as a fawning branding appeal.</p> <p>New York City’s own <a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/omgt5ywmgzundkv/Amazon%20Deck%20for%20Press%20-%2010.18.2017.pdf?dl=0&amp;utm_source=Press+Release&amp;utm_campaign=5db591fe9c-2017_10_18_NYC_Submits_Amazon_Proposal_PA&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_b804b7ba34-5db591fe9c-102476565" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bid</a> -- which included four possible business districts -- was backed by about 70 elected officials that represent the city, including members of Congress, state Senators and Assembly members, City Council members, borough presidents, and Public Advocate Letitia James. But at least four notable elected officials were conspicuously absent from the letter of support sent by the mayor’s office to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.</p> <p>Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and City Council Members Corey Johnson and Donovan Richards, both contenders to become the next Speaker of the City Council, did not sign on to the letter.</p> <p>“No city embodies the American traditions of innovation and creativity quite like New York City,” <a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/fa1bvw2m82molqv/Amazon%20Elected%20Letter.pdf?dl=0&amp;utm_source=Press+Release&amp;utm_campaign=5db591fe9c-2017_10_18_NYC_Submits_Amazon_Proposal_PA&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_b804b7ba34-5db591fe9c-102476565" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the letter</a> reads. “It has transformed from a Dutch settlement, to the nation’s first capital, to a booming industrial center. It became a port of hope for millions of immigrants looking for a better life, and a model for urban revitalization. From Broadway, the Bronx Zoo and the Brooklyn Bridge, to Citi Field and the shores of Staten Island, New York City is a place where history is made every day. Our tradition of reinvention matches yours, and we invite you to join us in writing our next chapters together.”</p> <p>A spokesperson for Stringer declined to comment. Multiple messages and emails sent to spokespeople for Heastie were not returned.</p> <p>“We’re excited about the prospect of new businesses coming to New York City,” said Jordan Gibbons, a spokesperson for Council Member Richards, “but before we support the plan, we need more information about job standards and impact on local businesses.”</p> <p>Council Member Johnson wrote in a text that he “didn’t sign on to [the] letter because I have concerns about Amazon’s labor record but also recognize 50K jobs would be good for the city.” &nbsp;</p> <p>As Johnson noted, Amazon’s second headquarters is expected to create 50,000 jobs and bring in roughly $5 billion in investment. One of the proposed areas for Amazon’s headquarters, Midtown West, falls in Johnson’s Manhattan district. City Council members representing other proposed sites for the headquarters signed on to the letter.</p> <p>Amazon’s announcement and request for proposals triggered a mad dash by dozens of cities across the country to lure the multi-billion-dollar company. To bolster their bids, some cities and states have promised enormous tax breaks while others have pledged infrastructure investments around a potential Amazon campus. Most have hedged their bets on being able to provide the optimum balance of tech talent, affordable and ample real estate, and an appealing quality of life. One municipality in Georgia even went so far as to <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/10/03/city-aims-name-new-town-company-amazon-georgia/727765001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">propose</a> creating an entirely new city named for the online retailer.</p> <p>Short of naming a new business district after Amazon, New York City’s pitch includes all those aspects. Culled from more than two dozen proposals from across the five boroughs, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with the Empire State Development Corporation, decided on four city areas that met Amazon’s criteria -- Midtown West, Long Island City, Lower Manhattan, and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. The city is banking on many factors, including its pool of 2.3 million residents who hold a bachelor’s degree and above -- a number higher than the combined comparable workforce of Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.</p> <p>The city has 296,000 workers in the tech industry and is growing rapidly in sectors of the economy where Amazon is diversifying, including media, advertising, fashion, and manufacturing.</p> <p>And the city is already an attractive destination for Amazon, which has a distribution and fulfillment center, corporate offices and retail space in the city with plans to expand in Manhattan. Amazon’s website says it has 1,000 employees in New York, plus seasonal additions around the winter holidays.</p> <p>An EDC spokesperson said the city cast a wide net seeking support for the proposal. “Considering how hard it is to get New Yorkers to agree on anything, the fact that we got so many signatures in such a short time was pretty impressive and overwhelming,” the spokesperson said, expressing optimism that New York would outmatch other cities with its bid.</p> <p>Asked at an unrelated Thursday news conference about his pursuit of Amazon when he has been opposed to Walmart opening in the city, de Blasio called it “apples and oranges.” “Amazon, there are some issues that need to be addressed with labor, there’s no two ways about it. But, at the same time, this is a company talking about potentially fundamentally changing the economy in New York City. Adding 50,000 jobs is a game-changer. And it’s something we need and we need more high-quality jobs for the people of New York City. So we can work on those labor issues and I’m happy to work on those labor issues, but no, I’m convinced that Amazon will be a net gain for New York City, unquestionably.”</p> <p>Responding to Johnson’s concerns, the EDC spokesperson said that Amazon’s presence in New York would afford the city an opportunity to engage directly with the firm and “work with them to advance our shared values.” Pointing out that it was premature to evaluate a deal that hasn’t yet been approved, the spokesperson said the city would be able to negotiate down the line to add guarantees to ensure the number of jobs created, salary levels and that jobs go to New Yorkers. “It’s pretty clear to us that they want to build the headquarters with the community, not in the community,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p>“It’s puzzling, I don’t know why you’d want to turn down a shot at 50,000 good-paying jobs,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, when asked why leaders like Stringer, Heastie, and Johnson would not sign on. He conceded that concerns about corporate subsidies are valid, but that the Amazon opportunity is too good to pass up. “It’s a big win for New York City if we can get it.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>