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/state-legislature 2018-10-21T16:59:56+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com The Path Forward for Cuomo's 'One Real Answer,' Congestion Pricing 2018-10-16T04:00:00+00:00 2018-10-16T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7999:the-path-forward-for-cuomo-s-one-real-answer-congestion-pricing Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gov-cuomo-congepric.jpg" alt="gov cuomo congepric" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo in the midst of his ABNY presentation</p> <hr /> <p>One major issue that hung over the 2018 state budget season was congestion pricing, a plan to charge a fee to all motor vehicles entering parts of Manhattan and diverting the revenue toward funding the beleaguered subway system. Governor Andrew Cuomo directed a panel to study the issue, which determined that a congestion pricing scheme should be implemented and offered options for what it could look like, including a three-year, three-phase proposal. Activist groups applied significant public pressure on the governor and the Legislature. Newspaper opinion pages endorsed the idea.</p> <p>But in the end, only a small part of the plan came to fruition in the budget: a surcharge on for-hire vehicles, including traditional taxis and app-based rides, entering the Manhattan business district. New charges on other cars and trucks did not come to pass. Activists excoriated Cuomo, while the governor blamed the Legislature. Cuomo said that an important first step had been passed and that he would work on additional steps in the future. That process would be led by a budget-created advisory “workgroup” made up of appointees from various stakeholders, including the governor, legislative leaders, and Mayor Bill de Blasio.</p> <p>Since the March budget deal, the chorus calling for congestion pricing -- both to reduce street traffic in Manhattan and to secure a steady revenue stream to help support repair of the faltering subways -- has only grown, in number and volume.</p> <p>Now, supporters of congestion pricing, from activists to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and many others, want to ensure that it makes it into the next budget. They see a potentially more favorable environment, though a lot will be determined by the results of November’s elections, and by the pressure they put on those running.</p> <p>“It's my impression that pretty much everyone running for office right now at least in the city supports congestion pricing, so I think that puts us in a position to win this year,” said Rebecca Bailin, the political director of the transit advocacy group Riders Alliance, referring to candidates for state Assembly and Senate.</p> <p>Riders Alliance is a part of a new coalition, announced earlier this month, consisting of a diverse group of advocacy organizations, including those focused on the environment, immigrants, social justice, low-income communities and communities of color, and others, organized to push congestion pricing over the finish line. Between now and budget season, the groups will engage in both public demonstrations and private meetings with legislators in an attempt to steer the Legislature and governor toward implementing a full congestion pricing plan.</p> <p>“We are all so reliant on our subways and buses,” Bailin said. “It is a social justice issue because it can either be a barrier or an entryway to economic opportunity, to cultural access in this city, to all the things that the city has to offer.”</p> <p>The results of the recent primary elections have renewed hope that 2019 could finally be the year.</p> <p>Discussion of congestion pricing and funding and fixing the MTA was a centerpiece of the Cuomo-Cynthia Nixon primary, with the governor regularly pointing to congestion pricing and the new Fast Forward plan put forth by MTA leadership to upgrade the transit system. Six of the eight members of the recently-defunct Independent Democratic Conference of the state Senate were defeated by insurgent Democrats who largely staked out more strongly supportive positions on congestion pricing than the incumbents.</p> <p>Some of those defeated, like Senators Jesse Hamilton and Jose Peralta, were supporters of the scheme and were replaced by other supporters; on the other hand, cautious supporter John Liu defeated a vocal opponent, Senator Tony Avella, who is continuing his run in the general election on the Independence and Women’s Equality lines. Even Republican Senator Martin Golden of Southern Brooklyn, a perennial foe of transit and street safety activists, calls himself a supporter of congestion pricing.</p> <p>"The Senate, whether controlled by the Democrats or the Republicans, is always a complicated picture,” said Alex Matthiessen, the founder of the Move NY campaign, whose comprehensive congestion pricing plan has served as a model for legislative proposals since 2015, in an email. “But the replacement of the IDC and many of its members with a crop of progressive, hungry and decidedly pro-congestion pricing senators-in-waiting portends well for this effort. But regardless of partisan control of the legislature there’s one constant: city transportation is a disaster and it’s on lawmakers to act.”</p> <p>Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the likely majority leader if the Democrats take the Senate, represents a suburban district and does not have a clear position on congestion pricing. A report by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign found that only <a href="http://www.tstc.org/reports/cpsheets/burbSenate_factsheet_district%2035.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">3.9 percent</a> of Stewart-Cousins’ constituents, those driving alone into Manhattan’s proposed congestion pricing zone, would be affected by the charge. Stewart-Cousins’ office did not respond to a request for comment for this article.</p> <p>In the Assembly, Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx is a supporter of congestion pricing, though some advocates <a href="https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2018/03/14/while-cuomo-sits-on-the-sidelines-the-assemblys-joke-of-a-congestion-pricing-plan-fills-the-vacuum/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">criticized</a> him last year for not pushing hard enough for the proposal. Heastie’s office also did not respond to a request for comment.</p> <p>Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens, who served as deputy minority leader prior to the reunification of the IDC and may return to a deputy leader role in January, was once a skeptic of congestion pricing, but is now a supporter. He also supports Mayor de Blasio’s millionaires’ tax proposal, which he says can help fill the gap left between what’s funded by congestion pricing and what a comprehensive transit fix will actually cost.</p> <p>“A Democratic Senate would certainly prioritize the stability and funding of the MTA, which the Republican Senate has not done,” Gianaris said in an interview. “So I think it’s a prerequisite to get to a realistic end to have a Democratic Senate. As for whether the Senate would embrace congestion pricing, beyond those of us that already do, I can’t speak for others. We’re gonna have to have those conversations. I don’t even know which senators I’m going to be looking at, because we’re hoping to pick up a lot more senators in a couple weeks.”</p> <p>Cuomo, too, has only attached himself more to congestion pricing. At an event hosted by the Association for a Better New York on October 4, Cuomo said that since neither God, the city, nor the state would cough up $33 billion needed for the Fast Forward plan, “the only realistic option is congestion pricing, we have to get it done, we have to get it done next year, I need your help.”</p> <p>For now, Cuomo has activists somewhat convinced.</p> <p>“I am optimistic based on what he said about the need to fund the MTA,” Bailin said of Cuomo’s ABNY remarks.</p> <p>Cuomo’s FixNYC panel recommended, in a January <a href="http://www.hntb.com/HNTB/media/HNTBMediaLibrary/Home/Fix-NYC-Panel-Report.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a>, a broad but “phased” congestion pricing program. The for-hire vehicle surcharge, phase 2, passed, but other parts and phases of the plan did not, leaving many boosters disappointed, and some accusing Cuomo of a “<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7578-cuomo-accused-of-bait-and-switch-on-congestion-pricing" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bait-and-switch</a>.”</p> <p>“The Governor single-handedly revived the idea of congestion pricing and succeeded in passing the first phase of the FixNYC plan including a fee on for-hire vehicles that will go into effect next year as well as empaneling a new MTA advisory group that will provide recommendations before end of year as we develop the executive budget proposal,” Cuomo spokesperson Peter Ajemian said in a statement. “The Governor has been clear congestion pricing is the most realistic way to help fund the NYCT modernization plan and will continue leading the charge to convince legislators to pass it next year.”</p> <p>The new advisory group is the MTA Sustainability Advisory Workgroup, which formally met for the first time last month and is tasked with coming up with a comprehensive plan for funding a major transit overhaul plan like Fast Forward by December 31. Though created in the enacted budget that passed in March, the panel’s members were not named until August, after <a href="https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2018/08/02/riders-alliance-cuomo-must-convene-congestion-pricing-workgroup-by-august-15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Riders Alliance</a> publicly called for the appointments. The group’s fairly tight timeline is compounded by the sheer immensity of the task before it.</p> <p>But, the workgroup represents a much broader array of perspectives than FixNYC, which was an entirely Cuomo-appointed panel. The panel consists of two Cuomo appointees: CEO of the Partnership for New York City Kathryn Wylde and Metro North Commuter Council member Rhonda Herman; two appointees of congestion pricing skeptic Mayor Bill de Blasio: former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Senator Gianaris; one appointee of MTA Chair Joe Lhota: Vice Chair Fernando Ferrer; two from the Senate: former City Council Member Andrew Eristoff and former DOT engineer Michael Shamma; and two from the Assembly: Assemblymembers Amy Paulin and Michael Benedetto.</p> <p>“It is a group of well-meaning individuals who are trying to make recommendations to solve the MTA’s funding crisis,” Gianaris said. “And the MTA crisis in general, regardless of funding. I think efficiency is one of the other things we’re going to be looking at as well.”</p> <p>Even de Blasio appears to be warming to the idea of congestion pricing, evidenced by his appointment of <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20170907/POLITICS/170909915/mark-viverito-defies-de-blasio-backs-congestion-pricing-as-a-way-to-fund-subways" target="_blank" rel="noopener">two</a>&nbsp;supporters to the panel.</p> <p>The panel has met three times so far, and Wylde, the chair, says that the meetings will occur weekly or biweekly until the end of the year, when a set of recommendations must be produced. The initial focus has been determining what the funding needs of the MTA are and how congestion pricing could form part of a solution, but the panel is empowered to go well beyond that in its recommended solutions.</p> <p>“FixNYC was really focused on congestion pricing and how to implement it,” Gianaris said. “That is just one element of what this group is doing.”</p> <p>Wylde elaborated on that point.</p> <p>“It may be funding mechanisms, it may be reforms,” Wylde said in an interview with Gotham Gazette. “Structural and other reforms in how the MTA raises its own revenues. And then all the issues associated with congestion pricing: 1) to build support, and 2) to achieve the dual goals of new revenue generation and traffic reduction. So those have been the focus of the conversation so far.”</p> <p>New York City Transit President Andy Byford’s much-talked about Fast Forward plan to modernize the subway system has been projected to cost roughly $40 billion over ten years, though Cuomo has used the $33 billion figure. Wylde said that unanimity on a true cost does not exist on the panel, and that part of the panel’s focus is in determining what it would be.</p> <p>Congestion pricing remains the crux of the negotiations, and its status as a major part of the long-term transit solution appears to be agreed upon. But most analysts agree that congestion pricing would not alone cover the massive cost of fixing the transit system, and that other mechanisms are necessary as well. Estimates for annual congestion pricing revenue vary, and depend on what the program actually looks like, but have been in the $1 billion range.</p> <p>The new advisory panel’s recommended solutions could, theoretically, include any of a variety of measures beyond congestion pricing -- including labor reforms, changes to the MTA’s budgeting process, an added surcharge to high-income earners’ taxes, fare hikes, or value capture -- to address long-term funding and spending issues.</p> <p>“We will be careful about mission creep,” Wylde said. “The primary goal here is to identify the gap and make specific recommendations on how to deal with it, and most specifically, it’s to try and resolve an approach to congestion pricing. And so, I think that’s the focus, and to the extent that the gap exceeds the revenues that one can project from congestion pricing, looking at other sources of funding or cost reduction.”</p> <p>The panel’s work will be informed by that of outside experts and advocates, and by previous plans such as FixNYC and Move NY, as well as by the expertise that the panel members themselves have from work on these issues. Political questions will come into consideration as well, especially considering the presence of three current and two former elected officials. The nature of the panel’s makeup -- that numerous stakeholders, rather than just one, appointed its members -- may allow for a broader consensus to be formed in such a way that is palatable to all parties.</p> <p>“To date, I don't think party politics are playing a role,” Wylde said. “Obviously, the political sensibilities of all members of the group play into what they think is realistic and what can be accomplished. So, it's a politically sophisticated group, but not one that's just gonna be at the mercy of party politics.”</p> <p>The November elections will, of course, hold significant influence over what happens in the next budget season, though Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive, does support congestion pricing. However, if Republicans maintain the majority in the State Senate, they may put the brakes on the momentum toward implementation.</p> <p>Advocates are, at present, optimistic about the panel and prospects despite the initial hiccups.</p> <p>“It’s important there’s a panel in place that represents the interests of various government entities whose constituents are affected by our transportation crisis,” Matthiessen said. “As long as the Workgroup delivers the report by the December 31 deadline, the group’s work will be worthwhile.”</p> <p>And though the December 31 deadline may seem tight for such a complex assignment, the stakeholders are confident that it will get done.</p> <p>“It may be a broad topic,” Wylde said, “but it’s not a new topic.”</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gov-cuomo-congepric.jpg" alt="gov cuomo congepric" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo in the midst of his ABNY presentation</p> <hr /> <p>One major issue that hung over the 2018 state budget season was congestion pricing, a plan to charge a fee to all motor vehicles entering parts of Manhattan and diverting the revenue toward funding the beleaguered subway system. Governor Andrew Cuomo directed a panel to study the issue, which determined that a congestion pricing scheme should be implemented and offered options for what it could look like, including a three-year, three-phase proposal. Activist groups applied significant public pressure on the governor and the Legislature. Newspaper opinion pages endorsed the idea.</p> <p>But in the end, only a small part of the plan came to fruition in the budget: a surcharge on for-hire vehicles, including traditional taxis and app-based rides, entering the Manhattan business district. New charges on other cars and trucks did not come to pass. Activists excoriated Cuomo, while the governor blamed the Legislature. Cuomo said that an important first step had been passed and that he would work on additional steps in the future. That process would be led by a budget-created advisory “workgroup” made up of appointees from various stakeholders, including the governor, legislative leaders, and Mayor Bill de Blasio.</p> <p>Since the March budget deal, the chorus calling for congestion pricing -- both to reduce street traffic in Manhattan and to secure a steady revenue stream to help support repair of the faltering subways -- has only grown, in number and volume.</p> <p>Now, supporters of congestion pricing, from activists to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and many others, want to ensure that it makes it into the next budget. They see a potentially more favorable environment, though a lot will be determined by the results of November’s elections, and by the pressure they put on those running.</p> <p>“It's my impression that pretty much everyone running for office right now at least in the city supports congestion pricing, so I think that puts us in a position to win this year,” said Rebecca Bailin, the political director of the transit advocacy group Riders Alliance, referring to candidates for state Assembly and Senate.</p> <p>Riders Alliance is a part of a new coalition, announced earlier this month, consisting of a diverse group of advocacy organizations, including those focused on the environment, immigrants, social justice, low-income communities and communities of color, and others, organized to push congestion pricing over the finish line. Between now and budget season, the groups will engage in both public demonstrations and private meetings with legislators in an attempt to steer the Legislature and governor toward implementing a full congestion pricing plan.</p> <p>“We are all so reliant on our subways and buses,” Bailin said. “It is a social justice issue because it can either be a barrier or an entryway to economic opportunity, to cultural access in this city, to all the things that the city has to offer.”</p> <p>The results of the recent primary elections have renewed hope that 2019 could finally be the year.</p> <p>Discussion of congestion pricing and funding and fixing the MTA was a centerpiece of the Cuomo-Cynthia Nixon primary, with the governor regularly pointing to congestion pricing and the new Fast Forward plan put forth by MTA leadership to upgrade the transit system. Six of the eight members of the recently-defunct Independent Democratic Conference of the state Senate were defeated by insurgent Democrats who largely staked out more strongly supportive positions on congestion pricing than the incumbents.</p> <p>Some of those defeated, like Senators Jesse Hamilton and Jose Peralta, were supporters of the scheme and were replaced by other supporters; on the other hand, cautious supporter John Liu defeated a vocal opponent, Senator Tony Avella, who is continuing his run in the general election on the Independence and Women’s Equality lines. Even Republican Senator Martin Golden of Southern Brooklyn, a perennial foe of transit and street safety activists, calls himself a supporter of congestion pricing.</p> <p>"The Senate, whether controlled by the Democrats or the Republicans, is always a complicated picture,” said Alex Matthiessen, the founder of the Move NY campaign, whose comprehensive congestion pricing plan has served as a model for legislative proposals since 2015, in an email. “But the replacement of the IDC and many of its members with a crop of progressive, hungry and decidedly pro-congestion pricing senators-in-waiting portends well for this effort. But regardless of partisan control of the legislature there’s one constant: city transportation is a disaster and it’s on lawmakers to act.”</p> <p>Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the likely majority leader if the Democrats take the Senate, represents a suburban district and does not have a clear position on congestion pricing. A report by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign found that only <a href="http://www.tstc.org/reports/cpsheets/burbSenate_factsheet_district%2035.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">3.9 percent</a> of Stewart-Cousins’ constituents, those driving alone into Manhattan’s proposed congestion pricing zone, would be affected by the charge. Stewart-Cousins’ office did not respond to a request for comment for this article.</p> <p>In the Assembly, Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx is a supporter of congestion pricing, though some advocates <a href="https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2018/03/14/while-cuomo-sits-on-the-sidelines-the-assemblys-joke-of-a-congestion-pricing-plan-fills-the-vacuum/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">criticized</a> him last year for not pushing hard enough for the proposal. Heastie’s office also did not respond to a request for comment.</p> <p>Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens, who served as deputy minority leader prior to the reunification of the IDC and may return to a deputy leader role in January, was once a skeptic of congestion pricing, but is now a supporter. He also supports Mayor de Blasio’s millionaires’ tax proposal, which he says can help fill the gap left between what’s funded by congestion pricing and what a comprehensive transit fix will actually cost.</p> <p>“A Democratic Senate would certainly prioritize the stability and funding of the MTA, which the Republican Senate has not done,” Gianaris said in an interview. “So I think it’s a prerequisite to get to a realistic end to have a Democratic Senate. As for whether the Senate would embrace congestion pricing, beyond those of us that already do, I can’t speak for others. We’re gonna have to have those conversations. I don’t even know which senators I’m going to be looking at, because we’re hoping to pick up a lot more senators in a couple weeks.”</p> <p>Cuomo, too, has only attached himself more to congestion pricing. At an event hosted by the Association for a Better New York on October 4, Cuomo said that since neither God, the city, nor the state would cough up $33 billion needed for the Fast Forward plan, “the only realistic option is congestion pricing, we have to get it done, we have to get it done next year, I need your help.”</p> <p>For now, Cuomo has activists somewhat convinced.</p> <p>“I am optimistic based on what he said about the need to fund the MTA,” Bailin said of Cuomo’s ABNY remarks.</p> <p>Cuomo’s FixNYC panel recommended, in a January <a href="http://www.hntb.com/HNTB/media/HNTBMediaLibrary/Home/Fix-NYC-Panel-Report.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a>, a broad but “phased” congestion pricing program. The for-hire vehicle surcharge, phase 2, passed, but other parts and phases of the plan did not, leaving many boosters disappointed, and some accusing Cuomo of a “<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7578-cuomo-accused-of-bait-and-switch-on-congestion-pricing" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bait-and-switch</a>.”</p> <p>“The Governor single-handedly revived the idea of congestion pricing and succeeded in passing the first phase of the FixNYC plan including a fee on for-hire vehicles that will go into effect next year as well as empaneling a new MTA advisory group that will provide recommendations before end of year as we develop the executive budget proposal,” Cuomo spokesperson Peter Ajemian said in a statement. “The Governor has been clear congestion pricing is the most realistic way to help fund the NYCT modernization plan and will continue leading the charge to convince legislators to pass it next year.”</p> <p>The new advisory group is the MTA Sustainability Advisory Workgroup, which formally met for the first time last month and is tasked with coming up with a comprehensive plan for funding a major transit overhaul plan like Fast Forward by December 31. Though created in the enacted budget that passed in March, the panel’s members were not named until August, after <a href="https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2018/08/02/riders-alliance-cuomo-must-convene-congestion-pricing-workgroup-by-august-15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Riders Alliance</a> publicly called for the appointments. The group’s fairly tight timeline is compounded by the sheer immensity of the task before it.</p> <p>But, the workgroup represents a much broader array of perspectives than FixNYC, which was an entirely Cuomo-appointed panel. The panel consists of two Cuomo appointees: CEO of the Partnership for New York City Kathryn Wylde and Metro North Commuter Council member Rhonda Herman; two appointees of congestion pricing skeptic Mayor Bill de Blasio: former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Senator Gianaris; one appointee of MTA Chair Joe Lhota: Vice Chair Fernando Ferrer; two from the Senate: former City Council Member Andrew Eristoff and former DOT engineer Michael Shamma; and two from the Assembly: Assemblymembers Amy Paulin and Michael Benedetto.</p> <p>“It is a group of well-meaning individuals who are trying to make recommendations to solve the MTA’s funding crisis,” Gianaris said. “And the MTA crisis in general, regardless of funding. I think efficiency is one of the other things we’re going to be looking at as well.”</p> <p>Even de Blasio appears to be warming to the idea of congestion pricing, evidenced by his appointment of <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20170907/POLITICS/170909915/mark-viverito-defies-de-blasio-backs-congestion-pricing-as-a-way-to-fund-subways" target="_blank" rel="noopener">two</a>&nbsp;supporters to the panel.</p> <p>The panel has met three times so far, and Wylde, the chair, says that the meetings will occur weekly or biweekly until the end of the year, when a set of recommendations must be produced. The initial focus has been determining what the funding needs of the MTA are and how congestion pricing could form part of a solution, but the panel is empowered to go well beyond that in its recommended solutions.</p> <p>“FixNYC was really focused on congestion pricing and how to implement it,” Gianaris said. “That is just one element of what this group is doing.”</p> <p>Wylde elaborated on that point.</p> <p>“It may be funding mechanisms, it may be reforms,” Wylde said in an interview with Gotham Gazette. “Structural and other reforms in how the MTA raises its own revenues. And then all the issues associated with congestion pricing: 1) to build support, and 2) to achieve the dual goals of new revenue generation and traffic reduction. So those have been the focus of the conversation so far.”</p> <p>New York City Transit President Andy Byford’s much-talked about Fast Forward plan to modernize the subway system has been projected to cost roughly $40 billion over ten years, though Cuomo has used the $33 billion figure. Wylde said that unanimity on a true cost does not exist on the panel, and that part of the panel’s focus is in determining what it would be.</p> <p>Congestion pricing remains the crux of the negotiations, and its status as a major part of the long-term transit solution appears to be agreed upon. But most analysts agree that congestion pricing would not alone cover the massive cost of fixing the transit system, and that other mechanisms are necessary as well. Estimates for annual congestion pricing revenue vary, and depend on what the program actually looks like, but have been in the $1 billion range.</p> <p>The new advisory panel’s recommended solutions could, theoretically, include any of a variety of measures beyond congestion pricing -- including labor reforms, changes to the MTA’s budgeting process, an added surcharge to high-income earners’ taxes, fare hikes, or value capture -- to address long-term funding and spending issues.</p> <p>“We will be careful about mission creep,” Wylde said. “The primary goal here is to identify the gap and make specific recommendations on how to deal with it, and most specifically, it’s to try and resolve an approach to congestion pricing. And so, I think that’s the focus, and to the extent that the gap exceeds the revenues that one can project from congestion pricing, looking at other sources of funding or cost reduction.”</p> <p>The panel’s work will be informed by that of outside experts and advocates, and by previous plans such as FixNYC and Move NY, as well as by the expertise that the panel members themselves have from work on these issues. Political questions will come into consideration as well, especially considering the presence of three current and two former elected officials. The nature of the panel’s makeup -- that numerous stakeholders, rather than just one, appointed its members -- may allow for a broader consensus to be formed in such a way that is palatable to all parties.</p> <p>“To date, I don't think party politics are playing a role,” Wylde said. “Obviously, the political sensibilities of all members of the group play into what they think is realistic and what can be accomplished. So, it's a politically sophisticated group, but not one that's just gonna be at the mercy of party politics.”</p> <p>The November elections will, of course, hold significant influence over what happens in the next budget season, though Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive, does support congestion pricing. However, if Republicans maintain the majority in the State Senate, they may put the brakes on the momentum toward implementation.</p> <p>Advocates are, at present, optimistic about the panel and prospects despite the initial hiccups.</p> <p>“It’s important there’s a panel in place that represents the interests of various government entities whose constituents are affected by our transportation crisis,” Matthiessen said. “As long as the Workgroup delivers the report by the December 31 deadline, the group’s work will be worthwhile.”</p> <p>And though the December 31 deadline may seem tight for such a complex assignment, the stakeholders are confident that it will get done.</p> <p>“It may be a broad topic,” Wylde said, “but it’s not a new topic.”</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
As Broader Debate Intensifies, New York Nonprofits Consider Throwing Weight Behind Single-Payer 2018-09-20T04:00:00+00:00 2018-09-20T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7944:as-broader-debate-intensifies-new-york-nonprofits-consider-throwing-weight-behind-single-payer Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gottfried-org-2.jpg" alt="gottfried org 2" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Assemblymember Gottfried (photo: Dickgottfried.org)</p> <hr /> <p>Wendy Stark is ready to press the reset button on health care. The executive director of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, based in Lower Manhattan, Stark is hopeful that an overhaul may be on the horizon in New York through controversial legislation gaining increasing attention as this fall’s elections determine the upcoming balance of power in state government, from the governor’s office through the state Legislature.</p> <p>The New York Health Act -- which has increasingly strong chances of passing the state Legislature but does not have the support of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is favored to win a third term -- would set the stage for New York to toss out the current health insurance system in favor of a single taxpayer-funded, government-administered health care program for everyone.</p> <p>As the bill has been the subject of more debate in recent months, partially stemming from gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon’s support for it, powerful lobbyist groups representing insurers, hospitals, and businesses have been vocal about their opposition. The Business Council of New York State <a href="http://video.foxnews.com/v/5832013647001/?#sp=show-clips" target="_blank" rel="noopener">took to Fox &amp; Friends</a> to denounce the legislation, while others have written op-eds in local publications. Republicans running for office, including gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, are warning New Yorkers about a potential government takeover of health care.</p> <p>But as the leader of a health care provider that serves mostly low-income members of the LGBT community through its clinics in Manhattan and the Bronx and employs more than 350 people, Stark has a very different take. She says in addition to allowing her organization to save on employee benefits and administrative costs -- a projection generally backed up by <a href="https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2424.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the RAND Corp.’s recently-published analysis</a> of the New York Health Act -- a single-payer system would cut down on the red tape patients have to deal with.</p> <p>“So many of the barriers to care people experience are rooted in the economics of health care,” Stark said. “We don’t believe health care can make adequate improvements without changing the foundational economics of how it works and is paid for.”</p> <p>Under the proposed single-payer system, insurance premiums, deductibles and copays would all go out the window, and patients could visit any health care provider without having to worry about whether they were in their insurance network. Meanwhile, taxes would go up, with the wealthiest New Yorkers paying a greater portion of their income and employers paying a certain amount per employee. Under the sample tax model proposed by the RAND Corp., the state would have to collect an estimated $139 billion in new taxes in 2022 to pay for the single-payer system. Still, RAND projected that overall spending on health care would go down -- barring a few caveats that <a href="http://gothamist.com/2018/08/22/nyc_universal_healthcare.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">that could stand in the way</a> of the system being successful.</p> <p>Callen-Lorde is one of 10 community-based health centers and 183 total nonprofit groups statewide that have <a href="https://www.nyhcampaign.org/endorsers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">publicly endorsed</a> the campaign supporting the New York Health Act (in addition to a variety of mostly small for-profit businesses). But while it may seem like a natural fit, the bill still has a ways to go to become a widespread legislative priority for the large contingent of community-based organizations that help connect immigrants, people with behavioral health problems and housing insecurity, formerly incarcerated individuals, and members of other marginalized groups to needed health care and social services.</p> <p>Many nonprofit health centers and other organizations, including those in the human services sector -- which <a href="http://humanservicescouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/Initiatives/RestoreOpportunityNow/RONreport.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">employ a growing workforce</a> and have formed coalitions to represent their interests in Albany and Washington, D.C. -- are still examining the implications of the New York Health Act before issuing full-throated endorsements. Others are directing their limited resources to what they see as more pressing policy and funding concerns.</p> <p>But that may change as the policy conversation develops. Groups like the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, FPWA, which represents 170 human-services and faith-based organizations, are hoping to help move things along.</p> <p>“We believe the New York Health Act would strengthen nonprofits both for the communities they serve as well as their employees, and make the system more tenable long-term,” said Winn Periyasamy, policy analyst at FPWA.</p> <p>FPWA, along with the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families and the New York Immigration Coalition, hosted a forum on single-payer for nonprofit representatives on the Lower East Side last month, where they heard about the New York Health Act directly from its lead sponsors in the Legislature, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Senator Gustavo Rivera, both Democrats who represent parts of New York City in their respective legislative houses.</p> <p>New Yorkers in favor of a single-payer health system will know they’re winning, Rivera told the audience, when sinister images of him and Gottfried start appearing in insurance-industry funded attack ads.</p> <p>“I can’t wait for that gritty video, I can’t wait for it!” said Rivera, of the Bronx, exuding confidence that the debate over the state’s single-payer bill is on its way to reaching a fever pitch.</p> <p>The New York Health Act passed the Assembly the last four years in a row, but was thwarted each time by the Republican-controlled Senate. Now the bill--which was already only one sponsor short of a majority in the Senate in the last session--is among a slew of progressive measures that have been infused with new hope following the dissolution of the Independent Democratic Conference, which allowed Senate Democrats to caucus with Republicans.</p> <p>“This is real,” Gottfried insisted at the forum. “This is not a dream. And you and your people are really crucial to making sure it gets done.”</p> <p>Those in attendance were particularly interested in how the bill would affect undocumented New Yorkers, who are generally not eligible for health insurance now but would be under the single-payer system. Undocumented New Yorkers currently often use public hospitals at great expense, having eschewed preventative care due to their documentation status and lack of insurance. Dr. Mitchell Katz, chief executive of the cash-strapped NYC Health + Hospitals system, <a href="https://twitter.com/DrKatzNYCHH/status/1007736953008246784" target="_blank" rel="noopener">praised the Assembly</a> on Twitter for passing the New York Health Act in June.</p> <p>Attendees at the event also talked about the need to properly translate materials on single-payer into the languages of the communities they serve.</p> <p>“We’re reaching into our Asian-American communities,” said Anita Gundanna, co-executive director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. “A lot of people had never heard of the [single-payer] proposal before or thought through the impact of it, so for us the very beginning step is to expose our communities to what’s going on and how it might impact them.”</p> <p>CACF and other groups serving Asian-Pacific Americans advocate for health care initiatives through Project CHARGE, the Coalition for Health Access to Reach Greater Equity. Gundanna said there’s a need to get more buy-in from individual organizations before single-payer can become an official part of the coalition’s policy agenda.</p> <p>“We have to be strategic and patient,” she said. “We can’t move without having our coalition behind us.”</p> <p>On the bright side, Gundanna pointed out, the nonprofit sector had to increase its capacity to share information about health policy a few years ago in order to help people understand and get insured through the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.</p> <p>But more recently everyone has been on the defensive, using their resources to try to preserve the ACA and prevent a wide array of federal policies from taking effect. Lately, many organizations are preoccupied with changes the Trump administration is considering to <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1808020" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the Public Charge Rule</a>, which people in the social-services sector say are already discouraging some immigrants from using public benefits, including subsidized health insurance, for fear it could be used as a strike against them later.</p> <p>Gundanna said she wants to present nonprofits with proactive solutions like single-payer but acknowledges that everyone must consider, “How many resources are there to explore these quote-unquote ideal options in this quote-unquote ideal world?”</p> <p>Asked about the New York Health Act, the Community Healthcare Association of New York State, which spent much of 2017 and early 2018 consumed by a battle to secure endangered federal funding for its members, said in a statement, “CHCANYS supports innovations in health policy that improve access to high-quality health care for everyone. We continue to study the options for expanding coverage to all New Yorkers and are closely monitoring the current political discourse.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Human Services Council, whose advocacy focuses on improving the government contracts its member organizations rely on for funding, is not likely to take a position on the New York Health Act, said Allison Sesso, the coalition’s executive director.</p> <p>“Doing stuff on this is not why we exist and could eat up resources,” said Sesso, although she added, “I think this conversation is really important and I’m glad it’s being elevated.”</p> <p>As advocates for the New York Health Act work to make the case that it’s worth the time and effort for would-be proponents to support the bill, they are also faced with the uphill battle of getting the governor on their side. A year ago, before the bill stood much of a chance of passing both houses of the state Legislature, Cuomo <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/7day-state/article/Cuomo-signals-support-for-single-payer-health-care-12206177.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">signaled some slight openness</a> to the idea of implementing a single-payer system in New York. Asked about it again during his debate with Nixon, before he beat her in the gubernatorial primary this month, Cuomo came out against the idea. He said he thought it could work at the federal level but would be too costly an endeavor for the state to embark on alone.</p> <p>***<br /> by Caroline Lewis for Gotham Gazette. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/clewisreports" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@clewisreports</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/gothamgazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GothamGazette</a>.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gottfried-org-2.jpg" alt="gottfried org 2" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Assemblymember Gottfried (photo: Dickgottfried.org)</p> <hr /> <p>Wendy Stark is ready to press the reset button on health care. The executive director of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, based in Lower Manhattan, Stark is hopeful that an overhaul may be on the horizon in New York through controversial legislation gaining increasing attention as this fall’s elections determine the upcoming balance of power in state government, from the governor’s office through the state Legislature.</p> <p>The New York Health Act -- which has increasingly strong chances of passing the state Legislature but does not have the support of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is favored to win a third term -- would set the stage for New York to toss out the current health insurance system in favor of a single taxpayer-funded, government-administered health care program for everyone.</p> <p>As the bill has been the subject of more debate in recent months, partially stemming from gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon’s support for it, powerful lobbyist groups representing insurers, hospitals, and businesses have been vocal about their opposition. The Business Council of New York State <a href="http://video.foxnews.com/v/5832013647001/?#sp=show-clips" target="_blank" rel="noopener">took to Fox &amp; Friends</a> to denounce the legislation, while others have written op-eds in local publications. Republicans running for office, including gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, are warning New Yorkers about a potential government takeover of health care.</p> <p>But as the leader of a health care provider that serves mostly low-income members of the LGBT community through its clinics in Manhattan and the Bronx and employs more than 350 people, Stark has a very different take. She says in addition to allowing her organization to save on employee benefits and administrative costs -- a projection generally backed up by <a href="https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2424.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the RAND Corp.’s recently-published analysis</a> of the New York Health Act -- a single-payer system would cut down on the red tape patients have to deal with.</p> <p>“So many of the barriers to care people experience are rooted in the economics of health care,” Stark said. “We don’t believe health care can make adequate improvements without changing the foundational economics of how it works and is paid for.”</p> <p>Under the proposed single-payer system, insurance premiums, deductibles and copays would all go out the window, and patients could visit any health care provider without having to worry about whether they were in their insurance network. Meanwhile, taxes would go up, with the wealthiest New Yorkers paying a greater portion of their income and employers paying a certain amount per employee. Under the sample tax model proposed by the RAND Corp., the state would have to collect an estimated $139 billion in new taxes in 2022 to pay for the single-payer system. Still, RAND projected that overall spending on health care would go down -- barring a few caveats that <a href="http://gothamist.com/2018/08/22/nyc_universal_healthcare.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">that could stand in the way</a> of the system being successful.</p> <p>Callen-Lorde is one of 10 community-based health centers and 183 total nonprofit groups statewide that have <a href="https://www.nyhcampaign.org/endorsers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">publicly endorsed</a> the campaign supporting the New York Health Act (in addition to a variety of mostly small for-profit businesses). But while it may seem like a natural fit, the bill still has a ways to go to become a widespread legislative priority for the large contingent of community-based organizations that help connect immigrants, people with behavioral health problems and housing insecurity, formerly incarcerated individuals, and members of other marginalized groups to needed health care and social services.</p> <p>Many nonprofit health centers and other organizations, including those in the human services sector -- which <a href="http://humanservicescouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/Initiatives/RestoreOpportunityNow/RONreport.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">employ a growing workforce</a> and have formed coalitions to represent their interests in Albany and Washington, D.C. -- are still examining the implications of the New York Health Act before issuing full-throated endorsements. Others are directing their limited resources to what they see as more pressing policy and funding concerns.</p> <p>But that may change as the policy conversation develops. Groups like the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, FPWA, which represents 170 human-services and faith-based organizations, are hoping to help move things along.</p> <p>“We believe the New York Health Act would strengthen nonprofits both for the communities they serve as well as their employees, and make the system more tenable long-term,” said Winn Periyasamy, policy analyst at FPWA.</p> <p>FPWA, along with the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families and the New York Immigration Coalition, hosted a forum on single-payer for nonprofit representatives on the Lower East Side last month, where they heard about the New York Health Act directly from its lead sponsors in the Legislature, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Senator Gustavo Rivera, both Democrats who represent parts of New York City in their respective legislative houses.</p> <p>New Yorkers in favor of a single-payer health system will know they’re winning, Rivera told the audience, when sinister images of him and Gottfried start appearing in insurance-industry funded attack ads.</p> <p>“I can’t wait for that gritty video, I can’t wait for it!” said Rivera, of the Bronx, exuding confidence that the debate over the state’s single-payer bill is on its way to reaching a fever pitch.</p> <p>The New York Health Act passed the Assembly the last four years in a row, but was thwarted each time by the Republican-controlled Senate. Now the bill--which was already only one sponsor short of a majority in the Senate in the last session--is among a slew of progressive measures that have been infused with new hope following the dissolution of the Independent Democratic Conference, which allowed Senate Democrats to caucus with Republicans.</p> <p>“This is real,” Gottfried insisted at the forum. “This is not a dream. And you and your people are really crucial to making sure it gets done.”</p> <p>Those in attendance were particularly interested in how the bill would affect undocumented New Yorkers, who are generally not eligible for health insurance now but would be under the single-payer system. Undocumented New Yorkers currently often use public hospitals at great expense, having eschewed preventative care due to their documentation status and lack of insurance. Dr. Mitchell Katz, chief executive of the cash-strapped NYC Health + Hospitals system, <a href="https://twitter.com/DrKatzNYCHH/status/1007736953008246784" target="_blank" rel="noopener">praised the Assembly</a> on Twitter for passing the New York Health Act in June.</p> <p>Attendees at the event also talked about the need to properly translate materials on single-payer into the languages of the communities they serve.</p> <p>“We’re reaching into our Asian-American communities,” said Anita Gundanna, co-executive director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. “A lot of people had never heard of the [single-payer] proposal before or thought through the impact of it, so for us the very beginning step is to expose our communities to what’s going on and how it might impact them.”</p> <p>CACF and other groups serving Asian-Pacific Americans advocate for health care initiatives through Project CHARGE, the Coalition for Health Access to Reach Greater Equity. Gundanna said there’s a need to get more buy-in from individual organizations before single-payer can become an official part of the coalition’s policy agenda.</p> <p>“We have to be strategic and patient,” she said. “We can’t move without having our coalition behind us.”</p> <p>On the bright side, Gundanna pointed out, the nonprofit sector had to increase its capacity to share information about health policy a few years ago in order to help people understand and get insured through the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.</p> <p>But more recently everyone has been on the defensive, using their resources to try to preserve the ACA and prevent a wide array of federal policies from taking effect. Lately, many organizations are preoccupied with changes the Trump administration is considering to <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1808020" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the Public Charge Rule</a>, which people in the social-services sector say are already discouraging some immigrants from using public benefits, including subsidized health insurance, for fear it could be used as a strike against them later.</p> <p>Gundanna said she wants to present nonprofits with proactive solutions like single-payer but acknowledges that everyone must consider, “How many resources are there to explore these quote-unquote ideal options in this quote-unquote ideal world?”</p> <p>Asked about the New York Health Act, the Community Healthcare Association of New York State, which spent much of 2017 and early 2018 consumed by a battle to secure endangered federal funding for its members, said in a statement, “CHCANYS supports innovations in health policy that improve access to high-quality health care for everyone. We continue to study the options for expanding coverage to all New Yorkers and are closely monitoring the current political discourse.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Human Services Council, whose advocacy focuses on improving the government contracts its member organizations rely on for funding, is not likely to take a position on the New York Health Act, said Allison Sesso, the coalition’s executive director.</p> <p>“Doing stuff on this is not why we exist and could eat up resources,” said Sesso, although she added, “I think this conversation is really important and I’m glad it’s being elevated.”</p> <p>As advocates for the New York Health Act work to make the case that it’s worth the time and effort for would-be proponents to support the bill, they are also faced with the uphill battle of getting the governor on their side. A year ago, before the bill stood much of a chance of passing both houses of the state Legislature, Cuomo <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/7day-state/article/Cuomo-signals-support-for-single-payer-health-care-12206177.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">signaled some slight openness</a> to the idea of implementing a single-payer system in New York. Asked about it again during his debate with Nixon, before he beat her in the gubernatorial primary this month, Cuomo came out against the idea. He said he thought it could work at the federal level but would be too costly an endeavor for the state to embark on alone.</p> <p>***<br /> by Caroline Lewis for Gotham Gazette. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/clewisreports" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@clewisreports</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/gothamgazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GothamGazette</a>.</p> The 2018 Elections in New York 2018-02-27T05:00:00+00:00 2018-02-27T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/election-coverage/2018-elections Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/38198034236_bf971489f7_z_1.jpg" alt="Andrew Cuomo voting" width="600" height="367" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo votes (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In 2018, New York will be home to elections for statewide seats including Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller, as well as one of its two United States Senate seats. In all five positions but Attorney General, incumbent Democrats are seeking reelection. In three -- Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General -- there are competitive primaries that will be decided Thursday September 13.</p> <p>New York is also home this year to elections for all of its 27 seats in The House of Representatives -- races that will help determine which political party controls the chamber -- and in the state Legislature, with its 63 state Senate seats and 150 Assembly seats. The state Senate races will determine which party controls the chamber, which Republicans currently lead by a slight margin due to the defection of rogue Democrats. The Assembly is certain to remain solidly in Democratic hands.</p> <p>Congressional primaries occured June 26; while primaries for the state-level elections will occur September 13. Election Day -- with the general election for all 2018 races -- will occur November 6. (There were also special elections April 24 to fill 11 vacancies in the state Legislature, two in the Senate and nine in the Assembly.)</p> <p>As New Yorkers prepare to go to the polls for the September 13 primaries, which are largely on the Democratic side, and the November 6 general election, our ongoing election coverage:</p> <p><em><strong>Gotham Gazette's ongoing coverage of the 2018 elections in New York, with the most recent first:</strong></em></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7998-max-murphy-podcast-battle-for-control-of-the-state-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Battle for Control of the State Senate</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8003-updated-can-democrats-win-the-state-senate-how-progressive-is-cuomo-new-yorkers-are-about-to-find-out" target="_blank" rel="noopener">[Updated] Can Democrats win the state Senate? How progressive is Cuomo? New Yorkers are about to find out</a> by Art Chang&nbsp;(October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7997-speaker-heastie-pac-gives-to-james-for-ag-skoufis-for-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">'Speaker Heastie PAC' Gives to James for AG, Skoufis for Senate</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8000-brewer-creates-committee-to-oppose-charter-revision-proposals" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Brewer Creates Committee to Oppose Charter Revision Proposals</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7995-despite-lack-of-support-from-cuomo-democrats-in-swing-districts-run-on-not-from-single-payer-health-care" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democrats in Swing Districts Run On, Not From, Single-Payer Health Care</a> by David Colon (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7989-watch-state-comptroller-candidate-debate-dinapoli-trichter-2018" target="_blank" rel="noopener">WATCH: State Comptroller Candidate Debate</a> by Ben Max (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7984-is-this-the-election-that-kills-fusion-voting-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Is this the Election that Kills Fusion Voting in New York?</a> by David Colon (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7987-comptroller-candidates-debate-powers-and-responsibilities-of-state-s-top-fiscal-officer" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Comptroller Candidates Debate Powers and Responsibilities of State's Top Fiscal Officer</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7985-max-murphy-podcast-republican-attorney-general-nominee-keith-wofford" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Republican Attorney General Nominee Keith Wofford</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7986-max-murphy-podcast-larry-sharpe-libertarian-nominee-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Larry Sharpe, Libertarian nominee for Governor</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7983-cuomo-challengers-levy-critiques-will-anything-stick" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo Challengers Level Critiques; Will Anything Stick?</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7976-a-lifelong-democrat-and-famed-civil-rights-attorney-michael-sussman-runs-for-attorney-general-as-a-green" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Lifelong Democrat and Famed Civil Rights Attorney, Michael Sussman Runs for Attorney General as a Green</a> by Victor Porcelli (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7973-klein-filing-late-post-primary-shows-over-3-million-in-senate-campaign-spending" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Klein, Filing Late Post-Primary, Shows Over $3 Million in Senate Campaign Spending</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7975-max-murphy-podcast-comptroller-tom-dinapoli" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Comptroller Tom DiNapoli</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7974-max-murphy-podcast-jonathan-trichter-republican-nominee-for-comptroller" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Jonathan Trichter, Republican nominee for Comptroller</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7969-cuomo-begins-push-to-flip-state-senate-and-house-of-representatives" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo Begins Push to Flip State Senate and House of Representatives</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7964-new-york-congressional-races-to-watch-end-of-september" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Congressional Races to Watch - Start of October</a> by Sam Raskin (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7962-how-blue-is-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;How ‘Blue’ is New York?&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:0},&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">How ‘Blue’ is New York?</span></a> by Ben Brachfeld (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7958-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-serve-america-movement-nominee-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Stephanie Miner, Serve America Movement Nominee for Governor</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7959-max-murphy-podcast-howie-hawkins-green-party-nominee-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Howie Hawkins, Green Party Nominee for Governor</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7957-post-primary-campaign-finance-filings-show-cuomo-s-already-spent-28-million" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Post-Primary Campaign Finance Filings Show Cuomo’s Already Spent $28 Million</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7954-cuomo-and-his-progressive-critics-face-moment-of-truth" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo and His Progressive Critics Face Moment of Truth</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7950-gubernatorial-candidates-miner-sharpe-hawkins-lay-out-campaign-platforms-cases-against-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Gubernatorial Candidates Miner, Sharpe &amp; Hawkins Lay Out Campaign Platforms, Cases Against Cuomo</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7947-democrats-target-previously-ignored-brooklyn-shot-at-state-senate-majority" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democrats Target Previously Ignored Brooklyn Shot at State Senate Majority</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7945-after-primary-wins-progressive-activists-eye-flipping-state-senate-seats-and-wide-majority" target="_blank" rel="noopener">After Primary Wins, Progressive Activists Eye Flipping State Senate Seats, and Wide Majority</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7941-max-murphy-podcast-marc-molinaro-republican-nominee-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Marc Molinaro, Republican Nominee for GovernorMax &amp; Murphy Podcast: Marc Molinaro, Republican Nominee for Governor</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7942-max-murphy-podcast-primary-post-mortem-with-rebecca-katz-top-cynthia-nixon-strategist" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Primary Post-Mortem with Rebecca Katz, Top Cynthia Nixon Strategist</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7943-surging-democratic-voter-turnout-in-new-york-city-may-mean-greater-importance-in-state-elections" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Surging Democratic Voter Turnout in New York City May Mean Greater Importance in State Elections</a> by Jim Brennan (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7940-republican-slate-seeks-to-end-statewide-drought" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Republican Slate Seeks to End Statewide Drought</a> by Ben Brachfeld &amp; Samar Khurshid</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7939-how-insurgent-forces-activated-educated-and-brought-the-idc-down" target="_blank" rel="noopener">How Insurgent Forces Activated, Educated and Brought the IDC Down</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7936-a-closer-look-at-democratic-primary-turnout-margins-and-geography" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Closer Look at Democratic Primary Turnout, Margins and Geography</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7937-the-real-story-of-cuomo-s-dominant-primary-win" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Real Story of Cuomo’s Dominant Primary Win</a> by Howard Glaser (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7931-2018-new-york-state-primary-election-results" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2018 New York State Primary Results: Cuomo, Hochul, James Prevail While Senate Upsets Abound</a>&nbsp;by Ben Max (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7933-cuomo-and-hochul-win-primaries-again-form-democratic-general-election-ticket" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo and Hochul Win Primaries, Again Form Democratic General Election Ticket</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7934-james-eyes-statewide-history-as-democratic-attorney-general-nominee" target="_blank" rel="noopener">James Eyes Statewide History as Democratic Attorney General Nominee</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7930-teachout-maloney-battle-may-help-james-win-attorney-general-nomination" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Teachout-Maloney Battle May Help James Win Attorney General Nomination</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7929-max-murphy-podcast-2018-primary-day-is-here" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Primary Day Is Here</a>&nbsp;by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7928-ahead-of-primary-cuomo-gives-limited-insight-into-third-term-agenda" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ahead of Primary, Cuomo Gives Limited Insight into Third Term Agenda</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7926-a-closer-look-at-the-democratic-attorney-general-candidates-legal-careers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Closer Look at the Democratic Attorney General Candidates’ Legal Careers</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7927-last-minute-guide-to-voting-on-primary-day-september-13" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Last-Minute Guide to Voting on Primary Day, September 13</a> by Ben Brachfeld (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7921-get-ready-to-vote-in-the-hochul-williams-lieutenant-governor-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Get Ready to Vote in the Hochul-Williams Lieutenant Governor Primary</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7925-how-independent-must-the-new-york-attorney-general-be" target="_blank" rel="noopener">How ‘Independent’ Must the New York Attorney General Be?</a> by Gerald Benjamin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7923-one-of-the-state-s-most-powerful-unions-tries-to-take-down-one-of-its-most-powerful-politicians" target="_blank" rel="noopener">One of the State's Most Powerful Unions Tries to Take Down One of Its Most Powerful Politicians</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7918-vacancy-in-the-public-advocate-s-office-call-the-city-council-speaker" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Vacancy in the Public Advocate's Office? Call the City Council Speaker</a>&nbsp;by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7913-max-murphy-podcast-final-days-of-the-lieutenant-governor-primary" target="_blank">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Final Days of the Lieutenant Governor Primary</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7914-in-brooklyn-blake-morris-tries-to-upend-the-state-senate-power-balance-all-by-himself">In Brooklyn, Blake Morris Tries to Upend the State Senate Power Balance All By Himself</a>&nbsp;by Ben Brachfeld (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7916-statewide-candidates-file-final-pre-primary-campaign-finance-disclosures" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Statewide Candidates File Final Pre-Primary Campaign Finance Disclosures&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Statewide Candidates File Final Pre-Primary Campaign Finance Disclosures</span></a>&nbsp;by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7917-candidates-in-contested-state-senate-primaries-file-final-pre-primary-financials" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Candidates in Contested State Senate Primaries File Final Pre-Primary Financials&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Candidates in Contested State Senate Primaries File Final Pre-Primary Financials</span></a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7910-potentially-crowded-public-advocate-special-election-could-feature-two-former-council-speakers" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Potentially Crowded Public Advocate Special Election Could Feature Two Former Council Speakers&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Potentially Crowded Public Advocate Special Election Could Feature Two Former Council Speakers</span></a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7907-watch-lieutenant-governor-democratic-primary-debate-between-kathy-hochul-and-jumaane-williams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">WATCH: Lieutenant Governor Democratic Primary Debate Between Kathy Hochul and Jumaane Williams</a> moderated by Ben Max (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7902-alleging-lies-molinaro-seeks-to-have-cuomo-attack-ad-pulled" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Alleging Lies, Molinaro Seeks to Have Cuomo Attack Ad Pulled</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7905-hochul-asserts-previously-unmentioned-role-in-anti-sexual-harassment-laws" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Hochul Asserts Previously Unmentioned Role in Anti-Sexual Harassment Laws</a> by Sam Raskin (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7897-max-murphy-podcast-an-intense-queens-senate-primary-with-jessica-ramos-and-senator-jose-peralta" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Intense Queens Senate Primary Centers on Delivering for Immigrant Communities, with Jessica Ramos &amp; State Senator Jose Peralta&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Intense Queens Senate Primary Centers on Delivering for Immigrant Communities, with Jessica Ramos &amp; State Senator Jose Peralta</span></a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7899-hochul-williams-outline-drastic-differences-in-lieutenant-governor-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Hochul, Williams Outline Drastic Differences in Lieutenant Governor Debate&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Hochul, Williams Outline Drastic Differences in Lieutenant Governor Debate</span></a> by Sam Raskin (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7900-arguing-throughout-cuomo-and-nixon-debate-experience-and-vision" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Arguing Throughout, Cuomo and Nixon Debate Experience and Vision&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Arguing Throughout, Cuomo and Nixon Debate Experience and Vision</span></a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7894-nixon-says-narrow-path-to-victory-paved-with-newly-registered-progressives-polls-not-capturing">Nixon Says 'Narrow Path' to Victory Paved with Newly-Registered Progressives Polls ‘Not Capturing’</a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7896-opponents-target-teachout-as-democratic-attorney-general-candidates-debate-role-and-resumes" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Opponents Target Teachout as Democratic Attorney General Candidates Debate Role and Resumes</a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7890-how-ronald-reagan-s-1966-run-for-governor-prefaced-cynthia-nixon-s-today" target="_blank" rel="noopener">How Ronald Reagan’s 1966 Run for Governor Prefaced Cynthia Nixon’s Today</a> by Caitlin Bishop (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7891-pressed-on-safe-act-teachout-downplays-past-opposition" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pressed on SAFE Act, Teachout Downplays Past Opposition</a> by Sam Raskin (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/130-opinion/7892-being-labeled-the-sheriff-of-wall-street-is-not-enough" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Being Labeled the ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’ Isn't Enough</a> by attorney general candidate Letitia James (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7884-running-for-attorney-general-james-takes-strong-atlantic-yards-record-too-far" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Running for Attorney General, James Takes Strong Atlantic Yards Record Too Far</a> by Norman Oder (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7889-senate-debate-offers-another-round-of-idc-argument-few-ideas-to-fix-nycha-or-mta" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Manhattan Senate Debate Offers Another Round of IDC Argument, Few Ideas to Fix NYCHA or the MTA</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7886-heastie-pac-brings-in-big-money-from-special-interests-starts-spending-on-candidates" target="_blank" rel="noopener">'Speaker Heastie PAC' Brings in Big Money from Special Interests, Starts Giving to Candidates</a> by Samar Khurshid &amp; 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Jeffries Backs Gov. 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href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7878-at-brooklyn-forum-nixon-pitches-policies-criticizes-cuomo-and-distances-from-de-blasio" target="_blank" rel="noopener">At Brooklyn Forum, Nixon Pitches Policy, Criticizes Cuomo and Distances from De Blasio</a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7875-what-you-can-learn-from-the-gubernatorial-candidates-campaign-websites" target="_blank" rel="noopener">What You Can Learn From Gubernatorial Candidates' Campaign Websites</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7865-candidates-for-governor-and-lieutenant-governor-file-pre-primary-fundraising-numbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democratic Candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor File Pre-Primary Fundraising Numbers</a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7866-ahead-of-primary-democrats-running-for-attorney-general-file-campaign-finance-disclosures" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ahead of Primary, Democrats Running for Attorney General File Campaign Finance Disclosures</a> by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7860-how-much-does-brooklyn-congressional-primary-result-show-path-in-overlapping-state-senate-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener">How Much Does Brooklyn Congressional Primary Result Show Path in Overlapping State Senate Race?</a> by Daniel Yadin (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7856-manhattan-rematch-of-tight-primary-takes-shape-in-different-political-environment" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rematch of Tight Manhattan Senate Primary Takes Shape in Different Political Environment</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7857-independence-from-cuomo-or-lack-thereof-becomes-flashpoint-in-attorney-general-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Independence from Cuomo, or Lack Thereof, Becomes Flashpoint in Attorney General Race</a> by Chelsey Sanchez &amp; Ben Max (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7851-running-for-attorney-general-james-outlines-initial-policy-platform" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Running for Attorney General, James Outlines Initial Policy Platform</a> by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7850-max-murphy-podcast-queens-state-senate-rematch-features-different-kinds-of-democrat" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Queens State Senate Rematch Features Different Kinds of Democrat</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7849-max-murphy-podcast-attorney-general-candidate-sean-patrick-maloney" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Attorney General Candidate Sean Patrick Maloney</a> by Ben Max (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7846-cuomo-brought-rogue-democrats-back-but-hasn-t-offered-or-accepted-endorsements-idc" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo Brought Rogue Democrats Back, But Hasn't Offered or Accepted Endorsements</a>&nbsp;by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7845-cuomo-and-legislative-leaders-silent-amid-intensifying-calls-for-sexual-harassment-hearings" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo and Legislative Leaders Silent Amid Intensifying Calls for Sexual Harassment Hearings</a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7843-key-to-victory-black-voters-appear-solidly-behind-cuomo-over-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Key to Victory, Black Voters Appear Solidly Behind Cuomo Over</a>&nbsp;by&nbsp;Mike Vilensky Nixon (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7836-max-murphy-podcast-manhattan-state-senate-rematch-centered-on-breakaway-democrats" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Manhattan State Senate Rematch Centered on Breakaway Democrats</a> by Ben Max (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7838-in-wide-open-lieutenant-governor-primary-hochul-targets-votes-in-williams-backyard" target="_blank" rel="noopener">In Wide Open Lieutenant Governor Primary, Hochul Targets Votes in Williams’ Backyard</a> by Ben Brachfeld &amp; Ben Max (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7839-undecided-leads-competitive-democratic-attorney-general-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">'Undecided' Leads Competitive Democratic Attorney General Primary</a> by Samar Khurshid &amp; Ben Max (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7831-what-new-york-voters-care-about-ahead-of-state-elections" target="_blank" rel="noopener">What New York Voters Care About Ahead of State Elections</a>&nbsp;by Ben Brachfeld &amp; Ben Max (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7828-eyeing-ad-revenue-and-antitrust-laws-teachout-targets-tech-giants-in-wake-of-daily-news-layoffs" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Eyeing Ad Revenue and Antitrust Laws, Teachout Targets Tech Giants in Wake of Daily News Layoffs</a>&nbsp;by Ben Brachfeld (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7824-max-murphy-podcast-attorney-general-candidate-leecia-eve" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Attorney General Candidate Leecia Eve</a>&nbsp;by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7822-in-midst-of-attorney-general-campaign-teachout-to-join-new-york-bar" target="_blank" rel="noopener">In Midst of Attorney General Campaign, Teachout to Join New York Bar</a>&nbsp;by Ben Max (July 2018)</p> <p>I<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7821-in-democratic-senate-primary-barkan-criticizes-gounardes-for-embracing-anti-immigrant-reform-party-leader" target="_blank" rel="noopener">n Democratic Senate Primary, Barkan Criticizes Gounardes for Embracing 'Anti-Immigrant' Reform Party Leader</a>&nbsp;by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7820-leading-immigrant-advocacy-group-backs-ramos-in-bid-to-unseat-peralta" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Leading Immigrant-Advocacy Group Backs Ramos in Bid to Unseat Peralta</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7818-inside-attorney-general-candidates-july-campaign-finance-filings" target="_blank">Inside the Democratic Attorney General Candidates’ July Campaign Finance Filings</a> by Ben Brachfeld (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7812-max-murphy-podcast-letitia-james-the-attorney-general-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Letitia James &amp; the Attorney General Primary</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7813-the-july-financial-picture-for-former-breakaway-democrats-and-their-primary-challengers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The July Financial Picture for Former Breakaway Democrats and Their Primary Challengers</a> by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7810-statewide-candidates-file-july-fundraising-numbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Statewide Candidates File July Fundraising Numbers</a> by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7804-amid-primary-fights-cuomo-and-hochul-increase-frequency-of-joint-events" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Amid Primary Fights, Cuomo and Hochul Increase Frequency of Joint Governmental Events</a> by Ben Brachfeld &amp; Ben Max (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7805-assembly-race-poses-another-test-for-queens-machine" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Assembly Race Poses Another Test for Queens Machine</a> by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7808-the-cynthia-nixon-working-families-party-back-up-plan">The Cynthia Nixon-Working Families Party Back-up Plan</a> by Ben Max (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7800-i-m-with-cynthia-because-she-stands-for-schools-not-jails" target="_blank" rel="noopener">I’m with Cynthia Because She Stands for Schools, Not Jails</a> by Antonio Reynoso (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7798-new-york-democrats-season-of-choosing" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Democrats’ Season of Choosing</a> by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7791-max-murphy-podcast-attorney-general-candidate-zephyr-teachout" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Attorney General Candidate Zephyr Teachout</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7793-emily-s-list-backs-hochul-for-reelection-as-lieutenant-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">EMILY’s List Backs Hochul for Reelection as Lieutenant Governor</a> by Ben Max (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7782-running-for-state-senate-julia-salazar-attempts-progressive-primary-upset" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Running for State Senate, Julia Salazar Attempts Progressive Primary Upset&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:513,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;12&quot;:0}">Running for State Senate, Julia Salazar Attempts Progressive Primary Upset</span></a> by Daniel Yadin (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7773-democratic-candidates-for-attorney-general-plant-campaign-flags" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democratic Candidates for Attorney General Plant Campaign Flags</a> by Ben Brachfeld &amp; Ben Max&nbsp;(June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7774-a-closer-look-at-voter-turnout-in-2018-new-york-congressional-primaries" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Closer Look at Voter Turnout in 2018 New York Congressional Primaries</a> by Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7775-new-york-general-election-congressional-matchups-to-watch" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York General Election Congressional Matchups to Watch</a> by Samar Khurshid &amp; Daniel Yadin (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7771-molinaro-starts-campaign-on-attack-policy-plans-to-come" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Molinaro Starts Campaign on Attack, Policy Plans to Come</a> by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7770-ocasio-cortez-upsets-crowley-donovan-defeats-grimm-other-2018-new-york-congressional-primary-results" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm &amp; Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7768-hochul-divided-democratic-party-only-benefits-republicans" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Hochul: Divided Democratic Party Only Benefits Republicans&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:897,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;10&quot;:0,&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Hochul: Divided Democratic Party Only Benefits Republicans</span></a> by Caitlin Bishop (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7765-donovan-grimm-in-final-days-of-contentious-congressional-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Donovan, Grimm in Final Days of Contentious Congressional Primary</a> by Jordan Kimmel &amp; Chelsey Sanchez (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7758-democratic-campaign-chief-even-a-blue-trickle-will-flip-state-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democratic Campaign Chief: Even a ‘Blue Trickle’ Will Flip State Senate</a> by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7745-andrea-stewart-cousins-on-democratic-unity-and-the-value-of-primaries" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Democratic Unity and the ‘Value’ of Primaries</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7746-citing-broken-cuomo-promises-nixon-unveils-campaign-finance-reform-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Citing Broken Cuomo Promises, Nixon Unveils Campaign Finance Reform Plan</a> by Samar Khurshid (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7737-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-kathy-hochul" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7740-on-taxes-the-mta-and-more-molinaro-discusses-developing-campaign-platform" target="_blank" rel="noopener">On Taxes, the MTA and More, Molinaro Discusses Developing Campaign Platform</a> by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7728-new-york-congressional-primaries-to-watch-ahead-of-june-26-vote" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Congressional Primaries to Watch Ahead of June 26 Vote</a> by Jordan Kimmel &amp; Daniel Yadin (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7714-teachout-launches-attorney-general-campaign-with-focus-on-trump" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Teachout Launches Attorney General Campaign with Focus on Trump</a>&nbsp;by Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7702-inside-cynthia-nixon-s-developing-campaign-infrastructure" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Inside Cynthia Nixon’s Developing Campaign Infrastructure</a> by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7694-stephanie-miner-diagnoses-what-s-wrong-with-new-york-politics" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Stephanie Miner Diagnoses What’s Wrong with New York Politics</a> by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7692-max-murphy-podcast-state-party-conventions-nominations" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: State Party Conventions &amp; Nominations</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7695-rallying-volunteers-nixon-responds-to-democratic-convention-result" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rallying Volunteers, Nixon Responds to Democratic Convention Result</a> by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7692-max-murphy-podcast-state-party-conventions-nominations" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: State Party Conventions &amp; Nominations</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7683-three-themes-to-watch-at-the-state-democratic-convention" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Three Themes to Watch at State Democratic Convention</a> by Samar Khurshid (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7684-cuomo-launched-women-s-equality-party-will-soon-make-statewide-nominations" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo-Launched Women’s Equality Party Will Soon Make Statewide Nominations</a> by Ben Max (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7682-party-nominations-for-statewide-elections-come-into-focus" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Party Nominations for Statewide Elections Come Into Focus</a> by Ben Max (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7681-james-victory-in-attorney-general-race-could-trigger-first-citywide-special-election" target="_blank" rel="noopener">James Victory in Attorney General Race Would Trigger Citywide Special Election</a> by Samar Khurshid (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7677-letitia-james-launches-campaign-for-attorney-general" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Letitia James Launches Campaign for Attorney General</a> by Samar Khurshid (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7678-exploring-attorney-general-run-zephyr-teachout-pursues-working-families-nomination-democratic-ballot-line" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Exploring Attorney General Run, Zephyr Teachout Pursues Working Families Nomination, Democratic Ballot Line</a> by Ben Max (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7664-the-contradictions-of-cross-endorsements-in-the-governor-s-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;The Contradictions of Cross-Endorsements in the Governor’s Race&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:513,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;12&quot;:0}">The Contradictions of Cross-Endorsements in the Governor’s Race</span></a> by Howie Hawks (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7649-marc-molinaro-and-the-trump-question" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Marc Molinaro and The Trump Question</a> by Ben Max (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7647-defining-real-democrat-cynthia-nixon-offers-early-policy-platform" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Defining 'Real Democrat,' Cynthia Nixon Offers Early Policy Platform</a> by Ben Max &amp; Matthew Sweeney (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7632-max-murphy-podcast-political-purity-tests-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Political Purity Tests in New York</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7637-as-cuomo-chooses-democratic-unity-party-s-activist-base-chooses-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">As Cuomo Chooses Democratic Unity, Party Activist Base Chooses Nixon</a> by David Colon (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7634-special-election-results-for-11-state-legislative-seats" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Special Election Results for 11 State Legislative Seats</a> by Ben Max (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7635-progressives-draft-convention-resolution-to-allow-unaffiliated-voters-in-democratic-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Progressives Draft Convention Resolution to Allow Unaffiliated Voters in Democratic Primary</a> by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7635-progressives-draft-convention-resolution-to-allow-unaffiliated-voters-in-democratic-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Progressives Draft Convention Resolution to Allow Unaffiliated Voters in Democratic Primary</a> by Ashley Hupfl (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7624-major-cuomo-supporters-don-t-want-a-democratic-state-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Major Cuomo Supporters Don’t Want a Democratic State Senate</a> by&nbsp;Ben Brachfeld&nbsp;(April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7621-republican-governors-association-keeping-close-eye-on-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Republican Governors Association ‘Keeping Close Eye’ on New York</a> by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7613-cuomo-s-2018-progressive-promises-reminiscent-of-four-years-ago" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo's Progressive Promises, Reminiscent of Four Years Ago, Received Differently</a> by Sam Raskin (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7611-molinaro-outlines-initial-ethics-and-campaign-finance-reform-agenda" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Molinaro Outlines Initial Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform Agenda</a> by Ben Max (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7595-nixon-candidacy-spotlights-education-advocacy-group" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nixon Candidacy Spotlights Education Advocacy Group</a> by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7592-after-government-investments-cuomo-taps-brewing-industry-for-campaign-contributions" target="_blank" rel="noopener">After Government Investment, Cuomo Taps Brewing Industry for Campaign Contributions</a> by Shant Shahrigian (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7593-cuomo-state-democrats-issue-misleading-pleas-about-flipping-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo, State Democrats Issue Misleading Pleas About Flipping Senate</a> by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7584-nixon-cuomo-primary-spotlights-role-of-state-democratic-party" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Nixon-Cuomo Primary Spotlights Role of State Democratic Party&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:4512,&quot;8&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:[{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;5&quot;:[null,0]},{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;3&quot;:3},{&quot;1&quot;:1,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:1}]},&quot;10&quot;:2,&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;15&quot;:&quot;arial,sans,sans-serif&quot;}">Nixon-Cuomo Primary Spotlights Role of State Democratic Party</span></a> by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">In Run for Governor, Marc Molinaro Will Make a Character Argument</a> by Ben Max (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7570-cynthia-nixon-recently-re-registered-to-vote-in-manhattan" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Cynthia Nixon Recently Re-registered to Vote in Manhattan&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:513,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;12&quot;:0}">Cynthia Nixon Recently Re-registered to Vote in Manhattan</span></a> by Ben Max (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7571-sex-and-the-city-likely-to-stay-on-air-through-nixon-cuomo-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">‘Sex and the City’ Likely to Stay on Air Through Nixon-Cuomo Primary</a> by Ben Brachfeld (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7561-cuomo-campaign-removes-misleading-boast-of-old-endorsements" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo Campaign Removes Misleading Boast of Old Endorsements</a> by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7549-cynthia-nixon-announces-democratic-primary-challenge-to-governor-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cynthia Nixon Announces Democratic Primary Challenge to Governor Cuomo</a> by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7543-molinaro-emerges-on-top-after-manhattan-gop-gubernatorial-candidate-forum" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Molinaro Emerges on Top After Manhattan GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Forum</a> by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7545-progressive-groups-endorse-democrat-in-key-westchester-senate-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Progressive Groups Endorse Democrat in Key Westchester Senate Race</a> by&nbsp;Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7543-molinaro-emerges-on-top-after-manhattan-gop-gubernatorial-candidate-forum" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Molinaro Emerges on Top After Manhattan GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Forum</a> by&nbsp;Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7536-max-murphy-podcast-a-journalist-runs-for-state-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: A Journalist Runs for State Senate A Journalist Runs for State Senate</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7526-poll-targeting-brooklyn-district-gauges-anti-idc-sentiment" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Poll Targeting Brooklyn District Gauges Anti-IDC Sentiment</a> by Rachel Silberstein (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7525-fierce-cuomo-critics-de-blasio-allied-advisors-have-been-ready-for-cynthia" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Fierce Cuomo Critics, De Blasio-Allied Advisors Have Been ‘Ready for Cynthia’</a> by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7504-senate-candidates-outline-primary-campaigns-against-trump-democrats" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Senate Candidates Outline Primary Campaigns Against ‘Trump Democrats</a> by Matthew Sweeney &amp; Ben Max (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7494-max-murphy-podcast-idc-challengers-robert-jackson-jessica-ramos" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: IDC Challengers Robert Jackson &amp; Jessica Ramos&nbsp;</a>by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy (February 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7493-as-hochul-pushes-cuomo-agenda-williams-takes-on-both-in-primary-challenge" target="_blank" rel="noopener">As Hochul Pushes Cuomo Agenda, Williams Takes on Both in Primary Challenge </a>by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7490-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-candidate-jumaane-williams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jumaane Williams</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy (February 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7483-the-11-special-elections-set-for-april-24">11 Special Elections Set for April 24</a> by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7453-staten-island-activist-eyes-primary-challenge-to-idc-senator-savino">Staten Island Activist Eyes Primary Challenge to IDC Senator Savino</a> by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7439-running-without-establishment-support-idc-challengers-show-initial-fundraising-strides">Running Without Establishment Support, IDC Challengers Show Initial Fundraising Strides</a> by Rachel Silberstein (January 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7434-2018-will-be-a-busy-contentious-election-year-in-new-york">2018 Will Be a Busy, Contentious Election Year in New York</a> by Matthew Sweeney (January 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7422-city-council-member-jumaane-williams-to-explore-run-for-lieutenant-governor">City Council Member Jumaane Williams to Explore Run for Lieutenant Governor</a> by Ben Max (January 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7329-possible-gop-gubernatorial-candidates-weigh-chances-to-unseat-cuomo">Possible GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Weigh Chances to Unseat Cuomo</a> by Rachel Silberstein (November 2017)</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

&nbsp;</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/38198034236_bf971489f7_z_1.jpg" alt="Andrew Cuomo voting" width="600" height="367" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo votes (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In 2018, New York will be home to elections for statewide seats including Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller, as well as one of its two United States Senate seats. In all five positions but Attorney General, incumbent Democrats are seeking reelection. In three -- Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General -- there are competitive primaries that will be decided Thursday September 13.</p> <p>New York is also home this year to elections for all of its 27 seats in The House of Representatives -- races that will help determine which political party controls the chamber -- and in the state Legislature, with its 63 state Senate seats and 150 Assembly seats. The state Senate races will determine which party controls the chamber, which Republicans currently lead by a slight margin due to the defection of rogue Democrats. The Assembly is certain to remain solidly in Democratic hands.</p> <p>Congressional primaries occured June 26; while primaries for the state-level elections will occur September 13. Election Day -- with the general election for all 2018 races -- will occur November 6. (There were also special elections April 24 to fill 11 vacancies in the state Legislature, two in the Senate and nine in the Assembly.)</p> <p>As New Yorkers prepare to go to the polls for the September 13 primaries, which are largely on the Democratic side, and the November 6 general election, our ongoing election coverage:</p> <p><em><strong>Gotham Gazette's ongoing coverage of the 2018 elections in New York, with the most recent first:</strong></em></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7998-max-murphy-podcast-battle-for-control-of-the-state-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Battle for Control of the State Senate</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/8003-updated-can-democrats-win-the-state-senate-how-progressive-is-cuomo-new-yorkers-are-about-to-find-out" target="_blank" rel="noopener">[Updated] Can Democrats win the state Senate? How progressive is Cuomo? New Yorkers are about to find out</a> by Art Chang&nbsp;(October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7997-speaker-heastie-pac-gives-to-james-for-ag-skoufis-for-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">'Speaker Heastie PAC' Gives to James for AG, Skoufis for Senate</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8000-brewer-creates-committee-to-oppose-charter-revision-proposals" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Brewer Creates Committee to Oppose Charter Revision Proposals</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7995-despite-lack-of-support-from-cuomo-democrats-in-swing-districts-run-on-not-from-single-payer-health-care" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democrats in Swing Districts Run On, Not From, Single-Payer Health Care</a> by David Colon (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7989-watch-state-comptroller-candidate-debate-dinapoli-trichter-2018" target="_blank" rel="noopener">WATCH: State Comptroller Candidate Debate</a> by Ben Max (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7984-is-this-the-election-that-kills-fusion-voting-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Is this the Election that Kills Fusion Voting in New York?</a> by David Colon (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7987-comptroller-candidates-debate-powers-and-responsibilities-of-state-s-top-fiscal-officer" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Comptroller Candidates Debate Powers and Responsibilities of State's Top Fiscal Officer</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7985-max-murphy-podcast-republican-attorney-general-nominee-keith-wofford" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Republican Attorney General Nominee Keith Wofford</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7986-max-murphy-podcast-larry-sharpe-libertarian-nominee-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Larry Sharpe, Libertarian nominee for Governor</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7983-cuomo-challengers-levy-critiques-will-anything-stick" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo Challengers Level Critiques; Will Anything Stick?</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7976-a-lifelong-democrat-and-famed-civil-rights-attorney-michael-sussman-runs-for-attorney-general-as-a-green" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Lifelong Democrat and Famed Civil Rights Attorney, Michael Sussman Runs for Attorney General as a Green</a> by Victor Porcelli (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7973-klein-filing-late-post-primary-shows-over-3-million-in-senate-campaign-spending" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Klein, Filing Late Post-Primary, Shows Over $3 Million in Senate Campaign Spending</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7975-max-murphy-podcast-comptroller-tom-dinapoli" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Comptroller Tom DiNapoli</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7974-max-murphy-podcast-jonathan-trichter-republican-nominee-for-comptroller" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Jonathan Trichter, Republican nominee for Comptroller</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7969-cuomo-begins-push-to-flip-state-senate-and-house-of-representatives" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo Begins Push to Flip State Senate and House of Representatives</a> by Samar Khurshid (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7964-new-york-congressional-races-to-watch-end-of-september" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Congressional Races to Watch - Start of October</a> by Sam Raskin (October 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7962-how-blue-is-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;How ‘Blue’ is New York?&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:0},&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">How ‘Blue’ is New York?</span></a> by Ben Brachfeld (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7958-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-serve-america-movement-nominee-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Stephanie Miner, Serve America Movement Nominee for Governor</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7959-max-murphy-podcast-howie-hawkins-green-party-nominee-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Howie Hawkins, Green Party Nominee for Governor</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7957-post-primary-campaign-finance-filings-show-cuomo-s-already-spent-28-million" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Post-Primary Campaign Finance Filings Show Cuomo’s Already Spent $28 Million</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7954-cuomo-and-his-progressive-critics-face-moment-of-truth" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo and His Progressive Critics Face Moment of Truth</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7950-gubernatorial-candidates-miner-sharpe-hawkins-lay-out-campaign-platforms-cases-against-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Gubernatorial Candidates Miner, Sharpe &amp; Hawkins Lay Out Campaign Platforms, Cases Against Cuomo</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7947-democrats-target-previously-ignored-brooklyn-shot-at-state-senate-majority" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democrats Target Previously Ignored Brooklyn Shot at State Senate Majority</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7945-after-primary-wins-progressive-activists-eye-flipping-state-senate-seats-and-wide-majority" target="_blank" rel="noopener">After Primary Wins, Progressive Activists Eye Flipping State Senate Seats, and Wide Majority</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7941-max-murphy-podcast-marc-molinaro-republican-nominee-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Marc Molinaro, Republican Nominee for GovernorMax &amp; Murphy Podcast: Marc Molinaro, Republican Nominee for Governor</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7942-max-murphy-podcast-primary-post-mortem-with-rebecca-katz-top-cynthia-nixon-strategist" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Primary Post-Mortem with Rebecca Katz, Top Cynthia Nixon Strategist</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7943-surging-democratic-voter-turnout-in-new-york-city-may-mean-greater-importance-in-state-elections" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Surging Democratic Voter Turnout in New York City May Mean Greater Importance in State Elections</a> by Jim Brennan (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7940-republican-slate-seeks-to-end-statewide-drought" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Republican Slate Seeks to End Statewide Drought</a> by Ben Brachfeld &amp; Samar Khurshid</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7939-how-insurgent-forces-activated-educated-and-brought-the-idc-down" target="_blank" rel="noopener">How Insurgent Forces Activated, Educated and Brought the IDC Down</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7936-a-closer-look-at-democratic-primary-turnout-margins-and-geography" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Closer Look at Democratic Primary Turnout, Margins and Geography</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7937-the-real-story-of-cuomo-s-dominant-primary-win" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Real Story of Cuomo’s Dominant Primary Win</a> by Howard Glaser (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7931-2018-new-york-state-primary-election-results" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2018 New York State Primary Results: Cuomo, Hochul, James Prevail While Senate Upsets Abound</a>&nbsp;by Ben Max (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7933-cuomo-and-hochul-win-primaries-again-form-democratic-general-election-ticket" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo and Hochul Win Primaries, Again Form Democratic General Election Ticket</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7934-james-eyes-statewide-history-as-democratic-attorney-general-nominee" target="_blank" rel="noopener">James Eyes Statewide History as Democratic Attorney General Nominee</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7930-teachout-maloney-battle-may-help-james-win-attorney-general-nomination" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Teachout-Maloney Battle May Help James Win Attorney General Nomination</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7929-max-murphy-podcast-2018-primary-day-is-here" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Primary Day Is Here</a>&nbsp;by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7928-ahead-of-primary-cuomo-gives-limited-insight-into-third-term-agenda" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ahead of Primary, Cuomo Gives Limited Insight into Third Term Agenda</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7926-a-closer-look-at-the-democratic-attorney-general-candidates-legal-careers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Closer Look at the Democratic Attorney General Candidates’ Legal Careers</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7927-last-minute-guide-to-voting-on-primary-day-september-13" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Last-Minute Guide to Voting on Primary Day, September 13</a> by Ben Brachfeld (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7921-get-ready-to-vote-in-the-hochul-williams-lieutenant-governor-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Get Ready to Vote in the Hochul-Williams Lieutenant Governor Primary</a> by Sam Raskin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7925-how-independent-must-the-new-york-attorney-general-be" target="_blank" rel="noopener">How ‘Independent’ Must the New York Attorney General Be?</a> by Gerald Benjamin (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7923-one-of-the-state-s-most-powerful-unions-tries-to-take-down-one-of-its-most-powerful-politicians" target="_blank" rel="noopener">One of the State's Most Powerful Unions Tries to Take Down One of Its Most Powerful Politicians</a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7918-vacancy-in-the-public-advocate-s-office-call-the-city-council-speaker" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Vacancy in the Public Advocate's Office? Call the City Council Speaker</a>&nbsp;by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7913-max-murphy-podcast-final-days-of-the-lieutenant-governor-primary" target="_blank">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Final Days of the Lieutenant Governor Primary</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7914-in-brooklyn-blake-morris-tries-to-upend-the-state-senate-power-balance-all-by-himself">In Brooklyn, Blake Morris Tries to Upend the State Senate Power Balance All By Himself</a>&nbsp;by Ben Brachfeld (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7916-statewide-candidates-file-final-pre-primary-campaign-finance-disclosures" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Statewide Candidates File Final Pre-Primary Campaign Finance Disclosures&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Statewide Candidates File Final Pre-Primary Campaign Finance Disclosures</span></a>&nbsp;by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7917-candidates-in-contested-state-senate-primaries-file-final-pre-primary-financials" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Candidates in Contested State Senate Primaries File Final Pre-Primary Financials&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Candidates in Contested State Senate Primaries File Final Pre-Primary Financials</span></a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7910-potentially-crowded-public-advocate-special-election-could-feature-two-former-council-speakers" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Potentially Crowded Public Advocate Special Election Could Feature Two Former Council Speakers&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Potentially Crowded Public Advocate Special Election Could Feature Two Former Council Speakers</span></a> by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7907-watch-lieutenant-governor-democratic-primary-debate-between-kathy-hochul-and-jumaane-williams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">WATCH: Lieutenant Governor Democratic Primary Debate Between Kathy Hochul and Jumaane Williams</a> moderated by Ben Max (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7902-alleging-lies-molinaro-seeks-to-have-cuomo-attack-ad-pulled" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Alleging Lies, Molinaro Seeks to Have Cuomo Attack Ad Pulled</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7905-hochul-asserts-previously-unmentioned-role-in-anti-sexual-harassment-laws" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Hochul Asserts Previously Unmentioned Role in Anti-Sexual Harassment Laws</a> by Sam Raskin (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7897-max-murphy-podcast-an-intense-queens-senate-primary-with-jessica-ramos-and-senator-jose-peralta" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Intense Queens Senate Primary Centers on Delivering for Immigrant Communities, with Jessica Ramos &amp; State Senator Jose Peralta&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Intense Queens Senate Primary Centers on Delivering for Immigrant Communities, with Jessica Ramos &amp; State Senator Jose Peralta</span></a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7899-hochul-williams-outline-drastic-differences-in-lieutenant-governor-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Hochul, Williams Outline Drastic Differences in Lieutenant Governor Debate&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Hochul, Williams Outline Drastic Differences in Lieutenant Governor Debate</span></a> by Sam Raskin (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7900-arguing-throughout-cuomo-and-nixon-debate-experience-and-vision" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Arguing Throughout, Cuomo and Nixon Debate Experience and Vision&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:769,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Arguing Throughout, Cuomo and Nixon Debate Experience and Vision</span></a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7894-nixon-says-narrow-path-to-victory-paved-with-newly-registered-progressives-polls-not-capturing">Nixon Says 'Narrow Path' to Victory Paved with Newly-Registered Progressives Polls ‘Not Capturing’</a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7896-opponents-target-teachout-as-democratic-attorney-general-candidates-debate-role-and-resumes" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Opponents Target Teachout as Democratic Attorney General Candidates Debate Role and Resumes</a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7890-how-ronald-reagan-s-1966-run-for-governor-prefaced-cynthia-nixon-s-today" target="_blank" rel="noopener">How Ronald Reagan’s 1966 Run for Governor Prefaced Cynthia Nixon’s Today</a> by Caitlin Bishop (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7891-pressed-on-safe-act-teachout-downplays-past-opposition" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pressed on SAFE Act, Teachout Downplays Past Opposition</a> by Sam Raskin (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/130-opinion/7892-being-labeled-the-sheriff-of-wall-street-is-not-enough" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Being Labeled the ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’ Isn't Enough</a> by attorney general candidate Letitia James (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7884-running-for-attorney-general-james-takes-strong-atlantic-yards-record-too-far" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Running for Attorney General, James Takes Strong Atlantic Yards Record Too Far</a> by Norman Oder (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7889-senate-debate-offers-another-round-of-idc-argument-few-ideas-to-fix-nycha-or-mta" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Manhattan Senate Debate Offers Another Round of IDC Argument, Few Ideas to Fix NYCHA or the MTA</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7886-heastie-pac-brings-in-big-money-from-special-interests-starts-spending-on-candidates" target="_blank" rel="noopener">'Speaker Heastie PAC' Brings in Big Money from Special Interests, Starts Giving to Candidates</a> by Samar Khurshid &amp; Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7879-rep-jeffries-backs-cuomo-for-reelection-as-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rep. Jeffries Backs Gov. Cuomo for Reelection</a> by Chelsey Sanchez &amp; Ben Max (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7883-some-new-york-democrats-are-backing-nixon-for-governor-and-james-for-attorney-general" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Some New York Democrats are Backing Nixon for Governor and James for Attorney General</a> by Samar Khurshid &amp; Ben Max (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7880-max-murphy-podcast-preparing-for-primary-day" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Preparing for Primary Day</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7877-democratic-attorney-general-candidates-seek-to-set-themselves-apart-during-first-televised-debate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democratic Attorney General Candidates Seek to Set Themselves Apart During First Televised Debate</a> by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7878-at-brooklyn-forum-nixon-pitches-policies-criticizes-cuomo-and-distances-from-de-blasio" target="_blank" rel="noopener">At Brooklyn Forum, Nixon Pitches Policy, Criticizes Cuomo and Distances from De Blasio</a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7875-what-you-can-learn-from-the-gubernatorial-candidates-campaign-websites" target="_blank" rel="noopener">What You Can Learn From Gubernatorial Candidates' Campaign Websites</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7865-candidates-for-governor-and-lieutenant-governor-file-pre-primary-fundraising-numbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Democratic Candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor File Pre-Primary Fundraising Numbers</a> by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7866-ahead-of-primary-democrats-running-for-attorney-general-file-campaign-finance-disclosures" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ahead of Primary, Democrats Running for Attorney General File Campaign Finance Disclosures</a> by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7860-how-much-does-brooklyn-congressional-primary-result-show-path-in-overlapping-state-senate-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener">How Much Does Brooklyn Congressional Primary Result Show Path in Overlapping State Senate Race?</a> by Daniel Yadin (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7856-manhattan-rematch-of-tight-primary-takes-shape-in-different-political-environment" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rematch of Tight Manhattan Senate Primary Takes Shape in Different Political Environment</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7857-independence-from-cuomo-or-lack-thereof-becomes-flashpoint-in-attorney-general-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Independence from Cuomo, or Lack Thereof, Becomes Flashpoint in Attorney General Race</a> by Chelsey Sanchez &amp; Ben Max (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7851-running-for-attorney-general-james-outlines-initial-policy-platform" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Running for Attorney General, James Outlines Initial Policy Platform</a> by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7850-max-murphy-podcast-queens-state-senate-rematch-features-different-kinds-of-democrat" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Queens State Senate Rematch Features Different Kinds of Democrat</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)</p> <p><a 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rel="noopener">In Midst of Attorney General Campaign, Teachout to Join New York Bar</a>&nbsp;by Ben Max (July 2018)</p> <p>I<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7821-in-democratic-senate-primary-barkan-criticizes-gounardes-for-embracing-anti-immigrant-reform-party-leader" target="_blank" rel="noopener">n Democratic Senate Primary, Barkan Criticizes Gounardes for Embracing 'Anti-Immigrant' Reform Party Leader</a>&nbsp;by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7820-leading-immigrant-advocacy-group-backs-ramos-in-bid-to-unseat-peralta" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Leading Immigrant-Advocacy Group Backs Ramos in Bid to Unseat Peralta</a> by Chelsey Sanchez (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7818-inside-attorney-general-candidates-july-campaign-finance-filings" target="_blank">Inside the Democratic Attorney General Candidates’ July Campaign Finance Filings</a> by Ben Brachfeld (July 2018)</p> <p><a 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Hochul Increase Frequency of Joint Governmental Events</a> by Ben Brachfeld &amp; Ben Max (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7805-assembly-race-poses-another-test-for-queens-machine" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Assembly Race Poses Another Test for Queens Machine</a> by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7808-the-cynthia-nixon-working-families-party-back-up-plan">The Cynthia Nixon-Working Families Party Back-up Plan</a> by Ben Max (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7800-i-m-with-cynthia-because-she-stands-for-schools-not-jails" target="_blank" rel="noopener">I’m with Cynthia Because She Stands for Schools, Not Jails</a> by Antonio Reynoso (July 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7798-new-york-democrats-season-of-choosing" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Democrats’ Season of Choosing</a> by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)</p> <p><a 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Policy Plans to Come</a> by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7770-ocasio-cortez-upsets-crowley-donovan-defeats-grimm-other-2018-new-york-congressional-primary-results" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm &amp; Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7768-hochul-divided-democratic-party-only-benefits-republicans" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Hochul: Divided Democratic Party Only Benefits Republicans&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:897,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;10&quot;:0,&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;12&quot;:0}">Hochul: Divided Democratic Party Only Benefits Republicans</span></a> by Caitlin Bishop (June 2018)</p> <p><a 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Campaign Finance Reform Plan</a> by Samar Khurshid (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7737-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-kathy-hochul" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7740-on-taxes-the-mta-and-more-molinaro-discusses-developing-campaign-platform" target="_blank" rel="noopener">On Taxes, the MTA and More, Molinaro Discusses Developing Campaign Platform</a> by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7728-new-york-congressional-primaries-to-watch-ahead-of-june-26-vote" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Congressional Primaries to Watch Ahead of June 26 Vote</a> by Jordan Kimmel &amp; Daniel Yadin (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7714-teachout-launches-attorney-general-campaign-with-focus-on-trump" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Teachout Launches Attorney General Campaign with Focus on Trump</a>&nbsp;by Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (June 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7702-inside-cynthia-nixon-s-developing-campaign-infrastructure" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Inside Cynthia Nixon’s Developing Campaign Infrastructure</a> by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7694-stephanie-miner-diagnoses-what-s-wrong-with-new-york-politics" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Stephanie Miner Diagnoses What’s Wrong with New York Politics</a> by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)</p> <p><a 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Attorney General</a> by Samar Khurshid (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7678-exploring-attorney-general-run-zephyr-teachout-pursues-working-families-nomination-democratic-ballot-line" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Exploring Attorney General Run, Zephyr Teachout Pursues Working Families Nomination, Democratic Ballot Line</a> by Ben Max (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7664-the-contradictions-of-cross-endorsements-in-the-governor-s-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;The Contradictions of Cross-Endorsements in the Governor’s Race&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:513,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;12&quot;:0}">The Contradictions of Cross-Endorsements in the Governor’s Race</span></a> by Howie Hawks (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7649-marc-molinaro-and-the-trump-question" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Marc Molinaro and The Trump Question</a> by Ben Max (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7647-defining-real-democrat-cynthia-nixon-offers-early-policy-platform" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Defining 'Real Democrat,' Cynthia Nixon Offers Early Policy Platform</a> by Ben Max &amp; Matthew Sweeney (May 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7632-max-murphy-podcast-political-purity-tests-in-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Political Purity Tests in New York</a> by Ben Max&nbsp;&amp; Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7637-as-cuomo-chooses-democratic-unity-party-s-activist-base-chooses-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">As Cuomo Chooses Democratic Unity, Party Activist Base Chooses Nixon</a> by David Colon (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7634-special-election-results-for-11-state-legislative-seats" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Special 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href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7592-after-government-investments-cuomo-taps-brewing-industry-for-campaign-contributions" target="_blank" rel="noopener">After Government Investment, Cuomo Taps Brewing Industry for Campaign Contributions</a> by Shant Shahrigian (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7593-cuomo-state-democrats-issue-misleading-pleas-about-flipping-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo, State Democrats Issue Misleading Pleas About Flipping Senate</a> by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7584-nixon-cuomo-primary-spotlights-role-of-state-democratic-party" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Nixon-Cuomo Primary Spotlights Role of State Democratic Party&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:4512,&quot;8&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:[{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;5&quot;:[null,0]},{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;3&quot;:3},{&quot;1&quot;:1,&quot;2&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:1}]},&quot;10&quot;:2,&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;15&quot;:&quot;arial,sans,sans-serif&quot;}">Nixon-Cuomo Primary Spotlights Role of State Democratic Party</span></a> by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">In Run for Governor, Marc Molinaro Will Make a Character Argument</a> by Ben Max (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7570-cynthia-nixon-recently-re-registered-to-vote-in-manhattan" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;Cynthia Nixon Recently Re-registered to Vote in Manhattan&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:513,&quot;3&quot;:[null,0],&quot;12&quot;:0}">Cynthia Nixon Recently Re-registered to Vote in Manhattan</span></a> by Ben Max (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7571-sex-and-the-city-likely-to-stay-on-air-through-nixon-cuomo-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">‘Sex and the City’ Likely to Stay on Air Through Nixon-Cuomo Primary</a> by Ben Brachfeld (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7561-cuomo-campaign-removes-misleading-boast-of-old-endorsements" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo Campaign Removes Misleading Boast of Old Endorsements</a> by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7549-cynthia-nixon-announces-democratic-primary-challenge-to-governor-cuomo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cynthia Nixon Announces Democratic Primary Challenge to Governor Cuomo</a> by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7543-molinaro-emerges-on-top-after-manhattan-gop-gubernatorial-candidate-forum" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Molinaro Emerges on Top After Manhattan GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Forum</a> by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7545-progressive-groups-endorse-democrat-in-key-westchester-senate-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Progressive Groups Endorse Democrat in Key Westchester Senate Race</a> by&nbsp;Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7543-molinaro-emerges-on-top-after-manhattan-gop-gubernatorial-candidate-forum" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Molinaro Emerges on Top After Manhattan GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Forum</a> by&nbsp;Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7536-max-murphy-podcast-a-journalist-runs-for-state-senate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: A Journalist Runs for State Senate A Journalist Runs for State Senate</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7526-poll-targeting-brooklyn-district-gauges-anti-idc-sentiment" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Poll Targeting Brooklyn District Gauges Anti-IDC Sentiment</a> by Rachel Silberstein (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7525-fierce-cuomo-critics-de-blasio-allied-advisors-have-been-ready-for-cynthia" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Fierce Cuomo Critics, De Blasio-Allied Advisors Have Been ‘Ready for Cynthia’</a> by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7504-senate-candidates-outline-primary-campaigns-against-trump-democrats" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Senate Candidates Outline Primary Campaigns Against ‘Trump Democrats</a> by Matthew Sweeney &amp; Ben Max (March 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7494-max-murphy-podcast-idc-challengers-robert-jackson-jessica-ramos" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: IDC Challengers Robert Jackson &amp; Jessica Ramos&nbsp;</a>by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy (February 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7493-as-hochul-pushes-cuomo-agenda-williams-takes-on-both-in-primary-challenge" target="_blank" rel="noopener">As Hochul Pushes Cuomo Agenda, Williams Takes on Both in Primary Challenge </a>by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7490-max-murphy-podcast-lieutenant-governor-candidate-jumaane-williams" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jumaane Williams</a> by Ben Max &amp; Jarrett Murphy (February 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7483-the-11-special-elections-set-for-april-24">11 Special Elections Set for April 24</a> by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7453-staten-island-activist-eyes-primary-challenge-to-idc-senator-savino">Staten Island Activist Eyes Primary Challenge to IDC Senator Savino</a> by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7439-running-without-establishment-support-idc-challengers-show-initial-fundraising-strides">Running Without Establishment Support, IDC Challengers Show Initial Fundraising Strides</a> by Rachel Silberstein (January 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7434-2018-will-be-a-busy-contentious-election-year-in-new-york">2018 Will Be a Busy, Contentious Election Year in New York</a> by Matthew Sweeney (January 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7422-city-council-member-jumaane-williams-to-explore-run-for-lieutenant-governor">City Council Member Jumaane Williams to Explore Run for Lieutenant Governor</a> by Ben Max (January 2018)</p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7329-possible-gop-gubernatorial-candidates-weigh-chances-to-unseat-cuomo">Possible GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Weigh Chances to Unseat Cuomo</a> by Rachel Silberstein (November 2017)</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

&nbsp;</p>
Cuomo and Legislative Leaders Silent Amid Intensifying Calls for Sexual Harassment Hearings 2018-08-06T04:00:00+00:00 2018-08-06T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7845:cuomo-and-legislative-leaders-silent-amid-intensifying-calls-for-sexual-harassment-hearings Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/8967996833_7739e76434_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo Women's Equality Act presser 2013" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo in 2013 (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As part of the #MeToo movement, a group of women who experienced sexual harassment or abuse while working in New York state government have for months been advocating for public hearings on the culture that enables that misconduct in government, especially the state capital, and in the private sector. Their calls have intensified -- and been echoed by prominent women running for state elected offices this year -- after Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders passed new anti-harassment laws without any public hearings and without going far enough, according to the women.</p> <p>Those calls have fallen on deaf ears from the men who control state government, however, with Cuomo touting the new laws as the “strongest in the nation” as he seeks a third term and leaders of the Assembly and Senate, including one accused of forcibly kissing an aide, largely remaining silent.</p> <p>The Sexual Harassment Working Group, seven women who launched the <a href="https://www.harassmentfreealbany.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#HarassmentFreeAlbany</a> movement, have criticized the Democratic governor and bi-partisan Legislature for passing an inadequate package of anti-sexual harassment legislation in this year’s budget, agreed upon in late March. The policies were negotiated by Cuomo, Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Senator Jeff Klein, then-leader of the Independent Democratic Conference that has since rejoined the mainline Democrats.</p> <p>The criticism that the “four men in a room” had for years epitomized the opacity of state budget negotiations was made all the more stark by the fact that they decided how to tackle sexual harassment without hearings, without significant consultation with female legislators -- including the lone woman to lead a legislative conference, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who had been promised a seat at the table -- and without those who had been subject to harassment or abuse, as well as the glaring inclusion of Klein, who was accused earlier this year of forcibly kissing a staffer in 2015 outside an Albany bar. Klein’s accuser, Erica Vladimer is among the members of The Sexual Harassment Working Group. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>In consultation with experts, the group has issued a set of recommendations for enacting stronger anti-harassment protections and have been joined in their cause by the likes of Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, who is running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, and actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Cuomo in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, along with rank-and-file state legislators and other advocates.</p> <p>At a news conference in Manhattan on Wednesday, August 1, Vladimer, other members of the group, and Zenaida Mendez, former President of NOW New York, appeared with Nixon, urging Cuomo to take action.</p> <p>“It’s time to stop putting politics over human rights,” Vladimer said, “and the first way we can do that is with public hearings...where workers from every industry -- government, retail, food service, hospitality -- can be heard by those we elect to legislatie on our behalf and those who are appointed to enforce those protections.”</p> <p>Nixon, running to be the first woman elected governor of New York, issued scathing remarks against Cuomo. “New Yorkers deserve better than a governor who ignores victims and chooses instead to protect and sometimes even promote those accused of harassment and worse,” she said. The first-time candidate recently released <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpQcWf8rfa0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a video ad</a> that cut back-and-forth between footage of Cuomo and President Donald Trump using similar rhetoric that smacks of ‘toxic masculinity.’</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/State-must-hold-sexual-harassment-hearings-13131053.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">an editorial for the Albany Times Union</a> on Friday, two members of the group, Leah Hebert and Rita Pasarell, who were subjected to harassment by former Assemblymember Vito Lopez when they worked in his office, criticized Cuomo for his “strongest in the nation” claim about New York’s new anti-sexual harassment laws.</p> <p>“[E]ven after accounting for rhetorical hyperbole in an election year, the new measures fall far short of what's needed,” Hebert and Pasarell wrote. “They lack teeth for enforcement. They fail to address many obstacles that prevent victims from seeking redress in court. They do nothing to fix the pervasive abuse in Albany, highlighted by more than 100 current and former state employees in an open letter. These new measures were passed in the same way gender-based harassment and discrimination often happen: behind closed doors.”&nbsp;</p> <p>They noted how the New York City Council recently passed its own set of bills on sexual harassment after holding hearings to solicit testimony from those affected by it and from experts. The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act included almost a dozen bills that were crafted after multiple hours-long hearings of the Council’s Committee on Women and the Committee on Civil and Human Rights. The bills, signed into law by the mayor, mandated, among other things, anti-sexual harassment trainings at city agencies and in private businesses, increased transparency from agencies on harassment complaints, stronger protections under the city’s human rights law, and added reporting requirements for city contractors.</p> <p>Besides the open and very public process compared with how the new state policies were created, the city laws appear to be somewhat more expansive. The state policies require state contractors to provide anti-harassment training to all employees, prohibit mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment complaints, ban non-disclosure agreements unless a victim demands one, and extend harassment protections to non-traditional employees such as freelanders, contractors, and vendors. A broader model policy is still due from the state Division of Human Rights, which is meant to apply across the public and private sectors.</p> <p>Cuomo, Heastie, and Flanagan, on the other hand, have shown no indication that they are listening. Spokespeople for all three officials did not respond to, or even acknowledge, requests for comment from Gotham Gazette about why there have been no public hearings, whether they are open to the idea, or if they had reviewed the recommendations put out by the Sexual Harassment Working Group. A Cuomo spokesperson <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7764-pointing-to-deficiencies-victims-call-for-changes-to-state-s-new-sexual-harassment-policies" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told Gotham Gazette</a> in late June that the administrations did “look forward to reviewing these recommendations,” but there’s no indication that has happened.</p> <p>Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee for governor, also backed the call for public hearings on Thursday. “I pledge to insist on such hearings in Albany next year, should I be honored to be elected governor in November,” he said. “Albany’s culture will change. The coverups we have seen under Andrew Cuomo’s tenure are inexcusable and wrong.”</p> <p>Molinaro, Nixon, and other Cuomo opponents and critics have also been seizing on <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Filing-suggests-Cuomo-s-office-knew-female-DCJS-13123758.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recent revelations reported by the Albany Times Union</a> around how victims of sexual harassment have been treated within the broader executive branch.</p> <p>In the attorney general race, Teachout has been vocal about using the office’s power, if she is elected, to investigate sexual harassment, even in the private sector if it happens under her jurisdiction. Teachout also joined the Sexual Harassment Working Group when they were in Albany last month pressing their demands.</p> <p>“The idea that New York State — in the middle of a national #TimesUp movement, after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, after all these scandals — that New York has not fixed its own problem is a total shame and disaster and suggests that our old boys club isn’t only covering up corruption but also covering up sexual misconduct,” Teachout said at the news conference, <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/07/23/women-call-for-public-hearings-on-anti-harassment-measures-523305" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Politico New York reported.</a>&nbsp;She urged her three Democratic primary opponents to join the calls for hearings and improved laws.</p> <p>Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, also running for attorney general, has called for a “full-scale investigation” into harassment in state government. Leecia Eve, a former Cuomo and Hillary Clinton aide now running for attorney general, also supports holding hearings, according to a campaign spokesperson.</p> <p>Delaney Kempner, a campaign spokesperson for Public Advocate Letitia James, who is the State Democratic Party’s preferred candidate for attorney general and has cross-endorsed with Cuomo, sent a statement to Gotham Gazette that touted work James has done co-sponsoring legislation on mandatory sexual harassment training and reporting, and advocating against forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts.</p> <p>But the statement did not indicate whether James supports the call for hearings on sexual harassment in state government and beyond or believes that the new state laws passed are sufficient. “It is clear that our laws have not protected women in the workforce from harassment and abuse, both in Albany and across the state…,” Kempner said. “We must improve our laws and change our culture. As Attorney General, Tish will continue to stand up for the women of New York and investigate anyone who seeks to abuse or harass us. That is how we make lasting change.”</p> <p>[Read:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7764-pointing-to-deficiencies-victims-call-for-changes-to-state-s-new-sexual-harassment-policies">Pointing to Deficiencies, Victims Call for Changes to State’s New Sexual Harassment Policies</a>]</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/8967996833_7739e76434_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo Women's Equality Act presser 2013" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo in 2013 (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As part of the #MeToo movement, a group of women who experienced sexual harassment or abuse while working in New York state government have for months been advocating for public hearings on the culture that enables that misconduct in government, especially the state capital, and in the private sector. Their calls have intensified -- and been echoed by prominent women running for state elected offices this year -- after Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders passed new anti-harassment laws without any public hearings and without going far enough, according to the women.</p> <p>Those calls have fallen on deaf ears from the men who control state government, however, with Cuomo touting the new laws as the “strongest in the nation” as he seeks a third term and leaders of the Assembly and Senate, including one accused of forcibly kissing an aide, largely remaining silent.</p> <p>The Sexual Harassment Working Group, seven women who launched the <a href="https://www.harassmentfreealbany.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#HarassmentFreeAlbany</a> movement, have criticized the Democratic governor and bi-partisan Legislature for passing an inadequate package of anti-sexual harassment legislation in this year’s budget, agreed upon in late March. The policies were negotiated by Cuomo, Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Senator Jeff Klein, then-leader of the Independent Democratic Conference that has since rejoined the mainline Democrats.</p> <p>The criticism that the “four men in a room” had for years epitomized the opacity of state budget negotiations was made all the more stark by the fact that they decided how to tackle sexual harassment without hearings, without significant consultation with female legislators -- including the lone woman to lead a legislative conference, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who had been promised a seat at the table -- and without those who had been subject to harassment or abuse, as well as the glaring inclusion of Klein, who was accused earlier this year of forcibly kissing a staffer in 2015 outside an Albany bar. Klein’s accuser, Erica Vladimer is among the members of The Sexual Harassment Working Group. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>In consultation with experts, the group has issued a set of recommendations for enacting stronger anti-harassment protections and have been joined in their cause by the likes of Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, who is running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, and actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Cuomo in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, along with rank-and-file state legislators and other advocates.</p> <p>At a news conference in Manhattan on Wednesday, August 1, Vladimer, other members of the group, and Zenaida Mendez, former President of NOW New York, appeared with Nixon, urging Cuomo to take action.</p> <p>“It’s time to stop putting politics over human rights,” Vladimer said, “and the first way we can do that is with public hearings...where workers from every industry -- government, retail, food service, hospitality -- can be heard by those we elect to legislatie on our behalf and those who are appointed to enforce those protections.”</p> <p>Nixon, running to be the first woman elected governor of New York, issued scathing remarks against Cuomo. “New Yorkers deserve better than a governor who ignores victims and chooses instead to protect and sometimes even promote those accused of harassment and worse,” she said. The first-time candidate recently released <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpQcWf8rfa0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a video ad</a> that cut back-and-forth between footage of Cuomo and President Donald Trump using similar rhetoric that smacks of ‘toxic masculinity.’</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/State-must-hold-sexual-harassment-hearings-13131053.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">an editorial for the Albany Times Union</a> on Friday, two members of the group, Leah Hebert and Rita Pasarell, who were subjected to harassment by former Assemblymember Vito Lopez when they worked in his office, criticized Cuomo for his “strongest in the nation” claim about New York’s new anti-sexual harassment laws.</p> <p>“[E]ven after accounting for rhetorical hyperbole in an election year, the new measures fall far short of what's needed,” Hebert and Pasarell wrote. “They lack teeth for enforcement. They fail to address many obstacles that prevent victims from seeking redress in court. They do nothing to fix the pervasive abuse in Albany, highlighted by more than 100 current and former state employees in an open letter. These new measures were passed in the same way gender-based harassment and discrimination often happen: behind closed doors.”&nbsp;</p> <p>They noted how the New York City Council recently passed its own set of bills on sexual harassment after holding hearings to solicit testimony from those affected by it and from experts. The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act included almost a dozen bills that were crafted after multiple hours-long hearings of the Council’s Committee on Women and the Committee on Civil and Human Rights. The bills, signed into law by the mayor, mandated, among other things, anti-sexual harassment trainings at city agencies and in private businesses, increased transparency from agencies on harassment complaints, stronger protections under the city’s human rights law, and added reporting requirements for city contractors.</p> <p>Besides the open and very public process compared with how the new state policies were created, the city laws appear to be somewhat more expansive. The state policies require state contractors to provide anti-harassment training to all employees, prohibit mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment complaints, ban non-disclosure agreements unless a victim demands one, and extend harassment protections to non-traditional employees such as freelanders, contractors, and vendors. A broader model policy is still due from the state Division of Human Rights, which is meant to apply across the public and private sectors.</p> <p>Cuomo, Heastie, and Flanagan, on the other hand, have shown no indication that they are listening. Spokespeople for all three officials did not respond to, or even acknowledge, requests for comment from Gotham Gazette about why there have been no public hearings, whether they are open to the idea, or if they had reviewed the recommendations put out by the Sexual Harassment Working Group. A Cuomo spokesperson <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7764-pointing-to-deficiencies-victims-call-for-changes-to-state-s-new-sexual-harassment-policies" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told Gotham Gazette</a> in late June that the administrations did “look forward to reviewing these recommendations,” but there’s no indication that has happened.</p> <p>Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee for governor, also backed the call for public hearings on Thursday. “I pledge to insist on such hearings in Albany next year, should I be honored to be elected governor in November,” he said. “Albany’s culture will change. The coverups we have seen under Andrew Cuomo’s tenure are inexcusable and wrong.”</p> <p>Molinaro, Nixon, and other Cuomo opponents and critics have also been seizing on <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Filing-suggests-Cuomo-s-office-knew-female-DCJS-13123758.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recent revelations reported by the Albany Times Union</a> around how victims of sexual harassment have been treated within the broader executive branch.</p> <p>In the attorney general race, Teachout has been vocal about using the office’s power, if she is elected, to investigate sexual harassment, even in the private sector if it happens under her jurisdiction. Teachout also joined the Sexual Harassment Working Group when they were in Albany last month pressing their demands.</p> <p>“The idea that New York State — in the middle of a national #TimesUp movement, after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, after all these scandals — that New York has not fixed its own problem is a total shame and disaster and suggests that our old boys club isn’t only covering up corruption but also covering up sexual misconduct,” Teachout said at the news conference, <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/07/23/women-call-for-public-hearings-on-anti-harassment-measures-523305" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Politico New York reported.</a>&nbsp;She urged her three Democratic primary opponents to join the calls for hearings and improved laws.</p> <p>Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, also running for attorney general, has called for a “full-scale investigation” into harassment in state government. Leecia Eve, a former Cuomo and Hillary Clinton aide now running for attorney general, also supports holding hearings, according to a campaign spokesperson.</p> <p>Delaney Kempner, a campaign spokesperson for Public Advocate Letitia James, who is the State Democratic Party’s preferred candidate for attorney general and has cross-endorsed with Cuomo, sent a statement to Gotham Gazette that touted work James has done co-sponsoring legislation on mandatory sexual harassment training and reporting, and advocating against forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts.</p> <p>But the statement did not indicate whether James supports the call for hearings on sexual harassment in state government and beyond or believes that the new state laws passed are sufficient. “It is clear that our laws have not protected women in the workforce from harassment and abuse, both in Albany and across the state…,” Kempner said. “We must improve our laws and change our culture. As Attorney General, Tish will continue to stand up for the women of New York and investigate anyone who seeks to abuse or harass us. That is how we make lasting change.”</p> <p>[Read:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7764-pointing-to-deficiencies-victims-call-for-changes-to-state-s-new-sexual-harassment-policies">Pointing to Deficiencies, Victims Call for Changes to State’s New Sexual Harassment Policies</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Too Much Debt, Not Enough Savings: State Finances on Rocky Ground Comptroller Says 2018-07-26T04:00:00+00:00 2018-07-26T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7832:too-much-debt-not-enough-savings-state-finances-on-rocky-ground-comptroller-says Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/dinapoli_bronx_presser.jpg" alt="Tom DiNapoli Comptroller Bronx" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Comptroller DiNapoli (photo: @NYSComptroller)</p> <hr /> <p>For New York’s fiscal picture, “Trump’s policies are as great a concern as the economic cycle,” according to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who spoke at length recently about the state’s finances and economy, which are precarious for a number of reasons.</p> <p>During a 30-minute interview with Gotham Gazette Executive Editor Ben Max for a special on Manhattan Neighborhood Network that <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38l05FB-MWM" target="_blank" rel="noopener">aired Sunday</a>, DiNapoli discussed the state’s limited savings relative to its spending, its high indebtedness, and its weak preparedness for any future economic downturn, whether influenced by federal policy or a more expected cyclical recession.</p> <p>If the economy sours and tax revenues decrease, New York state government has few methods of recourse beyond cutting spending, DiNapoli said, because of the limited amount that has been socked away. If and when another recession hits, “we don’t have the cushion of reserves to draw on,” since the state maintains savings well below the statutorily-set minimum, the comptroller said. DiNapoli said that, while New York could be setting aside up to $5 billion in reserves, it only maintains around $2 billion, and that the state last made a deposit in its reserve account in 2015. That’s compared to a state budget of about $168 billion for the current fiscal year.</p> <p>DiNapoli pointed out that the state has decided to spend billions in settlements with financial institutions, as opposed to putting some or most of that money away in savings.</p> <p>Recession or not, “New York State will suffer” if the Republican Party keeps its majorities in both chambers of Congress, DiNapoli added, with a nod toward the federal tax reform legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in late 2017. Trump and Congressional Republicans could fully repeal the Affordable Care Act or further slash funding for social services, DiNapoli warned, both of which could hurt New York.</p> <p>Otherwise, DiNapoli mostly shied away from political statements; while he is a Democrat, the state comptroller is an ostensibly nonpartisan position, though political ideology certainly has some effect on policy-making and oversight work. It is one of the four statewide elected positions, along with governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general, and it may be the least-known and least-understood. DiNapoli explained he essentially runs New York’s “Office of Accountability” — which audits state agencies, public authorities, and local governments, approves state contracts, comments on state fiscal practices, and manages the state’s pool of unclaimed funds, returning over $1.5 million a day to New Yorkers, among other tasks. The comptroller also manages the state’s massive public employee pension system.</p> <p>“It’s the best job in government,” he said.</p> <p>New York, DiNapoli said, is in better fiscal shape now than it was during the Great Recession, noting that the state has gained back the jobs and revenue lost during the financial crisis.</p> <p>But economic recovery in the state has been fractured, with most gains heavily concentrated in New York City and its surrounding area. DiNapoli described New York’s post-recession recovery era as “a tale of two economies,” with regions like the Southern Tier, Adirondacks, Mohawk Valley, and Central New York far less economically successful than New York City has been.</p> <p>Still, DiNapoli emphasized, New York is overall in strong economic shape, and he noted that, as opposed to recoveries from previous economic downturns, the state’s post-2008 bounceback was not led by Wall Street. Rather, a more diverse group of industries — technology, healthcare, and tourism, for instance — collectively resurrected the economy. To this day, the state’s financial industry is smaller than it was before the recession in terms of jobs.</p> <p>“This strong recovery has been stronger and longer than past recoveries,” he said, though, he added, it will end at a certain point. When that time comes, New York may be in trouble.</p> <p>Beyond maintaining a thin cushion of reserves, New York is one of the country’s most indebted states, DiNapoli said, and it’s only due to “gimmicks” that the state appears to be under its debt cap. So, when a crisis hits, the state may have no choice but to cut spending on social services. DiNapoli urged New Yorkers to be more conservative in their expectations of future revenue and spending, and he spoke of the political challenge of strengthening New York’s long-term financial security.</p> <p>As the “least partisan of offices,” in DiNapoli’s framing, the Office of the Comptroller is not as beholden to the political logic of short-term decision-making as the governor’s office or state Legislature may be. Crafting the state’s budget, though, is ultimately a political project, meaning initiatives that would bolster New York’s economic future but provide little immediate political gain, like setting aside reserve funds, are often neglected.</p> <p>DiNapoli expects the Democrats to take control of the state Senate after this fall’s elections, thus bringing unified Democratic rule to Albany in 2018, assuming the governorship and Assembly remain Democratic, which is likely, and for regional interests to dominate spending debates. When asked if New Yorkers should be worried about that possibility -- Republicans often argue that full Democratic control of state government would be fiscally disastrous -- DiNapoli said he does not distinguish between the spending habits of the two major parties — “Republicans are not shy about spending money,” he said — and therefore does not necessarily foresee an increase in spending under Democratic control. Many Democrats are calling for higher taxes on top earners, though, something that Republicans continue to sound the alarm about.</p> <p>DiNapoli urged voters to “evaluate candidates not just on their party labels, but on who they are.” A lifelong Democrat who grew up in a Republican household on Long Island, DiNapoli said he joined the Democratic Party for its “open and free-flowing” spirit, which both strengthens and hinders it. Though the response to Trump has made the party stronger, brought more young people and women into its fold, and encouraged “open and honest competition,” DiNapoli said, the Democrats “need to not beat each other up and let others win.”</p> <p>He pointed to the divide in the party exposed and deepened by the Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton presidential primary, a “wound reopened” by Clinton’s loss in the general election, as particularly concerning.</p> <p>The Democrats “often lose elections by fighting each other,” DiNapoli said. Significant intraparty fighting is occurring for Democrats right now in New York, as both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul are being challenged in the primary, by Cynthia Nixon and City Council Member Jumaane Williams, respectively, among other contentious legislative races. There is also a wide open primary for attorney general, with four strong candidates campaigning. DiNapoli, who is not facing a primary challenge, told Max he is endorsing Cuomo and Hochul for reelection, but declined to endorse any of the Democratic attorney general candidates — Letitia James, Zephyr Teachout, Sean Patrick Maloney, and Leecia Eve.</p> <p>The four candidates are “all good friends of mine,” he said. “So we’ll see how that goes.”</p> <p>***<br />Watch&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38l05FB-MWM">the full interview</a>&nbsp;from Manhattan Neighborhood Network:</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/38l05FB-MWM" width="560" height="315" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Daniel Yadin for Gotham Gazette

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/dinapoli_bronx_presser.jpg" alt="Tom DiNapoli Comptroller Bronx" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Comptroller DiNapoli (photo: @NYSComptroller)</p> <hr /> <p>For New York’s fiscal picture, “Trump’s policies are as great a concern as the economic cycle,” according to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who spoke at length recently about the state’s finances and economy, which are precarious for a number of reasons.</p> <p>During a 30-minute interview with Gotham Gazette Executive Editor Ben Max for a special on Manhattan Neighborhood Network that <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38l05FB-MWM" target="_blank" rel="noopener">aired Sunday</a>, DiNapoli discussed the state’s limited savings relative to its spending, its high indebtedness, and its weak preparedness for any future economic downturn, whether influenced by federal policy or a more expected cyclical recession.</p> <p>If the economy sours and tax revenues decrease, New York state government has few methods of recourse beyond cutting spending, DiNapoli said, because of the limited amount that has been socked away. If and when another recession hits, “we don’t have the cushion of reserves to draw on,” since the state maintains savings well below the statutorily-set minimum, the comptroller said. DiNapoli said that, while New York could be setting aside up to $5 billion in reserves, it only maintains around $2 billion, and that the state last made a deposit in its reserve account in 2015. That’s compared to a state budget of about $168 billion for the current fiscal year.</p> <p>DiNapoli pointed out that the state has decided to spend billions in settlements with financial institutions, as opposed to putting some or most of that money away in savings.</p> <p>Recession or not, “New York State will suffer” if the Republican Party keeps its majorities in both chambers of Congress, DiNapoli added, with a nod toward the federal tax reform legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in late 2017. Trump and Congressional Republicans could fully repeal the Affordable Care Act or further slash funding for social services, DiNapoli warned, both of which could hurt New York.</p> <p>Otherwise, DiNapoli mostly shied away from political statements; while he is a Democrat, the state comptroller is an ostensibly nonpartisan position, though political ideology certainly has some effect on policy-making and oversight work. It is one of the four statewide elected positions, along with governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general, and it may be the least-known and least-understood. DiNapoli explained he essentially runs New York’s “Office of Accountability” — which audits state agencies, public authorities, and local governments, approves state contracts, comments on state fiscal practices, and manages the state’s pool of unclaimed funds, returning over $1.5 million a day to New Yorkers, among other tasks. The comptroller also manages the state’s massive public employee pension system.</p> <p>“It’s the best job in government,” he said.</p> <p>New York, DiNapoli said, is in better fiscal shape now than it was during the Great Recession, noting that the state has gained back the jobs and revenue lost during the financial crisis.</p> <p>But economic recovery in the state has been fractured, with most gains heavily concentrated in New York City and its surrounding area. DiNapoli described New York’s post-recession recovery era as “a tale of two economies,” with regions like the Southern Tier, Adirondacks, Mohawk Valley, and Central New York far less economically successful than New York City has been.</p> <p>Still, DiNapoli emphasized, New York is overall in strong economic shape, and he noted that, as opposed to recoveries from previous economic downturns, the state’s post-2008 bounceback was not led by Wall Street. Rather, a more diverse group of industries — technology, healthcare, and tourism, for instance — collectively resurrected the economy. To this day, the state’s financial industry is smaller than it was before the recession in terms of jobs.</p> <p>“This strong recovery has been stronger and longer than past recoveries,” he said, though, he added, it will end at a certain point. When that time comes, New York may be in trouble.</p> <p>Beyond maintaining a thin cushion of reserves, New York is one of the country’s most indebted states, DiNapoli said, and it’s only due to “gimmicks” that the state appears to be under its debt cap. So, when a crisis hits, the state may have no choice but to cut spending on social services. DiNapoli urged New Yorkers to be more conservative in their expectations of future revenue and spending, and he spoke of the political challenge of strengthening New York’s long-term financial security.</p> <p>As the “least partisan of offices,” in DiNapoli’s framing, the Office of the Comptroller is not as beholden to the political logic of short-term decision-making as the governor’s office or state Legislature may be. Crafting the state’s budget, though, is ultimately a political project, meaning initiatives that would bolster New York’s economic future but provide little immediate political gain, like setting aside reserve funds, are often neglected.</p> <p>DiNapoli expects the Democrats to take control of the state Senate after this fall’s elections, thus bringing unified Democratic rule to Albany in 2018, assuming the governorship and Assembly remain Democratic, which is likely, and for regional interests to dominate spending debates. When asked if New Yorkers should be worried about that possibility -- Republicans often argue that full Democratic control of state government would be fiscally disastrous -- DiNapoli said he does not distinguish between the spending habits of the two major parties — “Republicans are not shy about spending money,” he said — and therefore does not necessarily foresee an increase in spending under Democratic control. Many Democrats are calling for higher taxes on top earners, though, something that Republicans continue to sound the alarm about.</p> <p>DiNapoli urged voters to “evaluate candidates not just on their party labels, but on who they are.” A lifelong Democrat who grew up in a Republican household on Long Island, DiNapoli said he joined the Democratic Party for its “open and free-flowing” spirit, which both strengthens and hinders it. Though the response to Trump has made the party stronger, brought more young people and women into its fold, and encouraged “open and honest competition,” DiNapoli said, the Democrats “need to not beat each other up and let others win.”</p> <p>He pointed to the divide in the party exposed and deepened by the Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton presidential primary, a “wound reopened” by Clinton’s loss in the general election, as particularly concerning.</p> <p>The Democrats “often lose elections by fighting each other,” DiNapoli said. Significant intraparty fighting is occurring for Democrats right now in New York, as both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul are being challenged in the primary, by Cynthia Nixon and City Council Member Jumaane Williams, respectively, among other contentious legislative races. There is also a wide open primary for attorney general, with four strong candidates campaigning. DiNapoli, who is not facing a primary challenge, told Max he is endorsing Cuomo and Hochul for reelection, but declined to endorse any of the Democratic attorney general candidates — Letitia James, Zephyr Teachout, Sean Patrick Maloney, and Leecia Eve.</p> <p>The four candidates are “all good friends of mine,” he said. “So we’ll see how that goes.”</p> <p>***<br />Watch&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38l05FB-MWM">the full interview</a>&nbsp;from Manhattan Neighborhood Network:</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/38l05FB-MWM" width="560" height="315" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Daniel Yadin for Gotham Gazette

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</p>
Facebook Rep Calls New York Ad Transparency Law a National Model, Points to Next Steps 2018-07-18T04:00:00+00:00 2018-07-18T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7811:facebook-rep-calls-new-york-ad-transparency-law-a-national-model-points-to-next-steps Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gov-dpa.jpg" alt="gov dpa" /></p> <p>Gov. Cumo signs ad transparency bill (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The recent federal indictments of 12 Russians involved in the country’s interference campaign in the 2016 United States presidential election comes at a time of already heightened interest in election security given other previously known facts and allegations about Russian meddling in the election, the promulgation of “fake news,” attempted hacking of state elections systems, and questionable practices by social media platforms like Facebook. Though election security and integrity at the federal level has dominated people’s attention, it is also an issue at the state and local levels.</p> <p>For the past two years, policymakers, security companies, and members of the tech and media industries have engaged in more fulsome debate over how to combat issues like “fake news” -- meaning fabricated news stories pushed off as actual news -- and false or misleading ads on social media, not to mention ensuring the security of election infrastructure.</p> <p>In April, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-new-york-state-democracy-protection-act-secure-integrity-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bill</a>, passed in a new state budget agreement that prohibits foreign entities from buying political ads “in order to influence New York elections,” requires political ad buyers on social media to register as independent expenditure committees, requires independent expenditure ads to clearly display that the independent spender, not a candidate, paid for the ad, and requires the state Board of Elections to “create an online archive of all political communications for a set period.”</p> <p>Some say that while these are important measures, there is more to do to secure New York elections, both in terms of hardening security systems to prevent hacking and reducing the influence of malicious actors in other, “softer” ways. Facebook itself, while the subject of much scrutiny and criticism during and after the 2016 election, is making some reforms to the ways it does business. On Tuesday, a representative for the social media giant called the New York political ad transparency law a model for the rest of the country, while also pointing toward transparency into voter targeting on the platform as a next frontier.</p> <p>During a panel discussion at City &amp; State NY’s “Protecting NY Summit,” moderated by Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max, Eva Guidarini of Facebook said the company is encouraging users to report questionable content, has begun working with “third party fact-checkers” when potential fake news is flagged, and, if determined to be fake news, posts will receive a tag noting it as such, and be “down-ranked,” meaning it will show up less frequently in people’s feeds, while an explanation of the fact-checking will also be provided. She defended the practice of not removing content unless it is deemed “misinformation,” saying that there can be too many gray areas in defining misleading content. Misinformation would include things like fake news.</p> <p>Facebook’s actions come after widespread criticism of its platform as a venue for the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories, as well as inappropriate user-data sharing.</p> <p>Guidarini, a member of the U.S. Politics and Government Outreach team for the company, said Facebook should be the subject of government regulations, but indicated there is a line to ensure that the platform still serves its users. When asked, she also indicated that users must take some responsibility for evaluating content, and said the company is working to help educate people. She also praised the new New York law that applies to Facebook and other online services, which was sponsored in the state Senate by another panelist, Senator Todd Kaminsky.</p> <p>“We worked really closely with New York and Maryland,” Guidarini said. “We’re really excited about these ad transparency laws that you passed, and we’re now sort of rolling that out to the whole country even though it’s only law in a couple of states. We think that that’s important. The law lagged behind, right? It’s ridiculous that you didn’t have to say who’s paying for a political ad online, even though you did on TV and in newspapers. And we should change that.”</p> <p>The panel on election integrity included Guidarini; Kaminsky; state Senator Liz Krueger; Assemblymember David Buchwald; Michael Ryan, the executive director of the New York City Board of Elections; and Eric Hodge of CyberScout Solutions, a company that works with government to prevent hacking and other security breaches.</p> <p>Ryan said that the BOE’s concern has moved from tampering with results towards the manipulation of social media to alter election results.</p> <p>“We were concerned in the lead-up to election day that people would put out false information that poll sites were on fire or that no voting is happening at particular locations,” Ryan said. “Real misinformation causing chaos as opposed to manipulation of results.”</p> <p>Sen. Kaminsky, a Democrat representing parts of Long Island, said that he combatted fake news himself in his 2016 election campaign, which led to an extremely close race where one was not expected. He said that the events made him prioritize publicizing the issue as being a state and local issue, not just one related to Donald Trump and Russia.</p> <p>“There would be a Facebook group that would pop up in someone’s feed called Long Islanders for Clean Drinking Water,” Kaminsky said. “They would then have an ad saying ‘last year, Todd Kaminsky voted to deprive Long Island of $10 million of clean drinking water. And if you liked it, all your friends would see it, it would go up to their feeds. And if you commented on it, all your friends would see it. If you commented something like, ‘this is not true,’ your comment would be removed in, like, ten minutes.”</p> <p>Kaminsky said that the law passed as part of the budget was a major focus for him in the previous two years. He also criticized the press, claiming that members of the media ran with the Facebook posts without fact-checking them. He said that there are not enough ameliorative pathways for combatting false political information, such as mailers claiming support for Kaminsky from “undocumented aliens” or Mayor Bill de Blasio. The former prosecutor indicated that there is not enough punishment for bad actors, but that his new law would at least change that for those that may try to anonymously post political advertising on social media.</p> <p>Asked about next steps in regulating social media platforms, Guidarini of Facebook said that, while microtargeted ads are a powerful tool, that “voters should know if the African-American community is receiving a totally different message, or the Hispanic community is receiving a totally different message from the white community from a specific candidate.”</p> <p>

***
by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gov-dpa.jpg" alt="gov dpa" /></p> <p>Gov. Cumo signs ad transparency bill (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The recent federal indictments of 12 Russians involved in the country’s interference campaign in the 2016 United States presidential election comes at a time of already heightened interest in election security given other previously known facts and allegations about Russian meddling in the election, the promulgation of “fake news,” attempted hacking of state elections systems, and questionable practices by social media platforms like Facebook. Though election security and integrity at the federal level has dominated people’s attention, it is also an issue at the state and local levels.</p> <p>For the past two years, policymakers, security companies, and members of the tech and media industries have engaged in more fulsome debate over how to combat issues like “fake news” -- meaning fabricated news stories pushed off as actual news -- and false or misleading ads on social media, not to mention ensuring the security of election infrastructure.</p> <p>In April, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-new-york-state-democracy-protection-act-secure-integrity-new-york" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bill</a>, passed in a new state budget agreement that prohibits foreign entities from buying political ads “in order to influence New York elections,” requires political ad buyers on social media to register as independent expenditure committees, requires independent expenditure ads to clearly display that the independent spender, not a candidate, paid for the ad, and requires the state Board of Elections to “create an online archive of all political communications for a set period.”</p> <p>Some say that while these are important measures, there is more to do to secure New York elections, both in terms of hardening security systems to prevent hacking and reducing the influence of malicious actors in other, “softer” ways. Facebook itself, while the subject of much scrutiny and criticism during and after the 2016 election, is making some reforms to the ways it does business. On Tuesday, a representative for the social media giant called the New York political ad transparency law a model for the rest of the country, while also pointing toward transparency into voter targeting on the platform as a next frontier.</p> <p>During a panel discussion at City &amp; State NY’s “Protecting NY Summit,” moderated by Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max, Eva Guidarini of Facebook said the company is encouraging users to report questionable content, has begun working with “third party fact-checkers” when potential fake news is flagged, and, if determined to be fake news, posts will receive a tag noting it as such, and be “down-ranked,” meaning it will show up less frequently in people’s feeds, while an explanation of the fact-checking will also be provided. She defended the practice of not removing content unless it is deemed “misinformation,” saying that there can be too many gray areas in defining misleading content. Misinformation would include things like fake news.</p> <p>Facebook’s actions come after widespread criticism of its platform as a venue for the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories, as well as inappropriate user-data sharing.</p> <p>Guidarini, a member of the U.S. Politics and Government Outreach team for the company, said Facebook should be the subject of government regulations, but indicated there is a line to ensure that the platform still serves its users. When asked, she also indicated that users must take some responsibility for evaluating content, and said the company is working to help educate people. She also praised the new New York law that applies to Facebook and other online services, which was sponsored in the state Senate by another panelist, Senator Todd Kaminsky.</p> <p>“We worked really closely with New York and Maryland,” Guidarini said. “We’re really excited about these ad transparency laws that you passed, and we’re now sort of rolling that out to the whole country even though it’s only law in a couple of states. We think that that’s important. The law lagged behind, right? It’s ridiculous that you didn’t have to say who’s paying for a political ad online, even though you did on TV and in newspapers. And we should change that.”</p> <p>The panel on election integrity included Guidarini; Kaminsky; state Senator Liz Krueger; Assemblymember David Buchwald; Michael Ryan, the executive director of the New York City Board of Elections; and Eric Hodge of CyberScout Solutions, a company that works with government to prevent hacking and other security breaches.</p> <p>Ryan said that the BOE’s concern has moved from tampering with results towards the manipulation of social media to alter election results.</p> <p>“We were concerned in the lead-up to election day that people would put out false information that poll sites were on fire or that no voting is happening at particular locations,” Ryan said. “Real misinformation causing chaos as opposed to manipulation of results.”</p> <p>Sen. Kaminsky, a Democrat representing parts of Long Island, said that he combatted fake news himself in his 2016 election campaign, which led to an extremely close race where one was not expected. He said that the events made him prioritize publicizing the issue as being a state and local issue, not just one related to Donald Trump and Russia.</p> <p>“There would be a Facebook group that would pop up in someone’s feed called Long Islanders for Clean Drinking Water,” Kaminsky said. “They would then have an ad saying ‘last year, Todd Kaminsky voted to deprive Long Island of $10 million of clean drinking water. And if you liked it, all your friends would see it, it would go up to their feeds. And if you commented on it, all your friends would see it. If you commented something like, ‘this is not true,’ your comment would be removed in, like, ten minutes.”</p> <p>Kaminsky said that the law passed as part of the budget was a major focus for him in the previous two years. He also criticized the press, claiming that members of the media ran with the Facebook posts without fact-checking them. He said that there are not enough ameliorative pathways for combatting false political information, such as mailers claiming support for Kaminsky from “undocumented aliens” or Mayor Bill de Blasio. The former prosecutor indicated that there is not enough punishment for bad actors, but that his new law would at least change that for those that may try to anonymously post political advertising on social media.</p> <p>Asked about next steps in regulating social media platforms, Guidarini of Facebook said that, while microtargeted ads are a powerful tool, that “voters should know if the African-American community is receiving a totally different message, or the Hispanic community is receiving a totally different message from the white community from a specific candidate.”</p> <p>

***
by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Assembly Race Poses Another Test for Queens Machine 2018-07-16T04:00:00+00:00 2018-07-16T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7805:assembly-race-poses-another-test-for-queens-machine Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/catalina_cruz_parade.jpg" alt="catalina cruz parade Queens" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p>Catalina Cruz (photo: @CatalinaCruzNY)</p> <hr /> <p>Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Democratic primary victory over Rep. Joe Crowley last month in New York’s 14th congressional district sent shockwaves throughout the country and signalled a monumental shift in Queens politics, where the Crowley-led county party has held significant sway in local elections for many years. The effects of Ocasio-Cortez’s win and Crowley’s loss, both nationally and locally, are still developing, but reverberations are certainly being felt in the already-competitive Democratic primary for New York Assembly District 39, where a county-backed incumbent is facing an independent challenger.</p> <p>The district -- part of the 150-seat lower house of the state Legislature, all of which are on the ballot this fall, first in September 13 primaries -- covers the immigrant-heavy neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights, and large parts of those fall within Crowley’s congressional district. It is currently represented by Assembly Member Ari Espinal, who was elected in a <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/Elections/2018/Special/April242018SpecialElectionResults.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">low-turnout special election</a> barely three months ago, with fewer than 800 votes. Espinal was previously an aide to Francisco Moya, who held the Assembly seat before being elected to the New York City Council last year.</p> <p>Espinal’s challenger in the primary is Catalina Cruz, an attorney with government experience who most recently served as chief of staff to former City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.</p> <p>Espinal, whose cousin is Brooklyn City Council Member Rafael Epsinal, ran unopposed for the Assembly seat, having been endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party, which is chaired by Crowley and has played an influential role in not just Queens, but city and state elections for decades, as well as the selection of the powerful City Council speaker and a variety of other appointed positions. For a special election to the state Legislature, there are no party primaries, instead the party county committee selects its candidate for what is a singular public vote. In a heavily Democratic district like most in New York City, the party’s nominee is virtually &nbsp;assured victory in a special election, and therefore gains at least some of the benefits of incumbency ahead of any subsequent intra-party challenges.</p> <p>But the power of the Queens County Democrats’ endorsement is under question following Crowley’s landslide defeat to Ocasio-Cortez as he finishes his tenth term in the House. Queens Democratic insiders say Cruz is in important ways a stronger candidate than Espinal and that the Queens county machine -- a descriptor some take issue with -- is playing a minimal role in the race and has a far less threatening presence in the immediate aftermath of last month’s election. Some also point to the fact that the Queens county party has been defeated in a number of elections over the years by strong insurgent candidates, such as the victories of current City Council Members Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer, as well as Ferreras-Copeland’s first win. Moya, meanwhile, helped orchestrate Espinal’s ascension and is actively campaigning on her behalf in an area where he has won several recent elections.</p> <p>For her part, Espinal is confident about the race. “I welcome any challenge,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m from Corona, Queens. I was raised in this neighborhood. I welcome any challenge and it’s exciting. I feel like it’s the Democratic process, too. Why wouldn’t you want a challenge? You would want your voters to get engaged. This is how they get engaged more when they have to pick, to choose and say, ‘Who’s going to represent me the way I want to be represented?’”</p> <p>Having been in office just under three months, Espinal has been prime sponsor on one bill that was passed by both legislative chambers, to extend a labor law relating to unemployment insurance proceedings, and another, called Carlos’ Law, which enacts punishments for developers that put workers at risk of injury or death, which passed only the Assembly. Espinal has also allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars to her community, she said. She signed on to the Dream Act, which aims to provide state financial aid to undocumented immigrants seeking higher education. She’s received support for her reelection bid from Moya, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Bronx Rep. Jose Serrano, and the Working Families Party.</p> <p>Espinal is relying on her experience as a longtime community organizer and former Democratic district leader, promising voters that she will bring resources back to her community. She has pledged to fight for immigrant protections, affordable housing, school funding, small businesses, and workers rights, and other locally-important issues. And she pushed back against the notion that she is the establishment candidate in the race. “Quite so often you have politicians who are not from the area and just want to run for office because they just want the power. I’m not looking for the power,” she said. “What I’m looking for is to actually engage my community and tell them, ‘I’m here. I’m here for you because I’ve lived here and I know the issues...because I’m your neighbor.’”</p> <p>Cruz, Espinal’s opponent, strikes a similar chord with her campaign pitch. “My entire life is a spectrum of the people of Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst,” she said in a phone interview. But one thing that sets her far apart from Espinal is that Cruz herself is a “Dreamer,” a child of undocumented immigrants who came to New York at the age of nine and who only recently gained permanent resident status in 2009. “I went from being an undocumented child who picked cans in the street with her mom to survive, to being a Dreamer who was going to undergrad and paying for school for herself to a working poor lawyer...to being a middle-class New Yorker, which is basically the spectrum of the people who are here in our community,” she said.</p> <p>After graduating law school and working as a housing attorney, Cruz joined the Attorney General’s office, then headed by Andrew Cuomo, before he was elected governor. Cruz served afterwards in the Department of Labor as counsel in the division of immigrant affairs. She worked with former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito -- who has endorsed her -- to write the legislation that kicked ICE agents off Rikers Island. She also returned to working for Cuomo, heading up his Exploited Workers Task Force, after which she joined Council Member Ferreras-Copeland’s staff. Her former boss has endorsed her, as have Council Members Dromm and Van Bramer, Helen Rosenthal, and Margaret Chin.</p> <p>“We’re a people-driven campaign,” Cruz said of her approach to the race. “We start with people and we end with people. We start with the idea that all of our policies should be informed by people.” Though her policy platform largely resembles Espinal’s, Cruz says she sets herself apart by virtue of her independence, experience, her focus on the residents of the district who cannot vote, and her pledge to refuse corporate and luxury developer money (the latter a promise like one made by Ocasio-Cortez, who attacked Crowley for the large corporate donations he received).</p> <p>“We are running a campaign that’s very much driven by people that live in the district and we’re independent from any ties to a political organization,” Cruz said.</p> <p>Those ties or the lack thereof may not be determinative in the Assembly race that does again put the power of the Queens County Democrats in the spotlight, observers who spoke with Gotham Gazette said. One former Assembly candidate from Queens said the path to victory lies in a robust ground game and organization. “You knock on enough doors, you meet enough people, and you raise enough money, and the barriers to entry are very low,” the former candidate said. “How many people are gonna vote in an Assembly race? A few thousand? How much money do you need to raise for an assembly race? $100,000? How many doors are you gonna knock on?...You put your walking shoes on and you can do it. So I think party power is very limited and Ari and Catalina will win or lose on the strengths of their own organic, local operation.”</p> <p>Democratic insiders pointed out that the Queens Democratic Party’s endorsement comes with political validation but not necessarily the resources to bolster a campaign, such as funding or boots on the ground. It’s why they disputed the characterization of the county party as a machine that can determine the course of campaigns. The party does, however, pressure potential contenders against considering a challenge to an incumbent and often brings with its endorsement a slew of loyal elected officials who coalesce around the county’s candidate and use their own resources and networks to boost them. The party also has connections at the Board of Elections and often attempts to knock challengers off the ballot and at times activates a network of district leaders and county committee members to help with ballot petition signature-gathering, door-knocking, and flyering.</p> <p>“It seems like [Cruz] has real momentum and...everyone’s going to attest the strength of her campaign to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but I think the reality of it is the dynamics of that race were shaped well before the congressional race,” said a Queens Democratic operative who asked to remain anonymous to discuss things freely.</p> <p>“I think people have an impression of the Queens county organization as a faulty machine,” the operative said, insisting that a loss by a county-backed candidate did not mean the so-called machine is faltering. “I think the reality is that’s not what the organization is...In my experience, they support somebody and their support will provide the significant assistance of validation from other elected officials. That’s very helpful...but it was never designed to overcome bad campaigns or great opposing candidates.”</p> <p>If the incumbent candidate backed by the Queens Democrats loses to an independent challenger, the optics are far from ideal coming so close on the heels of Crowley’s loss. But the county has invested little in the race, said another Democratic insider from Queens who knows both Espinal and Cruz and who decried the term “machine” as a “loaded expression” for a county party that simply tries to elect its own members to office.</p> <p>But the Queens county organization is undoubtedly powerful. The “machine” moniker stems from the fact that the party holds sway over more than just candidate endorsements -- its backing often also means a candidate will not receive a primary challenger. The county organization selects judicial nominees, and allies of Crowley <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/lawyers-controlled-queens-dems-party-30-years-article-1.3017007" target="_blank" rel="noopener">have made hefty profits</a> from being appointed as guardians in Surrogate’s Court. The party’s executive secretary is Michael Reich, whose partner Gerard Sweeney in the law firm Sweeney, Reich and Bolz, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of Surrogate’s Court business. The county also <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6944-crowley-appointee-to-board-of-elections-sees-spike-in-queens-court-profits" target="_blank" rel="noopener">selects one of the ten commissioners on the New York City Board of Elections</a>, who decide which candidates qualify to appear on the ballot.</p> <p>The City Council speaker’s race has more often than not also been decided by the influence of the Queens and Bronx county parties; Council central staffers are frequently picked from the county’s ranks; and Council committee chairs are influenced by county allegiances. And though Crowley may no longer represent the House next year, <a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/new-york-city/joe-crowley-queens-machine-democratic-chairman.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City &amp; State reported</a> that he’s expected to be reelected county chair by district leaders for another two-year term in September. The county organization did not return a request for comment for this article about its support for Espinal.</p> <p>“I don’t think it would be a fair characterization to say this is a test of the county organization because I’m not sure they have all hands on deck for this one,” the insider said. The insider insisted that neither candidate needs the county party’s help to win the race, which would be won on the merits of their candidacies, and that Crowley’s fall is more likely to have an effect on the state Senate District 13 race, where Jessica Ramos is challenging Senator Jose Peralta, formerly of the rogue Independent Democratic Conference, which empowered Republicans. “I don’t think the Catalina-Ari race is affected by the Crowley result as much,” the insider said. “I just don’t get the sense that that changed everything...They weren’t dependent on Crowley for the win. Peralta was kinda depending on the county guys propping him up, keeping him strong and I feel like that has turned and now Ramos, if I had to bet, will win that race.”</p> <p>Cruz herself drew a parallel with Ocasio-Cortez’s win, noting that voters turned out in higher numbers for the progressive challenger than Crowley in his own backyard, which encompasses large parts of the Assembly district, to vote out the incumbent. “[Ocasio-Cortez] believed in the everyday person and the everyday person believed in her so much that they went out and overwhelmingly voted for her,” she said. “And that’s where we find ourselves, in the exact same situation.”</p> <p>But even she denied that she was poking the bear through her candidacy. “I wouldn’t call it testing their power because I never said I’m running against the machine,” Cruz said. “I’ve always said I’m running for the people. We have an organization that was just shown what people powered campaigns can do and we’re about to show them a second time.”</p> <p>If anything, the race may show that the Queens party’s once-coveted support has turned sour, seen by some as a signal of establishment politics that has been too out of touch with regular voters. “I think it definitely suffered,” said the Democratic insider of the county party’s endorsement. “It’s very raw and very recent, the whole Joe thing...I don’t know if this is a permanent problem or just a temporary one. But the timing right now is bad for those people.”</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/catalina_cruz_parade.jpg" alt="catalina cruz parade Queens" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p>Catalina Cruz (photo: @CatalinaCruzNY)</p> <hr /> <p>Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Democratic primary victory over Rep. Joe Crowley last month in New York’s 14th congressional district sent shockwaves throughout the country and signalled a monumental shift in Queens politics, where the Crowley-led county party has held significant sway in local elections for many years. The effects of Ocasio-Cortez’s win and Crowley’s loss, both nationally and locally, are still developing, but reverberations are certainly being felt in the already-competitive Democratic primary for New York Assembly District 39, where a county-backed incumbent is facing an independent challenger.</p> <p>The district -- part of the 150-seat lower house of the state Legislature, all of which are on the ballot this fall, first in September 13 primaries -- covers the immigrant-heavy neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights, and large parts of those fall within Crowley’s congressional district. It is currently represented by Assembly Member Ari Espinal, who was elected in a <a href="https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/Elections/2018/Special/April242018SpecialElectionResults.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">low-turnout special election</a> barely three months ago, with fewer than 800 votes. Espinal was previously an aide to Francisco Moya, who held the Assembly seat before being elected to the New York City Council last year.</p> <p>Espinal’s challenger in the primary is Catalina Cruz, an attorney with government experience who most recently served as chief of staff to former City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.</p> <p>Espinal, whose cousin is Brooklyn City Council Member Rafael Epsinal, ran unopposed for the Assembly seat, having been endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party, which is chaired by Crowley and has played an influential role in not just Queens, but city and state elections for decades, as well as the selection of the powerful City Council speaker and a variety of other appointed positions. For a special election to the state Legislature, there are no party primaries, instead the party county committee selects its candidate for what is a singular public vote. In a heavily Democratic district like most in New York City, the party’s nominee is virtually &nbsp;assured victory in a special election, and therefore gains at least some of the benefits of incumbency ahead of any subsequent intra-party challenges.</p> <p>But the power of the Queens County Democrats’ endorsement is under question following Crowley’s landslide defeat to Ocasio-Cortez as he finishes his tenth term in the House. Queens Democratic insiders say Cruz is in important ways a stronger candidate than Espinal and that the Queens county machine -- a descriptor some take issue with -- is playing a minimal role in the race and has a far less threatening presence in the immediate aftermath of last month’s election. Some also point to the fact that the Queens county party has been defeated in a number of elections over the years by strong insurgent candidates, such as the victories of current City Council Members Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer, as well as Ferreras-Copeland’s first win. Moya, meanwhile, helped orchestrate Espinal’s ascension and is actively campaigning on her behalf in an area where he has won several recent elections.</p> <p>For her part, Espinal is confident about the race. “I welcome any challenge,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m from Corona, Queens. I was raised in this neighborhood. I welcome any challenge and it’s exciting. I feel like it’s the Democratic process, too. Why wouldn’t you want a challenge? You would want your voters to get engaged. This is how they get engaged more when they have to pick, to choose and say, ‘Who’s going to represent me the way I want to be represented?’”</p> <p>Having been in office just under three months, Espinal has been prime sponsor on one bill that was passed by both legislative chambers, to extend a labor law relating to unemployment insurance proceedings, and another, called Carlos’ Law, which enacts punishments for developers that put workers at risk of injury or death, which passed only the Assembly. Espinal has also allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars to her community, she said. She signed on to the Dream Act, which aims to provide state financial aid to undocumented immigrants seeking higher education. She’s received support for her reelection bid from Moya, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Bronx Rep. Jose Serrano, and the Working Families Party.</p> <p>Espinal is relying on her experience as a longtime community organizer and former Democratic district leader, promising voters that she will bring resources back to her community. She has pledged to fight for immigrant protections, affordable housing, school funding, small businesses, and workers rights, and other locally-important issues. And she pushed back against the notion that she is the establishment candidate in the race. “Quite so often you have politicians who are not from the area and just want to run for office because they just want the power. I’m not looking for the power,” she said. “What I’m looking for is to actually engage my community and tell them, ‘I’m here. I’m here for you because I’ve lived here and I know the issues...because I’m your neighbor.’”</p> <p>Cruz, Espinal’s opponent, strikes a similar chord with her campaign pitch. “My entire life is a spectrum of the people of Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst,” she said in a phone interview. But one thing that sets her far apart from Espinal is that Cruz herself is a “Dreamer,” a child of undocumented immigrants who came to New York at the age of nine and who only recently gained permanent resident status in 2009. “I went from being an undocumented child who picked cans in the street with her mom to survive, to being a Dreamer who was going to undergrad and paying for school for herself to a working poor lawyer...to being a middle-class New Yorker, which is basically the spectrum of the people who are here in our community,” she said.</p> <p>After graduating law school and working as a housing attorney, Cruz joined the Attorney General’s office, then headed by Andrew Cuomo, before he was elected governor. Cruz served afterwards in the Department of Labor as counsel in the division of immigrant affairs. She worked with former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito -- who has endorsed her -- to write the legislation that kicked ICE agents off Rikers Island. She also returned to working for Cuomo, heading up his Exploited Workers Task Force, after which she joined Council Member Ferreras-Copeland’s staff. Her former boss has endorsed her, as have Council Members Dromm and Van Bramer, Helen Rosenthal, and Margaret Chin.</p> <p>“We’re a people-driven campaign,” Cruz said of her approach to the race. “We start with people and we end with people. We start with the idea that all of our policies should be informed by people.” Though her policy platform largely resembles Espinal’s, Cruz says she sets herself apart by virtue of her independence, experience, her focus on the residents of the district who cannot vote, and her pledge to refuse corporate and luxury developer money (the latter a promise like one made by Ocasio-Cortez, who attacked Crowley for the large corporate donations he received).</p> <p>“We are running a campaign that’s very much driven by people that live in the district and we’re independent from any ties to a political organization,” Cruz said.</p> <p>Those ties or the lack thereof may not be determinative in the Assembly race that does again put the power of the Queens County Democrats in the spotlight, observers who spoke with Gotham Gazette said. One former Assembly candidate from Queens said the path to victory lies in a robust ground game and organization. “You knock on enough doors, you meet enough people, and you raise enough money, and the barriers to entry are very low,” the former candidate said. “How many people are gonna vote in an Assembly race? A few thousand? How much money do you need to raise for an assembly race? $100,000? How many doors are you gonna knock on?...You put your walking shoes on and you can do it. So I think party power is very limited and Ari and Catalina will win or lose on the strengths of their own organic, local operation.”</p> <p>Democratic insiders pointed out that the Queens Democratic Party’s endorsement comes with political validation but not necessarily the resources to bolster a campaign, such as funding or boots on the ground. It’s why they disputed the characterization of the county party as a machine that can determine the course of campaigns. The party does, however, pressure potential contenders against considering a challenge to an incumbent and often brings with its endorsement a slew of loyal elected officials who coalesce around the county’s candidate and use their own resources and networks to boost them. The party also has connections at the Board of Elections and often attempts to knock challengers off the ballot and at times activates a network of district leaders and county committee members to help with ballot petition signature-gathering, door-knocking, and flyering.</p> <p>“It seems like [Cruz] has real momentum and...everyone’s going to attest the strength of her campaign to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but I think the reality of it is the dynamics of that race were shaped well before the congressional race,” said a Queens Democratic operative who asked to remain anonymous to discuss things freely.</p> <p>“I think people have an impression of the Queens county organization as a faulty machine,” the operative said, insisting that a loss by a county-backed candidate did not mean the so-called machine is faltering. “I think the reality is that’s not what the organization is...In my experience, they support somebody and their support will provide the significant assistance of validation from other elected officials. That’s very helpful...but it was never designed to overcome bad campaigns or great opposing candidates.”</p> <p>If the incumbent candidate backed by the Queens Democrats loses to an independent challenger, the optics are far from ideal coming so close on the heels of Crowley’s loss. But the county has invested little in the race, said another Democratic insider from Queens who knows both Espinal and Cruz and who decried the term “machine” as a “loaded expression” for a county party that simply tries to elect its own members to office.</p> <p>But the Queens county organization is undoubtedly powerful. The “machine” moniker stems from the fact that the party holds sway over more than just candidate endorsements -- its backing often also means a candidate will not receive a primary challenger. The county organization selects judicial nominees, and allies of Crowley <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/lawyers-controlled-queens-dems-party-30-years-article-1.3017007" target="_blank" rel="noopener">have made hefty profits</a> from being appointed as guardians in Surrogate’s Court. The party’s executive secretary is Michael Reich, whose partner Gerard Sweeney in the law firm Sweeney, Reich and Bolz, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of Surrogate’s Court business. The county also <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6944-crowley-appointee-to-board-of-elections-sees-spike-in-queens-court-profits" target="_blank" rel="noopener">selects one of the ten commissioners on the New York City Board of Elections</a>, who decide which candidates qualify to appear on the ballot.</p> <p>The City Council speaker’s race has more often than not also been decided by the influence of the Queens and Bronx county parties; Council central staffers are frequently picked from the county’s ranks; and Council committee chairs are influenced by county allegiances. And though Crowley may no longer represent the House next year, <a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/new-york-city/joe-crowley-queens-machine-democratic-chairman.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">City &amp; State reported</a> that he’s expected to be reelected county chair by district leaders for another two-year term in September. The county organization did not return a request for comment for this article about its support for Espinal.</p> <p>“I don’t think it would be a fair characterization to say this is a test of the county organization because I’m not sure they have all hands on deck for this one,” the insider said. The insider insisted that neither candidate needs the county party’s help to win the race, which would be won on the merits of their candidacies, and that Crowley’s fall is more likely to have an effect on the state Senate District 13 race, where Jessica Ramos is challenging Senator Jose Peralta, formerly of the rogue Independent Democratic Conference, which empowered Republicans. “I don’t think the Catalina-Ari race is affected by the Crowley result as much,” the insider said. “I just don’t get the sense that that changed everything...They weren’t dependent on Crowley for the win. Peralta was kinda depending on the county guys propping him up, keeping him strong and I feel like that has turned and now Ramos, if I had to bet, will win that race.”</p> <p>Cruz herself drew a parallel with Ocasio-Cortez’s win, noting that voters turned out in higher numbers for the progressive challenger than Crowley in his own backyard, which encompasses large parts of the Assembly district, to vote out the incumbent. “[Ocasio-Cortez] believed in the everyday person and the everyday person believed in her so much that they went out and overwhelmingly voted for her,” she said. “And that’s where we find ourselves, in the exact same situation.”</p> <p>But even she denied that she was poking the bear through her candidacy. “I wouldn’t call it testing their power because I never said I’m running against the machine,” Cruz said. “I’ve always said I’m running for the people. We have an organization that was just shown what people powered campaigns can do and we’re about to show them a second time.”</p> <p>If anything, the race may show that the Queens party’s once-coveted support has turned sour, seen by some as a signal of establishment politics that has been too out of touch with regular voters. “I think it definitely suffered,” said the Democratic insider of the county party’s endorsement. “It’s very raw and very recent, the whole Joe thing...I don’t know if this is a permanent problem or just a temporary one. But the timing right now is bad for those people.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
City Council Progressive Caucus Urges Cuomo to Sign Bill Creating Prosecutorial Misconduct Commission 2018-07-11T04:00:00+00:00 2018-07-11T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7799:city-council-progressive-caucus-urges-cuomo-to-sign-bill-creating-prosecutorial-misconduct-commission Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/progressive-caucus-2009.jpg" alt="progressive caucus 2009" /></p> <p>City Council Progressive Caucus (photo via Progressive Caucus website)</p> <hr /> <p>The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to sign a <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7783-bill-to-create-prosecutorial-misconduct-commission-awaits-cuomo-decision" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bill</a>, passed at the end of the legislative session in June, which would create a new state commission on prosecutorial misconduct. The caucus, which includes 21 of the Council’s 51 members, referred to the bill as “the most substantive criminal justice reform passed in the state this year.”</p> <p>The state bill passed with bipartisan support in both the Assembly and the Senate, and awaits Cuomo’s signature or veto. The commission, consisting of eleven judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys appointed by the state’s chief judge, the governor, and legislative leaders, would be empowered to investigate and recommend disciplinary action against prosecutors in the state accused of misconduct. The commission would be similar in structure and purpose to a commission established in the 1970s to investigate misconduct claims by judges.</p> <p>Cuomo has not indicated whether he supports the legislation or not, and the state district attorneys association has called it unconstitutional and threatened to sue if the governor does sign it into law. The commission would have oversight of the state’s 62 district attorneys and their assistant district attorneys.</p> <p>The letter from the Council’s Progressive Caucus notes that, according to the University of Michigan’s National Registry of Exonerations, New York is fourth in the nation for wrongful convictions, behind California, Illinois, and Texas.</p> <p>“Across the United States there is a growing crisis of confidence in prosecutors as the role District Attorneys, historically, played in driving mass incarceration has become better understood by the public,” the letter reads. “The exonerations of wrongfully convicted people have sometimes exposed egregious misconduct by prosecutors, many of whom remain working as lawyers today.”</p> <p>Misconduct can take various forms, including failure to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense, intimidation of defendants or witnesses by police, and knowing submission of false testimony. Oftentimes, these occurrences can lead to false convictions, including for serious crimes that carry long sentences. In 2017, the National Registry of Exonerations recorded <a href="http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/detaillist.aspx?View=%7bfaf6eddb-5a68-4f8f-8a52-2c61f5bf9ea7%7d&amp;FilterField1=Exonerated&amp;FilterValue1=8_2017&amp;SortField=ST&amp;SortDir=Asc&amp;FilterField2=ST&amp;FilterValue2=NY" target="_blank" rel="noopener">13 exonerations</a> in New York State, for individuals who had served as little as one year to as long as 28 years for crimes they did not commit. So far in 2018, 12 exonerations have been recorded.</p> <p>False convictions are such an issue in New York that some district attorneys have formed entire units within their offices dedicated solely to examining past convictions and their validity. The Brooklyn DA’s <a href="http://brooklynda.org/conviction-review-unit/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Conviction Review Unit</a>, for instance, requested 24 exonerations for wrongfully-convicted defendants between its creation in February 2014 and December 2017.</p> <p>The bill is strongly supported by defense attorneys and criminal justice reform advocates, but is sharply opposed by district attorneys throughout the state. The Staten Island District Attorney told Gotham Gazette in June that oversight measures, such as grievance committees, already exist, and that the bill would hinder the ability of prosecutors to do their jobs and “potentially threaten the safety of those we are sworn to protect.”</p> <p>The grievance committees, which are bodies within appellate divisions that serve to investigate and censure both prosecutors and defense attorneys, have been characterized as toothless by advocates of the bill on both sides of the aisle, and criminal justice reform writ large. The Progressive Caucus wrote that the committee system in place has “not curbed bad behavior” among prosecutors, and that discipline is a rarity.</p> <p>“Public officials entrusted with incredible power should be held to the highest of standards,” reads the letter, signed by 12 members of the caucus. “Instead prosecutors have come to expect that there will be no punishment even following a judicial finding of egregious misconduct.”</p> <p>(Read the full letter <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#progressive-caucus" target="_self">here</a>)</p> <p>The grievance committees rarely discipline prosecutors, but frequently discipline defense attorneys or other attorneys in private practice. In 2016, the <a href="https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/ad1/committees&amp;programs/ddc/AnnualReport2016.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">First Appellate Division’s Grievance Committee</a>, which covers Manhattan and the Bronx, disbarred 30 attorneys, suspended ten, and publicly censured six; none were prosecutors. When prosecutors are disciplined, sanctioned, and disbarred, it tends to make the news, <a href="http://www.wwnytv.com/story/38533470/former-da-mary-rain-barred-from-practicing-law" target="_blank" rel="noopener">as occurred</a> with former St. Lawrence County DA Mary Rain.</p> <p>The Queens district attorney, Richard Brown, meanwhile, told Gotham Gazette that previous working groups, including one led by former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, found no evidence of “rampant prosecutorial misconduct.”</p> <p>David Soares, the Albany District Attorney and the new president of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York (DAASNY), told host Susan Arbetter of the Capitol Pressroom radio show in June that DAASNY would sue the state if Cuomo signs the bill into law.</p> <p>For the Council’s Progressive Caucus, a majority in favor leads to an action like the letter. It was signed by caucus Co-chair Ben Kallos and fellow Council Members Jumaane Williams, Anonion Reynoso, Brad LAnder, Carlos Menchaca, Keith Powers, Deborah Rose, Daneek Miller, Justin Brannan, Steve Levin, Carlina Rivera, and Alicka Ampry-Samuel.</p> <p>Notably, the non-signers of the caucus include Council Speaker Corey Johnson, caucus co-chair Diana Ayala, and public safety committee chair Donovan Richards.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Richards told Gotham Gazette that Richards is in support of the bill, but was unable to sign it because Richards was out of town when the letter was sent. “I am absolutely in support of creating a state commission to look into prosecutorial misconduct,” he said. “In order to truly reform our criminal justice system, we must root out misconduct in all levels of law enforcement.”</p> <p>A representative for Johnson did not return a request for comment, while Ayala’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Representatives for Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Mark Levine, among the other members of the Progressive Caucus who did not sign the letter, told Gotham Gazette that they support the bill.</p> <p>Governor Cuomo has not signaled whether he intends to sign the bill or not. Cuomo spokesperson Tyrone Stevens said that the governor’s office is still reviewing it.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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</p> <p><a id="progressive-caucus"></a> </p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/progressive-caucus-2009.jpg" alt="progressive caucus 2009" /></p> <p>City Council Progressive Caucus (photo via Progressive Caucus website)</p> <hr /> <p>The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to sign a <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7783-bill-to-create-prosecutorial-misconduct-commission-awaits-cuomo-decision" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bill</a>, passed at the end of the legislative session in June, which would create a new state commission on prosecutorial misconduct. The caucus, which includes 21 of the Council’s 51 members, referred to the bill as “the most substantive criminal justice reform passed in the state this year.”</p> <p>The state bill passed with bipartisan support in both the Assembly and the Senate, and awaits Cuomo’s signature or veto. The commission, consisting of eleven judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys appointed by the state’s chief judge, the governor, and legislative leaders, would be empowered to investigate and recommend disciplinary action against prosecutors in the state accused of misconduct. The commission would be similar in structure and purpose to a commission established in the 1970s to investigate misconduct claims by judges.</p> <p>Cuomo has not indicated whether he supports the legislation or not, and the state district attorneys association has called it unconstitutional and threatened to sue if the governor does sign it into law. The commission would have oversight of the state’s 62 district attorneys and their assistant district attorneys.</p> <p>The letter from the Council’s Progressive Caucus notes that, according to the University of Michigan’s National Registry of Exonerations, New York is fourth in the nation for wrongful convictions, behind California, Illinois, and Texas.</p> <p>“Across the United States there is a growing crisis of confidence in prosecutors as the role District Attorneys, historically, played in driving mass incarceration has become better understood by the public,” the letter reads. “The exonerations of wrongfully convicted people have sometimes exposed egregious misconduct by prosecutors, many of whom remain working as lawyers today.”</p> <p>Misconduct can take various forms, including failure to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense, intimidation of defendants or witnesses by police, and knowing submission of false testimony. Oftentimes, these occurrences can lead to false convictions, including for serious crimes that carry long sentences. In 2017, the National Registry of Exonerations recorded <a href="http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/detaillist.aspx?View=%7bfaf6eddb-5a68-4f8f-8a52-2c61f5bf9ea7%7d&amp;FilterField1=Exonerated&amp;FilterValue1=8_2017&amp;SortField=ST&amp;SortDir=Asc&amp;FilterField2=ST&amp;FilterValue2=NY" target="_blank" rel="noopener">13 exonerations</a> in New York State, for individuals who had served as little as one year to as long as 28 years for crimes they did not commit. So far in 2018, 12 exonerations have been recorded.</p> <p>False convictions are such an issue in New York that some district attorneys have formed entire units within their offices dedicated solely to examining past convictions and their validity. The Brooklyn DA’s <a href="http://brooklynda.org/conviction-review-unit/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Conviction Review Unit</a>, for instance, requested 24 exonerations for wrongfully-convicted defendants between its creation in February 2014 and December 2017.</p> <p>The bill is strongly supported by defense attorneys and criminal justice reform advocates, but is sharply opposed by district attorneys throughout the state. The Staten Island District Attorney told Gotham Gazette in June that oversight measures, such as grievance committees, already exist, and that the bill would hinder the ability of prosecutors to do their jobs and “potentially threaten the safety of those we are sworn to protect.”</p> <p>The grievance committees, which are bodies within appellate divisions that serve to investigate and censure both prosecutors and defense attorneys, have been characterized as toothless by advocates of the bill on both sides of the aisle, and criminal justice reform writ large. The Progressive Caucus wrote that the committee system in place has “not curbed bad behavior” among prosecutors, and that discipline is a rarity.</p> <p>“Public officials entrusted with incredible power should be held to the highest of standards,” reads the letter, signed by 12 members of the caucus. “Instead prosecutors have come to expect that there will be no punishment even following a judicial finding of egregious misconduct.”</p> <p>(Read the full letter <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#progressive-caucus" target="_self">here</a>)</p> <p>The grievance committees rarely discipline prosecutors, but frequently discipline defense attorneys or other attorneys in private practice. In 2016, the <a href="https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/ad1/committees&amp;programs/ddc/AnnualReport2016.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">First Appellate Division’s Grievance Committee</a>, which covers Manhattan and the Bronx, disbarred 30 attorneys, suspended ten, and publicly censured six; none were prosecutors. When prosecutors are disciplined, sanctioned, and disbarred, it tends to make the news, <a href="http://www.wwnytv.com/story/38533470/former-da-mary-rain-barred-from-practicing-law" target="_blank" rel="noopener">as occurred</a> with former St. Lawrence County DA Mary Rain.</p> <p>The Queens district attorney, Richard Brown, meanwhile, told Gotham Gazette that previous working groups, including one led by former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, found no evidence of “rampant prosecutorial misconduct.”</p> <p>David Soares, the Albany District Attorney and the new president of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York (DAASNY), told host Susan Arbetter of the Capitol Pressroom radio show in June that DAASNY would sue the state if Cuomo signs the bill into law.</p> <p>For the Council’s Progressive Caucus, a majority in favor leads to an action like the letter. It was signed by caucus Co-chair Ben Kallos and fellow Council Members Jumaane Williams, Anonion Reynoso, Brad LAnder, Carlos Menchaca, Keith Powers, Deborah Rose, Daneek Miller, Justin Brannan, Steve Levin, Carlina Rivera, and Alicka Ampry-Samuel.</p> <p>Notably, the non-signers of the caucus include Council Speaker Corey Johnson, caucus co-chair Diana Ayala, and public safety committee chair Donovan Richards.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Richards told Gotham Gazette that Richards is in support of the bill, but was unable to sign it because Richards was out of town when the letter was sent. “I am absolutely in support of creating a state commission to look into prosecutorial misconduct,” he said. “In order to truly reform our criminal justice system, we must root out misconduct in all levels of law enforcement.”</p> <p>A representative for Johnson did not return a request for comment, while Ayala’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Representatives for Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Mark Levine, among the other members of the Progressive Caucus who did not sign the letter, told Gotham Gazette that they support the bill.</p> <p>Governor Cuomo has not signaled whether he intends to sign the bill or not. Cuomo spokesperson Tyrone Stevens said that the governor’s office is still reviewing it.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p><a id="progressive-caucus"></a> </p>
Pointing to Deficiencies, Victims Call for Changes to State’s New Sexual Harassment Policies 2018-06-24T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-24T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7764:pointing-to-deficiencies-victims-call-for-changes-to-state-s-new-sexual-harassment-policies Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gov-cuomo-bill-clinton-electoral.jpg" alt="gov cuomo bill clinton electoral" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo via the Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The problem of sexual harassment in New York state politics is systemic and plaguing young women beginning their careers, according to a group fighting to change the culture and the laws around the issue. And, they argue that recently adopted state measures to fight the scourge are insufficient, despite being touted by Governor Andrew Cuomo as “the best in the nation.”</p> <p>The seven women of The Sexual Harassment Working Group -- all of whom have been personally affected by sexual harassment while working for lawmakers in the New York State Legislature -- have consulted a handful of advocacy and legal groups, and called upon their own experiences and expertise, to put together a detailed report with recommendations for ways to better protect women working in government.</p> <p>“We wonder why there aren’t women in higher office, we wonder why women are so underrepesented in our legislature and in all levels of our government. And this is a big part of why: It does not feel safe to work in government if you’re a woman,” co-author Eliyanna Kaiser, a one-time chief of staff to former Assemblymember Micah Kellner, said during an event in Manhattan on June 19. Kaiser was not herself directly a victim of sexual harassment, but instead reported to Bill Collins in the Assembly Counsel's office, under former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, that Kellner had been sending inappropriate messages to one of his staffers, which led to initial inaction, attacks against Kaiser, and, eventually, Kellner’s ouster from the state Legislature.</p> <p>Also on the panel were working group members and co-authors Danielle Bennett, former administrative assistant to Kellner who reported his harassment to Kaiser; Leah Hebert, former chief of staff to the late, disgraced Assemblymember Vito Lopez; Tori Burhans Kelly, former legislative aide to Lopez; Rita Pasarell, former legislative counsel and deputy chief of staff to Lopez; Erica Vladimer, former education policy analyst and counsel for the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC); and Elizabeth Crothers, former legislative aide in the New York State Assembly who publicly accused Assembly lawyer Michael Boxley of rape in 2003, two years after the alleged incident and when another victim of Boxley’s came forward. The discussion was moderated by political consultant and columnist Alexis Grenell, who has helped bring to light victims’ experiences as well as the insufficient responses from government officials.</p> <p>The stories of these women run together in a horror plot that involves countless obstacles to reporting, near-dismissal, and a reluctance to investigate from those in charge, as well as forcibly implemented nondisclosure agreements that hinder the complainant's chances of reemployment and their ability to warn others.</p> <p>“I agreed not to file a civil suit in exchange for [him to get] a HIV test,” Crothers said, adding the “loss of anonymity” after going public “follows you.”</p> <p>“I really didn’t think there was another way out aside from suicide,” said Hebert, who was one of the first women to complain about Lopez groping and harassing female staffers, of her experience.</p> <p>“These things that are happening are not the product of an individual harasser, they’re not mistakes,” Pasarell, another complainant against Lopez, added. “It’s massive, it’s systemic, and whenever I hear a new person coming out I say, ‘hey remember us, remember this happened to us in 2012?’”</p> <p>It’s a cycle that exploits women and protects men who behave abhorrently and, as Grenell pointed out, it’s a reality yet unchanged by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s <a href="https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2018/04/02/does-new-yorks-new-sexual-harassment-laws-go-far-enough/478703002/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">claims</a> that New York has the “strongest and most comprehensive anti-sexual harassment protections in the nation” following the recent budget, wherein the anti-harassment legislation was passed. Grenell compared the governor’s statement to the “mission accomplished sign” former President George W. Bush stood in front of during 2003 remarks about the war in Iraq, only two months after the U.S. first invaded.</p> <p>The Working Group is calling for Cuomo to hold public hearings to listen to victims of sexual harassment -- as its members demanded before the policies were decided by all-male leadership with little apparent regard for the opinions of victims. The group’s <a href="https://www.harassmentfreealbany.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Harassment-Free Albany</a> website states: “New York State has not held a state hearing on sexual harassment since Governor Mario Cuomo [Andrew Cuomo’s father] created a Sexual Harassment Task Force in 1992.”</p> <p>The reporting system has no transparency for complainants, limited uniformity, and an obvious lack of objectivity, the panel urges. For example, when Vladimer, who this January publicly accused now-Deputy Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein of kissing her forcibly and against her will outside a bar in 2015, was asked where her case is at now, she said she has no idea.</p> <p>“Your guess is as good as mine,” Vladimer told event attendees on Tuesday. “[It’s with] the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics [JCOPE], which under some very vague executive law somehow has the authority to investigate sexual harassment claims. There are no experts on this commission and the commissioners who vote to decide whether or not there is wrongdoing are all appointed by elected officials.” They are also <a href="https://www.jcope.ny.gov/commissioners" target="_blank" rel="noopener">almost all men</a>, with one woman in 14 commissioners.</p> <p>“I don’t know where my investigation is and I think that’s one of the biggest things we’ve talked about is that there is no transparency and I know, and have been told, I don’t have a right to know where my investigation’s going,” Vladimer added.</p> <p>When Vladimer went public, Klein immediately denied the allegations, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said the Senate would not investigate given no formal complaint had been lodged with its internal staff. Klein himself asked JCOPE to investigate, but other than Klein indicating an investigation had commenced, there is little information to go by.</p> <p>In the lead-up to the new state budget, Cuomo had called for sweeping anti-sexual harassment policies, including greater resources for and <a href="https://www.wivb.com/news/local-news/governor-cuomo-delivers-his-state-of-the-state-address/1083202760" target="_blank" rel="noopener">transparency</a> in JCOPE investigations. While Cuomo pushed through some measures, those JCOPE recommendations were not among what was passed into law.</p> <p>The same Klein accused of sexually harassing Vladimer was one of the three other elected men, and no elected women, who assisted Cuomo in deciding the sexual harassment legislation this March, ahead of the annual budget. According to the <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/leg/?default_fld=&amp;leg_video=&amp;bn=S07507&amp;term=2017&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Actions=Y&amp;Committee&amp;nbspVotes=Y&amp;Floor&amp;nbspVotes=Y&amp;Memo=Y&amp;Text=Y&amp;LFIN=Y" target="_blank" rel="noopener">budget</a>, there are five measures designed to address sexual harassment in state politics -- as the governor’s office puts it, to “further build upon his 2018 Women’s Agenda for New York.”</p> <p>In a press release announcing highlights of the new budget in March, Cuomo said, "We put into place the strongest and most comprehensive anti-sexual harassment protections in the nation, ending once and for all the secrecy and coercive practices that have enabled this unacceptable behavior for far too long.”</p> <p>Under the new legislation, all employers working with the state, including vendors and contractors, must implement a written policy addressing sexual harassment prevention and provide prevention training to all employees. This is an extension of a previously-existing law to include contracted workers, and means that employers may now be held liable for the sexual harassment of non-employees if the employer knew, or should have known, of the harassment and failed to take action. It does not, however, address the ambiguity around employees of elected officials.</p> <p>The Sexual Harassment Working Group is recommending the definition of “employee” be changed to clearly include employees of elected and appointed officials, and that the New York State Human Rights Law should stipulate elected officials are also considered “employers.”</p> <p>“Our recommendation is to specify employees as everybody -- essentially someone for hire -- this is how the labor law defines it and we just want every worker to have the same protection, including staff of elected officials,” Pasarell told Tuesday night’s event.</p> <p>In the new legislation, New York employers are prohibited from requiring mandatory arbitration of claims of workplace sexual harassment, except where inconsistent with federal law, and this will come into effect in July.</p> <p>Any officers and employees of the state or any public entity who is subject to a final judgement of personal liability in cases of sexual harassment will have to reimburse the state for the award given to the complainant, however the Sexual Harassment Working Group points out this is only applicable for cases determined by a judge, not necessarily to those settled out of court.</p> <p>Cuomo’s legislation also states no employer has the authority to include or agree to include in any settlement a nondisclosure agreement, unless the condition of confidentiality is the complainant’s preference. And, notably, a model sexual harassment guidance document and a sexual harassment prevention policy is to be created with the Division of Human Right by October -- meaning a key portion of the new policy is not yet written.</p> <p>“This year, Governor Cuomo signed the strongest anti-sexual harassment policy in the country,” Dani Lever, press secretary for Cuomo, told Gotham Gazette in a statement. “It closed gaping loopholes that entrapped women in toxic workplaces, extended protections to contracted workers, and strengthened rules that prevent companies from shirking their responsibility to root out bad actors—instead of sweeping problems under-the-rug.”</p> <p>On the surface, all measures included in the<a href="https://www.budget.ny.gov/pubs/press/2018/pr-enactfy19.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> enacted budget</a> appear to go a long way towards exactly what the governor is promising but, according to the panel of women who’ve experienced sexual harassment in state politics first-hand, there are some areas of ambiguity that impede the path to reporting and justice for potential victims.</p> <p>First, the budget hasn’t defined “sexual harassment” and the way the issue is currently treated under state law leaves much room for interpretation. The Sexual Harassment Working Group recommends adding “sex and gender” to the list of classes protected from discrimination in the New York State Constitution, to offer another level of protection for all New Yorkers, including victims. And the authors suggest the current standard for behavior to qualify as sexual harassment in state law -- that it must be “severe or pervasive” -- be changed to mirror the recent changes to New York City law, where the standard for discrimination and harassment reads simply that the person is treated “less well.”</p> <p>“When you’re talking about standards in law, the ‘litigative itch,’ as they call it, is all in these terms,” Kaiser said. “People are always going to bicker about the actual event that happened. We’d prefer that bickering to be asking, ‘didn’t he treat her less well?’ Rather than, ‘was it severe and pervasive?’”</p> <p>The working group is also calling for an independent body to oversee all discrimination harassment policy enforcement. At the moment, JCOPE members are appointed by state elected officials. Of the 14 members, three are appointed by the Temporary President of the Senate, three are appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly, one is appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate, one is appointed by the Minority Leader of the Assembly, and six are appointed by the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.</p> <p>Many of the stories from the women in The Sexual Harassment Working Group involve some level of disbelief from those charged with investigating their reports of sexual harassment. In Crothers’ case, it wasn’t only disbelief, it was outright protection of her alleged attacker.</p> <p>“Before it came out in the press and when I met with the speaker [Sheldon Silver], I didn’t feel he didn’t believe me, he just said ‘well I won’t let him go out to bars anymore and my first priority is protecting the institution,’” Crothers said at the panel event. Silver resigned as speaker in 2015 after being arrested on federal corruption charges, and long after being accused of facilitating former Assemblymember Lopez’s harassment of eight women who were on his staff. The panelists believe this culture of cover-up and protection will continue unless there is an independent body appointed to investigate, and determine, reports of sexual misconduct in Albany.</p> <p>It’s the Lopez example that best shows the need for further restrictions around the use of nondisclosure agreements, beyond what is outlined in the new legislation. Two of the women in the working group, who were on the panel, ultimately signed nondisclosure agreements after accusing the former Assembly member of sexual harassment and groping. They said they didn’t want a nondisclosure agreement -- it wasn’t implemented to protect their privacy -- but it was offered to them as a ‘take it or leave it’ measure.</p> <p>“We wanted an investigation, we asked multiple times for an investigation,” Hebert said. Hebert’s name went public, despite her having signed a nondisclosure agreement, when reports from other victims were published by the media ahead of Lopez’s resignation in 2013. Instead of an investigation, Hebert said she, along with Pasarell, were made to sign nondisclosure agreements and were told Lopez would go through sexual harassment prevention training.</p> <p>“The NDA, it wasn’t just that...we couldn’t speak to anyone,” Hebert said. “It was, at first, $10,000 in liquidated damages if we broke it for every occurence, and it would happen with a mediator behind closed doors so no one would know they were enforcing the agreement. And it also contained a provision that we could never apply to the Assembly again.” This last measure effectively limiting their opportunities to work in state government, and the fine making it impossible for the complainants to explain their circumstances to future employers, file for unemployment benefits, or warn others or the Human Rights Division of Lopez’s behavior.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>They pushed back on their exclusion from the Assembly and the response was, “we could never apply to Lopez’s office again, which was fine, but they increased our liquidated damages cost to $20,000,” Hebert said.</p> <p>Pasarell, another of Lopez’s victims, said the anti-sexual harassment legislation in the budget regarding nondisclosure agreements -- that they can only be used in cases where the complainant consents -- can too easily be twisted to benefit the harasser.</p> <p>“The way they phrased the new law is for the complainant to have a nondisclosure agreement, it’s got to be the complainant’s preference. In our case we saw repeatedly how the Assembly portrayed it as if it was our preference when it absolutely was not,” she said. “The nondisclosure agreement came to us very late in the game and it was ‘take it or leave it.’”</p> <p>Women reporting sexual harassment will be better assisted, The Sexual Harassment Working Group argues, if the Legislature provides greater protection against victim coercion into signing nondisclosure agreements. The group also recommends the law allow for individual liability, so harassers can be targeted without taking the Legislature or State to arbitration or court. And, in cases where complainants do want a nondisclosure agreement for confidentiality reasons, there should be a “Sunshine in Litigation” law to prevent serial harassers (who’ve offended at least once prior) from re-offending. “Limited information would be shared but a pattern of harassment would be outed,” Pasarell said.</p> <p>The way to change the culture of sexual harassment and exploitation is through changing the law, The Sexual Harassment Working Group maintains, and the way to do that is through consulting with victims, advocacy groups, and others, including lawmakers -- a process much more extensive than how Cuomo and legislative leaders, all men, went about it.</p> <p>In response to The Sexual Harassment Working Group’s report, Cuomo’s team said it will review the recommendations but gave no indication of whether or not they will consider holding or pushing for a public hearing on the issue.</p> <p>“No woman should ever be violated, let alone in the workplace—period. And that’s why Governor Cuomo has championed measures that hold employers accountable for ensuring a hospitable workplace,” Lever, Cuomo’s press secretary, told Gotham Gazette. “The ‘Me Too’ movement has caused an awakening in our society, and while we’ve taken positive concrete steps in New York, we need to continue to see progress in our state and across the country. We look forward to reviewing these recommendations and continuing this important work.”</p> <p>

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by Caitlin Bishop, Gotham Gazette
@caitybishop  @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this article has been corrected to reflect that Lopez allegedly harassed eight women on 33 counts, not 33 women; that two, not three, of the women mentioned signed NDAs; and that Kaiser reported Kellner's behavior to the Assembly counsel's office, not Speaker Silver directly.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gov-cuomo-bill-clinton-electoral.jpg" alt="gov cuomo bill clinton electoral" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo via the Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The problem of sexual harassment in New York state politics is systemic and plaguing young women beginning their careers, according to a group fighting to change the culture and the laws around the issue. And, they argue that recently adopted state measures to fight the scourge are insufficient, despite being touted by Governor Andrew Cuomo as “the best in the nation.”</p> <p>The seven women of The Sexual Harassment Working Group -- all of whom have been personally affected by sexual harassment while working for lawmakers in the New York State Legislature -- have consulted a handful of advocacy and legal groups, and called upon their own experiences and expertise, to put together a detailed report with recommendations for ways to better protect women working in government.</p> <p>“We wonder why there aren’t women in higher office, we wonder why women are so underrepesented in our legislature and in all levels of our government. And this is a big part of why: It does not feel safe to work in government if you’re a woman,” co-author Eliyanna Kaiser, a one-time chief of staff to former Assemblymember Micah Kellner, said during an event in Manhattan on June 19. Kaiser was not herself directly a victim of sexual harassment, but instead reported to Bill Collins in the Assembly Counsel's office, under former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, that Kellner had been sending inappropriate messages to one of his staffers, which led to initial inaction, attacks against Kaiser, and, eventually, Kellner’s ouster from the state Legislature.</p> <p>Also on the panel were working group members and co-authors Danielle Bennett, former administrative assistant to Kellner who reported his harassment to Kaiser; Leah Hebert, former chief of staff to the late, disgraced Assemblymember Vito Lopez; Tori Burhans Kelly, former legislative aide to Lopez; Rita Pasarell, former legislative counsel and deputy chief of staff to Lopez; Erica Vladimer, former education policy analyst and counsel for the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC); and Elizabeth Crothers, former legislative aide in the New York State Assembly who publicly accused Assembly lawyer Michael Boxley of rape in 2003, two years after the alleged incident and when another victim of Boxley’s came forward. The discussion was moderated by political consultant and columnist Alexis Grenell, who has helped bring to light victims’ experiences as well as the insufficient responses from government officials.</p> <p>The stories of these women run together in a horror plot that involves countless obstacles to reporting, near-dismissal, and a reluctance to investigate from those in charge, as well as forcibly implemented nondisclosure agreements that hinder the complainant's chances of reemployment and their ability to warn others.</p> <p>“I agreed not to file a civil suit in exchange for [him to get] a HIV test,” Crothers said, adding the “loss of anonymity” after going public “follows you.”</p> <p>“I really didn’t think there was another way out aside from suicide,” said Hebert, who was one of the first women to complain about Lopez groping and harassing female staffers, of her experience.</p> <p>“These things that are happening are not the product of an individual harasser, they’re not mistakes,” Pasarell, another complainant against Lopez, added. “It’s massive, it’s systemic, and whenever I hear a new person coming out I say, ‘hey remember us, remember this happened to us in 2012?’”</p> <p>It’s a cycle that exploits women and protects men who behave abhorrently and, as Grenell pointed out, it’s a reality yet unchanged by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s <a href="https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2018/04/02/does-new-yorks-new-sexual-harassment-laws-go-far-enough/478703002/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">claims</a> that New York has the “strongest and most comprehensive anti-sexual harassment protections in the nation” following the recent budget, wherein the anti-harassment legislation was passed. Grenell compared the governor’s statement to the “mission accomplished sign” former President George W. Bush stood in front of during 2003 remarks about the war in Iraq, only two months after the U.S. first invaded.</p> <p>The Working Group is calling for Cuomo to hold public hearings to listen to victims of sexual harassment -- as its members demanded before the policies were decided by all-male leadership with little apparent regard for the opinions of victims. The group’s <a href="https://www.harassmentfreealbany.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Harassment-Free Albany</a> website states: “New York State has not held a state hearing on sexual harassment since Governor Mario Cuomo [Andrew Cuomo’s father] created a Sexual Harassment Task Force in 1992.”</p> <p>The reporting system has no transparency for complainants, limited uniformity, and an obvious lack of objectivity, the panel urges. For example, when Vladimer, who this January publicly accused now-Deputy Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein of kissing her forcibly and against her will outside a bar in 2015, was asked where her case is at now, she said she has no idea.</p> <p>“Your guess is as good as mine,” Vladimer told event attendees on Tuesday. “[It’s with] the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics [JCOPE], which under some very vague executive law somehow has the authority to investigate sexual harassment claims. There are no experts on this commission and the commissioners who vote to decide whether or not there is wrongdoing are all appointed by elected officials.” They are also <a href="https://www.jcope.ny.gov/commissioners" target="_blank" rel="noopener">almost all men</a>, with one woman in 14 commissioners.</p> <p>“I don’t know where my investigation is and I think that’s one of the biggest things we’ve talked about is that there is no transparency and I know, and have been told, I don’t have a right to know where my investigation’s going,” Vladimer added.</p> <p>When Vladimer went public, Klein immediately denied the allegations, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said the Senate would not investigate given no formal complaint had been lodged with its internal staff. Klein himself asked JCOPE to investigate, but other than Klein indicating an investigation had commenced, there is little information to go by.</p> <p>In the lead-up to the new state budget, Cuomo had called for sweeping anti-sexual harassment policies, including greater resources for and <a href="https://www.wivb.com/news/local-news/governor-cuomo-delivers-his-state-of-the-state-address/1083202760" target="_blank" rel="noopener">transparency</a> in JCOPE investigations. While Cuomo pushed through some measures, those JCOPE recommendations were not among what was passed into law.</p> <p>The same Klein accused of sexually harassing Vladimer was one of the three other elected men, and no elected women, who assisted Cuomo in deciding the sexual harassment legislation this March, ahead of the annual budget. According to the <a href="http://nyassembly.gov/leg/?default_fld=&amp;leg_video=&amp;bn=S07507&amp;term=2017&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Actions=Y&amp;Committee&amp;nbspVotes=Y&amp;Floor&amp;nbspVotes=Y&amp;Memo=Y&amp;Text=Y&amp;LFIN=Y" target="_blank" rel="noopener">budget</a>, there are five measures designed to address sexual harassment in state politics -- as the governor’s office puts it, to “further build upon his 2018 Women’s Agenda for New York.”</p> <p>In a press release announcing highlights of the new budget in March, Cuomo said, "We put into place the strongest and most comprehensive anti-sexual harassment protections in the nation, ending once and for all the secrecy and coercive practices that have enabled this unacceptable behavior for far too long.”</p> <p>Under the new legislation, all employers working with the state, including vendors and contractors, must implement a written policy addressing sexual harassment prevention and provide prevention training to all employees. This is an extension of a previously-existing law to include contracted workers, and means that employers may now be held liable for the sexual harassment of non-employees if the employer knew, or should have known, of the harassment and failed to take action. It does not, however, address the ambiguity around employees of elected officials.</p> <p>The Sexual Harassment Working Group is recommending the definition of “employee” be changed to clearly include employees of elected and appointed officials, and that the New York State Human Rights Law should stipulate elected officials are also considered “employers.”</p> <p>“Our recommendation is to specify employees as everybody -- essentially someone for hire -- this is how the labor law defines it and we just want every worker to have the same protection, including staff of elected officials,” Pasarell told Tuesday night’s event.</p> <p>In the new legislation, New York employers are prohibited from requiring mandatory arbitration of claims of workplace sexual harassment, except where inconsistent with federal law, and this will come into effect in July.</p> <p>Any officers and employees of the state or any public entity who is subject to a final judgement of personal liability in cases of sexual harassment will have to reimburse the state for the award given to the complainant, however the Sexual Harassment Working Group points out this is only applicable for cases determined by a judge, not necessarily to those settled out of court.</p> <p>Cuomo’s legislation also states no employer has the authority to include or agree to include in any settlement a nondisclosure agreement, unless the condition of confidentiality is the complainant’s preference. And, notably, a model sexual harassment guidance document and a sexual harassment prevention policy is to be created with the Division of Human Right by October -- meaning a key portion of the new policy is not yet written.</p> <p>“This year, Governor Cuomo signed the strongest anti-sexual harassment policy in the country,” Dani Lever, press secretary for Cuomo, told Gotham Gazette in a statement. “It closed gaping loopholes that entrapped women in toxic workplaces, extended protections to contracted workers, and strengthened rules that prevent companies from shirking their responsibility to root out bad actors—instead of sweeping problems under-the-rug.”</p> <p>On the surface, all measures included in the<a href="https://www.budget.ny.gov/pubs/press/2018/pr-enactfy19.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> enacted budget</a> appear to go a long way towards exactly what the governor is promising but, according to the panel of women who’ve experienced sexual harassment in state politics first-hand, there are some areas of ambiguity that impede the path to reporting and justice for potential victims.</p> <p>First, the budget hasn’t defined “sexual harassment” and the way the issue is currently treated under state law leaves much room for interpretation. The Sexual Harassment Working Group recommends adding “sex and gender” to the list of classes protected from discrimination in the New York State Constitution, to offer another level of protection for all New Yorkers, including victims. And the authors suggest the current standard for behavior to qualify as sexual harassment in state law -- that it must be “severe or pervasive” -- be changed to mirror the recent changes to New York City law, where the standard for discrimination and harassment reads simply that the person is treated “less well.”</p> <p>“When you’re talking about standards in law, the ‘litigative itch,’ as they call it, is all in these terms,” Kaiser said. “People are always going to bicker about the actual event that happened. We’d prefer that bickering to be asking, ‘didn’t he treat her less well?’ Rather than, ‘was it severe and pervasive?’”</p> <p>The working group is also calling for an independent body to oversee all discrimination harassment policy enforcement. At the moment, JCOPE members are appointed by state elected officials. Of the 14 members, three are appointed by the Temporary President of the Senate, three are appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly, one is appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate, one is appointed by the Minority Leader of the Assembly, and six are appointed by the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.</p> <p>Many of the stories from the women in The Sexual Harassment Working Group involve some level of disbelief from those charged with investigating their reports of sexual harassment. In Crothers’ case, it wasn’t only disbelief, it was outright protection of her alleged attacker.</p> <p>“Before it came out in the press and when I met with the speaker [Sheldon Silver], I didn’t feel he didn’t believe me, he just said ‘well I won’t let him go out to bars anymore and my first priority is protecting the institution,’” Crothers said at the panel event. Silver resigned as speaker in 2015 after being arrested on federal corruption charges, and long after being accused of facilitating former Assemblymember Lopez’s harassment of eight women who were on his staff. The panelists believe this culture of cover-up and protection will continue unless there is an independent body appointed to investigate, and determine, reports of sexual misconduct in Albany.</p> <p>It’s the Lopez example that best shows the need for further restrictions around the use of nondisclosure agreements, beyond what is outlined in the new legislation. Two of the women in the working group, who were on the panel, ultimately signed nondisclosure agreements after accusing the former Assembly member of sexual harassment and groping. They said they didn’t want a nondisclosure agreement -- it wasn’t implemented to protect their privacy -- but it was offered to them as a ‘take it or leave it’ measure.</p> <p>“We wanted an investigation, we asked multiple times for an investigation,” Hebert said. Hebert’s name went public, despite her having signed a nondisclosure agreement, when reports from other victims were published by the media ahead of Lopez’s resignation in 2013. Instead of an investigation, Hebert said she, along with Pasarell, were made to sign nondisclosure agreements and were told Lopez would go through sexual harassment prevention training.</p> <p>“The NDA, it wasn’t just that...we couldn’t speak to anyone,” Hebert said. “It was, at first, $10,000 in liquidated damages if we broke it for every occurence, and it would happen with a mediator behind closed doors so no one would know they were enforcing the agreement. And it also contained a provision that we could never apply to the Assembly again.” This last measure effectively limiting their opportunities to work in state government, and the fine making it impossible for the complainants to explain their circumstances to future employers, file for unemployment benefits, or warn others or the Human Rights Division of Lopez’s behavior.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>They pushed back on their exclusion from the Assembly and the response was, “we could never apply to Lopez’s office again, which was fine, but they increased our liquidated damages cost to $20,000,” Hebert said.</p> <p>Pasarell, another of Lopez’s victims, said the anti-sexual harassment legislation in the budget regarding nondisclosure agreements -- that they can only be used in cases where the complainant consents -- can too easily be twisted to benefit the harasser.</p> <p>“The way they phrased the new law is for the complainant to have a nondisclosure agreement, it’s got to be the complainant’s preference. In our case we saw repeatedly how the Assembly portrayed it as if it was our preference when it absolutely was not,” she said. “The nondisclosure agreement came to us very late in the game and it was ‘take it or leave it.’”</p> <p>Women reporting sexual harassment will be better assisted, The Sexual Harassment Working Group argues, if the Legislature provides greater protection against victim coercion into signing nondisclosure agreements. The group also recommends the law allow for individual liability, so harassers can be targeted without taking the Legislature or State to arbitration or court. And, in cases where complainants do want a nondisclosure agreement for confidentiality reasons, there should be a “Sunshine in Litigation” law to prevent serial harassers (who’ve offended at least once prior) from re-offending. “Limited information would be shared but a pattern of harassment would be outed,” Pasarell said.</p> <p>The way to change the culture of sexual harassment and exploitation is through changing the law, The Sexual Harassment Working Group maintains, and the way to do that is through consulting with victims, advocacy groups, and others, including lawmakers -- a process much more extensive than how Cuomo and legislative leaders, all men, went about it.</p> <p>In response to The Sexual Harassment Working Group’s report, Cuomo’s team said it will review the recommendations but gave no indication of whether or not they will consider holding or pushing for a public hearing on the issue.</p> <p>“No woman should ever be violated, let alone in the workplace—period. And that’s why Governor Cuomo has championed measures that hold employers accountable for ensuring a hospitable workplace,” Lever, Cuomo’s press secretary, told Gotham Gazette. “The ‘Me Too’ movement has caused an awakening in our society, and while we’ve taken positive concrete steps in New York, we need to continue to see progress in our state and across the country. We look forward to reviewing these recommendations and continuing this important work.”</p> <p>

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by Caitlin Bishop, Gotham Gazette
@caitybishop  @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this article has been corrected to reflect that Lopez allegedly harassed eight women on 33 counts, not 33 women; that two, not three, of the women mentioned signed NDAs; and that Kaiser reported Kellner's behavior to the Assembly counsel's office, not Speaker Silver directly.</p>
Democratic Campaign Chief: Even a ‘Blue Trickle’ Will Flip State Senate 2018-06-21T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-21T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7758:democratic-campaign-chief-even-a-blue-trickle-will-flip-state-senate Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gianaris_via_facebook.jpg" alt="gianaris via facebook" width="600" height="430" /></p> <p>Senator Gianaris and colleagues (photo via Gianaris Facebook)</p> <hr /> <p>Predictions of a nationwide “blue wave” of anti-Trump sentiment resulting in major Democratic gains have been tempered as the president maintains strong support among Republicans and the economy, broadly speaking, is going strong.</p> <p>But even if the blue wave ends up being more like a trickle, that would be good news to state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens, who chairs the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) and needs to net just one seat this fall to take control of the chamber and thus the entire Legislature.</p> <p>In an interview as the end of session and official start of campaign season approached, Gianaris said Republicans have been holding on to numerous seats by slim margins.</p> <p>“By virtue of the gerrymandering that’s happened here in New York in the Senate, Republican districts are stretched so thin and their margins of victory are always so narrow that a trickle is enough for us to make a difference,” he told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>“It’s just a question of degrees. Any tip in our favor will lead to more seats in our hands, and we’re one seat shy. So, we’re very optimistic,” he said, echoing a sentiment <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shared by Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins</a>, who could become the first woman and first woman of color to lead the Senate if the Democrats take control.</p> <p>Gianaris said the DSCC won’t start investing in individual Democrats’ campaigns until late summer or early fall. He mentioned numerous seats the committee might target throughout the state, though it is yet to make a decision about Senator Simcha Felder and his Brooklyn district.</p> <p>Republicans are blocking Democrats from controlling the chamber thanks to Felder, who is a registered Democrat and has repeatedly run on the Democratic line, but caucuses with Republicans. Felder ran unopposed in 2016 and appeared on both major party ballot lines.</p> <p>At their state nominating convention last month, Democrats passed resolutions to kick Felder out of the party and support a challenger to him. He is still running as a Democrat, though.</p> <p>While Gianaris called Felder’s seat “a hostile district” -- and he faces a Democratic primary challenger, Blake Morris -- Gianaris said the DSCC was still waiting to determine if it would get involved in the race.</p> <p>“What we’re evaluating is, is beating Felder in a primary more or less likely than winning some of these general election contests?” Gianaris said. “We have a lot of opportunities on our plate.”</p> <p>Most of those opportunities appear to be outside the five boroughs -- there are just three members of the Senate Republican conference that represent New York City districts -- Senators Felder, Marty Golden, and Andrew Lanza.</p> <p>Gianaris also shied away from committing to either of the Democrats in the other potentially intriguing New York City general election Senate race, for Golden’s Brooklyn seat (Lanza, of Staten Island, is not seen as beatable). The incumbent has provoked a streak of damaging headlines -- ranging from <a href="https://nypost.com/2017/12/12/politician-impersonated-cop-to-get-past-me-in-bike-lane-cyclist/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">alleged threats against a bicyclist</a> to <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/ny-metro-marty-golden-accessibility-black-cars-legislation-20180608-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">parachuting</a> while receiving disability payments -- providing Democratic challengers Ross Barkan and Andrew Gounardes plenty of fodder for attacks.</p> <p>“There’s one blunder after another that will make that race even more possible than usual,” said Gianaris.</p> <p>But he added, “I try to look at it coldly. As long as I pick up the seats I need, which right now is one...I’m agnostic as to where it comes from.”</p> <p>Golden ran unopposed in 2016. He won easily in 2014 and 2012, when he beat Gounardes by a decisive margin.</p> <p>As this year’s legislative session ended, the Senate -- Republicans’ only stronghold at the state level given Democratic control of the Assembly and all four statewide positions -- was deadlocked 31-31 between Republicans and Democrats since the GOP’s 32nd senator, Tom Croci of Long Island, was called to active duty with the Navy last month. Through the fall elections, Democrats must net just one seat to take the majority in the chamber for the first time in nearly a decade. Depending on the results of the gubernatorial race -- no Republican has been governor since 2006 -- Democratic control of the upper chamber could pave the way for passage of a slew of the party’s priorities.</p> <p>Gianaris indicated Democrats are likely to focus on two Long Island seats where the incumbent won by razor-thin margins two years ago: Republican Senator Carl Marcellino, who won parts of Nassau and Suffolk Counties by less than 1 percent of the vote; and Democrat Senator John Brooks, who won by an even smaller margin.</p> <p>Gianaris also pointed to the high number of Republicans who have announced they aren’t seeking reelection. In addition to Croci, they include John Bonacic of the Hudson Valley, John DeFrancisco of Syracuse, William Larkin of Orange County, and Kathy Marchione of Saratoga. Not all of the seats are in play for Democrats, but some appear to be.</p> <p>Gianaris is also eyeing Republican seats that Democrats have won in the past - the 46th district outside Albany, currently held by George Amedore; and the 41st district in the Hudson Valley, where Sue Serino is the incumbent.</p> <p>“Before you know it, you’re looking at 10 to 12 pockets of opportunity on offense and, effectively, the only seat we have to defend is John Brooks,’” he said.</p> <p>Senate Democrats have crowed over Republicans’ resignation announcements, saying they show the GOP knows it’s doomed this year. A Senate Republican spokesperson did not answer a request for comment for this article.</p> <p>Senator John Flanagan, the Senate majority leader, has tried to sound a confident note amid the flurry of resignations.</p> <p>"New Yorkers know that our Majority is the only thing standing in the way of the New York City politicians implementing an agenda that will hurt our economy and make life more difficult for hardworking middle-class taxpayers," he <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/republican-new-york-senator-won-seek-reelection-article-1.3959021" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told the New York Daily News</a>. "We will succeed in November and maintain our majority so the true priorities of New Yorkers continue to be put first."</p> <p>Senate Democrats increased their ranks in April, when the group of eight renegades known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) ended its coalition with Republicans and rejoined the mainstream Democratic fold, taking the conference from 23 to 31 members. The move came as nearly all of the IDC members faced primary challengers who decried them as “Trump Democrats” willing to empower Republicans in order to gain perks at the expense of progressive values.</p> <p>Gianaris was one of the strongest critics of the IDC during its seven-year alliance with Republicans, and he was part of a long-term feud with Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the IDC. But Gianaris said the DSCC has no intention of supporting challengers like Alessandra Biaggi, who is running against Klein, of the Bronx, as long as the ex-IDC members don’t break their promises.</p> <p>Gianaris noted that Senator Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic leader, is supporting all members of her conference, including former IDC members, a point she recently stressed during a Gotham Gazette/City Limits podcast appearance.</p> <p>“At this point, the former IDC members are members of our conference,” Gianaris said. “We’ve committed to not opposing them.”</p> <p>Asked whether he would go so far as to discourage Democrats from challenging ex-IDC members, Gianaris declined to comment.</p> <p>“Everyone seems to be on their best behavior on both sides and there seems to be genuine effort to work cooperatively and get to where we’re trying to go, so hopefully that continues,” he said of the Democratic conference since ex-IDC members rejoined it.</p> <p>Asked whether he actually trusts the former IDC members -- who reneged on campaign promises to quit their alliance with Republicans in 2014 -- Gianaris said with a laugh, “I’ve come to trust very few people in politics.”</p> <p>“But I can say…there’s been action behind the words. Hopefully that holds,” he added.</p> <p>As in previous years’ elections, the Republican campaign committee has much more cash than the Democrats do -- <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/efs_summary_page?comid_in=A00193&amp;rdate_in=22-MAY-2018&amp;reportid_in=I&amp;eyear_in=2018" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$1,549,017.70</a> compared to <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/getreports?filer_in=A01540&amp;fyear_in=2018&amp;rep_in=I" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$691,274.46</a>, according to the latest disclosure reports.</p> <p>However, Gianaris said trends are favoring Democrats this year.</p> <p>“That gap is much smaller than it would normally be,” he said. “I think we’re about a half-million ahead of pace and they’re a million below pace, if you went back to 2016.”</p> <p>Around this time in the 2016 election cycle, Republicans had more than $2 million and Democrats had a little over $225,000.</p> <p>True to his role as Democratic cheerleader, Gianaris said he’s confident this year will bring a “blue wave” to the state.</p> <p>“All around the country, Democrats are performing at a higher clip than would normally be expected,” he said. “I think it’s a legitimate wave.”</p> <p>

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by Shant Shahrigianh, Gotham Gazette
      

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gianaris_via_facebook.jpg" alt="gianaris via facebook" width="600" height="430" /></p> <p>Senator Gianaris and colleagues (photo via Gianaris Facebook)</p> <hr /> <p>Predictions of a nationwide “blue wave” of anti-Trump sentiment resulting in major Democratic gains have been tempered as the president maintains strong support among Republicans and the economy, broadly speaking, is going strong.</p> <p>But even if the blue wave ends up being more like a trickle, that would be good news to state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens, who chairs the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) and needs to net just one seat this fall to take control of the chamber and thus the entire Legislature.</p> <p>In an interview as the end of session and official start of campaign season approached, Gianaris said Republicans have been holding on to numerous seats by slim margins.</p> <p>“By virtue of the gerrymandering that’s happened here in New York in the Senate, Republican districts are stretched so thin and their margins of victory are always so narrow that a trickle is enough for us to make a difference,” he told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>“It’s just a question of degrees. Any tip in our favor will lead to more seats in our hands, and we’re one seat shy. So, we’re very optimistic,” he said, echoing a sentiment <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7707-max-murphy-podcast-senate-democratic-leader-andrea-stewart-cousins" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shared by Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins</a>, who could become the first woman and first woman of color to lead the Senate if the Democrats take control.</p> <p>Gianaris said the DSCC won’t start investing in individual Democrats’ campaigns until late summer or early fall. He mentioned numerous seats the committee might target throughout the state, though it is yet to make a decision about Senator Simcha Felder and his Brooklyn district.</p> <p>Republicans are blocking Democrats from controlling the chamber thanks to Felder, who is a registered Democrat and has repeatedly run on the Democratic line, but caucuses with Republicans. Felder ran unopposed in 2016 and appeared on both major party ballot lines.</p> <p>At their state nominating convention last month, Democrats passed resolutions to kick Felder out of the party and support a challenger to him. He is still running as a Democrat, though.</p> <p>While Gianaris called Felder’s seat “a hostile district” -- and he faces a Democratic primary challenger, Blake Morris -- Gianaris said the DSCC was still waiting to determine if it would get involved in the race.</p> <p>“What we’re evaluating is, is beating Felder in a primary more or less likely than winning some of these general election contests?” Gianaris said. “We have a lot of opportunities on our plate.”</p> <p>Most of those opportunities appear to be outside the five boroughs -- there are just three members of the Senate Republican conference that represent New York City districts -- Senators Felder, Marty Golden, and Andrew Lanza.</p> <p>Gianaris also shied away from committing to either of the Democrats in the other potentially intriguing New York City general election Senate race, for Golden’s Brooklyn seat (Lanza, of Staten Island, is not seen as beatable). The incumbent has provoked a streak of damaging headlines -- ranging from <a href="https://nypost.com/2017/12/12/politician-impersonated-cop-to-get-past-me-in-bike-lane-cyclist/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">alleged threats against a bicyclist</a> to <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/ny-metro-marty-golden-accessibility-black-cars-legislation-20180608-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">parachuting</a> while receiving disability payments -- providing Democratic challengers Ross Barkan and Andrew Gounardes plenty of fodder for attacks.</p> <p>“There’s one blunder after another that will make that race even more possible than usual,” said Gianaris.</p> <p>But he added, “I try to look at it coldly. As long as I pick up the seats I need, which right now is one...I’m agnostic as to where it comes from.”</p> <p>Golden ran unopposed in 2016. He won easily in 2014 and 2012, when he beat Gounardes by a decisive margin.</p> <p>As this year’s legislative session ended, the Senate -- Republicans’ only stronghold at the state level given Democratic control of the Assembly and all four statewide positions -- was deadlocked 31-31 between Republicans and Democrats since the GOP’s 32nd senator, Tom Croci of Long Island, was called to active duty with the Navy last month. Through the fall elections, Democrats must net just one seat to take the majority in the chamber for the first time in nearly a decade. Depending on the results of the gubernatorial race -- no Republican has been governor since 2006 -- Democratic control of the upper chamber could pave the way for passage of a slew of the party’s priorities.</p> <p>Gianaris indicated Democrats are likely to focus on two Long Island seats where the incumbent won by razor-thin margins two years ago: Republican Senator Carl Marcellino, who won parts of Nassau and Suffolk Counties by less than 1 percent of the vote; and Democrat Senator John Brooks, who won by an even smaller margin.</p> <p>Gianaris also pointed to the high number of Republicans who have announced they aren’t seeking reelection. In addition to Croci, they include John Bonacic of the Hudson Valley, John DeFrancisco of Syracuse, William Larkin of Orange County, and Kathy Marchione of Saratoga. Not all of the seats are in play for Democrats, but some appear to be.</p> <p>Gianaris is also eyeing Republican seats that Democrats have won in the past - the 46th district outside Albany, currently held by George Amedore; and the 41st district in the Hudson Valley, where Sue Serino is the incumbent.</p> <p>“Before you know it, you’re looking at 10 to 12 pockets of opportunity on offense and, effectively, the only seat we have to defend is John Brooks,’” he said.</p> <p>Senate Democrats have crowed over Republicans’ resignation announcements, saying they show the GOP knows it’s doomed this year. A Senate Republican spokesperson did not answer a request for comment for this article.</p> <p>Senator John Flanagan, the Senate majority leader, has tried to sound a confident note amid the flurry of resignations.</p> <p>"New Yorkers know that our Majority is the only thing standing in the way of the New York City politicians implementing an agenda that will hurt our economy and make life more difficult for hardworking middle-class taxpayers," he <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/republican-new-york-senator-won-seek-reelection-article-1.3959021" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told the New York Daily News</a>. "We will succeed in November and maintain our majority so the true priorities of New Yorkers continue to be put first."</p> <p>Senate Democrats increased their ranks in April, when the group of eight renegades known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) ended its coalition with Republicans and rejoined the mainstream Democratic fold, taking the conference from 23 to 31 members. The move came as nearly all of the IDC members faced primary challengers who decried them as “Trump Democrats” willing to empower Republicans in order to gain perks at the expense of progressive values.</p> <p>Gianaris was one of the strongest critics of the IDC during its seven-year alliance with Republicans, and he was part of a long-term feud with Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the IDC. But Gianaris said the DSCC has no intention of supporting challengers like Alessandra Biaggi, who is running against Klein, of the Bronx, as long as the ex-IDC members don’t break their promises.</p> <p>Gianaris noted that Senator Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic leader, is supporting all members of her conference, including former IDC members, a point she recently stressed during a Gotham Gazette/City Limits podcast appearance.</p> <p>“At this point, the former IDC members are members of our conference,” Gianaris said. “We’ve committed to not opposing them.”</p> <p>Asked whether he would go so far as to discourage Democrats from challenging ex-IDC members, Gianaris declined to comment.</p> <p>“Everyone seems to be on their best behavior on both sides and there seems to be genuine effort to work cooperatively and get to where we’re trying to go, so hopefully that continues,” he said of the Democratic conference since ex-IDC members rejoined it.</p> <p>Asked whether he actually trusts the former IDC members -- who reneged on campaign promises to quit their alliance with Republicans in 2014 -- Gianaris said with a laugh, “I’ve come to trust very few people in politics.”</p> <p>“But I can say…there’s been action behind the words. Hopefully that holds,” he added.</p> <p>As in previous years’ elections, the Republican campaign committee has much more cash than the Democrats do -- <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/efs_summary_page?comid_in=A00193&amp;rdate_in=22-MAY-2018&amp;reportid_in=I&amp;eyear_in=2018" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$1,549,017.70</a> compared to <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/getreports?filer_in=A01540&amp;fyear_in=2018&amp;rep_in=I" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$691,274.46</a>, according to the latest disclosure reports.</p> <p>However, Gianaris said trends are favoring Democrats this year.</p> <p>“That gap is much smaller than it would normally be,” he said. “I think we’re about a half-million ahead of pace and they’re a million below pace, if you went back to 2016.”</p> <p>Around this time in the 2016 election cycle, Republicans had more than $2 million and Democrats had a little over $225,000.</p> <p>True to his role as Democratic cheerleader, Gianaris said he’s confident this year will bring a “blue wave” to the state.</p> <p>“All around the country, Democrats are performing at a higher clip than would normally be expected,” he said. “I think it’s a legitimate wave.”</p> <p>

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by Shant Shahrigianh, Gotham Gazette
      

Read more by this writer.

</p>