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/thomas-libous 2017-12-14T13:15:05+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Report Propels Debate Over City's Welfare Reforms 2016-03-17T02:39:26+00:00 2016-03-17T02:39:26+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6227:report-propels-debate-over-citys-welfare-reforms Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/banks_levin.jpg" alt="banks levin" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>CM Levin, left, &amp; HRA Commissioner Banks (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>A new report on the city's reengineered public assistance system concluded, among other findings, that it's too soon to tell whether the wide-ranging reforms put in place by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks are working. The updated analysis from the city's Independent Budget Office (IBO) not only leaves unanswered whether the Banks/de Blasio reforms are working, but how exactly to judge a system now geared towards long-term change rather than short-term reward.</p> <p>Earlier this month, IBO, a nonpartisan city-funded agency, released <a href="http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/changing-course-on-public-assistance-march-2016.pdf" target="_blank">a report</a> on how the de Blasio administration changes to the welfare system, making it less punitive and refocused on education and employment for welfare recipients, rather than stressing work experience programs. Conservative critics of the changes, including Banks' predecessors from previous administrations, say that the city is becoming too lax and encouraging people to rely on government assistance. The administration says it is both taking a more humane approach and playing the long game, with greater payoffs down the road when people move off of assistance and don't need to return to it.</p> <p>The IBO looked at the effects these reforms have had on welfare caseloads and the city budget. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6177-in-departure-from-predecessors-de-blasio-administration-overhauls-city-welfare-system" target="_blank">Caseloads have increased</a>, in particular one-time grants, which also mean increased budget outlays projected for the coming year. One-time grants are cash assistance benefits to those who apply due to the most temporary hardship.</p> <p>The report notes that over the course of December 2015, there were a total of 597,347 unduplicated welfare recipients, a slight increase from 591,544 in May 2014. It attributed this increase to one-time grant recipients, one group among welfare classes, which went up by 34,339, translating into $133 million over the course of a year ($60 million of which is city funds).</p> <p>"The idea was that people would get better jobs and stay out there," said Paul Lopatto, the IBO analyst who authored the report, on the reforms. "The prediction that HRA is making now is that after a while, the caseload will decline, and that the increase is only temporary," Lopatto said. "It's not a surprise," he added. "It's a question of how long and how high it gets."</p> <p>Alex Armlovich, a policy analyst at the conservative Manhattan Institute, said the IBO report echoes what he <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6177-in-departure-from-predecessors-de-blasio-administration-overhauls-city-welfare-system" target="_blank">has already said</a> about the new welfare system, that the increase in the cash assistance caseload is "policy driven, not driven by weakness in the local economy or by disenfranchisement of low-skilled workers. It does not look promising on its face but we still have to see how it plays out," he said.</p> <p>Armlovich emphasized that one of the potential concerns about the system's new direction was "rubber stamping" in the education and training programs and that there was no way to tell if there was substantive improvement. "That's the fear," he said, insisting that HRA should put out tracking metrics for particular outcomes. He cited GED enrollment and completion as an easy figure to track and analyze.</p> <p>"If you're directly and quantitatively accountable, that assuages any fear about the nature of the program," he said. "I don't think it's time to panic. It's just something we need to keep an eye on."</p> <p>The need for metrics is one that City Council Member Stephen Levin, chair of the general welfare committee, which has oversight of HRA, agrees with. "We need strong metrics, strong data and strong measures in place to ensure that policy in New York City is working," he said of the welfare system reforms.</p> <p>Levin was less concerned about the increase in caseloads or the resulting budget burden, although he said it was especially necessary to keep an eye on the latter. The increase in welfare recipients, he said, was to be expected after years of previous administrations artificially suppressing the rolls.</p> <p>"The previous administrations spent a lot of money trying to knock people off the rolls," he said of the Bloomberg and Giuliani years, noting that HRA's new, more conciliatory approach is correcting these past policies. "If the numbers have gone up, we would expect that."</p> <p>At a preliminary budget hearing on Tuesday, the general welfare committee heard testimony from Commissioner Banks on HRA's progress on these reforms. Council members asked few critical questions, if any, on the specifics. Levin chalked this up to the fact that HRA's plan was still being implemented and that the committee had little time as they were focused on a litany of other pressing issues. General welfare also has oversight of HRA's other programs, the Department of Homeless Services, and the Administration for Children's Services.</p> <p>When asked about the IBO report, an HRA official cited similar reasoning. In a statement emailed to Gotham Gazette, HRA press secretary Lourdes Centeno said, "As part of our employment plan that is being phased in over two years, HRA is in the process of reforming its employment services through new RFPs and other program enhancements and continues to expand services that put recipients on a career pathway to long-term employment and self-sufficiency, which will replace the past policies that often resulted in only short-term employment and return to the caseload."</p> <p>Centeno added that the fluctuation in caseloads was in part because of increasing one-time assistance to prevent evictions and utility shutoffs, and noted that the unduplicated recurring caseload was largely flat for eight years. "We are monitoring our budget to ensure that we are using our resources effectively to help as many New Yorkers in need as we can," she added.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6177-in-departure-from-predecessors-de-blasio-administration-overhauls-city-welfare-system" target="_blank">In Departure From Predecessors, De Blasio Administration Overhauls Welfare System</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/banks_levin.jpg" alt="banks levin" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>CM Levin, left, &amp; HRA Commissioner Banks (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>A new report on the city's reengineered public assistance system concluded, among other findings, that it's too soon to tell whether the wide-ranging reforms put in place by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks are working. The updated analysis from the city's Independent Budget Office (IBO) not only leaves unanswered whether the Banks/de Blasio reforms are working, but how exactly to judge a system now geared towards long-term change rather than short-term reward.</p> <p>Earlier this month, IBO, a nonpartisan city-funded agency, released <a href="http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/changing-course-on-public-assistance-march-2016.pdf" target="_blank">a report</a> on how the de Blasio administration changes to the welfare system, making it less punitive and refocused on education and employment for welfare recipients, rather than stressing work experience programs. Conservative critics of the changes, including Banks' predecessors from previous administrations, say that the city is becoming too lax and encouraging people to rely on government assistance. The administration says it is both taking a more humane approach and playing the long game, with greater payoffs down the road when people move off of assistance and don't need to return to it.</p> <p>The IBO looked at the effects these reforms have had on welfare caseloads and the city budget. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6177-in-departure-from-predecessors-de-blasio-administration-overhauls-city-welfare-system" target="_blank">Caseloads have increased</a>, in particular one-time grants, which also mean increased budget outlays projected for the coming year. One-time grants are cash assistance benefits to those who apply due to the most temporary hardship.</p> <p>The report notes that over the course of December 2015, there were a total of 597,347 unduplicated welfare recipients, a slight increase from 591,544 in May 2014. It attributed this increase to one-time grant recipients, one group among welfare classes, which went up by 34,339, translating into $133 million over the course of a year ($60 million of which is city funds).</p> <p>"The idea was that people would get better jobs and stay out there," said Paul Lopatto, the IBO analyst who authored the report, on the reforms. "The prediction that HRA is making now is that after a while, the caseload will decline, and that the increase is only temporary," Lopatto said. "It's not a surprise," he added. "It's a question of how long and how high it gets."</p> <p>Alex Armlovich, a policy analyst at the conservative Manhattan Institute, said the IBO report echoes what he <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6177-in-departure-from-predecessors-de-blasio-administration-overhauls-city-welfare-system" target="_blank">has already said</a> about the new welfare system, that the increase in the cash assistance caseload is "policy driven, not driven by weakness in the local economy or by disenfranchisement of low-skilled workers. It does not look promising on its face but we still have to see how it plays out," he said.</p> <p>Armlovich emphasized that one of the potential concerns about the system's new direction was "rubber stamping" in the education and training programs and that there was no way to tell if there was substantive improvement. "That's the fear," he said, insisting that HRA should put out tracking metrics for particular outcomes. He cited GED enrollment and completion as an easy figure to track and analyze.</p> <p>"If you're directly and quantitatively accountable, that assuages any fear about the nature of the program," he said. "I don't think it's time to panic. It's just something we need to keep an eye on."</p> <p>The need for metrics is one that City Council Member Stephen Levin, chair of the general welfare committee, which has oversight of HRA, agrees with. "We need strong metrics, strong data and strong measures in place to ensure that policy in New York City is working," he said of the welfare system reforms.</p> <p>Levin was less concerned about the increase in caseloads or the resulting budget burden, although he said it was especially necessary to keep an eye on the latter. The increase in welfare recipients, he said, was to be expected after years of previous administrations artificially suppressing the rolls.</p> <p>"The previous administrations spent a lot of money trying to knock people off the rolls," he said of the Bloomberg and Giuliani years, noting that HRA's new, more conciliatory approach is correcting these past policies. "If the numbers have gone up, we would expect that."</p> <p>At a preliminary budget hearing on Tuesday, the general welfare committee heard testimony from Commissioner Banks on HRA's progress on these reforms. Council members asked few critical questions, if any, on the specifics. Levin chalked this up to the fact that HRA's plan was still being implemented and that the committee had little time as they were focused on a litany of other pressing issues. General welfare also has oversight of HRA's other programs, the Department of Homeless Services, and the Administration for Children's Services.</p> <p>When asked about the IBO report, an HRA official cited similar reasoning. In a statement emailed to Gotham Gazette, HRA press secretary Lourdes Centeno said, "As part of our employment plan that is being phased in over two years, HRA is in the process of reforming its employment services through new RFPs and other program enhancements and continues to expand services that put recipients on a career pathway to long-term employment and self-sufficiency, which will replace the past policies that often resulted in only short-term employment and return to the caseload."</p> <p>Centeno added that the fluctuation in caseloads was in part because of increasing one-time assistance to prevent evictions and utility shutoffs, and noted that the unduplicated recurring caseload was largely flat for eight years. "We are monitoring our budget to ensure that we are using our resources effectively to help as many New Yorkers in need as we can," she added.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6177-in-departure-from-predecessors-de-blasio-administration-overhauls-city-welfare-system" target="_blank">In Departure From Predecessors, De Blasio Administration Overhauls Welfare System</a>]</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
The Week That Was in New York Politics, July 20-24 2015-07-24T16:01:13+00:00 2015-07-24T16:01:13+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5825:the-week-that-was-in-new-york-politics-july-20-24 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" alt="week in review bus readers" height="409" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday July 24</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>the capitol office of former State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous, scrubbed of his name after he was convicted of lying to the FBI,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GannettAlbany/status/624280146585985025/photo/1" target="_blank">via</a> Joseph Spector, Gannett Albany</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/libous_office_no_name.jpg" alt="libous office no name" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" height="300" width="400" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Albany Corruption Drip - Sens. Sampson and Libous Convicted, Plus Additional Skelos Charges:</strong> On Tuesday Senator Dean Skelos and his son <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/sen-dean-skelos-son-face-new-charges-in-extortion-case-1437532100" target="_blank">were charged</a> with additional counts of bribery and extortion by a federal grand jury. On Wednesday Senator Tom Libous, the deputy majority leader, <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/07/8572627/libous-found-guilty-vacates-senate-seat" target="_blank">was found</a> guilty of lying to an F.B.I agent and was automatically forced to give up his Senate seat. And on Friday Senator John Sampson was convicted on three federal charges and forced to resign as well.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Unaccompanied Minors Initiative Success:</strong> City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito <a href="http://observer.com/2015/07/council-speaker-announces-free-attorneys-for-all-undocumented-migrant-children/" target="_blank">announced that </a>the initiative to provide legal representation for all undocumented immigrant children has been a “success.” Around 1,600 children have been provided with free lawyers and fourteen of them have been granted asylum.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Uber Politics:</strong> Uber and city officials reached <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/nyregion/de-blasio-administration-dropping-plan-for-uber-cap-for-now.html" target="_blank">an agreement </a>announced on Wednesday that will not place a temporary cap on the for-hire vehicle industry, within which Uber is the leading operator, while the city conducts a four-month study. There is some controversy over who exactly deserves credit, or blame, depending on your perspective, for brokering the deal, with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito saying Thursday that the Council had the bill and that she was the key negotiator.</p> <p><strong>4. Fast Food Wage Board Recommends Eventual $15 Hourly Minimum:</strong> The Fast Food Wage Board called by Governor Cuomo through his Labor Department recommended fast food workers to receive a $15 an hour minimum wage by December 31, 2018 in New York City and in 2021 for the rest of New York State. The recommendation must be adopted by the Department of Labor to take effect in the fast food industry at franchises with 30 or more locations nationally.</p> <p><strong>5. Commissioner Bratton Says He Won’t Serve Two Full Terms:</strong> Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said this week that he is <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/nypd-commissioner-william-bratton-says-he-wont-serve-two-terms-1437678041">not expecting</a> to remain in his post for a full two terms, should Mayor de Blasio be reelected, as he would be “70-some-odd” years old. Mayor de Blasio responded by pointing out that Pope Francis, whom he visited during a climate summit in Rome this week, is well into his seventies and having a profound impact.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THIS WEEK’S NUMBERS: </strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>19,000</strong> Staten Islanders <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/07/8572475/city-coned-working-restore-power-19-k-staten-island" target="_blank">lost power</a> on Monday due to Con Edison outages related to the brief heat wave.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>40%</strong> of New York’s emissions <a href="http://nypost.com/2015/07/21/de-blasio-pledges-greenhouse-gas-emissions-cuts-at-vatican-summit/" target="_blank">will be reduced</a> by 2030, promised Mayor Bill de Blasio at a climate conference in Italy organized by Pope Francis.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>$1 billion</strong> boost through 2019&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/mta-1b-cash-boost-2019-officials-article-1.2301306" target="_blank">for the MTA</a> in “better-than-expected revenues from fares, tolls and real estate taxes,” part of a larger MTA capital plan restructuring announced in pieces this week amid ongoing controversy over how the agency will be funded.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4,100</strong> minority and women owned businesses <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/512-15/de-blasio-administration-record-breaking-4-100-certified-m-wbes-last-fiscal-year" target="_blank">were certified</a> in the last year, a record the de Blasio administration announced.</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a good week</strong> for Republican City Council Member Steven Matteo of Staten Island, who <a href="https://twitter.com/StevenMatteo/status/624324502189576192">officially became</a> the Minority Leader of the City Council on Thursday. While the Republican caucus has just two members, it will likely add a third soon as Assembly Member Joseph Borelli is likely to replace Vincent Ignizio, who resigned his position for another job and stepped down as Minority Leader in the process. Oh, and the gig comes with a $15,000 annual bonus.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a bad week</strong> for former State Senator Tom Libous, who <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/nyregion/thomas-libous-new-york-state-senator-is-convicted-of-lying-to-fbi.html">was convicted</a> of lying to an FBI agent during an examination into his son’s hiring. Mr. Libous was the deputy majority leader and his departure leaves 31 elected Republican senators in the 63-member body. The Republicans still hold power, though, due to some complicated caucusing and alliances.</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THE FLASH:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Last year this week</strong>, on July 24, 2014, the City Council <a href="http://observer.com/2014/07/city-council-passes-avontes-law-to-evaluate-school-door-alarms/" target="_blank">unanimously passed</a> ‘Avonte’s Law,’ requiring the DOE to evaluate the need for door alarms after Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic boy, left school and drowned in the East River.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Twelve years ago this week,&nbsp;</strong>on July 23, 2003, City Council Member James Davis <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/23/nyregion/23WIRE-HALL.html" target="_blank">was shot and killed</a> in City Hall.</li> </ul> <p><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5823-conference-keys-to-restore-voter-confidence-start-with-campaign-finance-reform" target="_blank">Conference Keys to Restore Voter Confidence Start with Campaign Finance Reform</a>, by Catie Edmondson and Zehra Rehman</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5822-cuomo-waves-left-with-executive-actions-is-met-with-shrugs" target="_blank">Cuomo Waves Left with Executive Actions, Is Met with Shrugs</a>, by David King</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5817-black-hispanic-a-asian-caucus-faces-growing-pains-tense-relationship-with-cuomo" target="_blank">Black, Hispanic, &amp; Asian Caucus Faces Growing Pains, Tense Relationship with Cuomo</a>, by David King</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5821-inside-the-campaign-finance-filings-of-nycs-big-four" target="_blank">Inside the Campaign Finance Filings of NYC's 'Big Four'</a>, by Jon Reznick</li> </ul> <p><strong>MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Neil Barsky, chairman and founder of The Marshall Project, spoke about shutting down Rikers Island jails <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/rikers-needs-be-permanently-closed/" target="_blank">with Brian Lehrer on WNYC</a>.</li> <li>The Independent Budget Office <a href="http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/charter_schools_versus_traditional_public%20_schools_comparing_the_level_of_public_support_in_school_year_2014_2015_july_23_2015.html" target="_blank">released another</a> in a series of analyses related to the city's schools, this one focused on per-pupil funding at traditional district schools and charter schools.</li> </ul> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Erika Wang and Ben Max</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" alt="week in review bus readers" height="409" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday July 24</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>the capitol office of former State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous, scrubbed of his name after he was convicted of lying to the FBI,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GannettAlbany/status/624280146585985025/photo/1" target="_blank">via</a> Joseph Spector, Gannett Albany</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/libous_office_no_name.jpg" alt="libous office no name" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" height="300" width="400" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Albany Corruption Drip - Sens. Sampson and Libous Convicted, Plus Additional Skelos Charges:</strong> On Tuesday Senator Dean Skelos and his son <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/sen-dean-skelos-son-face-new-charges-in-extortion-case-1437532100" target="_blank">were charged</a> with additional counts of bribery and extortion by a federal grand jury. On Wednesday Senator Tom Libous, the deputy majority leader, <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/07/8572627/libous-found-guilty-vacates-senate-seat" target="_blank">was found</a> guilty of lying to an F.B.I agent and was automatically forced to give up his Senate seat. And on Friday Senator John Sampson was convicted on three federal charges and forced to resign as well.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Unaccompanied Minors Initiative Success:</strong> City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito <a href="http://observer.com/2015/07/council-speaker-announces-free-attorneys-for-all-undocumented-migrant-children/" target="_blank">announced that </a>the initiative to provide legal representation for all undocumented immigrant children has been a “success.” Around 1,600 children have been provided with free lawyers and fourteen of them have been granted asylum.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Uber Politics:</strong> Uber and city officials reached <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/nyregion/de-blasio-administration-dropping-plan-for-uber-cap-for-now.html" target="_blank">an agreement </a>announced on Wednesday that will not place a temporary cap on the for-hire vehicle industry, within which Uber is the leading operator, while the city conducts a four-month study. There is some controversy over who exactly deserves credit, or blame, depending on your perspective, for brokering the deal, with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito saying Thursday that the Council had the bill and that she was the key negotiator.</p> <p><strong>4. Fast Food Wage Board Recommends Eventual $15 Hourly Minimum:</strong> The Fast Food Wage Board called by Governor Cuomo through his Labor Department recommended fast food workers to receive a $15 an hour minimum wage by December 31, 2018 in New York City and in 2021 for the rest of New York State. The recommendation must be adopted by the Department of Labor to take effect in the fast food industry at franchises with 30 or more locations nationally.</p> <p><strong>5. Commissioner Bratton Says He Won’t Serve Two Full Terms:</strong> Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said this week that he is <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/nypd-commissioner-william-bratton-says-he-wont-serve-two-terms-1437678041">not expecting</a> to remain in his post for a full two terms, should Mayor de Blasio be reelected, as he would be “70-some-odd” years old. Mayor de Blasio responded by pointing out that Pope Francis, whom he visited during a climate summit in Rome this week, is well into his seventies and having a profound impact.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THIS WEEK’S NUMBERS: </strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>19,000</strong> Staten Islanders <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/07/8572475/city-coned-working-restore-power-19-k-staten-island" target="_blank">lost power</a> on Monday due to Con Edison outages related to the brief heat wave.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>40%</strong> of New York’s emissions <a href="http://nypost.com/2015/07/21/de-blasio-pledges-greenhouse-gas-emissions-cuts-at-vatican-summit/" target="_blank">will be reduced</a> by 2030, promised Mayor Bill de Blasio at a climate conference in Italy organized by Pope Francis.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>$1 billion</strong> boost through 2019&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/mta-1b-cash-boost-2019-officials-article-1.2301306" target="_blank">for the MTA</a> in “better-than-expected revenues from fares, tolls and real estate taxes,” part of a larger MTA capital plan restructuring announced in pieces this week amid ongoing controversy over how the agency will be funded.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4,100</strong> minority and women owned businesses <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/512-15/de-blasio-administration-record-breaking-4-100-certified-m-wbes-last-fiscal-year" target="_blank">were certified</a> in the last year, a record the de Blasio administration announced.</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a good week</strong> for Republican City Council Member Steven Matteo of Staten Island, who <a href="https://twitter.com/StevenMatteo/status/624324502189576192">officially became</a> the Minority Leader of the City Council on Thursday. While the Republican caucus has just two members, it will likely add a third soon as Assembly Member Joseph Borelli is likely to replace Vincent Ignizio, who resigned his position for another job and stepped down as Minority Leader in the process. Oh, and the gig comes with a $15,000 annual bonus.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a bad week</strong> for former State Senator Tom Libous, who <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/nyregion/thomas-libous-new-york-state-senator-is-convicted-of-lying-to-fbi.html">was convicted</a> of lying to an FBI agent during an examination into his son’s hiring. Mr. Libous was the deputy majority leader and his departure leaves 31 elected Republican senators in the 63-member body. The Republicans still hold power, though, due to some complicated caucusing and alliances.</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THE FLASH:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Last year this week</strong>, on July 24, 2014, the City Council <a href="http://observer.com/2014/07/city-council-passes-avontes-law-to-evaluate-school-door-alarms/" target="_blank">unanimously passed</a> ‘Avonte’s Law,’ requiring the DOE to evaluate the need for door alarms after Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic boy, left school and drowned in the East River.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>Twelve years ago this week,&nbsp;</strong>on July 23, 2003, City Council Member James Davis <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/23/nyregion/23WIRE-HALL.html" target="_blank">was shot and killed</a> in City Hall.</li> </ul> <p><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5823-conference-keys-to-restore-voter-confidence-start-with-campaign-finance-reform" target="_blank">Conference Keys to Restore Voter Confidence Start with Campaign Finance Reform</a>, by Catie Edmondson and Zehra Rehman</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5822-cuomo-waves-left-with-executive-actions-is-met-with-shrugs" target="_blank">Cuomo Waves Left with Executive Actions, Is Met with Shrugs</a>, by David King</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5817-black-hispanic-a-asian-caucus-faces-growing-pains-tense-relationship-with-cuomo" target="_blank">Black, Hispanic, &amp; Asian Caucus Faces Growing Pains, Tense Relationship with Cuomo</a>, by David King</li> <li><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5821-inside-the-campaign-finance-filings-of-nycs-big-four" target="_blank">Inside the Campaign Finance Filings of NYC's 'Big Four'</a>, by Jon Reznick</li> </ul> <p><strong>MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Neil Barsky, chairman and founder of The Marshall Project, spoke about shutting down Rikers Island jails <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/rikers-needs-be-permanently-closed/" target="_blank">with Brian Lehrer on WNYC</a>.</li> <li>The Independent Budget Office <a href="http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/charter_schools_versus_traditional_public%20_schools_comparing_the_level_of_public_support_in_school_year_2014_2015_july_23_2015.html" target="_blank">released another</a> in a series of analyses related to the city's schools, this one focused on per-pupil funding at traditional district schools and charter schools.</li> </ul> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Erika Wang and Ben Max</p>