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The Week That Was in New York Politics, July 20-24


week in review bus readers

photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday July 24

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: 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, via Joseph Spector, Gannett Albany

libous office no name

TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:

1. Albany Corruption Drip - Sens. Sampson and Libous Convicted, Plus Additional Skelos Charges: On Tuesday Senator Dean Skelos and his son were charged with additional counts of bribery and extortion by a federal grand jury. On Wednesday Senator Tom Libous, the deputy majority leader, was found 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.

2. Unaccompanied Minors Initiative Success: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced that 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.

3. Uber Politics: Uber and city officials reached an agreement 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.

4. Fast Food Wage Board Recommends Eventual $15 Hourly Minimum: 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.

5. Commissioner Bratton Says He Won’t Serve Two Full Terms: Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said this week that he is not expecting 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.

THIS WEEK’S NUMBERS:

  • 19,000 Staten Islanders lost power on Monday due to Con Edison outages related to the brief heat wave.

  • 40% of New York’s emissions will be reduced by 2030, promised Mayor Bill de Blasio at a climate conference in Italy organized by Pope Francis.

  • $1 billion boost through 2019 for the MTA 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.

  • 4,100 minority and women owned businesses were certified in the last year, a record the de Blasio administration announced.

THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:

  • It was a good week for Republican City Council Member Steven Matteo of Staten Island, who officially became 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.

  • It was a bad week for former State Senator Tom Libous, who was convicted 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.

THE FLASH:

  • Last year this week, on July 24, 2014, the City Council unanimously passed ‘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.

  • Twelve years ago this week, on July 23, 2003, City Council Member James Davis was shot and killed in City Hall.

GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:

MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:

  • Neil Barsky, chairman and founder of The Marshall Project, spoke about shutting down Rikers Island jails with Brian Lehrer on WNYC.
  • The Independent Budget Office released another 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.

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NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle @GothamGazette.

If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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 the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here. And have a great weekend!

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by Erika Wang and Ben Max



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