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Max & Murphy on Politics: Election Season is Here!

Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette

June 1, 2017: Election Season is Here!

For the 2017 city election season, the Max & Murphy podcast is focusing on the races and candidates of the election cycle. In this episode, hosts Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Jarrett Murphy of City Limits set the stage for the summer campaign months, especially with the regard to the mayoral race, and discuss what other races are worth keeping an eye on as we head toward the September primary and the November general elections. Listen:

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

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Max & Murphy Podcast: Democratic Mayoral Candidate Sal Albanese

Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette

Max & Murphy is a podcast focused on New York City politics and policy hosted by Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Jarrett Murphy of City Limits. Past episodes of the podcast can be found here and can be dowloaded from iTunes and other podcast networks. The podcast began with a focus on housing in early 2016, but has expanded into other areas, now turning to the 2017 city elections, especially the race for Mayor. We've recently talked with Democratic mayoral candidate Bob Gangi and Republican candidate Paul Massey. On June 26, we spoke with Democratic candidate Sal Albanese.

sal albanese 3Sal Albanese has secured the Reform Party nomination for Mayor and is competing for the Democratic nomination. This is Albanese's third mayoral run and he's running as "an insurgent" with a focus on "reforming our political system" in order to rid city politics and government of unethical practices. Albanese has put campaign finance reform at the top of his agenda, featuring a push for "democracy vouchers," but he's also talking about transit policy -- "I want to be the mass transit Mayor" he told us -- and more. Like other candidates in the race, he's running a fairly substantive campaign while also attacking incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio on a host of issues.

"If he's a macro guy he should run for the U.S. Senate," Albanese told us about de Blasio being a big thinker as opposed to a city manager. Albanese says he would have a much better relationship with Governor Andrew Cuomo than de Blasio does.

Citing an "enthusiasm gap," Albanese says de Blasio's support is "paper thin" and that there's enough disatisfaction with the incumbent that his insurgent campaign can take off. Albanese acknowledges that he needs to gain steam soon in order to make a real challenger to de Blasio, but said he was encouraged by a recent spike in interest in his campaign, both in terms of volunteers and donations. Listen to the full conversatio and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @jarrettmurphy, and Albanese is @SalAlbaneseNYC

June 26, 2017

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

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Experts Eye 'College Success' for City Students

CUNY graduation Macaulay

(2017 Macaulay Honors College commencement, via CUNY Newswire)

Professors, researchers, and administrators gathered Monday morning to discuss issues related to higher education in New York, especially how to ensure that more New Yorkers are college-ready and successful once they enter higher education. The symposium, held at The Greene Space and titled “Moving the Needle on College Success in NYC,” was hosted by the Center for an Urban Future (CUF), a think tank focused on expanding economic opportunity and growing the economy.

After a year of research, CUF is set to release a report in the next few weeks that will describe the key challenges and obstacles that prevent students from graduating college in a timely manner or cause them to drop out of their programs altogether. “Before we close the book on our own research, we really wanted to have this conversation and bring up some of the most amazing and thoughtful people on this issue,” said Jonathan Bowles, CUF executive director.

Fewer than a quarter of the students that are in two-year associate’s programs at the City University of New York (CUNY) get their degree within three years, and affordability and accessibility continue to be problems for many young people seeking a college education.

Douglas Bauer, the executive director of the Clark Foundation, an event sponsor and organization that focuses on helping people out of poverty by supporting nonprofits in New York City, started off the morning’s discussion by stating in his welcoming remarks, “We’re very blessed in the city to have tremendous resources dedicated to higher education, and indeed, some of the best institutions in the country, if not the world, reside here. So, one would think that access to these institutions would be attainable, and sadly that is not really the case.”

“We think in silos, and we operate in silos. We don’t think like a system,” Bauer added, “and the result is that some well-deserving students from underserved neighborhoods in this great city get assistance but not nearly enough.”

A panel discussion followed, with professors and administrators addressing challenges students face in trying to get their degrees, including having to work part-time, not knowing what resources are available to them, and not understanding how to navigate the “hidden curriculum,” or the knowledge and competencies often passed down to students from their family members who have attended college.

“A community college is much more complex from the point of view of the student than Columbia,” said Thomas Bailey, professor of economics and education at Teachers College, the graduate school of education, health, and psychology at Columbia University. “[Community college students] haven’t been marinated in a college-going culture from the time they were two. Their family hasn’t been to college. They don’t have a lot of information or experience to draw on.”

There was widespread talk of the need to create a college-going culture by exposing students from as early as middle school to higher education campuses and arranging for them to speak with graduates about their experiences. This culture could also include pairing up community college students into cohorts before sending them to four-year colleges as a way of encouraging them to graduate, offering more AP classes and College Now courses, amping up academic rigor, increasing advisement to help students fill out paperwork, expanding CUNY fee waivers, and even getting businesses involved by giving them incentives to employ students after they graduate or to offer more paid internships to current students.

“I think it’s not simply a matter of money because the reality is, there’s never going to be enough money,” said David Gomez, president of Hostos Community College.

Public Advocate Letitia James joined the conversation to give remarks at the CUF event. “We must develop support networks, which is so critically important. The goal cannot simply be get our children into college, and then say goodbye. We know that our children are more likely to succeed with strong networks surrounding them, and I refuse to doom children who unfortunately happen to be born in a certain zip code to failure.”

James expressed concerns about the Excelsior Scholarship, a recently passed program ushered through by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which would make CUNY and SUNY schools tuition-free for students who come from families making an annual income up to $125,000 and meet specific criteria such as taking and completing 30 credits per year. The program will be phased in over three years. “One of the issues with Excelsior is that everything is online, and the digital divide along racial lines is very, very real,” James said.

Others have criticized Excelsior, which Cuomo pegged for middle class families given that the state already had a tuition assistance program for the lowest income individuals seeking college access, for not addressing key costs like books, travel, or lodging.

When Gotham Gazette asked panelists about Excelsior, Judith Lorimer, the director of Goddard Riverside’s Options Center, said, “It’s not going to help lower-income students. It’s not free college. The way it works is it’s an additional scholarship on top of TAP and Pell. So for low-income students who receive enough TAP and Pell to cover tuition, it’s not going to affect them at all. [For] middle incomes--$50,000 to $100,000--there’s potential there, but there are a lot of complications and loops. You have to go to school right away. You have to get your 30 credits a year. You have to stay in New York afterwards, otherwise it converts to a loan. All of that is an incredible complication even for the students that it will benefit.”

Phil Weinberg, the deputy chancellor for teaching and learning at the New York City Department of Education, summed up the entire debate in a nutshell when he said, “If you’re going to turn to a young person and say, ‘What problem do you want to solve?’ or ‘What plan do you want to have for yourself?,’ you have to have provided that young person with the academic abilities, and social abilities, to be able to answer that question. In many ways, that’s a privileged question to ask somebody. If the answer is ‘I wanna make sure my family pays its rent this month,’ that really limits the choices that young person has...The easiest way to make this better is something that the nation is not willing to do, which is, make this all free for everybody.”

by Amanda Tukaj

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