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Gotham Votes 2013

19th Council Candidates On Participatory Budgeting

Brooklyn Expo

NEW YORK — Participatory budgeting, which promises to give constituents a greater say in how public funds are distributed in their communities, was adopted by the 19th City Council District last year — one of less than a dozen to do so. But the next Council member to represent the district will have to decide whether to continue it.

Under participatory budgeting, community members aged 16 or older decide on which local projects need to be funded through the city’s capital budget allotted to the district rather than having the Council member make that decision as he or she typically would. The process was initially developed in Brazil in the late 1980s, and introduced in New York City in 2011.

Most of the candidates running for the 19th district seat in northeast Queens said in interviews with the Gotham Gazette that they would support participatory budgeting as an important way to bring transparency to how money is handled in the district.

Read more: 19th Council Candidates On Participatory Budgeting

Stormy City Council Race For District Hard-Hit By Hurricane Sandy


“The Mid-Island section of Staten Island suffers in particular from suburban sprawl. Contractors have been tearing down old single-family homes and putting in multiple-family townhouses, creating as many as six homes where there used to be one. Developers are building on the island's wetlands, which reduces natural floodplains, causing sewers to overflow when it rains."

This eerily prescient quote is from a Gotham Gazette campaign feature about Staten Island’s 50th City Council District race published in 2001.

Eleven years later, as Hurricane Sandy slammed into this part of Staten Island with a vengeance, the consequences of developing into the wetlands became all too clear. Some experts estimated that 3,000 Staten Islanders were displaced from the storm. The majority of those lived in the 50th district, or the “Mid-Island”, which includes a small part of Brooklyn and the entire middle of Staten Island, from its heavily populated east coast to its more industrial west coast. Over the past three decades, new townhouse development has been intense along this district’s eastern coast.

As District 50 residents gear up to replace Republican James Oddo — who is running for borough president — the primary election encapsulates all of the uncertainties that still grip this embattled area.

Read more: Stormy City Council Race For District Hard-Hit By Hurricane Sandy

Campaign Trail: Weekend Roundup

In an exit interview, Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks about stop-and-frisk, being a "nanny" and why he thinks Bill de Blasio is running a "racist" campaign for mayor. (New York Magazine)

With his family next to him, de Blasio denounced Bloomberg's comments. (Buzzfeed)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Bloomberg's comments about de Blasio "are clearly out of line." (NY1)

At final GOP mayoral debate before primary, top contenders demonstrate vastly different styles. (The Wall Street Journal)

Thousands rally for Quinn at Stonewall Inn. (Gay City News)

A look at the frantic campaigning in the days before the primary. (The New York Times)

Echoes of Obama-Clinton in New York City's mayoral race? (Politico)

De Blasio expands his lead among women and black voters. (Capital New York)

VIDEO: Meet The Press interview with mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. (NBC)

Voter Guides 2013

Given the importance of this year's election, it may be no surprise that interest groups across the city have issued guides to the candidates. Looking to find out what the candidates have said about education, sustainability or pedestrian friendly streets? Look no further. Don't find your organization's guide listed here? Send us an email. We'll be happy to add it.

Read more: Voter Guides 2013

Campaign Trail: Running Away From Bloomberg's Endorsement

Closing in on the primary elections, candidates for mayor from both major parties are trying to avoid an endorsement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (NY Times)

The latest Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday shows that the comptroller race is in a dead heat between Scott Stringer and Elliot Spitzer. (WSJ)

What can the next mayor do about affordable housing? (Capital)

Rudy Giuliani will hit the campaign trail for his former deputy Joe Lhota, who is running for the GOP mayoral nomination. (Politicker)

Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner confronted an angry heckler yesterday on the campaign trail. (The New York Times)

Cuomo Avoids NYC Mayoral Primary

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“I’m not registered to vote in New York City, so I don’t think it’s a situation where it’s appropraite for me to express a preference,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters today in Au Sable in upstate New York.  

Cuomo has avoided public events in New York City this summer like it is part of his job description. The messy primary race for mayor and comptroller only offers negatives for Cuomo — having his name tossed around with tabloid fodder like Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, endorsing the losing candidate — the kinds of things a large and in charge executive like Cuomo wants to avoid.

His friend and current frontrunner Bill de Blasio hasn't made it easy for Cuomo to avoid questions about the race. First, de Blasio pushed Cuomo to get involved in the hospital crisis in Brooklyn. A member of the Cuomo administration told the Gazette in early August, “No one is going to step foot in Brooklyn for the West Indian Day Parade without addressing the hospital situation."

The mayoral candidates did step into Brooklyn without there being a clear-cut solution. Cuomo did not, electing to skip the parade that draws politicians from all over the state. 

De Blasio's plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund school programs also led to questions for Cuomo, being that the candidate's plan would need approval in Albany. In response, Cuomo says he wants to wait to see who is elected before discussing policy proposals. 

And yet Cuomo has not ruled out endorsing in other races. 

“I have plans to get involved in the future,” Cuomo told reporters today. “To the extent I have an opinion in primary races I will be getting involved probably in a couple, but I don’t have any to get involved in the New York City mayoral.”


Mysterious Forces At Work In the 2013 Elections? They’re Everywhere


ALBANY, N.Y. — Eliot Spitzer says Wall Street doesn’t want him to be the city’s next comptroller because the Wall Street bankers and corporate titans are trembling in fear of what he might do.

Anthony Weiner says “powerful voices” don’t want him to be mayor. “But this isn’t about what they want,” he said in one of his TV ads. “They’ve gotten their way far too long.”

There may be some grain of truth to these statements, but it also begs credulity that two candidates who have huge name recognition brought about by career-derailing scandals of their own making would cast themselves as victims of unseen forces bent on breaking them before they can even get into office.

But they are not alone in asserting that shadowy groups across the city are trying to safeguard the status quo from potentially “radical” candidates — lest the system be shaken to its very core.

Read more: Mysterious Forces At Work In the 2013 Elections? They’re Everywhere

East Harlem District Debate on Affordable Housing Turns Ugly


What could have been a straight-forward debate between the candidates running for City Council’s 8th District on Tuesday turned into a noisy, raucous event with plenty of unexpected audience participation.

"She’s a millionaire and living in public housing!," shouted one audience member, pointing at incumbent Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito. "She’s a millionaire!"

Gathered in East Harlem’s Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, the candidates took a range questions but were most passionate in talking about housing and affordability within the district. The district includes parts of northern Manhattan and the South Bronx, and is home to the country's second highest concentration of public housing units.

Read more: East Harlem District Debate on Affordable Housing Turns Ugly

Outside Money, Scandal Play Into Queens Council Race

NEW YORK — The future of the 19th City Council District seat in northeast Queens was thrown into flux in April when the officeholder was arrested in a bribery scheme to sell a spot on the Republican mayoral ballot.

Dan Halloran was preparing to run for a possible second term in the City Council, but announced in May that he would not seek re-election following his arrest.

Six candidates — five Democrats and one Republican — are now vying to replace Halloran and represent the district. The Democrats running include Halloran's former chief of staff, a member of the Vallone political family, a former assemblyman, an urban planner and a former state senate press secretary. The winner will represent one of the larger geographic districts in Queens that was redefined during last year’s district process and spans from the tip of the College Point neighborhood to Little Neck bordering Long Island.

Read more: Outside Money, Scandal Play Into Queens Council Race

Campaign Trail: De Blasio Surges. Again.

A Quinnipiac University poll released today revealed Bill de Blasio is leading the way with 36 percent — four points shy of avoiding a run-off — with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former Comptroller Bill Thompson trailing behind with 21 and 20 percent, respectively. [Capital New York]

The New York Police Department reportedly labelled several area mosques as terrorist organizations, leading to at least a dozen unsubstantiated investigations into these mosques and their patrons. [AP]

Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu promised to audit NYPD’s Intelligence Unit in light of AP’s mosque surveillance report. [Capital New York]

Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to release weekly updates on NYPD crime stats and city lawyers urge Judge to postpone policy reform as numbers show sharp decrease in stop-and-frisks. [Daily News]

The first live televised debate between the Republican mayoral candidates airs tonight on CBS at 7 p.m.. Stream it here.

City Council Candidates To Discuss Affordable Housing In East Harlem

NEW YORK — The growing threat of gentrification in East Harlem is forcing residents, community leaders, and City Council candidates to discuss affordable housing in one of the most diverse working-class communities in Manhattan.

The candidates vying for New York City’s 8th District — incumbent City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ralina Cardona, Sean Garner, Gwen Goodwin, Tamika Humphreys and Ed Santos — are expected to discuss their policy ideas for preserving and encouraging affordable housing at a forum tonight.

Marina Ortiz, founder of East Harlem Preservation, said the neighborhood is facing the possibility of losing its character and historical richness because of the rise in “luxury developments that look nothing like the rest of the neighborhood.” The district spans from East Harlem north to Mott Haven in the South Bronx.

Angel Mescain, assistant district manager of the Community Board 11 of Manhattan, said affordable housing has always been key to East Harlem’s diversity. Rising home prices “affects the ability of the local housing market to serve lower and middle income households,” he said.

Ortiz said the median income of a household in East Harlem, around $20,000, is far less than the median income of the city as a whole, which is $63,000 for a family of four. “Even when affordable housing is developed, young adults and families in the neighborhood cannot afford to move in so we lose that next generation,” she said.

The forum, which begins at 6 p.m., is co-sponsored by East Harlem Preservation and JustPublics@365. It will to be held at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College
2180 Third Ave.

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