budget Tag All blog entries tagged as budget http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/latest Wed, 16 Jul 2014 22:23:57 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Today's Lead Stories: Budget Deal | Weekend Roundup http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/headlines/2013/06/24/todays-lead-stories-budget-deal--weekend-roundup http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/headlines/2013/06/24/todays-lead-stories-budget-deal--weekend-roundup

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council agreed to a $70 billion budget deal last night. The Daily News reports that the agreement mostly avoids cuts to the public housing authority under the federal sequester. Other than that, the budget deal largely maintained last year's agreement: there are no tax cuts and planned cuts to funding of libraries and after-school programs won't happen. The budget also includes $250 million in new spending to prepare the city for future extreme weather.

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Weekend Roundup: The governor said Sunday he will ask federal prosecutors to look into a report on the Long Island Power Authority that found "breathtaking waste and inefficiency." Albany approves speed cameras, but not the women's equality agenda at the end of session. Here's one take on why the women's equality agenda failed. And here's an editorial in the Daily News about some of the fallout. State voters will now get to decide whether to expand casinos upstate.

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Labor Rallies To Have Role In Mayoral Election (Daily News)

Police Scrutinizing Deadly Crashes (NY Times)

Revitalizing Downtown Staten Island (Wall Street Journal)

'Freedom Tower' Name Sticks To One World Trade Center (Wall Street Journal)

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) The Eye-Opener Mon, 24 Jun 2013 14:56:53 +0000
Unionized NYC Employees: We Need A New Mayor http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/06/13/unionized-nyc-employees-we-need-a-new-mayor http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/06/13/unionized-nyc-employees-we-need-a-new-mayor

Thousands of union workers rallied yesterday at City Hall Park to demonstrate their frustration over the lack of contract negotiations between Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration and city employees.

"The people united will not be defeated," unionized teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and police officers continuously chanted, their words echoing through the park as giant screens showed images of the protest.

The rally, coordinated by the Municipal Labor Committee, was touted by organizers as a vigorous response to Bloomberg's decision to allow city unions' contracts to expire, leaving over 300,000 employees without labor agreements.

Bloomberg presented his final $70 billion budget plan in early May, which marks his 12th budget in his 11-and-a-half years in office. Under the proposal, 20 fire companies would be closed and $135 million cut from afterschool and early-childhood education programs.

The budget also has no money allocated for city employees' backpay in case renegotiating contracts results in salary increases. The cumulative price of paying the city's workforce retroactively could be over $7 billion.

Bloomberg has said paying the wages retroactively could result in widespread layoffs and tax increases.

The mayor's office didn't respond to a request for comment about yesterday's rally.

Workers at the park said they were fed up with Bloomberg and that the only way to get new contracts might be under a new mayor.

Franklin Jones, a member of New York's largest municipal public employee union, District Council 37, said the unions needed to "put the right person in office, who truly cares about humanity."

Nick Hedge, a member of Local 1181 Amalgamated Transit Union, worked for the city as bus drivers for 33 years before his job was terminated just a few months ago. Hedge, who mentioned the mayor’s inability to negotiate contracts when the ATU went on strike in mid-January, attributed his unemployment, along with 2,000 others, to Bloomberg’s administration.

“They are decimating our industry,” Hedge said. "He's not only destroying our union, but all the other unions that are here."

Bloomberg and the City Council have until July 1 to finalize the 2014 fiscal year budget and allocate money for union workers’ contracts.

Photos by Latima Stephens.

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Thu, 13 Jun 2013 18:01:51 +0000
NYC Budget Director Says Unsettled Union Contracts Don't Have To Be Burden http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/06/06/nyc-budget-director-says-unsettled-union-contracts-dont-have-to-be-burden http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/06/06/nyc-budget-director-says-unsettled-union-contracts-dont-have-to-be-burden Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget director says that long-unsettled contracts with municipal unions don’t have to undermine the financial health of the city.

Mark Page, the director of the city’s Office of Management and Budget, told city lawmakers yesterday at a hearing on the 2014 fiscal year budget that any financial burden stemming from contract negotiations would largely be the fault of negotiators.

"You only owe it if you agree to sign a contract that says you owe it," Page said. "The increase is going to be whatever someone agrees to."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a $70 billion budget for fiscal year 2014, which includes the usual cuts to services such as child care and libraries.

While Page fielded several questions about those cuts at yesterday’s hearing before the Council’s finance committee, city lawmakers also asked him pointed questions about the possibility that the unresolved contracts could become a drag on the budget.

Page echoed numbers put forth in April by the mayor's office, which estimated that the total cost for recession-era raises for all municipal union employees who have been working without contracts could be as much as $8 billion.

"I would imagine that clearly we need collective bargaining contracts, but I think that we're under no legal obligation to pay retroactive raises," Page said, adding that back pay is not a liability in the budget. "I think the question is what can you afford to pay going forward."

Comptroller John Liu, who testified after Page, previously called the Bloomberg administration's opposition to back pay "last-minute maneuvering.”

"I think as a matter of fairness we can't simply say to the workers that you get nothing," Liu said on Wednesday. "The fact of the matter is the last four, five years, municipal contracts had been left unresolved. And they should have been resolved a long time ago."

Mocking the idea of Bloomberg as the "financial guru that we needed," Liu accused the mayor of delaying and failing to settle the labor contracts, some of which have gone unresolved for as many as five years.

Bloomberg, he said, only wants to "give the illusion that the budget will be left in the black" as long as retroactive pay isn't included in negotiations.

When Brooklyn Councilman and Finance Committee Chair Domenic Recchia asked Liu how he proposed to cover the expense of billions of dollars in back pay, Liu deflected and said that the full amount might not actually be possible. Part of that bill, he said, could be paid for by outstanding payments the city is waiting for.

In mid-April, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway laid out the administration's preconditions for any negotiations, including a hard line against retroactive pay.

"The city is prepared to agree to a new contract with any union that agrees to no retroactive, recession-era pay increases — which we cannot afford — and to meaningful health care benefit reform that improves the quality of care and reduces costs," Holloway said at the time.

Liu, one of at least eleven mainstream candidates to replace Bloomberg, is so far the only candidate to outright defend retroactive pay for city employees, even if he's measured on how much pay workers should expect.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and former Comptroller Bill Thompson haven't ruled out back pay, but have mostly come out against negotiating contracts in public. On Wednsday night, former Councilman Sal Albanese has said he is committed to back pay.

Most of the Republican candidates aren't so reserved. Former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief Joe Lhota and Doe Fund founder George McDonald have come out unequivocally against retroactive pay, and fully in support of employees contributing to their healthcare costs.

Only supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis has stayed mum about back pay, relying on his business acumen to get his point across.

"I've negotiated with unions for 44 years in my companies," Catsimatidis said in a GOP forum last month. "I've never had a strike, and we've always worked it out. Both sides have always been happy."

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Thu, 06 Jun 2013 03:13:58 +0000
Mayoral Candidates React Lukewarmly To City Hall Plan On Retroactive Raises http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/04/19/mayoral-candidates-react-lukewarmly-to-city-hall-plan-on-retroactive-raises http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/04/19/mayoral-candidates-react-lukewarmly-to-city-hall-plan-on-retroactive-raises Several candidates who want to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg have responded lukewarmly to City Hall's plans to offer new contracts to city employees in exchange for foregoing retroactive pay increases.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner, said in a statement to the Gotham Gazette that she supports fair compensation for city workers and a dialog between union leaders and the administration.

"At the same time," she said, "we must always be mindful of the city budget, and honor our obligations to NYC taxpayers, and should strive to reach agreements that are fair to all parties."

Independence party candidate and former Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrión also supported ongoing talks balanced with fiscal restraint, as did Republican candidate and former MTA chief Joe Lhota.

"I applaud the mayor for making contract negotiations a priority," Lhota said. "Getting contracts in place for the city's workers that are fair and fiscally responsible is in the best interest of all New Yorkers."

City comptroller and Democratic mayoral candidate John Liu invoked Bloomberg's remaining tenure in a statement to the Gotham Gazette, calling the proposal "last-minute maneuvering" as well as "unseemly and outrageous."

He said the proposal "sends a clear message."

"The Bloomberg administration refuses to deal with the multi-billion dollar labor mess of its own making and will continue the 'kick the can down the road' approach for the next eight months," Liu said in his statement.

Fellow Republican candidate and Doe Fund founder George McDonald also issued a statement, pledging that he would not sign any new union contracts that don't include employee participation in health care.

Supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis declined to get involved in the matter, with the Republican candidate saying that he would look at the issue after January 1, 2014.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson were both contacted for comment, but neither campaign provided a response by Thursday morning.

Cas Holloway, New York City's deputy mayor for operations, laid out the administration's initial offer to city employees earlier this week during a meeting with the the Citizens Budget Commission.

The Bloomberg administration preempted negotiations with municipal unions by offering to settle new contracts with new wages in exchange for preconditions.

"The city is prepared to agree to a new contract with any union that agrees to no retroactive, recession-era pay increases — which we cannot afford — and to meaningful healthcare benefit reform that improves the quality of care and reduces costs," Holloway said in a statement.

Municipal unions would have to ask their members to contribute to their health care insurance premiums, with the city also announcing a plan to seek a new healthcare plan by opening up a requests for proposals. Unions would also have to drop demands for retroactive pay for those workers who have worked without contracts, some as long as three or more years.

In an interview with Capital New York, Municipal Labor Committee chief Harry Nespoli pushed back on Holloway's justification for no back pay, calling the argument that workers should count themselves lucky "that they have a job is a disgrace," and that Bloomberg only has "277 more days left in this administration."

The mayor's office said that the total cost for recession-era raises for all municipal union employees could be as high as a $8 billion. Holloway preemptively responded to complaints about no retroactive pay by arguing that the administration protected workers' jobs in the midst of the national recession.

Wherever the administration's prerequisites for negotiation leads, the city's largest labor unions are preparing for Bloomberg's replacement. The United Federation of Teachers' members have worked without a contract since 2009 and are poised to weigh in on the mayoral race.

With more than 200,000 members, UFT began releasing its 2013 endorsements via Twitter on Wednesday and tweeted it would soon announce its candidate for mayor.

webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Fri, 19 Apr 2013 16:26:09 +0000
Today's Headlines: Stop-And-Frisk | Liu Declares http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/03/18/todays-headlines-stop-and-frisk--liu-declares http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/03/18/todays-headlines-stop-and-frisk--liu-declares

STOP-AND-FRISK ON TRIAL: A federal judge begins hearing key testimony today in a trial to determine whether the New York Police Department has been unlawfully targeting blacks and Hispanics with its tactic of stopping, questioning and frisking people on the street. The New York Times writes that the outcome "will help define the terms under which the department patrols large swaths of the city long after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg leaves office." The U.S. District Judge in the case, Shira Scheindlin, has expressed misgivings about the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactics (Bloomberg, The Associated Press).

LIU DECLARES: Comptroller John Liu (@JohnCLiu2013) officially declared that he is running for mayor on the steps of City Hall in front of hundreds of people Sunday. Striking a populist tone, the Democrat took aim at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's as beholden to the wealthiest New Yorkers. Liu defiantly cast the legal cloud surrounding an investigation into his campaign's fundraising as a result of his willingness to stand up to powerful interests. "When you go after powerful people and rich corporations, they're going to come after you," he said in his speech (Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, many others).

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Mon, 18 Mar 2013 05:37:35 +0000
Today's Lead Stories: City Hall Budget Cuts; Downgrading Crime Reports http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/17/todays-leads-city-hall-budget-cuts-downgrading-crime-reports- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/17/todays-leads-city-hall-budget-cuts-downgrading-crime-reports-

Mayor Bloomberg announced this weekend that city agencies must cut a total of $2 billion dollars from their budgets this year and the next. That equals slashing a total of 3 percent of the total budget over the next 18 months. He has also warned of possible layoffs. Meanwhile, he gave raises to some of his staff, but contends those aides are taking on more work as a result of staffing cuts.

In the press...

Police reports suggest officers sometimes portray crimes less seriously

Civilian Complaint Board starts hiring for prosecuting unit

District leader race a show of strength for Brooklyn Democratic machine

Twitter gives judge three months' worth of protester's tweets

Scores of prisoners could have been released for deportation years ago

Brooklyn Wal-Mart deal falls apart

Demonstrators mark 1st anniversary of Occupy Wall Street

A look back at the rise and fall of Occupy

Attorney General Schneiderman's fight against prescription drug abuse


Photo of City Hall by asterix611/Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

mmuller@gothamgazette.com (Mike Muller) City Mon, 17 Sep 2012 12:29:30 +0000