City Council Tag All blog entries tagged as City Council http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/latest Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:11:35 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb 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.

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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.

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"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."

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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.

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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.

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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."

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Thu, 06 Jun 2013 03:13:58 +0000
NYC Council Passes Bill To Help Veterans http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/05/23/nyc-council-passes-bill-to-help-veterans http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/05/23/nyc-council-passes-bill-to-help-veterans After what some advocates call years of inaction, the City Council has spent the last few months passing a series of bills aimed at helping veterans.

The flurry of legislative action comes at a time when the resources for veterans across the country are increasingly strained but the need for them is increasing as post-9/11 soldiers come home.

The latest bill to be passed by the Council directs each city agency to name a veterans' affairs liaison who would also work with the mayor's office to make sure former soldiers' needs are being met. Training would also be provided as needed for the liaisons. The bill passed 49-0 yesterday.

Sponsored by Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile, the bill follows up on a 2008 executive order from Mayor Michael Bloomberg the calls for the coordination of veterans services with the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs. Called ineffective by some, the order has fallen flat. The inaction prompted Gentile to propose Int. 0480, which already boasted 27 co-sponsors.

Gentile called the bill a benefit for both the city and veterans.

"It's a win for the city because it's at no cost," Gentile said. "And it's a win for veterans because the liaisons will be better trained."

Gentile added that he expected Bloomberg to sign the bill, and hoped that veterans could begin to see changes in the city's handling of their requests as early as September.

The mayor's office did not respond to immediate requests for comment.

But, earlier this year, Terrance R. Holliday, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, told the Council committee that the administration was more than willing to adopt the bills and had already begun working to make itself more accessible to veterans.

"The fact is we need the talent and skills that our veterans can apply to key jobs in our city," Holliday said. "As we all know, and the intentions of the Council reinforce, those that served bring critical and diverse talents that can be leveraged to strengthen our city’s economy."

Within the last three months, the Council has voted on four bills on a range of veterans' issues, including loosening restrictions on license requirements and better connecting veterans to job opportunities.

Compared to other towns around the country, New York City's veterans are a small part of the population. Numbers from the most recent Census count show that veterans make up less than 3 percent of the overall population. Still, that's no small number.

There are more than 224,000 former service members in the city, and the Council's veterans committee chair Matthieu Eugene said today that they deserve City Hall's attention.

"We owe them a great deal of gratitude," Eugene said, hinting at bills in the work that deal with affordable housing and immigration. "We don't do esnough for veterans."

In early April, Bloomberg signed off on a legislative package passed unanimously through the Council to improve the city's rate of veteran joblessness.

One of those bills allows New York City veterans to apply their relevant work experiences during their time in service towards any licensing and certification requirements needed to work in the city. Veterans in the process of earning a license and who are called into action can continue the licensing without interruption.

Part of that package also called on the Mayor's Office for Veterans Affairs to connect veterans with military skills to applicable jobs through a reliable and updated job bank.

Within the next few months, the city will begin to offer employment and career resources through the agency's website.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Thu, 23 May 2013 19:33:36 +0000
NYC Council OKs #PaidSickDays Compromise http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/05/09/council-oks-paid-sick-days-compromise http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/05/09/council-oks-paid-sick-days-compromise NEW YORK — After almost four years of negotiations and months of political bickering, about one million working New Yorkers are a step closer to gaining paid sick days.

The City Council approved a bill today that will require many businesses to give sick workers time off. It passed 45 to 3.

The bill is much transformed from the one originally introduced in 2010 and kept from a vote by Speaker Christine Quinn until a near insurrection from her colleagues and criticism from advocates threatened to become a political liability as she seeks the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Under the bill approved by the Council, eligible workers would be guaranteed a minimum of five paid sick days. The bill also says that no one in New York can be fired for taking an unpaid sick day. Whereas the original bill would have forced businesses with five or more employees to provide paid sick days, the version passed today applies to those with 20 or more employees.

The law would go into effect in April of next year, with the possibility of expanding to businesses with 15 or more employees in late 2015, depending on the law's success. Full-time and part-time workers would be protected under the law, although it excludes interns and seasonal workers.

"Today’s vote projects a positive message to all New Yorkers that this government of the people is not only about those who have everything, but that each of us has a right to benefits created by the labor of all," said Manhattan Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the bill's lead sponsor, before today's vote.

For years, labor advocates and the local business community wrestled over the bill's impact on the city's public health and economic development. Quinn justified keeping the bill from a vote by repeating her belief that the city's economy was too fragile to mandate sick leave.

In responding to criticism about that decision, Quinn said that she had always supported the spirit of the bill. It has been more a matter of when it was appropriate for the city to enact the law, she added, not if she supported it.

At a press event today, Quinn said: "Clearly the economy is doing better now, than two or three years ago when I first said we should wait."

In March, she announced a deal to end political dilemma surrounding the bill after a drumbeat of criticism from advocates including Gloria Steinem and labor unions, her Council colleagues and rival candidates for the Democratic nomination for mayor. However, some were still unhappy with the outcome, with some business leaders not wanting to see any bill at all and a group of advocates for sick leave saying the Quinn deal would result in a weakened law.

Key Quinn ally Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his continued opposition to the bill when the deal was struck in March.

"While this compromise version of the bill is better than previous iterations, it will still hurt small businesses and stifle job creation," Bloomberg wrote, calling the bill short-sighted policy that will hurt New York. "Supporters claim it will only take effect if the economy is healthy, but there is never a good time to make New York City less competitive."

Bloomberg has said he will veto even this compromise bill, though supporters say they have enough votes to override.

Among the many compromises that was negotiated into the bill is a trigger which Quinn has said will grant paid sick days only if the city's economy can handle the bill's impact.

That trigger will come from an economic index measured by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that looks at a combination of wages, time sheets and the unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate is particularly relevant to Nancy Ploeger, president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. On the same day the Brooklyn and Queens Chambers of Commerce presidents stood with Quinn at the March rally, Ploeger said that everything came down to jobs, and whether or not the bill would be another burden on the city’s small businesses.

Ploeger hesitated to praise the compromise, arguing that the state has always been better equipped to deal with paid sick day legislation than the local government.

"We are against any type of City Council legislation," Ploeger said at the time.

Ploeger also called into question whether it was appropriate to have the law enforced by the city's Department for Consumer Affairs. While the state has its Department of Labor, she said, the city doesn't have a similar agency equipped to make sure employers comply with the law.

The DCA also said it was ill-prepared to handle the law's requirements.

"Among the many concerns about this legislation, the Council seems to not understand that the Department of Consumer Affairs regulates fairness in the marketplace, not labor and payroll issues," the agency said.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Thu, 09 May 2013 01:35:37 +0000
Paid Sick Leave Bill Likely To See Vote Next Week http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/04/16/paid-sick-leave-bill-likely-to-see-vote-next-week http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/04/16/paid-sick-leave-bill-likely-to-see-vote-next-week

After three years of waiting and debating, Councilwoman Gale Brewer said the controversial paid sick days bill could go to a vote as early as next week.

"April 25 -- that's the goal," Brewer said this afternoon. She said the language was still being finalized, but was confident it would go to a vote sooner rather than later.

The bill, Intro 0097, would be introduced through the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, which will convene the day before the bill heads to the Council's floor. It already has several cosponsors, including Speaker Christine Quinn, who held back a vote on the measure since Brewer first introduced the bill in 2010.

Quinn came under pressure in recent months as supporters of paid sick leave -- including unions and fellow mayoral candidates, most notably Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson -- demanded that the bill go to a vote. Quinn had long held that she didn't oppose the spirit of the bill, rather that the city's economy was too fragile to expect small business to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

However, despite initial opposition from chambers of commerce from all five boroughs and various business leaders, Quinn was able to draw up a compromise version of the bill that would not got into effect until next year, and only if it meets a minimum measure of a financial index released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The bill will reportedly provide five sick days to all business with 20 or more employees, eventually expanding it to those with 15 or more.

Under the new law, all employees -- regardless of the business' size -- are also protected from being fired and can file violations with the city's Department of Consumer Affairs. Employers who are exempt from paid sick days must still offer workers at least five unpaid sick days a year.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already promised to veto the bill, which Quinn similarly promised to override.

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Photo by William Alatriste.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Tue, 16 Apr 2013 21:12:50 +0000
New City Council Maps Make It To The US Justice Dept http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/03/25/new-city-council-maps-make-it-to-the-us-justice-dept http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/03/25/new-city-council-maps-make-it-to-the-us-justice-dept The final version of New York City's revampe district maps have made their way to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has a little under two months to evaluate their compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

Despite some uproar from some local groups, the maps were finalized by the city’s Districting Commission in February and passed through the City Council in March without a vote.

The DOJ now has until May 24 to make sure that the maps don’t impair voter accessibility and protections for minority voters in Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn, all of which are protected under Section 5 of 1965’s VRA.

The public can make comments during the 60-day evaluation period. Barring any violations of the VRA, the federal government's approval would mean the new maps would go into effect before the upcoming primary, which is expected to take place in September.

The Districting Commission already held three rounds of public hearings in each borough and heard testimony from more 300 New Yorkers before voting to approve the maps in February by a vote of 14 to 1.

New Yorkers can email their comments to section5.comments@usdoj.gov or send mail to:

Mr. Chris Herren Chief, Voting Section Civil Rights Division Room 7254 – NWB Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20530

Final City Council Maps by Chester Soria

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Mon, 25 Mar 2013 19:48:23 +0000
Clock Ticking Down On New Council District Map http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/03/01/clock-ticking-down-on-new-council-district-map http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2013/03/01/clock-ticking-down-on-new-council-district-map City Council members only have a few hours left before the newly drawn district maps are sent to the clerk’s office.

While the Council’s agenda on Wednesday may have been dominated by news of its immigration reform and street vendor bills, the Council also filed the Districting Commission’s revised maps. Members must file any objections to the commission by 5 p.m. Friday, otherwise the map will move on to the city clerk’s office — effectively meaning the Council has approved the lines without a vote.

The lines wil then be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for review.

Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said he was disappointed there wasn't more of an announcement from City Hall.

“The fact that there have been no public statements,” Berman said, “is somewhat distressing.”

He emphasized the far-reaching consequences that the new maps will have on the city’s communities, including his own. Berman said that while the city can’t change district lines based on speculation, the commision should have reflected on how the lines will affect Council Disctrict 3, represented by Speaker Christine Quinn, which was the most populous district in Manhattan and yet was shrunk.

James Hong of the Asian American Community Coalition on Redistricting and Democracy said that Wednesday’s actions are what the group expected. He described the redistricting process as one where Council members can discreetly influence maps without having to publicly acknowledge their part in the system.

“It’s created an opaqueness to the process,” Hong said.

The coalition, which includes 14 advocacy groups, came out strongly to criticize the redistricting process, specifically in the map’s treatment of the Asian-American community in Bayside, Queens.

The commission, made up of 15 political appointees, approved the maps on Feb. 6 with a 14-1 split. The city charter gives the Council three weeks to adopt, reject or take no action, which becomes the equivalent of adoption. If anyone objects before the weekend, more hearings would need to be scheduled.

In a statement after its vote, the Districting Commission said that the new maps create 35 minority districts, compared to 30 in the 2003 maps.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Fri, 01 Mar 2013 19:28:46 +0000
City Council To Fight Extreme Weather With Legislation http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/12/18/city-council-to-fight-extreme-weather-with-legislation http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/12/18/city-council-to-fight-extreme-weather-with-legislation

Legislation aimed at fortifying the city's infrastructure to withstand future extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy has been introduced into the City Council.

"Before we see another Hurricane Sandy hit our five boroughs, we must ensure our shoreline, our streets, our transportation system, our electrical system — every part of our city's foundation and groundwork is fully prepared," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn before the legislation was introduced. "If we want to protect our neighborhoods and prevent and limit future devastation, we have to act now."

They mayor's office said it was reviewing the bills.

The Council also announced a series of oversight hearings to look at the city's response to Sandy, scheduled to begin in January.

When asked whether the Council would look at the question of whether some rebuilding along the shoreline should be reconsidered, Quinn said it was a debate worth having.

"You don't want to ever say you can't rebuild, you can't go back, but it is clearly a tough discussion we are going to have to have," she said. 'There are some real legitimate environmental, weather, safety issues here. And we have to have the conversation because New Yorkers are asking us to have it."

Here is a rundown of the package of bills announced today and introduced at the stated meeting:

• A bill to require the mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability to examine whether it would be possible to relocate power lines underground. The study would have to be conducted within six months of the bill being enacted.

• A bill to require that the city adopt updated flood maps created by the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Current maps are outdated.

• A bill that would require buildings in floods zones to construct electrical and other key equipment "so as to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components during conditions of flooding."

• A bill that would amend building code to require healthcare facilities meet national and state flood construction requirements.

The Council also said it would vote on a measure that would waive Department of Buildings fees for buildings damaged or destroyed by Sandy.

"This bill will do away with one step and one cost in the rebuilding process," Quinn said. "This may seem like a little step, but these fees … can really add up and become an enormous cost for New Yorkers."

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Image by Bill Alatriste, courtesy of the City Council.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Tue, 18 Dec 2012 22:12:10 +0000
Searchlight: Council Passes Pedicab Legislation http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/11/28/searchlight-council-passes-pedicab-legislation http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/11/28/searchlight-council-passes-pedicab-legislation

In an effort to regulate how pedicabs set fares, the City Council passed legislation today that would require pedicab drivers to set their rates based on the duration of rides.

If the bill becomes law, drivers of pedicabs, popular in tourists spots like Central Park and Times Square, would be required to use a timer during all rides.

The timer would have to be fastened within clear view of the passengers, along with rates charged.

“Our legislation will bring increased legitimacy to the pedicab industry and will ensure customers know what they’re paying to go on a ride – without being taken for a ride," Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement.

Intro. 0597 - 2011 was championed by Councilman Dan Garodnick, the chair of the committee on consumer affairs.

The city's Department of Consumer Affairs, which would be required to create information cards for pedicab riders, and the The New York City Pedicab Owners' Association have also said they support the bill.

The Council passed the bill at today's stated meeting. For more on the bill, see our policy brief.

A full report on the meeting will appear tomorrow.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Wed, 28 Nov 2012 03:21:48 +0000
Union Bets Cash on Candidate in City Council Special Election http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/10/25/union-bets-cash-on-candidate-in-city-council-special-election- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/10/25/union-bets-cash-on-candidate-in-city-council-special-election-

At least one union cares enough about the low-profile special election for Larry Seabrook's former City Council seat in the Bronx to weigh in with its own cash.

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East has spent over $4,500 in the race, with most of the money going to pay for a full-color mailer backing candidate Andrew King, a former community organizer for the union.

King "knows that working families and the elderly face real obstacles, especially right now, and we need strong leadership," reads the flier.

The expenditure was the first disclosed under a city Campaign Finance Board rule that went into effect in May requiring any group that spends money on behalf of an unaffiliated candidate to disclose its support.

Under the rule, expenditures over $1,000 must be disclosed; expenditures over $5,000 require groups to disclose contributors.

Besides King, five other candidates are seeking the 12th City Council District seat vacated by Seabrook, who was convicted in late July on corruption charges.

King leads the pack in private funds raised, with over $28,000 in its campaign account, according to the CFB's website.

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Image of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East flier distributed on behalf of Andy King.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Thu, 25 Oct 2012 19:50:05 +0000
Searchlight: Sweeping Away Arcane Regulations for Small Businesses http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/10/02/searchlight-sweeping-away-arcane-regulations-for-small-businesses http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/10/02/searchlight-sweeping-away-arcane-regulations-for-small-businesses

A tangle of obsolete, overly complex or confusing regulations that frustrate small businesses will be swept away or made less punitive under measures being proposed by elected officials.

City inspectors would also be trained to be more customer-friendly under the proposed bills.

The measures announced today by the mayor's office and City Council aim to remove barriers to doing business that supporters say can impede growth and slow job creation.

DNAInfo.com reports about one restaurant owner's frustrations with the city's red tape:

For more than 30 years, Vinnie Mazzone has been a staple of the Sheepshead Bay restaurant scene, luring hungry diners with his legendary Chicken Masters’ fried chicken.

But two weeks ago, he shuttered his doors for good — blaming what he described as stifling government regulations, including hundreds in fines for petty violations, endless hoops to jump through and crushing tax rates.

“There are so many rules and regulations,” complained Mazzone, who said he'd half-jokingly changed his title from CEO to CCO: "Chief Compliance Officer."

“It’s like I’m a government employee without the benefits. It’s not possible for me to run my business the way I’ve been doing 30 years,” he said.

In a statement, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that government "needs to be doing everything in its power" to break down barriers to small business growth.

The five measures (some of which will require bills that are expected to be introduced at next week's Council hearing) would identify violations where less serious penalties should be levied; eliminate obsolete violations; streamline regulations so that businesses don't interact with more than one oversight agency; standardize customer service training for city inspectors; require city agencies to designate a liason for each regulated industry.

The measures came out of a regulatory review process between the mayor's office and the Council, with participation from the public and businesss community. The new measures are in addition to 14 others announced following the release of an April 2010 report.

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Photo by William Alatriste, Courtesy of the City Council.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Tue, 02 Oct 2012 21:00:53 +0000
Latino Leaders Urge Passage of Police Reform Legislation http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/24/latino-leaders-urge-passage-of-police-reform-legislation http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/24/latino-leaders-urge-passage-of-police-reform-legislation

Riko Guzman said today on the steps of City Hall that when he was 11 years old he was with friends on his Bronx neighborhood sidewalk “doing nothing” when a police officer stopped and frisked him.

“I was approached by my own heroes,” said the Bronx member of the Justice Committee, a Latino-led organization that works on police accountability.

Guzman joined with other Latino and African American local elected officials, community leaders and reformers earlier today to urge passage of a package of City Council bills that could change the way the New York Police Department does its job.

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez said the police use of stop-and-frisk is doing little for public safety. Instead, community members “view the police as a threat and enemy, not as an ally to make their community safer,” she said.

The bills, known collectively as the The Community Safety Act, are sponsored by City Councilman Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn, who noted that advocates of the bills are “not anti-police.”

“We just want to make policing better,” he said.

Some critics of the bills say they rely on overly broad language to determine whether an individual can sue the NYPD for stop-and-frisk tactics. In a New York Post article published yesterday, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said the bills were “dangerous and irresponsible” and could cost the city millions in lawsuits.

But Williams said that the bills would simply address the need for a policy change.

According to a video from the Communities United for Police Reform, the primary organization supporting the bills, the legislation will mandate police officers explain that they can only search a person with consent or a warrant; must give a reason for their search; show a card with their name and rank; and provide information about the Civilian Complaint Review Board if the person would like to report the search.

The legislation would also create a new position of inspector general to have policy oversight of the NYPD.

But the primary goal of the legislation is stopping police profiling not just on the basis of race but also religion, gender, household, employment, immigration status, and ethnicity. More than 1.2 million of police stops during the past several years targeted African-Americans and Latinos, supporters of the legislation say.

Police reform groups and community organizations will be holding a rally at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday in support of the legislation, starting by 250 Broadway and proceeding to the steps of City Hall.

Williams pointed out that none of these bills are going to solve the issue of stop-and-frisk and the need for police accountability.

“What they will do is allow the City Council to make a strong showing that there is a problem here and it needs to be addressed,” he said.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Mon, 24 Sep 2012 20:22:18 +0000
Squadron, Gottfried Urge Closure of Gaps in Fire Safety Code http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/18/squadron-gottfried-urge-closure-of-gaps-in-fire-safety-code- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/18/squadron-gottfried-urge-closure-of-gaps-in-fire-safety-code-

Following the Deutsche Bank fire in August of 2007, Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried championed legislation that created the New York State Taskforce on Building and Fire Safety.

This summer, the taskforce issued a report that found discrepencies that allow state-owned buildings in New York City to be exempt from certain fire regulations.

Now both legislators are pushing the City Council to act to plug those gaps. Squadron and Gottfried will be holding a press conference at noon outside of the former Deutsche Bank building on Greenwhich and Liberty streets. Following the conference both legislators will testify at the City Council hearing.

Photo of response to Deutsche Bank fire by Brian Fountain.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) City Tue, 18 Sep 2012 19:01:14 +0000
Searchlight: Council passes bill to increase fines for illegal hotels [VIDEO] [UPDATED] http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/12/searchlight-council-passes-bill-to-increase-fines-for-illegal-hotels-video-updated http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/12/searchlight-council-passes-bill-to-increase-fines-for-illegal-hotels-video-updated

The City Council is taking up the fight against illegal hotels with legislation that would set fines at $1,000 to $25,000.

At a news conference organized to announce yesterday's Council vote on the bill, Speaker Christine Quinn spoke about how resident Charles Seelig, 64, was having to deal with rude transients staying at his brownstone in the Village.

Seelig later told the Gazette that the building had people coming in and hout all hours of the night. "It was really strange," he said. "It gave you a lot of insecurity."

The primary sponsor of the bill, Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), says the bill will help to end illegal hotel use in the city that displaces permanent residents, reduces affordable housing stock and can be a nuisance for neighbors.

Tourists have also been victims of scams where they book an illegal hotel room and arrive only to find that no hotel exists at the address they were given, councilmember say.

[UPDATE: The bill passed at yesterday's stated meeting, 38-5.]

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Wed, 12 Sep 2012 21:32:48 +0000
Draw Your Own City Council Maps http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/05/draw-your-own-city-council-maps http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/05/draw-your-own-city-council-maps

Now just about anybody can draw up their own version of the City Council's district lines.

The independent commission set up to redraw the Council's lines to reflect the city's changing demographics today released free software online that can be used to create and submit maps for consideration.

The goal is to make the districting process more transparent and open to the public.

Every 10 years after the U.S. Census count, the district lines are redrawn for the Council, with the goal of ensuring fair and equal representation.

In the past, the process has been very much driven by the elected officials holding office, leading to gerrymandered district lines that are driven more by partisan politics and that can split communities with common interests.

The city's Districting Commission has been holding a series of public hearings and meetings since July to get as much feedback from the community as possible. The 15-member commission was created under the City Charter and consists of members appointed by the mayor, the Council's Democratic Caucus and the Council's Minority Caucus.

The commission released drafts of its maps yesterday.

People who don't have Internet access at home can go to the Districting Commission's offices at 253 Broadway, where anyone can use the software and get assistance for free.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Wed, 05 Sep 2012 18:18:00 +0000