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The New York City Immigration Coalition may have its work cut out for itself this year: Its 10-point agenda is ambitious and will require action from Albany as well as cooperation from law enforcement.
The groups top policy priority is expanding access to college by passing New York State's version of the DREAM Act. The State's DREAM act which is backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn would open up tuition assistance to students regardless of their immigration status.
Despite massive grassroots pressure, Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not make the DREAM legislation a part of his State of the State Speech in January. The Democratic-controlled Assembly has passed a version of the DREAM Act in the past and seems poised to do so again.
The Senate is a different story. The breakaway Independent Democratic Conference has indicated major support for the legislation but Senate Republicans have generally been opposed to the measure and have prevented floor votes. To add to the difficulty advocates face, it is unclear how many in the Democratic conference actually support the legislation.
Democratic Sen. Joe Addabbo said at a debate in October that he felt his constituents had a hard enough time finding money sending their children to college so he could not support the DREAM Act. His Republican opponent, Councilman Eric Ulrich, said at the time that he supported "some version" of the legislation.
Councilman Eric Ulrich announced via Twitter this morning that he has conceded to Sen. Joe Addabbo in the race for the 15th Senate District in Queens.
â€śThis morning I called Joe Addabbo to congratulate him on a decisive victory & pledged to work w/him to unite our community," he tweeted. He followed that tweet up saying, "This was a hard-fought campaign and while I truly appreciate the strong support I received on election day, its time to get back to work."
This was a bitter contest between two men who went to the same school, attended the same church and are beloved and respected figures in their neighborhood. Hurricane Sandy ravaged the district and saw both men drop their campaigns to focus on the recovery. But Ulrich's camp complained that the response to damaged polling places was detrimental to their campaign. Ulrich is still seen as a bright star for the Republican Party and holds his seat on the Council.
Meanwhile, it seems that Senate Democrats have defended their turf and can only add seats depending on the outcomes of the races in the 41st and 46th districts. Senate Dems still have to contend with the Independent Democratic Conference if they want to hold a majority but even if they don't take control, as Nick Reisman of State of Politics pointed out this morning, the enrollment numbers favor them so strongly that it seems to be only a matter of time before they take control for good.
Senate Democrats became increasingly confident of pickups in the days leading up to the election. It looks like their confidence was justified.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order allowing voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy to vote at any polling place in the state.
Voters from the five boroughs can fill out an affidavit ballot at any polling place in the state and the local Board of Elections will then mail their ballots to the correct county.
However, ballots will only be available for local elections, so voters who are displaced out of their Senate or Assembly districts will only be able to vote for the statewide races.
"We want everyone to vote. Just because you're displaced doesn't mean you should be disenfranchised," Cuomo said at a press conference this evening.
The move could drive down turnout in lower-ballot races. The contest between Sen. Joe Addabbo and Councilman Eric Ulrich in Queens could be severely impacted.
Editor's Note: This post has been updated with statements from the city's Board of Elections.
"Election day will be on Tuesday, that is not going to change," John Conklin, spokesman for the New York State Board of Election, said earlier today.
He said county boards across the state are currently assessing the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to polling places and trying to determine what alternate arrangements need to be made to make sure everyone who wants to vote can.
"The local boards impacted by the storm are assessing damage to the polling places right now," Conklin said. "We have been in meetings with the governor's office and local boards to work on these assessments. We have to see if power still remains at the polling site, if they remain accessible to the public, the board and the machines. We also need to make sure the sites are safe. Once that is done, we will check on alternate polling sites and make sure they have tents, generators and whatever else they need."
Conklin said he hopes that all polling sites will have power, but he admitted, "Some might not." In that case, paper ballots will be made available for voters. The ballots will be put in a lock box and then scanned at county BOE headquarters.
Sen. Joeseph Addabbo and his Republican challenger Councilman Eric Ulrich are scheduled to debate tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Grace Church 100-05 159 Ave. in Howard Beach. The debate is sponsored by The Forum, The Queens Chronicle and Citizens Union the sister organizaton of Gotham Gazette's publisher. Have questions for the candidates? You can send them to
For more on the issues in this heated race check our article on the two men who went to the same school and attend the same church.
Sen. Joseph Addabbo is holding a news conference tomorrow at Russo's on the Bay in Queens to discuss hydrofracking and "its adverse affects, and what it would mean for the district and state if hydrofracking is legal."
Addabbo used his opponent Councilman Eric Ulrich's support of hydraulic fracturing as a way to paint him as falling in line with the wishes of the mostly upstate Republican Senate Majority in a recent interview with Gotham Gazette. Ulrich has used his cash advantage over Addabbo to air a blitzkrieg of television spots focusing on small business in the district.
The Addabbo camp has responded with events dealing with small business across the district but this event may be an attempt on their part to dictate the issues of the campaign. A recent Siena Poll showed Addabbo only two points over Ulrich and also found that jobs and the economy are a major concern across the district.
Both men will debate at Our Lady of Grace Church, at 100-05 159 Ave. in Howard Beach on Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
The debate will be co-hosted by The Queens Chronicle and Citizens Union, the sister organization of Gotham Gazette. Members of public can send questions for the candidates to
Sen. Joseph Addabbo has had a good start to his week. Yesterday, one of the most popular governors in the country (Andrew Cuomo) endorsed him.
Cuomo's endorsement has been a rare commodity for Senate Democrats, but Addabbo likely earned the endorsement by changing his 'no' vote on same-sex marriage to a 'yes' to help the governor score a major political victory.
â€śPolitical courage, which is what Sen. Joe Addabbo exhibited, should be encouraged and should not be discouraged,â€ť Cuomo said before marching in the Columbus Day parade.
"This is not a man who makes endorsements on a whim," Addabbo told the Gazette today. "I appreciate his endorsement."
However, a recent Siena College Poll shows that Addabbo's challenger, Councilman Eric Ulrich, is only two points behind him. It also appears that Ulrich has set the agenda for the race, or at least seized on what is most important to voters in his district by focusing his campaign on small business and jobs. Thirty-one percent of those polled by Siena said that jobs is the most important issue facing the district. Voters, however, rated Addabbo higher on job creation than Ulrich.
Legislators want more pay. Despite the last few years of turmoil and scandal in Albany legislative pay raises is a hot topic â€” one that may come up in a special session following the elections.
The question has also come up as an issue of debate in races for state office, including the one for the 15th State Senate District.
So what do Democratic Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. and his challenger Council Eric Ulrich think of legislative payraises? Glad you asked.
Ulrich told Gotham Gazette last week that he doesn't support raises for legislators. "If they want them they should go to the voters for a referendum," he said.
And Addabbo told Juniper Berry this: