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Text of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Address on Election Reform: November 10, 2004

NYC Budget: What Did Your Council Member Get for Your Neighborhood?
As part of the annual budget process, each New York City Council member lobbies for money for new construction projects, cultural groups, and neighborhood organizations. A look at what council members brought home for their district out of a $47 billion budget.

Tax Cuts: A Policy Cure All?
Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council are making tax cuts the major issue of this year's budget - promising that they will bring much needed relief to New Yorkers and stimulate the economy. But will these tax cuts really benefit the city, or just the politicians who propose them?

Rise of the E-Citizen by Gifford Miller
The City Council has launched a new website, www.nyccouncil.info. In an article, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller outlines how technology can create greater transparency and more citizen participation in city government.

City Council's Alternative Budget Choices
Glenn Pasanen details the City Council's response to the mayor's preliminary budget, which he calls "a refreshing display of alternative budget choices."

Rapid Ripoffs and Pay Day Loan Sharks
The dreaded tax season is also a time of year when many people get ripped off. In an effort to protect New Yorkers, Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra outlines what every taxpayer should know, and City Councilmember Leroy Comrie argues for legislation that would put an end to loan companies that prey on people just trying to make ends meet.

City Council's Alternative Budget Choices
Glenn Pasanen details the City Council's response to the mayor's preliminary budget, which he calls "a refreshing display of alternative budget choices."

How Much Does Your Council Member Make?
The City Council handed out $488,750 in bonuses or "lulus" for those who serve as committee chairs or in various leadership positions. The bonuses are on top of a $90,000 annual salary. A list of each council member's salary.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2004 State of the City Address
Read the full text of the mayor's annual address.

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller's 2004 State of the City Address
Read the full text of Speaker Miller's annual address.

Governor George Pataki's State of the State Address
Read the full text of the governor's annual address.

From Cop To Councilmember
In an essay written in March 2002, slain New York City councilmember James E. Davis outlined his goals for district 35 in Brooklyn.

The New York City Budget Game
Try your hand at balancing New York City's budget with our interactive budget game. You spend the money. You make the cuts. You raise and lower the taxes. Then compare your plan to Mayor Bloomberg's. Also, post your comments on the NYC Budget Game on our message boards.

When Their Time Is Up: City Council Term Limits
A State Supreme Court judge recently struck down a law that would extend the term of City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and five other council members. Miller and the others, who would be barred from running for reelection this fall if the decision is upheld, are appealing the decision. A look at when each City Council member will be term-limited out of office.

Transcript Of Mayor Bloomberg's Budget Presentation
On April 15, 2003, Mayor Michael Bloomberg released his $44 billion budget, which calls for $600 million in cuts and laying off 5,000 city employees. If the city does not get aid and a commuter tax from Albany, it will be worse, the mayor said. This so-called "doomsday" budget would cut an additional $1 billion, layoff 10,000 more city workers, and close 40 firehouses. "There are no good answers, there are only choices, and we were elected to make those choices," Bloomberg said. Read a transcript of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's budget speech. Or view the mayor's budget slideshow and charts on the city's website.

City Hall Quiz
In 2002, the City Council and the mayor passed 47 new laws that they claim will make the city a better place. Test your knowledge of what they did at City Hall with our interactive quiz.

Comptroller's Report Finds MTA Hid $500 Million
Reports by the state and city comptroller found that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hid half a billion dollars to create the appearance of a deficit in 2003 in order to justify a subway fare increase.

State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said that the MTA has two sets of financial books – one public and one secret. (Read the state comptroller's report) "It is an outrage that this public agency blatantly misled the people it is supposed to serve," said Hevesi.

City Comptroller William Thompson's audit found that the New York City Transit Authority overstated more than $850 million in operating expenses in 2001. Thompson called on the MTA to immediately reevaluate the May 4 subway and bus fare increase. (Read the city comptroller's report) "Our findings question the MTA board's decision to saddle New Yorkers with the largest fare increase in the history of the city," said Thompson.

Council Speaker Fails The Lead Test
The speaker of the New York City Council has the power to make or break a piece of legislation. A bill to require landlords to clean up lead dust was introduced to the council over a year ago. Advocates say thousands of New York children are being poisoned and that Speaker Gifford Miller hasn't brought the bill up for a vote - or even allowed a public hearing on the bill.UPDATE: On April 3, Speaker Gifford Miller said he would schedule a hearing on the lead paint bill for June 23.

City Council Redistricting: The Final Plan

City Council Redistricting
An official plan to redraw the 51 City Council districts is now on the table and hearings will resume in February. Links to proposed City Council district maps and an updated schedule of public hearings.

Mayor Bloomberg's 2004 Preliminary Budget
The preliminary budget calls for $550 million in cuts, a personal income tax on commuters, and $600 million in concessions from unions. The mayor is also counting on $600 million in back rent for LaGuardia and Kennedy airports from the Port Authority and $400 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover cleanup costs from the World Trade Center attack. Read the details of the mayor's plan.

Speaker Miller's State Of The City Address
In a speech entitled "A Fair Share for New York," City Council Speaker Gifford Miller called on Albany and Washington to help the city solve its fiscal crisis. Miller wants the State Legislature to approve a tax on commuters and absentee landlords and to restore proposed cuts to education, Medicaid, and transportation. He is asking the federal government to release $3 billion in disaster aid for the September 11 attacks and enact an $80 billion revenue sharing program for local governments. Miller also launched a new web site to help New Yorkers lobby politicians. Read the text of Miller's speech and an op-ed in response to President George W. Bush's economic plan.

Mayor Bloomberg's 2003 State Of The City Address
In his annual address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg outlined his vision for making government more accountable, fighting crime, and stimulating the economy. He also called on New Yorkers to make sacrifices for a better future. "Taxes and frugality," the mayor said, "are far better than crime, filth and abandonment." Read the full text of his speech.

Mayor Bloomberg's Education Reform
In an address on January 15, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled the details of his new education plan. The mayor said students will be taught a uniform curriculum of reading, writing, and math in smaller classrooms. He will also end the separate administration of high schools and lower grades and replace the 32 community school boards with parental advisory boards, whose members must have a child in a school in that district.

Speaker Miller To Bush: Thanks For Nothing
Last week, President George W. Bush unveiled his $674 billion economic plan, which gives tax cuts to consumers and investors, but offers little aid to local governments. Reacting to the president's proposal, New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller writes that it is nothing more than "cynical shell game" that leaves New York drowning in red ink.

Q & A With Speaker Gifford Miller
In an interview, Speaker Gifford Miller said much of his first year has been a choice between the "disastrous" and the "unpalatable." The council cut some $3.5 billion from the budget, raised property taxes 18 percent, and spent a good deal of time battling with the mayor over education funding, predatory lending legislation, and even a bill that requires the city to use more efficient light bulbs. "I haven't had the luxury of coming in at a time when there is a lot of money or opportunity to address things other than New York's fiscal crisis," said Miller.

The New City Council: One Year Later
Last January, the newly elected New York City Council promised to reform city government, improve schools, pass landmark legislation, and ensure that New Yorkers get the city services they deserve. It ran into a major obstacle on the way: the city's $7 billion deficit. Has the council lived up to its promises?

Q & A With City Council Speaker Gifford Miller
Much of Gifford Miller's first year as Speaker of the New York City Council, he says in our interview, has been a choice between the "disastrous" and the "unpalatable." The council cut some $3.5 billion from the budget, raised property taxes more than 18 percent, and spent a good deal of time battling with the mayor over education funding, predatory lending legislation, and even a bill that requires the city to use more efficient light bulbs. "I haven't had the luxury of coming in at a time when there is a lot of money or opportunity to address things other than New York's fiscal crisis," said Miller.

What The Firefighters Are Mad About
Read a transcript of the remarks by Deputy Mayor Marc Shaw at the Citizens Budget Commission conference on how to balance the city's budget. "From a budget perspective I look at where the money is," Shaw told the conference on Saturday, December 7th, discussing ways to close the $6.4 billion budget gap. "The money is in the four uniformed services and education."

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg Announces Housing Plan For New York City's 21st Century Neighborhoods
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $3 billion plan to create and preserve more than 65,000 homes and apartments in neighborhoods over the next five years. Approximately 25,000 new housing units would be built and an additional 38,000 would be preserved in existing buildings. The mayor also called for new ways to streamline the city's zoning and construction regulations to encourage housing construction. Read a transcript of the mayor's speech and see the details of the mayor's plan, entitled "New Marketplace: Creating Housing for the Next Generation" (in PDF format) from the city's web site.

The $1.7 Billion Tax Hike And Other Budget Modifications
Gotham Gazette's finance writer Glenn Pasanen analyzes the new taxes and cuts in services. "The mayor's cavalier disdain for the budget process and for the general public shortcuts rational and fair debate," argues Pasanen.

And tell us what you think about the fiscal crisis, and the 18.5 percent property tax hike, on our budget gap message board.

ADVICE ON HOW TO TESTIFY AT CITY HALL
A group of experts explain the unwritten rules of testifying at City Council hearings. Their advice: keep it short, don't read, make yourself heard, and get used to the council's "fuzzy time."

NEW YORK CITY REDISTRICTING
An official plan to redraw the 51 City Council districts is now on the table. But some advocates say the new map by the City Districting Commission does not change enough. Interest groups, politicians and others will air their concerns between now and December 19, when a proposal goes to City Council. Links to maps, a look at the process and a schedule of public hearings.

OVERSEEING SIX CRISES
With its oversight powers, the City Council has the ability to investigate city agencies and ensure that the laws are being followed. A look at six critical issues facing the city and what the City Council hopes to do about it.

BUDGET MODIFICATION SIGNED INTO LAW
Mayor Bloomberg has signed a budget agreement to close a $1.1 billion budget gap. Last week, the City Council approved a property tax increase of 18.5 percent by a vote of 41 to 6. Click here, for budget details and how each council member voted.

And tell us what you think about the fiscal crisis, and the possible solutions, on our budget gap message board.

THE BLOOMBERG BUDGET - IN HIS OWN WORDS
When Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented his recent budget plan, he said that he knew of no major company leaving the city, that closing 32 senior citizen centers was an "inconvenience," and that his plan to tax people who do not live in the city "is not a commuter tax." An edited transcript of the mayor's remarks.

And tell us what you think about the fiscal crisis, and the possible solutions, on our budget gap message board.

THE RACE FOR COUNCIL DISTRICT 38
Sara M. Gonzalez won the three-way race to replace former City Councilman Angel Rodriguez of Brooklyn, who resigned this summer and later plead guilty to federal bribery charges. With 98 percent of districts reporting, Gonzalez led with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Edward Rodriguez with 30 percent and George Martinez with 26 percent, according to unofficial returns.

TRANSCRIPT OF LIVE CHAT ON AGING
Gotham Gazette conducted a live chat with Donna Tessitore, Assistant Commissioner of Senior Assistance and Benefits from the city's Department for the Aging, and Gretchen Dykstra, Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, on October 17. Read the transcript of our live chat and see what they had to say about prescription drugs, housing, and senior centers.

TWO SPEAKERS SPEAK
City Council Speaker Gifford Miller says the city is facing its greatest fiscal crisis. " I do not think that those of us in elected office have done as good a job as we should in preparing New Yorkers for this reality," says Miler. When Peter Vallone, the former speaker of the council, first took office in 1974, he too faced a similar situation of a bankrupt government. In two essays, the two speakers -- Gifford Miller and Peter Vallone -- discuss the past and future of the city and what it is like to have the second most powerful job in city government.

BANNING BIKES AND TAXING CELL PHONES
Since taking office in January, the City Council has introduced over 250 new bills and over 600 resolutions, but only a few dozen measures have actually become law. A look at what the council has achieved -- scrapping recycling, hiking the tax on cigarettes, banning bikes on the sidewalk -- and what bills have not yet been considered, like opening Rudy Giuliani's records to the public and providing parachutes in skyscrapers

IT'S 10 A.M. -- DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER IS?
Long-time council watcher Lenore Chester offers tips for how to keep better track of your representative.

BLOOMBERG ADDRESSES UNITED NATIONS
Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg became the fourth New York City mayor to address the United Nations. "We pledge that this city will remain safe and open," Bloomberg said in his speech. "As mayor, I'm committed to ensuring that New York is able to welcome and protect people from all over the world -- even those whom we disagree with."

MAYOR'S ADDRESS TO CONGRESS
Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed members of the U.S. Congress in New York City. In honor of 9/11, the Congress convened a special joint-session in Federal Hall in lower Manhattan where the body first met in 1789. "When you look at New York today," the mayor said in a speech, "when you look at this city where people from all parts of the world live next to each other, where more than 120 different languages are spoken, and where virtually every religion in the world is practiced, you realize what makes America and what makes New York great."

The Future Of The City's Garbage
Since the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill, the city has been in a garbage crisis. The cost of disposing residential trash has doubled, the Sanitation Department budget has swelled to over $1 billion a year, and the city has no place to put 11,000 tons of daily garbage. Last month, the city unveiled new plans: New York will now ship its garbage out by boat and save money by suspending glass and plastic recycling programs. Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty says these changes will be difficult, but they will ensure more environmentally safe and efficient ways of disposing of the city's trash in the future.

Charter Revision Commission Members
Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed 13 members of a new charter revision panel. The group will make recommendations for changes to the city's constitution on non-partisan elections and mayoral succession.

Mayor's Appointments To New Educational Policy Panel
Mayor Bloomberg appointed seven members to the new body that will replace the Board of Education.

Department of Parks and Recreation
New York City has more parkland than Los Angeles, Chicago and Denver combined. Commissioner Adrian Benepe decribes how the administration will manage this huge and complicated system in a time of shrinking budgets and increased demand for services.

2003 City Budget - After The Handshake
After months of dire predictions about cuts and debate over taxes, Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council have reached an agreement on a $42 billion budget. Both sides declared victory. But are there clear winners and losers in the budget battle? And will this year's solutions be next year's fiscal nightmares?

City Council Term Limits Chart

Updated City Council Redistricting Commission
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has appointed seven members to the commission that will redraw the City Council district lines for the 2003 election.

Fixing A Transportation Tangle
Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, writes about the plan to link subway, ferries, buses and commuter lines at a major new terminal downtown. This hub, she says, would help correct the transportation mistakes of the past and make it easier for people to get around.

Tax Relief And Rapid Rip-Offs
Most consumers are taxpayers, and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra believes that one mission of the Department of Consumer Affairs is helping New Yorkers with their taxes. She is doing this with a public education campaign to tell the hundreds of thousands of low-income New Yorkers who are eligible about a program that offers up to $5,000 in tax credits. She also warns all taxpayers against tax preparers like H & R Block who promise "Rapid Refunds" that are really high interest loans - and suing H & R Block to stop the practice.

City Council Members Call on Speaker To Raise Taxes

THE INDICTMENT OF COUNCILMEMBER ANGEL RODRIGUEZ
For the first time in nearly a decade, a member of the City Council has been indicted on criminal charges. If convicted, Brooklyn Councilmember Angel Rodriguez could face up to 20 years in prison. Rodriguez pleaded not guilty.

Mayor Bloomberg's 2003 Preliminary Budget

Voting Reports
In the wake of the Florida recount controversy, New York City civic organizations surveyed voters on their experiences in the November 2001 General Election. A New York Public Interest Group report found that many poll workers gave inaccurate information to voters and that there were significant differences in how well procedures were followed from borough to borough.

Also Citizens Union Foundation, Gotham Gazette's parent organization, surveyed people it recruited to fill a shortage of poll inspectors. The report (available in PDF format) found that more than half of those surveyed were never contacted by the Board of Elections.

Bronx Borough President
During his campaign for Bronx borough president, Adolfo Carrión says, he was constantly bombarded by complaints about the public schools. Now he is trying to do something to address them. Yes, the central board of education should be abolished, but that is not enough. He outlines a plan that includes the creation of a new Department of Education answerable to the New York City Council, a transfer of power and authority to the district superintendents so that they can do the job they are trained to do, and schools with strong principals, extensive extracurricular activities, and substantive, creative participation by parents.

Immigrants as Resources
The influx of immigrants and families to Queens has jammed classrooms, cramped housing and strained transportation networks. But it also presents opportunities. Borough President Helen Marshall outlines some new ideas to address the problems and that take advantage of the diversity and vitality of Queens, including calling together the Queens version of the United Nations' "General Assembly."

Transcript of Debate Between John Ravitz and Liz Krueger
Candidates for the 26th State Senate District in Manhattan

The Mayor's State of The City Address
Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivers his first State of the City address on January 30, 2002.

Making City Council Listen
Bryan Pu-Folkes explains how, spurred by an anti-immigrant billboard, he founded New Immigrants Community Empowerment (NICE) to mobilize immigrant New Yorkers into an effective political block. His latest campaign - getting the members of the City Council to listen to their constituents.

Council Lulus, Public Loses
When it came to handing out bonuses or "lulu's," there was little new about the so-called new New York City Council, which handed themselves almost half a million dollars on top of the $90,000 salaries for their part-time jobs. Political deals, not experience or expertise, determined who got the "leadership positions" that came with the lulus, says Lenore Chester. And she says, there is something worse about lulus than their cost, and the backroom way they are awarded -- something that will weaken the City Council in meeting the challenges of the city.

Rule Changes - Some Better, Some Worse, Some Just As Bad
Veteran Council watcher Lenore Chester explains the new City Council rules, which change some things for the better, others for the worse. Still more has stayed, alas, the same.

2002 Salaries And Stipends For The City Council

Amended Changes to City Council Rules What Can They Really Do?
The New New York City Council has only held one meeting, but the members have already made some bold promises. They want to improve education and housing. They say they will stand up to the mayor and make the city council a stronger body. And they want to balance the budget and rebuild lower Manhattan. Is any of this possible?

Address of Speaker A. Gifford Miller To The City Council

Father Time and Baby Rivera: Scenes From A Changed City Hall

Inaugural Address Of Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Inaugural Address of Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum

Inaugural Address Of New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson

A New Year, A New Job, An Old History
On the eve of her inauguration as New York City's second official Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum reaches back for inspiration to a New Year's Day two centuries ago and the person she considers the city's first real public advocate.

Maverick Mayors
If Michael Bloomberg winds up being less than gung-ho about the Republican Party, as some GOP leaders already fear, he will be just the latest in a history of New York City mayors who have freely set their own agendas, without regard to political party affiliations.

The New Council
Many new City Council members have not yet hired their staff, opened their offices, or hooked up their phones. But they are already out visiting Ground Zero, calling for reform in the council, and making those who want to be Speaker answer questions at a public forum. Mark Berkey-Gerard gives an overview of the New City Council and the challenges they face.

Out From Behind Closed Doors
For the first time, the race for Speaker of the City Council was open to the public. In a recent forum, seven council members vying for the job answer questions from their colleagues about the economy, education, the rules of the Council, and their vision for the city.

Second In Command?
You may have thought Campaign 2001 was over, but there is one more political race to go. As many as eight City Council members are running to succeed Peter Vallone as the Speaker of the City Council, the second most powerful elected official in the city. The candidates are campaigning hard. But this time, you don't get to vote.