STATE http://www.gothamgazette.com/state Fri, 25 May 2018 05:00:30 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Democratic Establishment Embraces Cuomo as Pragmatic Progressive http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7691-democratic-establishment-embraces-cuomo-as-pragmatic-progressive http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7691-democratic-establishment-embraces-cuomo-as-pragmatic-progressive cuomo and ticket at convention

James, Cuomo, Hochul, DiNapoli (photo: @andrewcuomo)


Governor Andrew Cuomo emerged triumphant and emboldened from the State Democratic Party’s nominating convention on Long Island, with the party’s designation in hand and embraced by top national Democrats and elected party representatives from across the state. The governor basked in the support of centrist establishment figures like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden, while they and much of the rest of the convention sought to frame Cuomo as a progressive standard bearer who represents the values of a Democratic Party that continues to move leftward.

Cuomo and others framed the two-term incumbent as a progressive who gets things done, a trailblazer who doesn’t just talk, but has real accomplishments and is actually a unifying figure for the party -- though he is again being challenged from his left in this year’s primary as discontent from the progressive wing has reached a fever pitch. That fever was not particularly evident at the state party convention, however.

“We are about to embark on the most consequential campaign in our lifetime,” Cuomo declared in his acceptance speech on Thursday, framing his reelection amid Democratic efforts to retake the state Senate and U.S. House, with several swing districts in New York. “We are at a political crossroads and our decisions and actions are going to define the soul of this state and the soul of this nation.”

Cuomo’s coronation comes at a time when progressives are incensed with his centrism and triangulation with Republicans, and are pushing to elect a “true blue” Democrat to the governorship, personified in this case by Cynthia Nixon. But Cuomo’s supporters have warned of the dangers of liberal absolutism, as Democrats seek to retain what control they have over state and federal branches of government while also unseating Republicans in an age of Trumpism. The stakes are high for both parties, and some question whether Democratic infighting does any good while Republicans control the presidency, both houses of Congress, and many state legislatures (New York’s is split, with one house controlled by each party).

The Democratic State Committee had already concluded its nominations on Wednesday, leaving party members free to glad-hand and pat each other on the back as they sang the praises of Cuomo and other top party officials. Cuomo won the party designation with 95 percent of the state committee vote, a resounding victory over upstart challenger Nixon, who did appear at the convention as her campaign launched a blistering effort to paint Cuomo as in bed with Republicans. She continued to criticize him as a fake Democrat whose governing style smacks of expediency rather than sincerity.

The party also designated as its official nominees incumbents Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for another term each, and selected New York City Public Advocate Letitia James as the designated candidate for attorney general to replace Eric Schneiderman, who recently resigned after facing allegations of physical abuse by four women. Hochul is facing a primary challenge from New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, while James is facing Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout and Leecia Eve, a former Cuomo and Clinton aide, in the primary.

Given how the state committee voted, Nixon, Williams, Teachout, and Eve will all have to collect petition signatures to get on the primary ballot. Nixon and Williams have the backing of the liberal Working Families Party, but may eschew its ballot line for the general election if they are unsuccessful in the Democratic primary. The WFP has said it wants to give its attorney general ballot line to either James or Teachout, depending on who wins the Democratic primary.

Though there was much party business and some controversy, the convention went mostly smoothly for Cuomo, who was the unequivocal star.

While Cuomo has indeed governed from the center, he was held up as a paragon of pragmatic progressivism at the convention, in line with the image he has sought to craft for himself in recent months, if not years. Before he spoke to the convention, Cuomo was lauded on Wednesday by Clinton and on Thursday by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and by Biden, who has a long-standing friendship with Cuomo, as a leader who has ushered in transformative change and created a model of governance that Democrats across the nation should envy, and emulate.

Marriage equality? Cuomo made it happen in New York and helped launch the nation on the path to full realization. Gun control? Cuomo moved quickly after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre to ban the military-type assault weapons that have been used in many school and other mass shootings since. College tuition? Cuomo made it free for many middle-class students. A $15 minimum wage? Cuomo put a program in place. Paid family leave? Again, Cuomo.

In a lofty and lengthy address, filled with anecdotal life lessons, Biden waxed eloquent about the values of the Democratic Party, of American cultural exceptionalism, of the middle class American dream, as he inveighed against the Republican Party’s “phony populism” and “fake nationalism” that threaten to undermine them all. He spoke of his deeply personal ties to the Cuomo family, and of his and the governor’s shared interest in muscle cars (both of them own vintage Corvettes, he noted).

He proudly touted Cuomo’s record. “Andrew Cuomo has never backed away from his progressive principles, not one single time,” he said to applause.

Perez, occasionally peppering his speech with Spanish, said Cuomo and his running mate Hochul were “charter members of the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party.”

“What I’ve grown to love about Andrew Cuomo is he understands that governance isn’t about speechifying,” Perez said. “It’s about making a real difference in people’s lives,” he said. “New Yorkers don’t want rhetoric, they want results. That’s what Andrew Cuomo has delivered.”

To an audience filled with many union workers, Perez hailed Cuomo’s support of labor unions and the state’s immense success in creating jobs under his tenure. And he drew a contrast between the governor and “this other New Yorker in Washington that’s giving a bad name to New York values,” though he stopped short of saying the name Trump.

State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, commended the governor for managing to pass ambitious policies despite Republican control of the state Senate. “When you have a quarterback that’s a winning quarterback on a winning team, there’s no reason to change,” he said in his endorsement of the governor. And Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic minority leader, credited him with reuniting the fractured Senate Democratic conference, setting her up to eventually become the state’s first woman and woman of color to lead a legislative house if the party wins additional Senate seats in the elections this fall. “We can do this and we will make history by finally putting a woman in the room,” she declared.

All those Democrats, and the governor himself, put Cuomo on a large pedestal, as a leader who could forge a new path for the Democratic Party and whose administration was an exemplar for other states. The State Democratic Party, as is the case with its national counterpart, is counting on a blue wave that has been building across the nation since Trump’s election. Cuomo has trained his attention, and the state party’s resources, at flipping the state Senate and replacing Congressional Republicans with Democrats.

Cuomo welcomed the responsibility, insisting that the nation has its eyes turned to New York. “Our challenge is twofold. First, we must continue to move our state forward as the progressive capital of America because that’s what we are,” he said. “And at the same time, we must overcome the current national extreme conservative movement that is threatening this nation.”

Although he claimed he never appreciated his father’s self-proclaimed title of “pragmatic progressive,” Andrew Cuomo made no effort to distance himself from its definition: “We deliver practical progress for people in need,” he said.

Taking an expansive look at the Democratic Party, Cuomo said working- and middle-class voters had abandoned the party out of despair in 2016, and that the party must return to its roots. “No more platitudes, no more posturing, no more delay, no more incompetence, no more hypotheticals, no more hyperbole,” he said. “They want action. They want results and they want actions and results now. They don’t want pontification from an ivory tower.”

Cuomo's criticism of the Democratic Party and assertion that it had lost the election to Trump struck some as awkward, even insulting, given that Clinton -- the party's 2016 presidential nominee -- had praised and endorsed him the day before.

The convention also marked how far Cuomo has shifted in the last two years under the Trump presidency and, significantly, in the last few weeks under a deluge of criticism from a left-leaning progressive wing galvanized by Nixon’s candidacy.

For a time after Trump’s election, Cuomo refused to say “Trump” even as he criticized the federal government or “Washington.” In his speech on Thursday, he said the president’s name 18 times. “Today the Albany Republicans all carry the Trump doctrine,” he said. “They all drank the Trump, Ryan, McConnell Kool-Aid and their radical assault is draconian and all-encompassing...They think America was great when women were subordinate and when minorities were disenfranchised, and when the big private market corporations ruled the land and when labor was voiceless. That’s the America they want to take us back to. And we are not going back, ever.”

Cuomo did little to tamp down the rumors that he is considering a presidential run ahead of the 2020 election, something that his opponents from the left and the right have criticized him for.

Marc Molinaro, the gubernatorial candidate to Cuomo’s right as the Republican nominee, did not escape Cuomo’s scathing critiques either. “The Republicans in this state put on the top of their ticket a Trump mini-me. He's anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-gun safety, anti-immigration, anti-education equity, and pro-Trump's New York tax increase. All he is is a banner carrier for the extreme conservative movement,” Cuomo said, incorrectly characterizing some stances by Molinaro, who has opposed the federal tax reform and has said he did not vote for Trump for president.

But Cuomo did name Molinaro or Nixon, whose campaign sent out “fact check” emails as the governor spoke, contrasting his rhetoric with his record as they framed it. Notably, Cuomo pledged in his speech to “start a new movement of education funding equity” to ensure that public schools receive the resources they need to provide a sound education to all students. It’s a cause that Nixon has championed for nearly 20 years, largely placing blame for insufficient education funding on the governor, who has repeatedly shifted the way he talks about education funding.

"The Governor's attempt to reset his campaign this week failed," said Nixon campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt in a statement on Thursday. “His highly choreographed convention inflamed old divisions, and provided a series of bizarre, tone-deaf moments. Simply put, the Governor did little to push back on the growing realization among New Yorkers that he has more much in common with his wealthy Republican donors than Democrats.”

For Democratic State Committee members, Cuomo had successfully grasped the title of progressive. Several members, enthused about a strong and diverse statewide ticket, seemed almost offended that anyone would challenge their champion.

“I think we put together a great ticket, I like the diversity of it,” said Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who holds the dual role of state Assemblymember and Democratic State committee member from Assembly District 141. “I think it’s important that the ticket looks more like the electorate,” she said, in apparent reference to the fact that James is an African-American woman, whom Cuomo has backed for the attorney general position, as well as Hochul’s presence on the ticket.

“I do take some exception to people always questioning what has happened when most of the progressive things we’ve done in the state have not been done in the rest of the country,” she added.

Andre Waldron, a committee member from Nassau County, said Cuomo’s speech was a “home run” and that the convention was “phenomenal.”

“I think this time we’ve come out even more inclusive, having all groups represented,” said Louis Goldstein, who said he has been a state committee member from the Bronx since 1970. “I love the fact that we have a female, who happens to be black, as our candidate for attorney general. I think we’re moving in the correct direction.”

As with others, Goldstein expressed reservations about Nixon’s candidacy. “She’s a good actress. I compare her as being our quote-unquote Trump, as far as no government experience, she really does not know how to politically get things done,” he said.

Mary Gault, a Dutchess County committee member, said the party has a “wonderful team” on the ticket. “Andrew Cuomo, I believe, he did so much good for this state over his eight years. Kathy Hochul...she’s terrific too. And of course, I’ve got a New York pension, [and] Tom DiNapoli, he watches out for us.”

Gault said she didn’t give Nixon consideration, though her own county committee is very progressive. “The way she speaks, perfect! I would vote for her in a minute,” she said, “but she doesn’t have the skill set and she doesn’t tell us how she’s going to do it. She’s not a viable candidate, but her platform is perfect.”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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samarkhurshid@gmail.com (Samar Khurshid) State Fri, 25 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Three Themes to Watch at State Democratic Convention http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7683-three-themes-to-watch-at-the-state-democratic-convention http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7683-three-themes-to-watch-at-the-state-democratic-convention New York convention Cuomo

New York Democrats at the 2016 DNC (photo: New York Democratic Party)


This year’s statewide election campaigns are in full swing, with the Democrats and Republicans hosting their nominating conventions this week. While Republicans are set to back a unified slate of candidates to avoid contested primaries, the Democratic Party finds itself in a degree of turmoil with multiple incumbents facing primary challenges from the left and a progressive base increasingly disillusioned with the state party machinery.

As the September primary and November general ballots begin to take shape, all eyes are on the State Democratic Committee, which will host its convention at Hofstra University on Long Island on Wednesday and Thursday, kicking off with a keynote speech from former U.S. Senator from New York, Secretary of State, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Democrats from across the state, including more than 300 state committee members, will gather to vote on their preferred nominees and on various proposed resolutions and party rule changes.

Nominations for Statewide Positions
There’s little doubt that Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is running for a third term, and his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who is seeking a second term, will be chosen as the state party’s nominees at the convention. Though both are being challenged from within the party, their nominations seem a foregone conclusion, according to a leaked convention agenda first reported by NY1’s Zack Fink.

The key question, though, is how much support Cuomo and Hochul will each earn from their party members.

Cuomo is being challenged in the primary by actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, who won the nomination of the Working Families Party over the weekend and is guaranteed a spot on the general election ballot if she and the party decide to keep her there. As per the Democratic Party’s bylaws, a candidate will have to receive 50 percent of the weighted vote of committee members at the convention to win the primary nomination. Cuomo controls the state party apparatus and has enough support to be guaranteed the nomination. He’s also set to be endorsed by Clinton, who handily won New York in her failed bid for the presidency in 2016.

Nixon would have to receive at least 25 percent of the weighted vote to make it onto the Democratic primary ballot, failing which she would have to gather enough petition signatures to qualify. The same goes for New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, who is running against Hochul and also has the WFP line. Both Nixon and Williams will be attending the convention. In a statement on Monday, Nixon said, “The Governor and his allies have bullied progressive community groups and rallied the full force of the big money establishment because they know he doesn't have any progressive credentials to stand on. But I won't be scared out of the room. New Yorkers deserve a choice.”

Williams, in a phone interview, said, “I’m confident that I’ll be on the ballot in September.”

While governor and lieutenant governor candidates compete separately in the party primaries, they become a ticket for the general election.

Incumbent Comptroller Tom DiNapoli does not have any challengers and is expected to be nominated again without controversy.

On the other end of the spectrum, the recent resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, following allegations of physical abuse by four women, has led to a small scrum of Democrats vying for the open seat.

The presumed frontrunner is New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who rejected the WFP’s likely nomination over the weekend to focus on the Democratic convention (and perhaps to side with Cuomo, who had a dramatic falling out with the WFP, and key labor unions who chose Cuomo over the WFP). Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in the 2014 gubernatorial Democratic primary, is also seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general, though she has not officially declared her candidacy. The WFP chose a placeholder for their ballot line and expressed support for both James and Teachout and is expected to back whoever prevails in the Democratic primary.

It’s not clear what kind of support Nixon, Williams, and Teachout will receive at the convention. All are popular with the left wing of the Democratic Party, but may not have sway over that many state committee members.

“I feel that it’s going to be a coronation of Andrew Cuomo, you know, pre-orchestrated,” said Jay Bellanca, a state committee member from upstate and co-chair of the New York Progressive Action Network.

New York State Democratic Party Executive Director Geoff Berman said in a phone interview that the nominations are not decided until the votes are complete. He refuted any suggestion that the convention was a formality, as some critics have said.

“I think we have a very strong progressive set of incumbent statewide officeholders who have accomplished a lot and have a strong record to run on for another term,” Berman said. “We have an open attorney general race at this point and I’ll let the members of the committee speak for themselves with their votes.”

“We run an open, fair process,” he insisted.

“The state committee is still...very opaque, even to members and still has the feeling of an insiders club,” said Ben Yee, a state committee member.

“I’m not 100 percent sure that Cynthia and Jumaane will get the 25 percent required to not petition, but I do feel confident that a contingent of state committee members will vote for them,” Yee added. He said there’s a “good chance” they’ll each get the 25 percent.

H. Scottie Coads, a state committee member from Long Island, said she is looking forward to the convention. “We have some really progressive candidates looking to get reelected and I’m supportive of all of them...I’m a team player and I’m staunchly behind my governor,” she said. “It’s an exciting time and I think when you have progressive people running, it’s very important that we put our best foot forward and that’s what we intend to do at the convention. Aside from that, I intend to have a good time.”

Resolutions, Rule Changes & A Rogue Democrat
At each convention, the state committee votes on various resolutions advanced by members and on potential changes to its bylaws. The agenda revealed by NY1 showed proposals that were both humdrum and controversial, some of which were known beforehand.

A prominent rule change introduced by NYPAN’s Bellanca and supported by progressive activists would allow as many as 2.6 million voters unaffiliated with any political party to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary. The change could significantly affect election results though it’s unclear if it can pass the convention since it would require a two-thirds majority of state committee members.

Bellanca pointed to the leaked agenda, in which the resolution was already listed under “tabled,” as proof that the results are predetermined. “I’m expecting it to be somewhat ridiculous,” he said, assuming that that resolution and others that would reform the party are “probably” dead.

“I think they’re going to try and kill them,” he said.

Two resolutions were targeted at rogue state Senator Simcha Felder from Brooklyn. Felder is a registered Democrat who was reelected in 2016 on the Democratic, Republican and Conservative Party lines. He is a conservative who caucuses with Republicans, giving them a one-seat majority in the state Senate and effectively thwarting any legislation forwarded by the more progressive Democratic conference.

The convention’s leaked agenda suggests that certain committee members may seek to kick Felder out of the party, or at least to formally support whoever challenges him in the September primary and devote resources to such a challenger, currently Blake Morris. If Felder is defeated, that alone could flip the state Senate to Democratic control, though there are a number of swing districts around the state that will be at play this fall when the entire Legislature is up for election.

The committee is also expected to take up a resolution to financially support Democrats running for state Senate seats and calling for loyalty pledges from former members of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference -- who used to caucus with Republicans and support their hold on the chamber. Cuomo, who tolerated and allegedly encouraged the IDC’s existence for seven years, recently brought the breakaway conference back into the fold and is taking stronger steps to regain Democratic control of the Senate after lackluster efforts to achieve that in the past, leading to criticism from many Democrats, especially more liberal members of the party.

Another party resolution would call for the closure of the much-derided LLC loophole in the state’s campaign finance law, which allows untold amounts of money to flow to state electoral candidates from hidden donors. Cuomo has repeatedly called on the Legislature to close that gap in the law, even as he has been its biggest beneficiary and declined to voluntarily turn off the spigot.

“The nominations will be pretty straightforward,” Yee said. “It won’t cause too much division...If they try to table the resolutions and refuse to allow debate on opening the primaries or ejecting Felder from the party, it’ll cause displeasure and hurt the trust between the progressives and the party.”

There are other proposals which have yet to be fleshed out but could make for heated debate, including changes to the process of selecting candidates for special elections; changes to how delegates to the Democratic National Convention are chosen; changes to how the state party’s chair and executive committee are chosen; requiring statewide candidates to submit 10 years of tax returns; and an “outside independent investigator for sexual harassment allegations,” among others.

Yee, who serves as secretary for the Manhattan branch of the state party, said that if a resolution calling for more budget transparency from the state committee to its own members fails to pass, it’ll cause consternation among the progressives who are already incensed by what they see as the party’s misuse of funds. Case in point: the party’s massive outlay for a media campaign that seemed to support the governor rather than promote the party’s positions. Yee said the issue was prominent in the last few months but has been subsumed by larger political developments.

Party Unity or Party Fealty?
It’s hard to tell whether the Democrats will emerge from the convention as a unified force or as a fractured party. For many progressives, the nominations seem predetermined and the convention a farcical show of party democracy.

“It’s very finely tuned and finely orchestrated, but I think there’s going to be a lot more contention than we’ve ever seen before at this convention,” Bellanca said. Cuomo’s strongarm tactics have alienated members like Bellanca, who see the governor’s influence extending through the state party and directed at his opponents.

Council Member Williams put the onus on the party leaders, noting that the party hasn’t learned its lesson from the 2016 election, when the DNC chose to support Clinton’s candidacy over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who energized the left, whom Williams endorsed. “It seems whenever they talk about party unity, they always talk to the people on the left and never take ownership of party unity themselves,” he said. “So it’s about time the people who are in leadership, the people who are in power, also do some things that are unifying. They don’t seem to do that very often and a good chance to do that is at this convention.”

A number of progressive groups including NYPAN, Our Revolution, and Indivisible NY intend on holding a Tuesday presentation at the Marriott Hotel, where convention delegates will be holed up, on the DNC’s Unity Reform Commission report -- issued in the wake of the 2016 presidential election -- to try to convince committee members to support their proposals.

Nixon also indicated on Monday that she had invited state committee members to a conference call to discuss her candidacy as she hopes to earn support at the convention.

The state party’s Berman brushed aside any concerns about the future of the party and whether this election cycle will expose a deep rift between the various ideological factions within it. “The values and issues that unite us as a party far outweigh any disagreements folks may have,” he said, “and I’m very confident that coming out of the convention and going into the elections in the fall, we will be a strong unified party supporting a strong progressive ticket.”

Coads, the Long Island committee member, hoped and prayed for unity, holding up New York as an example to other states. “I’m positive about it and if we don’t, we’ll find a way to unify as we go forward,” she said.

Bellanca disagrees. “I think the war’s still going to be going on between the progressive, reform wing and the establishment that wants first class seats on the Titanic,” he said.

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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samarkhurshid@gmail.com (Samar Khurshid) State Tue, 22 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Cuomo-Launched Women’s Equality Party Will Soon Make Statewide Nominations http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7684-cuomo-launched-women-s-equality-party-will-soon-make-statewide-nominations http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7684-cuomo-launched-women-s-equality-party-will-soon-make-statewide-nominations Cuomo Hochul campaign

Cuomo, Hochul & the WEP bus (photo: Andrew Cuomo/Facebook)


As he sought a second term in 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Women’s Equality Party amid a primary challenge from his left by Zephyr Teachout and as he sought to undermine the Working Families Party, which had begrudgingly endorsed him after he begrudgingly made a set of policy and political promises.

Cuomo said it was time for a political party dedicated to women and traveled around on a bus highlighted with pink streaks to underscore his point. The governor was running with Kathy Hochul as his potential lieutenant governor, after his first-term lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy, decided not to seek a second term, and was calling for the passage of a ten-point Women’s Equality Agenda that included measures toward pay equity, abortion protections, and more.

In order for the WEP to earn a guaranteed ballot line in subsequent years through the next gubernatorial election, Cuomo and Hochul, its endorsed candidates at the top of the ticket, had to earn at least 50,000 votes on the line in 2014. They received 53,802, a fraction of their roughly 2 million total, mostly earned on the Democratic Party line.

Therefore, this year -- amid the #MeToo movement and heightened attention on women running for elected office -- the skeletal WEP has a ballot line to offer the candidates of its choosing. It is one of just eight such parties that come into this state election year with a guaranteed ballot line, and it appears it will be the last of the eight to announce its nominees for the statewide positions of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general. (The WEP is already supporting incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for reelection this fall, as well as a slate of congressional candidates.)

As of April 1, there were 4,675 New Yorkers registered to vote as members of the Women’s Equality Party, according to the state Board of Elections, including its current chair, Susan Zimet.

In the wake of the surprise resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman amid accusations that he physically abused at least four women, Zimet recently put out a call for prospective attorney general candidates interested in the Women’s Equality Party nomination to submit answers to a questionnaire that the party requires for consideration.

Statewide candidates have been scrambling to earn and accumulate ballot lines, as every vote and every method of appealing to voters count. For example, presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, currently the Dutchess county executive, is set to appear on the GOP, Conservative, and Reform Party ballot lines.

Cuomo already appears to have locked up nominations from the Democratic and Independence parties, though he is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Cynthia Nixon, and appears on track to again earn the nomination of the party he launched four years ago, the WEP, which has mostly been quiet over the past several years and boasts a website with several prominent pages last updated in 2015.

“Never before has our line been more important than it is right now, with the #MeToo movement and the #TimesUp movement,” said Zimet, who took the reigns of the party earlier this year, in an interview with Gotham Gazette.

Zimet, whose day job is executive director of the Hunger Action Network of New York, indicated with great enthusiasm for the process that the WEP is still receiving questionnaires form candidates, including those running for state legislative seats in the Assembly and Senate, all of which are up for election this year, and that state committee members would be meeting soon to make nomination decisions.

The questionnaire, which includes 20 “yes” or “no” questions and an opportunity for candidates to expand more in additional writing, says at the top that “The WEP is not just the beginning of a new political party; it is a powerful movement to bring women’s issues front and center to ensure that the voices of women are heard and counted where they matter most – at the ballot box.”

The questions -- currently the same given to candidates for other offices as well -- include several related to women’s reproductive rights, and others on leveling the economic playing field for women, gun control, immigration, protecting child sex abuse victims, and more. Several of the questions show clear alignment with Cuomo’s record, like passage of sexual harassment prevention measures and tighter gun regulations, and policies he supports that have not been passed, like the Child Victims Act.

While Cuomo has several policy achievements that appear aligned with the WEP agenda, he has also been criticized for not including the lone female legislative conference leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in negotiations of new sexual harassment prevention legislation and other policy matters, for not doing enough to root out harassers in state government, for being paternalistic and mysoginistic, and for a particularly rude response to a female journalist who asked him about what he was doing to combat sexual harassment in state government.

By sometime in July, Zimet said, the Board of Elections requires that the WEP “designate and authorize” candidates, provide a “Wilson Pakula” to candidates not registered with the WEP in order for them to run on the line, and have candidates accept the nominations.

Without getting ahead of her party’s process, Zimet indicated Cuomo has a strong shot at getting the nomination. She repeatedly noted that minor parties must be careful about their choices, in part so that they keep their automatic ballot lines in the future. She referenced the Working Families Party’s difficult decision in backing Cuomo four years ago amid concerns.

“He did put in a questionnaire,” Zimet said of Cuomo. “He did apply for the line. And the lieutenant governor did apply for the line. They had to fill out questionnaires like everybody else. He started the line, it’s because of him we have the line. Any governor candidate has influence on every line...especially third party lines, because we have to get 50,000 votes on the governor’s line.”

Zimet indicated to Politico New York earlier this year that Cuomo would likely be the choice for the WEP.

She indicated that Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli had also submitted a questionnaire and is likely to again receive the party’s backing. DiNapoli will likely have the most ballot lines of any statewide candidate -- he’s set to appear on the Democratic, Working Families, Reform, Independence, and Women’s Equality lines.

Zimet repeatedly stressed that she and her follow state committee members, of which there are about 13, would be discussing candidates and deciding nominations, that nothing is preordained and that the members follow the party bylaws. Zimet said that the party has about as many open state committee seats as those filled, but noted that she is “at the beginning of really building the party, and trying to get more people to change their registration, work with us on the issues, and promote the issues we believe in.”

As for attorney general, Zimet said that she was as shocked by the Schneiderman revelations as anyone, and had to shift plans quickly after expecting that the WEP would again back him for reelection. “I can’t see why we wouldn’t have under normal circumstances; Schneiderman was at the forefront of our issues, we fully expected to support him,” she said, with some residual disbelief in her voice. “Reading it was devastating. It’s always harder when of your heroes fall. You feel betrayed in a way.”

“I really believe in the issues that we stand for,” Zimet said. “It’s really scary to think going forward we could be endorsing people who have skeletons in their closets.”

Zimet said during the Thursday interview that Gotham Gazette was the only one to request the attorney general questionnaire, which is the same as the WEP questionnaire for other offices (and embedded below). “I somewhat suspect, I could be wrong, the reason people might not be sending in questionnaires right now could be waiting to see what comes out of the Democratic convention,” she said of the nominating convention set for this Wednesday and Thursday on Long Island.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for attorney general and hopes to win the official nomination of the state party at this week’s convention on Long Island. Zephyr Teachout is also seeking enough votes to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot, and The New York Times reported on Monday that Leecia Eve, a former aide to Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo, is also entering the race. Candidates who don’t earn the convention votes for a ballot spot can collect petition signatures to earn such a spot. The primary is September 13.

Of James seeking the WEP nomination, Zimet said, “I certainly hope she will.”

“I like Tish,” Zimet said. “I hope she does a questionnaire. It’s not an endorsement.”

James’ campaign spokesperson did not provide an answer to several inquiries as to whether James would seek the WEP nomination. James has thus far eschewed the backing of the Working Families Party, the party that helped her first win elected office, amid WFP’s internal strife and dramatic falling out with Cuomo as it opted to endorse Nixon for governor and Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor, and lost several labor union members who sided with Cuomo. James has repeatedly said she is solely focused on earning the Democratic Party nomination, but she has said over the last two days that she is confident there will be some reconciliation with the WFP.

A spokesperson for Nixon’s campaign did not return multiple inquiries as to whether she will fill out a Women’s Equality Party questionnaire. A spokesperson for Williams’ campaign said, "Jumaane has a strong public record of pushing for women’s rights, which is why we're proud to be endorsed by the WFP— the primary political party that truly stands for New York’s women,” and did not directly answer the question of whether Williams would fill out a questionnaire and seek the WEP nomination for lieutenant governor.

Multiple requests on the subject to Molinaro’s campaign were also not answered. On Sunday, he announced Julie Killian as his lieutenant governor running mate.

Teachout told Gotham Gazette that she had not reached out to the WEP for a questionnaire.

Zimet said she may talk to one or two WEP committee members to possibly tweak the questions for attorney general candidates.

Of the party’s general stance, she said: “Here’s the questionnaire, we want to see where you stand on our issues.”

In the announcement requesting any new attorney general candidate applications, the WEP said it is “committed to fight against any attempts to roll back the progress that women have made in this Country and for true equality for all New Yorkers.”

The party will continue to “fight back against the sexism and harassment women face on a daily basis” it said, and “will endorse an Attorney General that will fight for our values for equal rights and equal protection under the law for women and children in New York and beyond.”

Of the party’s nearly 54,000 votes last time around, Zimet called the showing “pretty impressive, for a line with no history.”

“That just goes to show that people who drawn to women’s equality,” she continued. “People found an alternative, it was refreshing to see that.”

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: this article has been changed based on new information from Susan Zimet.

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bmax@gothamgazette.com (Ben Max) State Tue, 22 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 21 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7680-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-may-21 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7680-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-may-21 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

It’s political party nomination season as this state and federal election year heats up, with federal primaries on June 26, state primaries September 13, and the general election November 6.

Over the weekend, the Working Families Party held its nominating convention on Saturday and the Reform Party held its nominating convention on Sunday.

As expected the WFP nominated Cynthia Nixon for governor, Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor, and incumbent Tom DiNapoli for comptroller. The party decided to install a placeholder for attorney general and give its backing to both Letitia James and Zephyr Teachout, with the planned intention to give its ballot line to whichever of the two emerges from the Democratic primary. James had said she wasn’t seeking the WFP nomination, and her campaign declined to comment on the WFP decision on Saturday. But, James seemed to take a softer stance during remarks on Sunday, according to tweets from the New York Progressive Action Network, where she made an appearance.

"I am still a member of the WFP,” James said according to one tweet. “We are joined at the hip. I am proud to be their standard bearer and to be the face of the WFP going forward." Another tweet said that James indicated that eventually she would be on the WFP line, but the language was not completely clear. A Sunday afternoon inquiry to James’ campaign was not returned.

On Sunday, presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro announced that Julie Killian would be his lieutenant governor running mate. Killian recently lost a special election for a Westchester state Senate seat to Democrat Shelley Mayer. The pair is expected to be on the GOP and Conservative party ballot lines, and soon after the announcement, the Reform Party leadership voted to back Molinaro for governor and Killian for lieutenant governor.

The Reform Party is also backing former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for attorney general, though Bharara has given no public indication he will accept the nomination or run for AG. The party also designated Chris Garvey, Nancy Regula and Michael Diederich to run for attorney general, so there will be a Reform Party primary for AG. And, for comptroller the party is backing DiNapoli, who is likely to have the most ballot lines of any statewide candidate in November.

Coming up this week are the Democratic and Republican state party conventions, both occurring on Wednesday and Thursday, with the Democrats on Long Island and the Republicans in Manhattan. Molinaro is expected to formally earn and accept the nomination on Wednesday, while on Thursday Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to win and accept his party’s nomination for a third time, while Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to accept the party’s nomination for her position for a second time. It appears likely that Democratic state committee members will back James for attorney general, though one or more other candidates could earn the 25% of the vote needed to be automatically placed on the primary ballot. Teachout is the only other candidate who has indicated she is going to the convention to seek such backing. Along with the question of whether Teachout earns the 25% to make the primary ballot for AG is whether Nixon and Williams attempt to go to the convention and win the 25% each to appear on Democratic primary ballots as well. If candidates do not qualify at the nominating convention, they can petition to get on the ballot by collecting signatures across the state.

It’s not completely clear yet who will be the Republican nominee for attorney general, given that former AG Eric Schneiderman’s resignation changed the thinking for many potential candidates of various party affiliations, as well as party leaders. John Cahill, a former top aide to Governor George Pataki and the 2014 GOP nominee for AG is said to be exploring another bid. Jonathan Trichter is likely to be the GOP nominee for comptroller.

While the two conventions will be much of the focus this week, there’s more to watch for -- see our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
Monday is Student Voter Registration Day, with efforts across the city to register eligible students to vote. (The deadline to vote in this year’s congressional primaries, set for June 26, is June 1.)

On Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will appear on Fox 5 "Good Day New York" at 7:30 a.m. At 8:30 a.m., Stringer will deliver remarks at the Eleanor's Legacy Spring Breakfast in Manhattan. And at 5 p.m., Stringer will deliver remarks at the memorial service for Mary Sansone in Brooklyn.

On Monday at 10 a.m., “In the wake of one of the coldest outbreaks for December and January in New York City on record, on Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Council Members Ritchie Torres, Robert E. Cornegy Jr. and Mark Levine, will join tenants to announce the introduction of new City Council legislation that would codify the City’s ability to install and utilize remote temperature monitors (heat sensors) to enforce the heat requirements established in the City’s Housing Code. Standing outside 509 W. 134th St in Upper Manhattan, an apartment building that has the highest number of heating related violations in the city, they will discuss the details of the legislation and how residents can use heat sensors like those created by 2014 NYC BigApps winner Heat Seek NYC- a nonprofit tech organization committed to keeping New Yorkers safe and warm- to remotely track temperature in their homes during the coldest months of the year. Underscoring the imperative to address heating-related harassment, the electeds will present data that highlights problem neighborhoods for heating complaints citywide, which correspond heavily with areas of economic hardship and gentrification.”

On Monday at 10:30 a.m. at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, “Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will visit Ice Stone, a tile, stone fabrication and installation company, to urge the U.S. Senate to pass bipartisan legislation, the Main Street Employee Ownership Act, which just passed in the House of Representatives this month. This legislation would support small businesses that invest in their workers and communities by transitioning to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) or a cooperative (co-op).”

On Monday at 11 a.m. at City Hall Park, “Representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), joined by New York State Assemblyman Marco Crespo and community leaders, will hold a press conference calling for secure housing for residents of Puerto Rico in support of the Housing Victims of Major Disasters Act, introduced by Rep. Espaillat earlier this Congress.” Other participants will include former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Frankie Miranda of Hispanic Federation, and Ana María Archila of Center for Popular Democracy, among others.

At noon on Monday, "Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Thompson and Schools Chancellor Carranza will meet with high school students at Manhattan Hunter Science High School who are registering to vote, and deliver remarks marking the first ever citywide student voter registration day. This event is open press. There will be no Q-and-A." At around 5 p.m., "the Mayor will deliver remarks at the memorial service for Mary Sansone" in Brooklyn.

At 12:30 p.m. Monday, Public Advocate Letitia James and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will make an announcement regarding James’ bid for attorney general.

At 6:15 p.m. Monday, "Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul Delivers Remarks at Western New York Women's Foundation "What She's Made Of" Event" in Buffalo.

At 7 p.m. Monday, “Census 2020 - Will Brooklyn Count?” at BRIC, featuring Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., General Counsel, Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College; Pastor Gil Monrose, Director of Faith-based and Clergy Initiatives, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President; Betsy Plum, VP of Policy, New York Immigration Coalition; and Steven Romalewski, Director, CUNY Mapping Service.

Mayor de Blasio will make his weekly appearance on NY1's Inside City Hall Monday evening at 7 and 11 p.m.

Tuesday
The State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.

On Tuesday at 8 a.m. at New York Athletic Club, Crain’s New York Business will host a breakfast featuring Health + Hospitals CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz, who “will talk about his strategies for effecting a financial turnaround at the city's public health system and his priorities going forward” and take questions from Robin Schatz and Jonathan LaMantia of Crain's.

On Tuesday at 8 a.m. at The Library at The Public Theater, “How Greener, Greater Building Tech is Powering NYC,” hosted by Capalino+Company. Opening remarks will be given by Zach Aarons, Co-Founder and Advisor, MetaProp NYC, on investing in green building tech. A panel discussion will follow including City Council Member Costa Constantinides, Tucker Reed of Totem, Shane Eten of Lotik, and Marshall Cox of Radiator Labs, moderated by Challey Comer of Capalino.

On Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at CBRE, “The Association for a Better New York cordially invites you to a breakfast meeting on Tuesday, May 22nd, featuring Carolyn Grossman Meagher, Director of Regional Planning for the Department of City Planning. Ms. Grossman Meagher will present an overview of regional trends in employment and residential growth, and unveil NYC Metro Region Explorer, a new tool for exploring regional data.”

On Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Albany, there will be a joint hearing of the Senate committees on Health and Insurance and the Senate Heroin Task Force “To explore access to and coverage of opioid antagonists, such as Naloxone.”

On Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. in Albany, there will be a meeting of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

On Tuesday at the City Council:
--There will be an executive budget hearing on education at 10 a.m.
--The Committee on Health will meet at 10 a.m. on “Requiring defibrillators at softball fields where youth leagues play.”
--The Committee on Transportation will meet at 11 a.m. regarding a bill that “would require that landowners be given at least 75 days, rather than 45 days, to make necessary repairs to the sidewalk adjacent to their property.”
--The Committee on Civil Service and Labor will meet a noon on a bill regarding “Health insurance coverage for surviving family members of certain deceased employees of the DOT” and two resolutions: one regarding “US Supreme Court to protect public sector collective bargaining in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)” and the other “Acknowledging workers’ gains through the American labor movement.”
--The Committee on Governmental Operations will meet at 1 p.m. on a bill that “would require that mandatory debates under the Campaign Finance Act be broadcast on a City owned or operated television channel, in addition to any other channel or channels on which they are broadcast.”

On Tuesday at 6 p.m., at the New York Bar Association, “Barbara Babcock, Crown Professor of Law, Emerita, Stanford Law School and author of Fish Raincoats: A Woman Lawyer’s Life (a memoir) and Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz (a biography of the first woman lawyer in the west)” will deliver the Annual Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture on Women and the Law. She will speak after welcoming remarks from Roger Juan Maldonado, President, New York City Bar Association and introductory remarks by Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court of the United States.

Wednesday
“The New York Republican State Committee will host its 2018 designating convention for the purposes of nominating candidates for the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and Comptroller” on Wednesday and Thursday at The Ziegfeld Ballroom in Manhattan. Wednesday will include nominations for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, followed by the annual NYSGOP gala in the evening, which will feature Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, chair of the Republican Governors Association.

The Democratic state committee nominating convention will begin Wednesday on Long Island.

The state Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.

Andy Byford, the head of New York City Transit at the MTA, will present his new plan for the long-term modernization of the subway system on Wednesday at an MTA meeting.

On Wednesday at the City Council:
--The Committee on Finance will meet at 10 a.m.
--The full City Council will hold a Stated Meeting at 1:30 p.m., prefaced by a press conference hosted by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m., BRIC TV will host a forum “Whose war on drugs?” sponsored by The Marshall Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, including Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, journalist Tom Robbins, Kassandra Frederique of Drug Policy Alliance, and Dr. Hillary Kunins of the city Health Department.

On Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the City of New York, “Dan Doctoroff, founder and CEO of the Alphabet company Sidewalk Labs, and veteran New York Times reporter Charles Bagli discuss New York’s Big Comeback, the city’s dramatic and unexpected recovery, inspired by Doctoroff’s book, “Greater than Ever: New York’s Big Comeback” (PublicAffairs, 2017).”

Thursday
When the State GOP convention continues Thursday in Manhattan, nominations will be made for Attorney General and Comptroller.

The Democratic state convention will continue Thursday on Long Island. The convention will conclude with the nomination of Gov. Cuomo for another term and his acceptance speech.

On Thursday in Albany, there will be a joint hearing of the Assembly committees on Judiciary and Health on “Gestational Surrogacy.”

On Thursday at 10 a.m. the City Council finance and hospital committees will hold an executive budget hearing.

Friday
Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly Friday appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show at 10 a.m.

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. The next Week Ahead will be published on the evening of Monday, May 28.

***
Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

***
by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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bmax@gothamgazette.com (Ben Max & Ben Brachfeld) State Sun, 20 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Party Nominations for Statewide Elections Come Into Focus http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7682-party-nominations-for-statewide-elections-come-into-focus http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7682-party-nominations-for-statewide-elections-come-into-focus Cynthia Nixon WFP nomination

Cynthia Nixon at the WFP convention (photo: Make The Road Action)


It’s political party convention season as this state and federal election year heats up in New York, with federal primaries on June 26, state primaries September 13, and the general election November 6.

Over the weekend, the Working Families Party and Green Party held their nominating conventions on Saturday and the Reform Party held its on Sunday. This week the Democratic and Republican state parties will hold their conventions, nominating candidates for the four statewide positions of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general. It is also an election year for one of the state’s two United State Senate seats, the one currently held by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Democrats currently hold all five of these positions.

Along with those formally backed by the political parties, in some cases other candidates may qualify for the primary ballot if they can earn enough votes from state committee members at the conventions. Candidates also have the opportunity to claim a primary ballot spot by collecting the requisite petition signatures across the state.

Given the weekend conventions, along with other announcements from parties and campaigns, the statewide tickets of the major and minor parties are coming into view.

The WFP
As expected, on Saturday the Working Families Party nominated Cynthia Nixon for governor, Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor, and incumbent Tom DiNapoli for comptroller.

The party’s state committee members decided to install a placeholder for attorney general and give its backing to both Letitia James and Zephyr Teachout, with the intention to give its ballot line to whichever of the two emerges from the Democratic primary. James had said she wasn’t seeking the WFP nomination, and her campaign declined to comment on the WFP decision on Saturday. But, James seemed to take a softer stance during remarks on Sunday, according to tweets from the New York Progressive Action Network, where she made an appearance.

"I am still a member of the WFP,” James said according to one tweet. “We are joined at the hip. I am proud to be their standard bearer and to be the face of the WFP going forward." Another tweet said that James indicated she would eventually appear on the WFP line, but the language was not completely clear. A Sunday afternoon inquiry to James’ campaign was not returned.

The WFP convention was a raucous affair in Harlem on Saturday, with hundreds of party members and supporters gathered to enthusiastically back its slate and rally as it faces an existential crisis given its nasty split with Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is known for attempting to wipe his adversaries off the political map.

In her acceptance speech, Nixon went right after the incumbent governor, who the WFP backed in his 2010 and 2014 runs and she is hoping to defeat in the Democratic primary. (If she does not win that primary, the WFP may seek to replace her on the general election ballot so as to not play spoiler and allow Republican Marc Molinaro to win.)

But Nixon, WFP supporters, and many liberal Democrats are hopeful about the primary and pulling no punches when it comes to attacking Cuomo, who they say has governed as a centrist.

Listing off a progressive agenda of policy plans including tougher rent regulations, a more accessible ballot box, and legalized marijuana, Nixon pledged an inclusive New York for “all of us,” that pursues racial, social, and economic justice.

“WFP founders Jon Kest and Bertha Lewis were the first ones to ask me eight years ago to consider running for Governor,” Nixon said from the stage on Saturday. “Now, after eight years of Cuomo, and Trump in the White House, I couldn’t say ‘no.’”

In accepting his nomination, City Council Member Williams reiterated his promise to break the recent mold of lieutenant governors, and not be a rubber stamp or cheerleader for the governor.

“I am running to be the voice of the people in state government, and I could not be more proud to have the Working Families Party by my side,” Williams said, during remarks that had the crowd more energized than any other portion of the program that Gotham Gazette saw. “As the people’s Lieutenant Governor, I will be an independent advocate for all New Yorkers. I will make certain that our Governor and elected officials uphold their promises, and will hold them accountable for the actions they take.”

The Green Party
The Green Party has put its statewide slate forward, with Howie Hawkins again topping the ticket as the gubernatorial candidate. Jia Lee will be the Green Party nominee for lieutenant governor.

After laying out a progressive policy agenda and framework for social, economic, and environmental justice, Hawkins said at Saturday’s convention, “The way this is going to play out in the fall is there’ll be the progressive Greens, the centrist Democrats, and the conservative Republicans. And the argument, the narrative against us is we’re going to spoil it and elect the Republicans, and we have to say ‘no, we’re the progressive alternative, the Democrats won’t solve our problems, don’t waste your vote, vote for what you want, make your vote count, make the system come to what you want -- and that’s how we leverage power and we make a difference.”

Mark Dunlea will be the Green candidate for comptroller and Michael Sussman will be the Green candidate for attorney general.

The Reform Party
On Sunday, presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro announced that Julie Killian, a former Rye City Council member, would be his lieutenant governor running mate. Killian recently lost a special election for a Westchester state Senate seat to Democrat Shelley Mayer. The pair is expected to form the top of the official ticket of the Republican and Conservative parties. Soon after the announcement, the Reform Party leadership voted to back Molinaro for governor and Killian for lieutenant governor.

"Many thanks to Reform Party for its endorsement of Julie and me today,” Molinaro said in a statement. “Because no matter your political persuasion, if you are a New Yorker who desires reform, you know that the largest roadblock standing in the way is Andrew Cuomo. This state desperately needs change. Defeating Andrew Cuomo and breaking his iron grip over this corrupt state government is the only thing that will break down the floodgates and make change possible."

The Reform Party is also backing former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for attorney general, though Bharara has given no public indication he will accept the nomination or run for AG at all. The party also designated Chris Garvey, Nancy Regula, and Michael Diederich to run for attorney general, so there will be a Reform Party primary for AG. And, for comptroller the party is backing DiNapoli, who is likely to have the most ballot lines of any statewide candidate in November.

Democrats and Republicans
This week will see the Democratic and Republican state party conventions, both occurring on Wednesday and Thursday, with the Democrats on Long Island and the Republicans in Manhattan. Molinaro and Killian are expected to formally earn and accept their nominations on Wednesday, while on Thursday Cuomo is expected to win and accept his party’s nomination for a third time, while Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to accept the party’s nomination for her position for a second time.

It appears likely that Democratic state committee members will back Public Advocate James for attorney general, though one or more other candidates could earn the 25% of the vote needed to be automatically placed on the primary ballot. Teachout and Leecia Eve have indicated they will go to the convention to seek such backing. Cuomo endorsed James for attorney general on Tuesday, just before the convention.

Along with the question of whether Teachout and/or Eve can earn the 25% to make the primary ballot for AG is whether Nixon and Williams go to the convention and win the 25% each to appear on Democratic primary ballots as well. If candidates do not qualify at the nominating convention, they can petition to get on the ballot by collecting signatures across the state. Randy Credico, a comedian and activist who also ran for governor in 2014 and New York City mayor in 2013, may also be mounting an effort to make the Democratic primary ballot.

On Monday morning, Nixon announced her intention for the convention. "I am attending the convention because New York Democrats deserve to have at least one actual Democratic candidate for governor at their state convention," she said in a statement. "As Governor Cuomo has said himself, he's run this state in a way that would make any Republican proud. The Governor and his allies have bullied progressive community groups and rallied the full force of the big money establishment because they know he doesn't have any progressive credentials to stand on. But I won't be scared out of the room. New Yorkers deserve a choice."

The Nixon campaign also indicated that Nixon has invited state committee members to a conference call to discuss her candidacy, though the details of the call were not provided.

It’s not completely clear yet who will be the Republican nominee for attorney general, given that former AG Eric Schneiderman’s resignation changed the thinking for many potential candidates of various party affiliations, as well as party leaders. John Cahill, a former top aide to Governor George Pataki and the 2014 GOP nominee for AG was considering another bid but bowed out. Manny Alicandro and Keith Wofford have announced their candidacies.

Jonathan Trichter is likely to be the GOP nominee for comptroller.

State Democratic Party Executive Director Geoff Berman issued a statement on Saturday that took aim at the WFP and the GOP.

“It is convention week in New York, and I am proud to be part of the Democratic Party as we head into our convention,” Berman wrote. “The state of the WFP today stands in stark contrast with the state of the Democratic Party. The union-founded party has no working families left after every union has left their ranks.”

Berman went on to criticize WFP political director Bill Lipton for orchestrating the party’s attorney general nominations and Williams for “an anti-choice and anti-marriage equality record.” Williams has made many attempts, including during his WFP acceptance speech, to clarify his current stances in support of abortion access and marriage equality, but he has in the past expressed personal opinions against both.

Berman called Molinaro a “Trump mini-me,” though Molinaro has said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. Molinaro does appear to be mostly aligned with Trump and congressional Republicans on policy, however. “Molinaro is anti choice, anti gun safety, anti LGBTQ, and part of Trump's property and income tax increase plan that ended State and Local deductibility,” Berman wrote, though Molinaro has expressed an ‘evolution’ on marriage equality and inclusiveness toward LGBT New Yorkers, and the Trump-led tax overhaul did not end such deductibility, it reduced it to $10,000 annually.

It is evident that Berman, Cuomo, and other Democrats will attempt to tie Molinaro, Killian, and other Republicans to Trump, who is deeply unpopular overall in New York, though he retains some pockets of significant support in his home state. Molinaro and others will have to rally the Republican base while also appealing to moderates, including many party-unaffiliated voters, in order to win statewide, especially in a year in which Democrats are energized and in good position to swing multiple House and state Senate seats.

One of the most important decisions of the weekend was Molinaro choosing Killian as a running mate. It’s not immediately clear that she will be of significant help as the Dutchess county executive attempts to become the first Republican governor since George Pataki. Killian has only held elected office as a Rye City Council member and was a deputy mayor, and she has lost her last two races.

Republican sources indicated that the Molinaro campaign decided it was important to choose a woman for the ticket. Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, who was a co-chair of the lieutenant governor candidate search committee for Molinaro, took herself out of the running after Molinaro was apparently strongly considering her, and may have made a better choice. With both Molinaro and Killian lukewarm toward Trump and from downstate, the ticket may not be best suited toward rallying the base or appealing to voters upstate or in western New York.

"Julie Killian is a champion for people who have no voice, who are left behind, who are in crisis and she will never back down from the challenges that are facing our state. I'm proud to have Julie as my partner in this campaign to restore New Yorker's belief in the future of our state," Molinaro said in a statement.

"Marc and I share a vision of New York, that is more affordable, accountable and accessible for all families and I am honored to join his team as a true partner, " said Killian.

A press release from the Molinaro campaign called Killian “a strong campaigner to the key suburban battlegrounds” and noted that in her recent state Senate race she “significantly outperformed President Trump in Westchester in 2016.

“Julie Killian stood out among many great picks to serve as @marcmolinaro’s running mate,” Dinolfo tweeted on Sunday. “As a former city councilwoman, she knows what it takes to run a government while protecting taxpayers. She will make a great LG!”

Other Parties
The three other parties that have guaranteed ballot lines this year include the Independence Party -- which appears to be nominating Cuomo, Hochul, and DiNapoli -- and the Women’s Equality Party, which has not made its nominations yet, but will do so soon. The WEP is likely to back Cuomo, Hochul, and DiNapoli again this year -- the party was launched by Cuomo in 2014 as he attempted to undermine both his female Democratic primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, and the WFP. It’s not clear if either party will make an attorney general choice, though the WEP did issue a call to interested candidates in the wake of Schneiderman's resignation.

The Conservative Party appears set to cross-endorse the Republican ticket for statewide seats.

The Libertarian Party, meanwhile, typically petitions to get a candidate on the ballot and has this year nominated Larry Sharpe for governor. Sharpe and the Libertarian Party are hoping to crack the 50,000-vote threshold to earn an automatic ballot line over the next four years. The party came close in 2010 with a different candidate, and Sharpe, who has been actively fundraising and campaigning, is seen as the strongest candidate the party has backed in several cycles.

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: this story has been updated as events change and to include Larry Sharpe's Libertarian candidacy.

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bmax@gothamgazette.com (Ben Max) State Mon, 21 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Letitia James Launches Campaign for Attorney General http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7677-letitia-james-launches-campaign-for-attorney-general http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7677-letitia-james-launches-campaign-for-attorney-general tish ag kickoff in bk sara valenzuela

Public Advocate Letitia James at her AG campaign kickoff (photo: @saritamanhattan)


New York City Public Advocate Letitia James officially launched her campaign for attorney general on Wednesday, seeking to make history as the first woman of color to serve as the state’s top legal officer.

James, who is serving her second and final term as public advocate, and is the first woman of color elected to a citywide position, is running in the Democratic primary to replace former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned last week after facing allegations of physical abuse from four women with whom he was intimately involved. The position is being held in the interim by Barbara Underwood, who was solicitor general under Schneiderman and his predecessor, now-Governor Andrew Cuomo, while the state Legislature is assessing a slate of candidates, including Underwood, from which they will select an appointee to serve the rest of the term.

The Democratic primary for attorney general and other state-level positions is September 13.

James was seen as the frontrunner for the position even before the Legislature began its selection process, but amid outcry for Underwood to keep the position and against any backroom deals, she declined to seek the appointment and decided instead to only compete in the election. From a dais at the Brooklyn Historical Society on Wednesday, flanked by labor leaders and several members of the New York City Council, where she once served, James spoke of the inspiration she draws from legal stalwarts like Barbara Jordan and Thurgood Marshall, and made the opening pitch her candidacy.

“I was taught at Howard University that the law should be an instrument of change,” James said in humble tones, “that the law must be used as a vehicle to right wrongs.” She pledged to defend the state’s most vulnerable communities, touting her past work as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society and an an assistant attorney general, and her current role heading the office of the public advocate, where she has often used litigation to fight for tenant protections, for children with disabilities, and others, waging high-profile legal battles against the de Blasio administration and against predatory landlords.

James promised to “never, ever waver in my fight to uphold and defend your basic rights,” vowing to oppose any harmful policies imposed by the federal government.

There are no other declared Democratic candidates for the fall election at this time. The state party will hold its nominating convention next week, at which James is expected to at least earn a place on the ballot, if not the party’s official backing. James has a strong base of support in New York City, including from the labor unions that immediately endorsed her and others likely to follow, but she will need to expand her reach outside the five boroughs to win statewide, both in the primary and what is likely to be a more competitive general election than she has ever faced in heavily Democratic New York City. She’ll also need to raise a significant sum of money quickly, which could be helped if she wins the backing of Cuomo, a prodigious fundraiser with deep ties to wealthy donors and seeking a third term this fall.

Although James said in her speech that she tends “not to be about politics,” the politics of the race were nonetheless inescapable. The New York Times reported earlier this week that James was telling supporters that Governor Andrew Cuomo and his allies were pushing her to refuse the nomination of the Working Families Party, a prominent smaller political party with a progressive base, or risk losing his support. The governor, who is known for his strong-arm tactics and has clashed with the WFP, which is backing his primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, denied making the overtures.

On Wednesday morning, James’ campaign indicated she will not seek the endorsement of the WFP, saying that she is focused on winning the Democratic nomination, though she has sought and earned both parties’ support in the past (James was first elected to office in 2003 as a City Council member solely on the WFP line). The declaration sparked a rebuke of Cuomo from the WFP.

“It is nothing short of outrageous to see Andrew Cuomo demand Tish James jump through hoops that he would never ask a white man to do,” four WFP leaders said in a statement that included further attacks on the governor, who had the WFP’s backing in his 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial campaigns.

Asked repeatedly by reporters about eschewing the WFP after her launch announcement, James said, “My focus has been on securing the Democratic nomination and I’ve been working from sunup to sundown securing that nomination.” She also denied that pressure from the governor had played a part in her decision not to seek the WFP’s backing. “I’m an independent individual, I’ve always been an independent individual, and if you know anything about me you can rest assured that no one's going to bully me, no one's going to threaten me and no one's going to hold anything over my head.”

The Democratic nominating convention will be held next week, while the WFP nominees are expected to be announced this weekend at its own convention. The party is already behind Nixon for governor and City Council Member Jumaane Williams for Lieutenant Governor. It is also backing Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for reelection.

Zephyr Teachout, a law professor who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in the Democratic primary four years ago, told Gotham Gazette on Wednesday that she is seeking the WFP nomination for attorney general and that she also plans to appear on the Democratic primary ballot for the position, a spot she will either earn through a vote at the convention next week or through collecting enough ballot petition signatures around the state. Teachout, who is not officially running for AG yet, is currently Nixon’s campaign treasurer, an arrangement that may change if she officially declares her candidacy for attorney general.

James’ announcement was backed by the forceful endorsements of three labor unions: the New York State Nurses Association, Communications Workers of America Local 1180; and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “Tish James listens to every voice and fights for those without a place at the table. She doesn’t preach. She acts,” said Gloria Middleton, president of CWA Local 1180.

Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also showed her support to the public advocate, standing on stage along with current City Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Andrew King, Mark Levine, Robert Cornegy, and Justin Brannan.

“[James’] whole public experience has been about utilizing the law to really right wrongs and to create equity,” Mark-Viverito told Gotham Gazette. “So this particular time when we have such an affront to our democracy by the Trump administration, this attorney general position is critical in us pushing back.”

She said James would be a “standard bearer of equity and justice” and said it’s “way overdue” that a woman serves as attorney general. “I think it’s critical,” she said. “Gender does matter, and representation at all levels. We have a diverse state, a diverse city. So government needs to be truly reflective of those experiences and that reality.”

While James is the first to officially jump into the primary race and Teachout appears close, several other possible AG candidates are possible. Democratic State Senator Michael Gianaris has said he’s considering a run, as has Congressional Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, also a Democrat. Former United States Attorney Preet Bharara has not ruled it out when making public comments. While Bharara is a Democrat, Bloomberg News reported he may run for AG as an independent. The only declared Republican in the race is attorney Manny Alicandro, though others are said to be considering a run given Schneiderman’s resignation.

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Ben Max contributed reporting.

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samarkhurshid@gmail.com (Samar Khurshid) State Thu, 17 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Exploring Attorney General Run, Zephyr Teachout Pursues Working Families Nomination, Democratic Ballot Line http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7678-exploring-attorney-general-run-zephyr-teachout-pursues-working-families-nomination-democratic-ballot-line http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7678-exploring-attorney-general-run-zephyr-teachout-pursues-working-families-nomination-democratic-ballot-line zephyr teachout anti idc rally

Zephyr Teachout at an anti-IDC rally (photo: Ben Max)


The recent resignation of former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent shockwaves through the New York political world, and with just six months until New Yorkers elect a new attorney general in November, it sent potential candidates scrambling. Political party nominations are being decided, ballot spots must be secured, and party primaries are September 13.

Soon after Schneiderman’s departure amid accusations that he was physically abusive of four women he had been in romantic relationships with, according to reporting by The New Yorker, several individuals expressed interest in becoming attorney general.

One is Zephyr Teachout, the law professor who challenged Governor Andrew Cuomo from the left in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary, who quickly said she was forming an exploratory committee. Among other moves, Teachout sent out e-blasts to her supporters asking if they want her to run and used her Twitter account to discuss her resume and the role of attorney general. Currently the campaign treasurer for Cuomo’s leading 2018 primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon, Teachout even had a logo mocked up for her potential attorney general run.

On Wednesday, Teachout told Gotham Gazette that she has submitted her name for consideration by the Working Families Party, which is holding its nominating convention this weekend in Manhattan, and that she will be pursuing enough support at next week’s State Democratic Party convention to secure a ballot line.

On the same day that New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, a Democrat, formally announced her candidacy for attorney general, Teachout also indicated that she’s prepared to collect enough petition signatures to compete in the Democratic primary if she does not meet the threshold at the party convention.

"I'll be making a decision fairly shortly," Teachout told Gotham Gazette about whether she will indeed seek the statewide office that is New York’s chief legal officer. "I'm grateful for the incredible response I've gotten from people I know from different aspects of my work: anti-corruption work, antitrust work, Trump work,” she said. “It's been really wonderful to get this kind of support."

"I submitted my name to be considered,” she said of the Working Families Party, which came close to backing her against Cuomo in 2014, but went with the governor after he agreed to a series of policy and political goals that he mostly did not follow through on. “I'm planning to be at the convention on Saturday," she added.

It is not clear who else is seeking the WFP nomination for attorney general -- a spokesperson for the party did not respond to an inquiry for the list.

"I plan to seek the Democratic Party threshold to get on the ballot, and I'll be at the convention next week,” Teachout also said. “One of the most important things that I think can bring Democrats together is that the next AG can lead the fight against the Trump administration's lawlessness."

As Teachout has pointed out, her past and current work is suited toward continuing some of the attorney general office’s most high-profile litigation against the Trump administration, something Schneiderman had made a top priority and is being continued by interim Attorney General Barbara Underwood, formerly solicitor general, who is seeking a legislative appointment to stay in the role through at least Election Day, if not the end of the year, but is not planning to run for election.

When announcing her exploratory committee on Twitter, Teachout said, “The next Attorney General of New York should be an independent fighter and a voice for the people, ready to take on corruption and lawlessness at the highest pinnacles of power” and “ready to investigate corruption in Albany, in real estate, and on Wall Street.”

She touted resume items such as “writing about and fighting corruption my entire career,” working as a death penalty defense lawyer, pushing for stronger antitrust enforcement and prosecution of financial crimes, being “the first national director of the Sunlight Foundation,” and her work as a professor at Fordham Law School.

Teachout has received public support from a number of progressives with significant followings or resumes, including Professor Laurence Tribe, and several liberal New York activists. 

“I have a great exploratory team--Tim Tagaris and Hector Sigala from Bernie's digital juggernaut, BrownMiller Group; ALG Research; Putnam Partners (whose past clients include Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris' AG race),” she tweeted.

Notably, BrownMiller is the firm that in 2013 “ran the petition drive that placed Eliot Spitzer on the ballot with over 27,000 signatures in just four days,” as its website states of the blitz that got the former governor on the Democratic primary ballot for the city comptroller race. That type of work would come in handy if Teachout needs to go the petition route to make the Democratic primary ballot again the state party nominee, which at this point is likely to be James, and possibly others.

The public advocate, whose first win of elected office was on the Working Families Party line in a 2003 City Council race, has indicated that she is not seeking the WFP nomination, apparently siding with Cuomo after the governor’s recent split with the party as it endorsed Nixon for governor after backing Cuomo in his 2010 and 2014 wins.

After her campaign kickoff event in Brooklyn on Wednesday, James declined to answer with specificity why she had made that choice, instead repeatedly stating that she is focused on winning the Democratic nomination. She did say that she is independent and not one to be bullied, though she did not explicitly state that Cuomo had not factored into the decision in some way.

Four leaders of the WFP put out a statement Wednesday morning accusing Cuomo of essentially forcing James to choose him and the Democratic Party apparatus that he controls over the WFP, even assigning racial and gender components to the alleged arm-twisting. The Cuomo campaign shot back in reciprocal fashion.

If Cuomo does support James’ candidacy, she will have significant advantages as she seeks to become the first woman of color elected New York attorney general. James has a solid base of support in New York City and the likely backing of many labor unions, three of which endorsed her at her launch, but she has never been a strong fund-raiser and is not well-known outside of the city.

Teachout, meanwhile, has some degree of name recognition and support outside the city after her 2014 gubernatorial run -- when she won 34 percent of the primary vote against Cuomo, largely by doing well upstate -- and her 2016 congressional run in the Hudson Valley, which she lost to Rep. John Faso, 54-46 percent.

As for her role with the Nixon campaign, Teachout did not directly answer on Wednesday whether she would step down as treasurer if she does formally throw her hat in the attorney general race. "I've been very clear about my support for Cynthia Nixon, but if she's governor and I'm attorney general, if there's anything within the AG's purview, even a whiff of corruption, I would pursue it,” Teachout said. “I'm a very independent person." But on Friday morning, Teachout told Gotham Gazette that she will indeed step down as Nixon campaign treasurer as she pursues an attorney general run.

[Related: Letitia James Launches Campaign for Attorney General]

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: this story has been updated with Teachout's decision on Friday to step down from the Nixon campaign as she explores an AG bid.

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bmax@gothamgazette.com (Ben Max) State Thu, 17 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: Stephanie Miner http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7673-max-murphy-podcast-stephanie-miner-syracuse-mayor-cuomo

Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette


May 15, 2018 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Stephanie Miner

podcast steph miner

Since leaving office due to term limits, former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has been teaching at NYU Wagner School and deciding whether to challenge Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. She's still deciding, she said on the Max & Murphy podcast, while also outlining key aspects of her political career thus far, her assessment of what's broken in our politics, what it means to be "a romantic about government," her falling out with Cuomo, her assessment of Cynthia Nixon's candidacy, and more.

Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @JarrettMurphy, and this week's guest Stephanie Miner @MinerNYS. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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bmax@gothamgazette.com (Ben Max) State Wed, 16 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 14 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7669-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-may-14 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7669-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-may-14 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

On Friday, state legislative leaders released the list of candidates who applied to be named Attorney General through a process that will include public hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The list of candidates includes current Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who took over upon Eric Schneiderman’s resignation:

Thomas J. Abinanti; Lloyd Constantine; Michael D. Diederich, Jr; Jose W. Fernandez; Nicole Gueron; Elizabeth Holtzman; Thomas E. Humbach; Doris Ling-Cohan; Daniel J. O’Donnell; Sean Patrick Maloney; Mina Quinto Malik; Leecia Roberta Eve; Jennifer P. Stergion; Barbara D. Underwood; David Yassky; Alex Zapesochny

“Interviews will be held by a bi-partisan, bicameral committee of the Legislature on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, beginning at 2:00 p.m. and Wednesday, May 16, 2018, beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the Hamilton Hearing Room B, Legislative Office Building in Albany. These interviews will be open to the public and will be available for live viewing on the New York State Assembly website...Candidates will be given the opportunity to make an opening statement and to answer questions from members of the committee in order to assess their qualifications for the position.”

The process is being led by Assembly Democrats. Senate Republicans have declined to participate, seemingly knowing that Democrats in the two chambers have enough votes to name their preferred candidate as AG through the end of this year and presumably not wanting the process to unfold and thus give an appointed person an advantage in this year’s election. Assemblymember Joseph Lentol is heading the interview committee, which also includes Assemblymembers Jeffrey Dinowitz, Crystal Peoples-Stokes; Matthew Titone; William Barclay and Brian Curran; and Senators Martin Dilan and Brad Hoylman.

Public Advocate Letitia James is among several big names who have expressed or are known to have interest in the position of Attorney General who are not participating in the legislature’s process. When James announced she would not be applying for the appointment, she said she would have more news this coming week about her future plans. Others who have also said they are considering jumping into this year’s electoral race or are rumored to be interested or have expressed some openness to considering it include Rep. Kathleen Rice, law professor Zephyr Teachout, Senator Michael Gianaris, former City Council Member Daniel Garodnick, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, former de Blasio counsel Maya Wiley, and Senator Todd Kaminsky, among others.

That’s the headline of what to watch for this week, but there’s a lot more happening, including Governor Cuomo’s likely trip to Israel, Mayor de Blasio's trip to Washington, D.C., executive budget hearings continuing at the City Council, and more -- see our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
“On Monday, Mayor de Blasio will attend the viewing for NYPD Sergeant Richard Wetzel. This event is closed press. Later, the Mayor will appear on NY1’s Inside City Hall,” in the 7 and 11 p.m. hours.

At 2 p.m. Monday, Governor Cuomo will make an announcement from his Manhattan office. In the evening, Cuomo will deliver remarks at the New York League of Conservation Voters' annual gala in Manhattan.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Monday in Albany.

On Monday morning, the New York Working Families Party announced it is starting to vet candidates for Attorney General "and plans to make an endorsement at the WFP's Convention on Saturday, May 19th at First Corinthian Baptist Church...The WFP believes that New York needs an independent Attorney General who will be unafraid to stand up to the powerful and investigate Donald Trump and Wall Street crime, and will restore public integrity."

At the City Council on Monday, the following committees will hold Executive Budget hearings:
--Public Safety at 10 a.m., regarding the NYPD.
--Justice System at 1 p.m., regarding District Attorneys and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.
--Housing and Buildings at 2:30 p.m., regarding the Department of Housing Preservation & Development and the Department of Buildings.

At 10 a.m. Monday in Bushwick at NYCHA Hope Gardens, “Council Member Rafael Espinal (D37- Bushwick, Cypress Hills, East New York) joins NYCHA tenants who are leaders of Metro Industrial Areas Foundation and faith leaders to commend Mayor de Blasio’s administration on their commitment to build affordable housing on underused NYCHA property. The coalition is hoping this site will be the model for the next 200 lots they have identified as viable for similar uses.” The “lot at Hope Gardens is among the first of three projects slated to be used for affordable senior housing. An RFP for the development has gone out; the property will be officially revealed by the advocates for the first time at Monday’s press conference.”

At 10 a.m. Monday at City Hall, "Food delivery workers will be joined by advocates from Asian American Federation, Biking Public Project, Transportation Alternatives, Make the Road New York, Legal Aid Society, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Council Member Margaret Chin, and other elected officials to demand revisions to the Department of Transportation (DOT) rule clarifying the legality of pedal-assist electric bicycles (“e-bikes”), and changes to the current NYPD practice of punishing food delivery workers." Participants will include food delivery workers, City Council Members Margaret Chin and Carlos Menchaca; Asian American Federation; Biking Public Project; Transportation Alternatives; Make the Road New York; The Legal Aid Society; and other elected officials.

On Monday at noon at City Hall, “City Council Health Chair Mark Levine will be joined by colleagues and advocates to call on the City to increase Tuberculosis (TB) funding for the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Bureau of Tuberculosis Control (BTBC). TB is a communicable airborne disease and the leading infectious killer worldwide. In 2017, there were 613 new TB cases in NYC, a 10 percent increase. This marked the city’s first increase since 2003 and its largest since 1993...Over the past 10 years, federal, state and city funding for TB has been cut by more than half, dropping from $29 million in 2007 to $14.7 million in 2017, with only $8.6M of that coming from the City.” Levine will be joined by City Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm, among others.

At noon on Monday, “Community Service Society and Riders Alliance's Grassroots Fair Fares leaders representing an unprecedented coalition of transit, anti-poverty, civil rights and racial justice organizations” will be at the 125th Street subway station in Harlem “engaging subway riders to call Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, get on the record in support of Fair Fares, and ask their mayor to join the cause in this year's city budget.”

On Monday at 2 p.m., City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and taxi drivers "will be calling for a amnesty for fines of taxi drivers in New York City, this measure would benefit a large percentage of taxi drivers, who have pending payments totaling between $2 and $3 million and who do not have fines on major safety violations."

At noon Monday, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will deliver remarks at the Laborers' International Union of North America Conference, Albany Capital Center. At 6:30 p.m., Hochul will attend the Fortune Most Powerful Women Event, at Time Warner Conference Center in Columbus Circle.

"The Queens Borough Board, chaired by Borough President Melinda Katz, will hear a presentation from the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) on its proposed M1 Hotel Text Amendment during the Board’s meeting on Monday, May 14, 2018 at 5:30 PM in Queens Borough Hall."

Monday evening is the annual League of Conservation Voters gala, in Manhattan. Gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro will be among those in attendance. As mentioned, Governor Cuomo will deliver keynote remarks.

Tuesday
On Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at City Hall, Rev. Al Sharpton and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will lead a press conference to "call for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in the wake of published reports regarding a disproportionality of arrests targeting blacks and Hispanics" in New York City, per an advisory from Sharpton's National Action Network. Other elected officials and advocates will also participate, including Council Members Donovan Richards, Rory Lancman, and Ydanis Rodriguez. Sharpton will also call for a meeting with NYPD Commissioner O'Neill on the subject.

On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio will be in Washington, D.C. to speak at the Center for American Progress' 2018 Big Ideas Conference. The mayor is expected to speak at 11:30 a.m.

At the City Council on Tuesday, the following committees will hold Executive Budget hearings:
--General Welfare at 10 a.m., regarding the Human Resources Administration and the Department of Homeless Services.
--General Welfare and Juvenile Justice jointly at 1 p.m., regarding the Administration for Children’s Services.
--Fire and Emergency Management at 3 p.m., regarding the FDNY.

Also at the City Council on Tuesday:
--The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 9:30 a.m.
--The Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses will meet at noon.
--The Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions will meet at 2 p.m.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.

Legislative committee interviews of Attorney General candidates will take place in Albany on Tuesday afternoon.

At 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will appear on NY1's "Mornings on 1" with Pat Kiernan. Afterward, Stringer will deliver remarks at the National Conference On Public Employee Retirement Systems.

Republican candidate for governor Marc Molinaro will also be a guest on NY1's "Mornings on 1" Tuesday morning, at 7:30 a.m.

On Tuesday, "Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will host the annual Bronx Week Business Luncheon, which recognizes business leaders in the borough for their contributions to the civic and economic health of The Bronx. During his remarks, Borough President Diaz will release the “Bronx Annual Development Report,” outlining the total development that took place in The Bronx during 2017."

On Tuesday at 2 p.m., First Lady Chirlane McCray "will participate in a Facebook Live discussion with Kay Warren—a national faith leader, author and co-founder of Saddleback Church—about how faith leaders can address mental illness and addiction in their communities ahead of the upcoming third annual weekend for mental health with faith and community leaders nationwide (May 17-20)."

At 2 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, "women leaders and activists will gather at City Hall to condemn Governor Cuomo’s bullying of elected officials and community organizations. Cuomo is reportedly trying to block New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, a prominent woman of color, from accepting the endorsement of the Working Families Party for her Attorney General candidacy. This bullying of James comes on heels of Cuomo threatening to defund community organizations aligned with the Working Families Party. Many low-income women of color will be harmed if Cuomo follows through on such threats...Speakers will include Nomiki Konst, Zakiyah Ansari, and Natasha Capers. The list of speakers is still in formation. Other women involved in organizing or supporting this event include: Zenayda Mendez, Bertha Lewis, and Kat Brezler."

At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in Union Square, “hundreds expected at first U.S. rally for age justice to confront ageism...organized by the Radical Age Movement and more than two dozen co-sponsors...Speakers and entertainers at the rally will testify loud and clear that “We are part of the future, too!” “Ageism exists because American culture demeans older adults and ignores how they can and will contribute to the country’s future,” says Alice Fisher, co-founder of The Radical Age Movement, a national non-profit based in New York that rejects long-standing misinterpretations of aging."

On Tuesday afternoon as MS 131 in Manhattan, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza will host two town hall s with parents.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, City Limits will host “Fair Housing in a Rezoned City” at WeWork Harlem, examining the “difficult questions surrounding the city’s fair housing assessment process.” City Limits Executive Editor Jarrett Murphy will moderate a panel consisting of City Council Member Brad Lander, Leila Bozorg of HPD, Chanera Pierce of the Fair Housing Justice Center, and Barika Williams of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development.

On Tuesday evening, Council Speaker Johnson will speak at the WearingIrish New York City 2018 Showcase, at Bank of Ireland.

Wednesday
At the City Council on Wednesday, the following committees will hold Executive Budget hearings:
--Public Housing at 10 a.m., regarding NYCHA.
--Transportation at 2 p.m., regarding the Department of Transportation.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.

Legislative committee interviews of Attorney General candidates will continue in Albany on Wednesday morning.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Center for an Urban Future will host “Scaling Up Small Businesses in the Bronx” at Hostos Community College, with a panel discussing the small business boom in the Bronx and the simultaneous lack of scaling and “sustained growth.” The panel will consist of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, City Council Member Mark Gjonaj, Jessica Johnson of Johnson Security Bureau, Kerry McLean of WHEDco, Joyce Moy of the Asian American Research Institute, Anthony Ramirez II of Mainland Media, and Hashem Yehiya of Tasty Picks.

"On Wednesday, May 16th at 8am Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Melinda Hunt of The Hart Island Project and other council members will tour the burial grounds of Hart Island on the 150th anniversary since the purchase of the island by the City of New York in 1868."

Beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, a “Hospital Community Benefit Symposium” on “how hospitals can engage and invest in our health and well-being.” The event at the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building on 125th Street is being hosted by WE ACT for Environmental Justice and partners.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and MTA New York City Transit Commissioner Andy Byford will host a town hall on the L train shutdown and potential transit alternatives for Brooklyn L train riders at the Progress School in Williamsburg. This is the second of two town halls after a Manhattan event last week.

Thursday
At the City Council on Thursday, the following committees will hold Executive Budget hearings:
--Sanitation and Solid Waste Management at 11 a.m., regarding the Department of Sanitation.
--Governmental Operations at 1 p.m., regarding the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the Board of Elections, the Campaign Finance Board, and the Law Department.

Also at the City Council on Thursday: The Committee on Land Use will meet at 11 a.m.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, City & State will host its Sustainable New York Summit at the National Geographic Encounter in Midtown. The summit will “offer industry executives, public sector leaders and academics the opportunity to share ideas about how to connect, design, and implement innovative sustainability strategies in New York.” Speakers will include City Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, City Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez and Costa Constantinides, State Senator Todd Kaminsky, and others.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, the Empire Center will host “Critical Condition: The State of New York’s Hospitals and What Should Be Done to Revive Them” at the Yale Club in Midtown, discussing strategies for improving New York State’s below-average hospitals. Empire Center Health Policy Director Bill Hammond will deliver opening remarks, and then will join a panel moderated by the NYS Health Foundation’s David Sandman. In addition to Hammond, the panel will feature State Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon, former US Health Care Financing Administrator Bruce Vladeck, Elisabeth Ryden Benjamin of the Community Service Society, and former Chair of the NYS Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century Stephen Berger.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, the New York City Campaign Finance Board will hold a board meeting at 100 Church Street.

On Thursday at 1 p.m. at City Hall, “Council Member Antonio Reynoso and The Protect Our Places Coalition, a conglomerate of community advocacy organizations and institutions, will call for the passage of Intro 245. Each year, numerous charitable organizations, community gardens, and houses of worship are included in the City’s annual tax lien sale even though they qualify for tax exempt status. The exemptions and transparency measures put forth in Intro 245 will protect not-for-profit and charity organizations from being permanently shut down over debt they should have never been charged.” Participants will also include 596 Acres; Equitable Neighborhoods Practice at the Community Development Project; Picture the Homeless; Progressives Educating New Yorkers; religious organizations and groups of faith; and concerned community members.

Friday and the weekend
Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show on Friday at 10 a.m.

At the City Council on Friday, the following committees will hold Executive Budget hearings:
--Health and Mental Health jointly at 10 a.m., regarding the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
--Cultural Affairs at noon, regarding libraries and the Department of Cultural Affairs.

On Friday at 10 a.m. at Queens Borough Hall, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is expected to release an economic snapshot of Queens.

On Saturday afternoon in Harlem, the Working Families Party will hold its 2018 state convention. Speakers will include endorsed candidates such as Cynthia Nixon for governor, Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor, and others, as well as WFP National Director Maurice Mitchell. From 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at First Corinthian Baptist Church.

On Sunday morning, "NY-12 candidates for Congress Carolyn Maloney and Suraj Patel will appear at a brunch and moderated discussion hosted by Empire State Indivisible and Indivisible Brooklyn." Politico New York’s Laura Nahmias will moderate.

At noon Sunday, the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club will hold its 2018 Spring Brunch at the Yale Club in Midtown. Public Advocate Tish James and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will be awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Service to New Yorkers.

***
Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

***
by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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bmax@gothamgazette.com (Ben Max & Ben Brachfeld) State Mon, 14 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
What's The [Data] Point? 176,000, with Patrick Orecki http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7668-whats-the-data-point-176-000-with-patrick-orecki http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7668-whats-the-data-point-176-000-with-patrick-orecki whats the data point


What's The [Data] Point? Episode 40 -- 176,000, with Patrick Orecki [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]

patrick orecki wtpd

176,000 is the number of New Yorkers statewide currently enrolled in Medicaid health homes, a key component of the Cuomo administration's Medicaid redesign efforts that have helped rein in costs and a program that provides care coordination services for Medicaid enrollees with complex health care needs to link these individuals to a full spectrum of health care providers and other social supports.

Patrick Orecki, CBC’s research associate specializing in the state budget and health policy issues, joins the podcast to break down the significance of health homes, what the program is doing well, challenges it has faced, and where it should go next.

Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (@TweetBenMax), Maria Doulis of CBC (@MariaDoulis). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts!

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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bmax@gothamgazette.com (Ben Max) State Sat, 12 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000