Bloomberg's Technology Pit
September 29th, 2011

Another day, another disturbing revelation about the city’s handling of its technology contracts.

This time it’s the latest chapter in the scandal involving computers at the Department of Education. The company the department paid $75 million to do technical work on its purchasing, payroll and finance systems Future Technology Associatesbilked the city out of at least $6.5 million, according to a report by Richard Condon, the city’s special commissioner of investigation.

Among other things, Future Tech set up shell companies and then vastly inflated its claims of how much those companies charged. So the Department of Education was being charged between $55 and $110 an hour for work that actually cost Future Tec $10 to $14 an hour.

Concerns about Future Technology have been circulating for some time.

According to a letter-report from the city comptroller’s Bureau of Audit, given to Gotham Gazette today (posted here), in 2005 the department submitted a request that Future Tech get a no-bid contract. (No-bid contracts at the Department of Education have raised concerns in the past.) “This request appears to have contained inaccurate and misleading statements from FTA, which, if DOE had known, should have precluded FTA from being awarded this contract,” says the report from the comptroller’s office, which went to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Condon’s office.
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By on September 29, 2011, 4:24 pm
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Education,Gotham City,Governing,Tech | 10 Comments »

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Discussing Cuomo's Glow
September 28th, 2011

Even on a day a public employee union dealt him a serious setback few would deny that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has emerged as an exceedingly adroit politician. And none of members of a panel on Cuomo and the Media at the New School last night even tried to.

If their assessments of the governor varied at all, they ranged from skilled to brilliant. And the four reporters, joined by one pollster, did differ on how long the governor could keep his glow.

“This is an administration incredibly interested in managing their message. They are enormously good at it. They are artists,” Liz Benjamin of State of Politics and the evening’s moderator said, setting the tone from the get-go.

To control his image and his message, the governor and his minions call and lobby reporters ceaselessly but rarely publicly. “He almost never goes on the record in a free setting,” said the New York Times‘ Nick Confessore.

The panelists seemed almost in awe of Cuomo’s skills — his ability to listen to people and engage with them, his focus on two or three key things and skill at avoiding distractions, his hard work, his smarts, his ease with “working a room.” (Panelists declined to discuss his capacity observed on at a lake in the Adirondacks last month, to walk on water)

“His job is to manage his positive image, and he’s doing an excellent job,” said Steve Greenberg, pollster with the Siena Research Institute.

So will his star ever fade?

Possible answers after the jump.
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By on September 28, 2011, 6:45 pm
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Eye on Albany,Gotham City,Governing | 2 Comments »

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Cuomo's Hurricane Schedule
September 2nd, 2011

Jimmy Vielkind of the Times Union writes today about how Gov. Andrew Cuomo has used the power of the governorship to respond to the crisis caused by hurricane Irene. Cuomo has dashed across the state via helicopter, plane, car etc. from one town to another.

Just as stunning as his use of power was his office’s sudden use of transparency. His press office has helpfully alerted reporters not only to exactly when and where Cuomo was going to be but which public officials would be with him and who he would speak with. For some reporters and good government advocates, this has been a refreshing change.

During his campaign last year Cuomo promised that he would make his work schedule public with details such as which legislators and lobbyists he met with.

“Mr. Cuomo, whose aides told one newspaper last week that his office had not kept a formal detailed schedule during Mr. Cuomo’s first two years as attorney general, pledged if elected to post his entire work schedule online, including meetings with lawmakers and lobbyists,” the Times wrote after an interview with Cuomo in October 2010.

But it is hard to say that Cuomo has lived up to that promise. The Times says he hasn’t. In that same article they note that Cuomo used his finesse to court lawmakers to “tame Albany.” Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 2, 2011, 11:46 am
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Governing | 2 Comments »

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Cuomo Asks Obama to Expedite Major Disaster Declaration
August 30th, 2011

The city may have been spared by hurricane Irene but a good swath of upstate New York has been left underwater, without power and waiting for the minute they can turn their sump pumps on to drain their basements.

Dams are being monitored across upstate, bridges closed for inspection, roads destroyed and homes washed away.

Just across the river from Albany in Troy mudslides have destroyed homes and local BBQ joint Dinosaur Barbeque even had a yacht practically sitting on it thanks to the rain-water swelled tides of the Hudson River.

Cuomo has been out and about–taking reporters on tours of the damage–talking about federal disaster relief and being much more accessible than normal and now he is asking the Obama Administration to expedite its declaration of a major disaster so that communities will be reimbursed for the recovery from the hurricane. Here is the release from Cuomo’s office and the letter he sent to Pres. Barack Obama. Read the rest of this entry »

By on August 30, 2011, 3:25 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Governing | 5 Comments »

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Recommendations on Lobbying
August 10th, 2011

The city Lobbying Commission, chaired by former City Councilmember Herbert Berman has issued its preliminary report, available here. The recommendations essentially reflect the likely changes Jane Timm reported on for Gotham Gazette last week.

In particular, the commission recommends expanding the definition of lobbying to include efforts to influence legislation before a bill is introduced the law now covers only proposed legislation or to keep a bill from being introduced. It also would extend to efforts to shape or stop executive orders by the mayor.

The commission also seeks to have the city raise the threshold at which one must register as a lobbyist from $2,000 to $5,000. The increase, the commission anticipates, would reduce the number of lobbyists in the city by about 40 but would still cover around 99 percent of the money spent on lobbying here.

The report notes that some groups had hoped to raise the threshold still further. The commission said it will consider recommending a rise to $10,000 on its final report but only for organizations that spend that money lobbying only on their own behalf.

In the report, the commission also describes some suggestions it heard and rejected, such as moving regulation of lobbying from the city clerk’s office to another agency.

The report still needs to become final. When that happens, it will go to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council who, if they agree with the recommendation, can propose bills incorporating the suggestions for passage by the council.

By on August 10, 2011, 5:27 pm
In category: City Hall,Governing | 1 Comment »

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Murdoch in the Schools
August 5th, 2011

The city and state teachers union are stepping up their opposition to the awarding of a state education contract to a company owned by Rupert Murdoch.

The unions have not been big fans of the beleaguered press mogul or of former Chancellor Joel Klein, who now heads education technology (and damaged control?) for him. And the deal has been raising eyebrows since June when the Daily News’ Rachael Monahan reported that the state Department of Education was about to award a $27 million no-bid contract to Wireless Generation to develop a system for the state similar to the city’s Achievement Reporting and Innovation System or ARIS.

Klein had been a big promoter of Wireless Generation during his days as chancellor. Two weeks after he left the city to take a mega-lucrative deal with News Corp., the Murdoch company bought Wireless Generation. Admittedly Klein himself worked for the city, not the state. But the ties are there - and the former chancellor certainly stands to benefit from a deal that, in the view of a Forbes blogger, “smack of cronyism.”

The phone hacking scandal has raised further doubts. In their letter to Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the state Board of Regents, and state Education Commissioner John King Jr., state United Teachers president Richard Ianuzzi and Michael Mulgrew, head of the city teachers union, stressed those concerns. Parents and educators, they wrote, question “the wisdom of allowing a News Corp.-owned company to have access the the personal data of students from all across New York.”
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By on August 5, 2011, 1:08 pm
In category: Albany,Education,Gotham City,Governing,Public Finance,Tech | Comments Off on Murdoch in the Schools

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Getting Ready to Redistrict
July 18th, 2011

Common Cause/NY said earlier this year that they were planning to release their own maps to help LATFOR draw up district lines. Now they are following the mapping debate with a blog that will provide readers with demographic information and issues facing districts across the state.

LATFOR has announced public meetings across the state to take input and discuss possible changes to local districts. Now Common Cause has launched a blog called Mapping Democracy that will highlight the concerns of each part of the state that LATFOR is visiting.
“In Mapping Democracy, we’ll discuss and provide illustrative maps on aspects of the current district lines and the demographic issues that should influence where the new district lines should be placed, ” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY in a statement.

“We’ll do that for each locale in advance of each of the public hearings which LATFOR has scheduled around the state starting on Tuesday. Of course, we’ll also discuss political developments which may have an impact on the redistricting process or the new maps themselves, but our purpose in starting the blog is to help shift the focus from the political horse race to the important substantive issues which effect how communities will be reflected in the new districts.”

“Our maps will illustrate how communities have often been arbitrarily divided by the current, highly partisan districts. In order to maximize the effective representation and participation of communities in the political process, New York’s new district maps should look very different than the current set,” said Brian Paul, Research & Policy Coordinator at Common Cause/NY in a statement.

The group plans to have information on the blog about Syracuse and Rochester–the next two places LATFOR will visit.

By on July 18, 2011, 3:25 pm
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From Weiner to Weprin
July 7th, 2011

The Queens and Brooklyn Democratic parties have reportedly selected State Assemblymember David Weprin as the party’s choice to replace Anthony Weiner as the Congress member from New York’s 9th District.

He will face an as yet to be determined Republican — and maybe a Conservative too — in a special election on Sept. 13. Although Democrats have held the seat for decades, Republicans hope they have an opening because of Weiner’s demise and, by New York City standards, a fairly high number of registered Republicans in the district.

Weprin served on the City Council where he chaired the powerful Finance Committee until he left to make an unsuccessful run for city comptroller, coming in fourth in a field of four. He then moved to the State Assembly, replacing his brother, Mark, who had been elected to his old council seat.

Weprin reportedly has said he would not try to run for a full term next year — a key issue since the district is likely to be redistricted out of its existence leaving meaning he would have had to take on another Queens incumbent if he wanted to stay in Washington. This could lead the way to Weprin’s making another bid for city office — comptroller, perhaps.

If Weprin wins on Sept. 13, there then could be yet another special election – that one to fill his Assembly seat. That post has been held by one member of the Weprin family or another since 1971.

By on July 7, 2011, 3:11 pm
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Governing | 2 Comments »

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Developers' Dollars
July 5th, 2011

The New York Post’s David Seifman reported Sunday that developers left without a candidate in the 2013 mayoral race after the demise of Rep Anthony Weiner might support Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. This has the appeal of a man bites dog story — de Blasio a favored candidate of many unions and the Working Families Party, would seem an unlikely politician for developers to embrace.

Whatever the merit of Seifman’s story, it was a little puzzling for its omission of at least one candidate who already has a lot of support from the real estate industry: Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Using Gotham Gazette’s Councilpedia, we examined Quinn’s major contributors for the 2013 race (many of who actually gave in 2007 and 2008, before the extension of term limits sunk Quinn’s 2009 run for Gracie Mansion). And we discovered a large number of $4,950 contributions — the maximum allowed for citywide candidates — from people involved in real estate.

In a number of cases, several people associated with a company anted up. At least six people
with links to Rudin Management, one of the citys largest building developers and owners, gave $4,950, as did five members of the Gural family of the global real estate firm Newmark Knight Frank and the president of Newmark, James Kuhn. Three members of the Walentas family of Two Trees Management, which has developed much of DUMBO< gave $4,950 each, as did two executives with the company, Amish Patel and Richard Shill. Thee people associated with Rose Associates opened their wallets for the maximum, as did two Roses with the Georgetown Co. At least five people with ties to The Benjamin Companies on Long Island gave Quinn $4,950, and so did at least four people with ties to Related. And so on.

More on the money trail after the jump
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By on July 5, 2011, 3:40 pm
In category: City Hall,Environment,Gotham City,Governing | 1 Comment »

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Hoyt's Resignation Letter
June 30th, 2011

Here is former Buffalo Assemblyman Sam Hoyt’s resignation letter. Hoyt will be taking up a “senior position” in the Empire State Development Corporation. Hoyt was found in 2008 to have carried on an affair with a 23-year-old legislative intern from 2003 to 2005 and was subsequently denied intern help by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Hoyt is a close ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 30, 2011, 5:15 pm
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Why Sen. Kevin Parker Got Mad
June 25th, 2011

Last night as the country watched the New York State Senate vote on same-sex marriage things came to a jarring halt. Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who was presiding over the chamber, called session into recess to find out what was happening on the floor. Were you watching? Did you wonder what was going on?

Essentially the Senate rules were changed in a backroom agreement before session started and then changed again during the vote to make sure it would be concluded to make the 11 p.m. newscasts.

Sen. Kevin Parker, a long time proponent of same-sex marriage, was informed by Senate staff that he would not be able to explain his vote. He was livid. He cursed out the governor and eventually stormed to the podium where Duffy was presiding — a number of other Democratic senators followed him, seemingly to calm him down.

Earlier when Sen. Ruben Diaz tried to lay the marriage bill aside he was ignored. Normal Senate procedure allows for any senator to lay a bill aside for debate. It gives legislators a chance to debate the bill then when they vote, they again have the chance to explain their vote. But the rules weren’t the same.

Parker told the Gazette that around 7 or 8 p.m. the Senate Democratic conference met and discussed a deal. “We were informed of he procedure,” said Parker. “Everyone knew Rev. Diaz was going to lay the bill aside but we agreed not to debate the bill after he laid it aside. We would call the roll and all be able to explain our votes. We would be given two minutes each.”

The Gazette and a number of other sources reported the proposed limited debate earlier in the week. I was told to expect it by multiple senators earlier yesterday morning. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 25, 2011, 6:19 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Eye on Albany,Governing,Law | 22 Comments »

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More Elections, Less Suspense
June 9th, 2011

Correction: As a reader points out, there is a fourth open Assembly seat: the one previously held by Audrey Pheffer, who let the legislature to become Queens County clerk. The post has been corrected and material about Pheffer’s seat added.

Less than 24 hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Assemblymember Jonathan Bing’s appointment as special deputy superintendent of the New York Liquidation Bureau, City Hall reported that Democrat Daniel Quart, a community board member and lawyer, is the frontrunner for the seat from Manhattan’s 73rd Assembly District.

With the election not even scheduled yet, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, whose congressional district includes Bing’s Assembly district, assured City Hall that Quart will be the candidate.

No disrespect of Quart intended but the rapid development underscores once again the rather undemocratic nature of special elections — especially those in districts, such as this one, where one party holds a lopsided edge.

More on threefour Assembly vacancies and how they’ll be filled after the jump.
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By on June 9, 2011, 2:51 pm
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Weiner's Millions
June 7th, 2011

However low his political stock may have fallen this week, Anthony Weiner’s campaign bank account balance remains high, leaving the Tweeting representative from Brooklyn and Queens with lots of cash and perhaps no place to spend it.

According to city Campaign Finance Board records, Weiner has collected $5.1 million for a likely mayoral run in 2013, most of it raised in 2007 and 2008. That was back in the days when Weiner — single and perhaps not yet on Twitter — was coming off a strong showing in the 2005 Democratic mayoral primary and Mayor Michael Bloomberg still dreamed of the White House, not a third term in Gracie Mansion. Weiner backed out of the 2009 race — reportedly much to Bloomberg’s relief — after the mayor extended term limits and decided to run for re-election. Records show Weiner has not raised any money since 2008 — although he has returned some contributions during that period.

As he is allowed to do under city campaign law, Weiner rolled the money over into a new account for 2013. And he has made some modest expenditures.

That leaves him with somewhere around about $4 million as of the last filing deadline: January 2011. (For a summary of Weiner’s raising and spending go here.)

Weiner has a substantial fundraising edge over his closest rival — Christine Quinn who has raised about $3.2 million and spent a little less than $500,00 of it — and dwarfs the amounts raised by other possible mayor contenders Scott Stringer (a little les than $1.1 million raised), John Liu ($513,472) and Bill de Blasio ($392,576).

As they say, though, money isn’t everything. And however much Weiner might like to use funds to say escape to a dessert island where no one Tweets (assuming there is such a place), he is fairly constrained about how he can use the money, according to Eric Friedman, director of external affairs for the Campaign Finance Board.

More on what he can and can’t do after the jump.
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By on June 7, 2011, 5:24 pm
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For CityTime Company, the Contracts Keep Coming
June 2nd, 2011

New York’s City almost epic problems with Science Applications International Corp., or SAIC, have not kept the Virginia company from continuing to rake in multimillion, if not billion, dollar contracts from other governments.

This week, the Bloomberg administration cut more ties with SAIC, the main contractor on the automated payroll system, cancelling a $50 million deal with the company on what city officials described as an unrelated system

The move reported by the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, came after the arrest of a former company executive, Gerald Denault, on charges he accepted millions of dollars in kickbacks on the City Time contract.

(Find out who’s hiring SAIC now, after the jump.)
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By on June 2, 2011, 2:26 pm
In category: City Hall,Governing,Public Finance,Tech | 12 Comments »

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Ethics Deal Approaches
June 2nd, 2011

A deal for a sweeping ethics package could be announced as soon as today, say some legislators. Not all of the details of the deal are clear. But the package is expected to replace the Public Integrity Commission with a 12-member body equally appointed by the governor and legislature.

The body would oversee the legislative and executive branches as well as lobbying. Legislators would be required to publicly disclose their outside income and legislators who are lawyers would have to reveal any clients they have with business in front of the state. Judges would be allowed to take away the pensions of lawmakers convicted of felony abuse of their office. In true Albany fashion the bill would purportedly make it easier for legislators to accept drinks and meals from lobbyists–Albany restaurants have complained that current ethics laws are putting a cramp in their cash registers. And legislators need to a drink now and again.

Both Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos said they expect a deal shortly. but Silver would not discuss the details of the bill until all parties were in agreement. Cuomo, yesterday told reporters that he hopes to reach a deal before the end of session. He again invoked the specter of a “Moreland Commission” that would give the executive branch almost unlimited ability to investigate legislators.

Skelos who has previously shot down the need for a Moreland Commission told reporters, I don’t believe were going to go to a Moreland Act, and we are going to get ethics reform before this legislative session is over.”

By on June 2, 2011, 7:21 am
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Last Ditch Push On Redistricting
June 1st, 2011

As word spread around the capital today of an impending announcement of a deal on ethics legislation good government groups converged on Albany to pressure legislators on a seemingly forgotten good government issue–independent redistricting. ReshapeNY, a group made up of the League of Women Voters, New York Public Interest Group and Citizen’s Union which is a sister to the Gotham Gazette, brought around 60 constituents to Albany to meet with around 40 legislators to ask them to support independent redistricting legislation proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo or Sen. Mike Gianaris. Both have bills would take the redistricting process out of the hands of legislators and give it to an independent body. Cuomo’s version of the bill would give him more appointments to such a body.

Gianaris addressed the crowd of lobbyists telling them that he hoped they would be back next year, “so we can celebrate.” But so far there hasn’t been much cause for celebration. Senate Republicans have bottled up both the Cuomo and Gianaris bill.

“They have refused to acknowledge the bill’s existence and the Governor’s as well,” Gianaris told the Gazette. “They have gone back on their own campaign promise and not only that but they are activley impeding the progress of the bill said they support.” Senate Republicans denied Gianaris a hearing on the legislation and the bill has not made it through the committee process. Gianaris said that, “timing is everything” and that he thinks the “reality of governor’s strength on the issue” will eventually lead to a break in the impasse.

Cuomo promised to veto any district lines drawn up by the legislature. Cuomo has not however made independent redistricting a major part of his state-wide tour.

With only nine days of session left this year, the issue of taking the redistricting process out of the hands of legislators and into an independent commission has seemingly been lost in the last minute flurry surrounding other legislation like the tax cap, ethics legislation and gay marriage. There has been some talk that the legislation could be wrapped up in a last minute deal with other issues but so far it seems only to be talk. Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, said although he had been concerned about the possibility it now seems unlikely. “This is the number 1 reform issue,” said Gianaris. “This legislation should stand on its own.”

Senate Republicans, a number of whom pledged to support independent redistricting as proposed by Cuomo and Gianaris, saying that the only way to legally change the redistricting process would be through a constitutional amendment. A constitutional amendment would take a few years to approve and it would insure that the same method for redistricting is used this year. The next redistricting would take place in 2022.

By on June 1, 2011, 4:16 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Governing | 2 Comments »

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CityTime Manager Fudges Timesheets
May 25th, 2011

In an impromptu press conference, Comptroller John Liu revealed even the project manager of the Bloomberg administration’s plagued time keeping project couldn’t keep his own time.

According to a letter Liu received today, Science Application International Corp., the prime contractor on the project, put Gerard Denault on administrative leave in December after the project manager fudged his own time sheets. As a result, the company will refund the city $2.5 million.

“The very company entrusted by our city to build a time keeping system for New York City employees has grossly mismanaged their own time keeping and in the process overcharged the city taxpayers for sums of money still to be determined,” Liu said. “This is a sad day for New York City taxpayers.”

Liu said today he would ask the adminsitration to work with him on this issue. He also called for the administration to freeze all payments to SAIC and force the Department of Investigation to conduct a comprehensive review of other possible violations.

In response, Bloomberg spokesperson Marc LaVorgna sent over the following statement:

We will withhold any and all payments until the completion of the Department of Investigations ongoing review, which includes a forensic accountant we added last year. The project is essentially fully online and operational and SAICs contract with the city expires on June 30th. We already had stated we were not renewing the contract. SAIC is owed $32 million for the completion of the project; no payments will be made until the review is completed.

CityTime has been the bane of Bloomberg’s third term. Mired by delay and cost overruns, the debacle culminated in December when federal authorities indicted six employees for using shell companies to divert city money into their own pockets. Originally the project was supposed to cost about $60 million. Its price tag now is more than $700 million.

By on May 25, 2011, 5:41 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | 4 Comments »

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Living Wage Gets Its Hearing
May 12th, 2011

Labor and city leadership collided this afternoon at a packed and feisty hearing on legislation to require city subsidized developers pay a living wage.

Under a bill introduced nearly a year ago, recipients of more than $100,000 in financial assistance would have to pay all of their employees either $11.50 or $10 an hour plus benefits. The controversial bill has garnered 30 sponsors at the council, but it does not have the Bloomberg administration’s support. Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who controls the council’s agenda, has yet to take a position on the measure.

At today’s hearing, the chief of staff to the deputy mayor for economic development, Tokumbo Shobowale, endured two and half hours of back and forth with council members — the vast majority of those in attendance support the proposal. Shobowale attempted to convince the council that the adminsitration agrees with the premise of raising the standard of living for the working poor. It questions, Shobowale argued, whether a wage mandate is the way to do it.

“It’s not a philosophical difference,” Shobowale said. “It’s looking at the data.”

The hearing followed the release of a study on Monday by the Economic Development Corp., which argued the living wage proposal would result in between 33,000 and 100,000 job losses for the city. The study’s methodology and findings drew ire from supporters of the bill today.

“The administration is so full of it, you might want to consider a high-fiber diet,” said Councilmember Jumaane Williams. “It might help with that situation.”

The hearing amounted to a clash of academics and methodology — with supporters citing studies that supported living wage mandates, and the adminsitration calling its recently released analysis solid, current and comprehensive.

Just this morning, supporters of the bill released a counter analysis of the city’s living wage study, which argued its modeling did not rule out other factors that could affect job growth (like an economic downturn). Supporters also claim the city-sponsored study examines the wrong population of projects — it includes an as-of-right subsidy for industrial and commercial properties the bill is not meant to capture.
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By on May 12, 2011, 6:37 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | 6 Comments »

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School Elections to Resume
May 12th, 2011

The incredibly attenuated, disrupted and confusing elections for the virtually powerless Citywide And Community Education Councils continue. The Department of Education has just announced the voting period for parents will be May 18 to May 25.

In the announcement, Chancellor Dennis Walcott said any votes cast from May 1 to May 7 –when the election came to a halt — will not be valid.

The parents vote is only advisory. Officials of school parents associations can consider those recommendation when they cast their votes — the ones that count — for members of 32 community education Councils, the Citywide Council on High Schools, the Citywide Council on English Language Learners, the Citywide Council on Special Education and the District 75 Council. That round will take place May 27 to June 3, and the new members will be seated by July 1.

By on May 12, 2011, 4:38 pm
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Koppell Would Consider Motion to Discharge for Living Wage
May 11th, 2011

Councilmember Oliver Koppell told Gotham Gazette today he would consider triggering a rare council rule to bring his living wage bill to the floor should Council Speaker Christine Quinn choose to oppose it.

“I would consider it, yes,” said Koppell at the Emigrant Savings Bank. “I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. I’m hoping to convince the speaker to support this or some version of this.”

Typically legislation does not move at the City Council unless it has earned the support of the speaker. Quinn refused to say this afternoon whether she would bring the legislation to the floor or when she would decide whether or not to support it.

The bill, which has strong backing from many of the city’s unions, would require city subsidized developers pay a living wage. The Bloomberg adminsitration does not support the measure. On Monday, the city Economic Development Corp. released a study claiming a wage mandate would stall development and reduce jobs in the five boroughs.

Koppell said today, “The assumptions of the mayor are more than questionable.”

Koppell’s bill has been stalled in committee for nearly a year, despite the fact it has garnered 30 sponsors.

At the beginning of Quinn’s tenure — and in the name of transparency — Quinn revised the council rules to make it easier to bring a bill to the floor if it was stalled in committee. A council member must get seven members to sign a memo to bring the bill to the floor. The full council then determines whether the legislation should have a formal vote.

This procedure is rarely ever used and is considered an affront to the speaker’s leadership.

By on May 11, 2011, 3:51 pm
In category: City Hall,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | 2 Comments »

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Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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