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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 14

New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Is there anything to talk about besides corruption in Albany? Yes, but issues with ethics among state lawmakers certainly have everybody buzzing.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office has just brought about the convictions of two recent legislative leaders; calls for reform are at a fever pitch and views of state lawmakers are about as low as they can get. Bharara is expected on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show Monday morning to discuss the convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos.

One big question Bharara, Lehrer, and others are asking: Will comprehensive ethics and campaign finance reform finally happen in Albany? Good government groups are calling for a special session now, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not indicated that is a possibility as far as he is concerned. Cuomo has issued statements condemning the actions of Silver and Skelos, saying justice has been served, and indicating that he will propose new ethics legislation in January. In the meantime, Albany will continue to be a punchline and calls for reform will grow.

Cuomo is trying to keep the focus on state economic development grants that he announced this past week, and he is celebrating the largest of those grants as the week begins - he was in Syracuse on Sunday afternoon and is in Rochester on Monday - details below.

Cuomo performed some interesting executive gymnastics on Friday and Saturday, vetoing two bills that would have enhanced FOIL application in the Executive Branch, then issuing an Executive Order to "expedite the freedom of information law appeals process." In the EO, Cuomo again said that he plans to address FOIL in January to make the Legislature subject to the transparency law; and noted that "in light of recent events, we must do more to immediately advance transparency in government." [Read: Cuomo's FOIL Weekend: Vetoes Bills, Issues Order, Promises More]

Meanwhile, the Cuomo-de Blasio feud appears to have relaxed a bit of late, after the two dined in an effort to patch things up. As we approach Cuomo's January 13 State of the State speech, though, questions will grow as to how much the governor includes in his budget and policy proposals that is seen as working in collaboration with or in an effort to undermine Mayor de Blasio.

Speaking of de Blasio, the mayor had minor hernia surgery Friday and spent the weekend recovering.

The mayor will appear at 9:30 Monday morning at The National Immigrant Integration Conference 2015, which began Sunday and runs through Tuesday. According to his public schedule, he will make an announcement there. The conference is themed "New American Dreams: Advancing Opportunity, Equality & Justice" and co-hosted by the National Partnership for New Americans and the New York Immigration Coalition, and is taking place in Brooklyn. Gov. Cuomo will also address the conference, he's due to speak at 11 a.m.

Also Monday morning, at 10:30, the mayor is set to appear at an AARP event in Manhattan - he recently announced that the organization's New York chapter has endorsed his zoning amendment proposals, which have been the source of much controversy.

The next steps in the process of seeing significant changes made to the city's zoning rules happen this week - a major City Planning Commission public hearing on Wednesday. The commission will hold a regularly-scheduled meeting Monday before what promises to be a long and contentious hearing Wednesday. [Read more about the next steps in the process leading toward a tweaked plan and City Council vote]

On Thursday, de Blasio will speak before the Association for a Better New York, see below for more.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read 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: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.***

The run of the week in detail:

At the City Council on Monday:

  • At 9:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet.
  • At 10 a.m., the Committees on Environmental Protection and Recovery and Resiliency will hold a joint oversight hearing about Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC plan and the city’s plans for sustainability and resiliency.
  • At 11 a.m., the Committee on Veterans will meet about two resolutions. The first calls on the president to sign and Congress to pass the Restore Honor to Service Members Act and the second calls on the state legislature to pass and the governor to sign the New York Restoration of Honor Act.
  • At 11 a.m., the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses will meet.
  • At 1 p.m., the Committees on Contracts, Small Business, and Women’s Issues will hold an oversight hearing about the “Implementation of the City’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Program.” Nine bills about this subject will be considered at the meeting.
  • At 1 p.m., the Committee on Governmental Operations will hold an oversight hearing about the “Structure and Content” of the Mayor’s Management Report and consider two bills related to the report. The first would require the city’s Board of Elections to “report data relating to performance goals set by the Mayor and Council twice per year” and the second requires the report to include a citizen satisfaction survey about each agency featured in the report.
  • At 1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet.

Prior to the 1 p.m. Contracts/Small Business/Women’s Issues hearing, the chairs of those committees and others will hold a noon press conference on the steps of City Hall. Participants likely to include: Contracts Chair Helen Rosenthal; Women's Issues Chair Laurie Cumbo; Small Business Chair Robert Cornegy; Women's Caucus Co-Chair Elizabeth Crowley; Public Advocate Letitia James; Bertha Lewis, The Black Institute; Armand Corporation, an M/WBE; Association of Minority Enterprises of New York; Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; Harlem Business Alliance; National Association of Minority Contractors - New York State Chapter; Professional Women in Construction; Regional Alliance for Small Contractors; Women Builders Council.

Earlier on Monday morning, elected leaders and others will participate in an event to “present data from AARP’s Livability Index, a new tool rating city neighborhoods on a range of issues critical to New Yorkers as they age” at the Cornell Club in Manhattan. AARP announced this past week that it has endorsed de Blasio’s zoning proposals, key to his affordable housing plan. De Blasio is set to speak at 10:30 a.m., an hour after his announcement at the NIIC conference in Brooklyn mentioned above.

On Monday at 9 a.m., Hunter College’s New York City Food Policy Center will host Dr. Marion Nestle of New York University for a discussion of her her latest book at an event called “Food Policy for Breakfast: Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning): A Conversation with Marion Nestle.”

At 9:30 a.m. Monday in the Bronx, “Public Advocate James will give remarks at a press conference announcing a lawsuit against Moshe Piller, the fourth worst landlord on her Worst Landlord Watchlist. The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of tenants by the Tenants' Rights Coalition.”

At 11 a.m. Public Advocate James will give remarks “at Third Anniversary of Sandy Hook Call to Action on Guns Press Conference with Congresswoman Maloney.”

At noon, Public Advocate James will speak at a City Hall press conference calling for MWBE reform; she will then attend the City Council oversight hearing on the subject.

Along with U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara, Congressional Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is expected to appear Monday morning on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, which begins at 10 a.m.

At 1 p.m. Monday, the City Planning Commission will hold a meeting, its last before the public hearing it will hold Wednesday on the de Blasio administration’s zoning amendment proposals, which have garnered quite a bit of pushback.

At 2 p.m. Monday, Gov. Cuomo will be in Rochester, according to the Democrat & Chronicle, celebrating his recent announcement that the surrounding Finger Lakes Region will receive one of three $500 million upstate revitalization grants.

At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., Assembly Member Luis R. Sepúlveda, and City Council Member Annabel Palma will hold a town hall to discuss “issues affecting the residents of Parkchester.”

At 6:30 p.m. on Monday at JHS 52, a public workshop on Inwood’s neighborhood rezoning will be held by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Community Board 12, and the Department of City Planning. The workshop will feature “a brief presentation on key zoning concepts for the Inwood community with interactive discussions focused on gathering feedback and building consensus on key principles for new development.”

At the City Council on Tuesday:

  • At 10 a.m., the Committee on Public Housing will hold an oversight hearing about the compliance of the New York City Housing Authority with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s permanent exclusion policy and admissions regulations.
  • At 10 a.m., the Committees on Immigration and Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations will hold a joint oversight hearing about “IDNYC and the Cultural Institutions Group.”
  • At 11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will meet.
  • At 1 p.m., the Committees on Women’s Issues and Fire and Criminal Justice Services will hold a joint oversight hearing to examine “the Unique Issues Facing Women in City Jails” and discuss a bill that would require the Department of Correction to make a quarterly report about its nursery.

At the New York State Legislature on Tuesday: At 10:30 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Higher Education will hold a hearing about “The Changing Demographics of Students in Higher Education and Educational Opportunity Programs.”

At 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer will discuss “advancing transparency and accountability in the New York City pension funds” at a Citizens Budget Commission breakfast meeting at the Harvard Club.

At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the New York City Voter Assistance Advisory Committee’s annual public hearing will be held at the Department of Youth and Community Development’s main office. The NYCVAAC is part of NYC Votes and the New York Campaign Finance Board: “NYC Votes wants to hear testimony from the public on their voting experiences and concerns from the 2015 elections.”

On Tuesday evening, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is holding “a tenant displacement legal clinic” from 6-8 p.m. “at the offices of Community Board 5, located at 127 Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York. Lawyers from the Legal Aid Society and Brooklyn Legal Services will be present to provide free legal advice to tenants facing displacement threats in Brownsville, Cypress Hills, and East New York.”

On Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., the Brooklyn Historical Society will be hosting a talk called “NYC and Food Poverty: Margarette Purvis In Conversation” in conjunction with educational center’s “Hidden in Plain Sight: Portraits of Hungers in NYC” exhibition. Purvis is the CEO and president of Food Bank For New York City. Ned Resnikoff of Al Jazeera America will moderate the event.

At the City Council on Wednesday: At 1:30 p.m., the City Council will have its last Stated Meeting of the year. As always, it will be prefaced by the Speaker’s pre-stated press conference at 12:30 p.m. And prior to that, the Council’s Finance Committee will meet at 10 a.m. and its Committee on Rules and Privileges will meet at 10:30 a.m. to consider a new appointment to the City Planning Commission.

At the New York State Legislature on Wednesday:

  • At 11 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Children and Families will hold a hearing on “Child Care Assistance for Low-Income Families”.
  • At 11:30 a.m. in Smithtown, the Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation will hold a hearing about the impact of illegal dumping and sand mining on the quality of Long Island’s water.

On Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m. at Manhattan’s National Museum of the American Indian, the City Planning Commision will hold a public hearing about the de Blasio administration’s controversial rezoning proposals. [Read more about those proposals and the next steps in the process, including Wednesday’s planning commission hearing]

At 6 p.m. Wednesday in Manhattan, The Working Families Party is “helping to kick off NY Renews, an unprecedented statewide coalition emerging to fight for climate policies grounded in equity and justice for communities and working people. We'll be celebrating with a launch event in Harlem [with] very special guests -- including, just confirmed, Mark Ruffalo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman!”

On Thursday at 8:30 a.m., the Association for a Better New York will host a breakfast with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who will speak about "critical issues" facing the city.

At 10 a.m. Thursday the New York City Campaign Finance Board will meet.

The New York Working Families Party will hold its annual holiday party Thursday evening in Manhattan, expect many elected officials to attend.

Friday and the weekend
Quiet right now - stay tuned for updates!

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: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Ryan Brady and Ben Max

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