Gotham Gazette

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City Council to Begin Public Examination of Mayor's Budget

de blasio council budget briefing

Mayor de Blasio briefs Council members on his FY17 budget (William Alatriste)

On Tuesday, the City Council will hold the first of many preliminary budget hearings on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initial fiscal year 2017 spending plan, part of a months-long negotiation process that will end in June when the City Council and the Mayor must agree upon a budget for fiscal year 2017.

First in general terms, then agency by agency, the Council will ask de Blasio administration representatives to explain spending and programmatic choices. Council members will examine overall budgeting principles, looking at savings from prior years and money socked away in case of an economic downturn, as well as how clearly the administration is showing what money is being allocated for. Throughout the weeks of hearings, members will also push for their individual funding priorities, such as summer youth employment and efforts to fight gun violence and rape.

General Budgeting & Savings
Mayor Bill de Blasio released an $82.1 billion preliminary budget on Jan. 21, which he described as “boring” and short on “splashy new” initiatives, instead stressing fiscal responsibility and building reserves, with increased “targeted investments” to address the homelessness crisis, fund pension obligations, and reduce school overcrowding, among other priorities.

Signs of an imminent economic slowdown after years of growth and the specter of losing state aid loomed over de Blasio’s budget address, yet the preliminary budget set aside less money in savings than budgets have in previous years. The administration says they have unprecedented reserves, but watchdogs say that the “budget cushion” is not as deep as it should be.

The preliminary budget contains about $740 million in new agency spending, a relatively modest amount, including $62 million for ThriveNYC, the city’s multifaceted plan to increase access to improved mental health services and $53.7 million more on programs to address homelessness. With the City Council, de Blasio has increased the city budget significantly since taking office, largely due to the settling of many municipal labor contracts that were left expired at the end of the Bloomberg years. But, there have also been large increases in agency spending, including the addition of 2,000 new officers to the NYPD and billions more toward affordable housing development and homelessness-fighting.

The mayor’s preliminary budget did not account for the proposals in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget that would change the way CUNY and Medicaid are funded, which would cost the city nearly $1 billion starting in fiscal year 2017. Cuomo has since backtracked on the proposed cuts, saying they “won’t cost New York City a penny,” and that he wants to collaborate to find efficiencies and savings in the programs. There have been no signs of any conversations to that effect, though, and questions around how the city is accounting for these potential losses in state aid, and others, are sure to come up during preliminary budget hearings.

Council members, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, and the Citizen’s Budget Commission have all called on the mayor to find more recurring savings in the budget and to build up reserves to safeguard against a financial downturn.

A majority of City Council members sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio on Dec. 31 calling on the mayor to instruct all city agencies to find five percent in potential savings in their budgets. The letter, spearheaded by Council Member Dan Garodnick, was signed by 26 of the 51 Council members, including chair of the finance committee, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. Ferreras-Copeland will be center stage for budget hearings, especially Tuesday’s kickoff where de Blasio’s budget director, Dean Fuleihan, will testify.

Though the letter did not explicitly say so, Council members were asking the mayor to institute a PEG, or Program to Eliminate the Gap, a cost-saving practice used by previous administrations that Mayor de Blasio did away with after taking office in favor of a Citywide Savings Program (CSP). A CSP encourages agency commissioners to find savings, but does not set a percentage.

Mayor de Blasio did not include a PEG in his preliminary budget, though he has since said that a PEG is something he is “seriously considering” for the executive budget and is sure to be discussed during the upcoming budget hearings. After several weeks of hearings, the Council will craft its official preliminary budget response, then de Blasio will put together his executive budget, before another round of hearings and continued negotiations leading to a June deal.

Comptroller Stringer has echoed the Council members’ call for implementing a PEG, and released an analysis of the mayor’s preliminary budget on Feb. 10 which pointed out several areas of concern amid an overall positive financial outlook for the city. Stringer has said the “budget cushion” Mayor de Blasio has allocated is not enough to adequately prepare for an economic downturn, and that the comptroller’s office expects larger budget gaps in the coming years than the mayor’s plan accounts for.

The Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) has also called for more savings, and has said the Citywide Savings Program is too small, does not include enough efficiency initiatives, and cannot sufficiently offset the costs of new initiatives or build up reserves. As the CBC points out, the planned savings in the preliminary budget amount to $1.9 billion in savings over fiscal years 2016 to 2019 - 0.6 percent of total city-funded spending.

The CBC has urged Mayor de Blasio to direct his agencies to “identify operational efficiencies that provide recurring savings” ahead of his executive budget proposal which would not only increase the budget cushion, but also make agencies run more efficiently. The mayor has indicated that he may go further than the current savings plan and will look at increasing agency savings before releasing the executive budget, due in late April or early May.

Ahead of the first preliminary budget hearing on March 1, Gotham Gazette spoke with Council members about their priorities and concerns for the upcoming FY17 budget. Securing funding to expand the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program, speaking out against the proposed funding cuts to CUNY and Medicaid, and advocating for greater savings in the budget appear to be some of the Council’s top priorities.

Council Member Ferreras-Copeland, chair of the finance committee and one of the key figures in the budget negotiations, said she aims to “use the process to ensure we are being transparent and fiscally prudent as a city, while mitigating any potential risks the State budget might pose to the city.” Ferreras-Copeland has also previously expressed that the Council is keen to evaluate how the preliminary budget addresses healthcare and pension costs, and that the Department of Education capital plan will be an important issue as many districts struggle with school overcrowding.

Last year, Ferreras-Copeland led the first budget hearing by pushing de Blasio budget reps on “units of appropriation” in the budget, meaning that she and her colleagues want to see more carefully laid-out line items in agency spending, not lump sums. That could be a source of tension again this year.

Specific Priorities
In a statement to Gotham Gazette, Ferreras-Copeland said that she will be paying “special attention to the Council’s priorities, which include the Health and Hospitals financial plan, as well as how to better support youth jobs during the summer and throughout the school year.”

Supporting youth employment is also a priority for Council Member Jumaane Williams, among others. On Feb. 24, Williams, joined by the Community Service Society and several of his colleagues, called on the city to support 100,000 summer jobs by April 1, which would require an additional $95 million in funding, and to enhance the current model of the Summer Youth Employment Program in order to better connect summer jobs to school experiences and ensure better quality programming.

According to a report released by the Community Service Society, summer youth employment reduces risky behavior and has a generally positive impact on academic, behavioral, and employment-related outcomes for children. Over 100,000 youths in New York City have applied for the Summer Youth Employment Program, yet the City has only funded 55,000 program slots.

Williams told Gotham Gazette he believes “there is a lot of push throughout the Council for [youth employment] to be one of the top priorities,” and also wants to see funding allotted to pilot a new model of the summer jobs program in a limited number of high schools, and increased funding to double year-round youth employment, an initiative that is spearheaded by Ferreras-Copeland.

Funding for summer after school programs for middle school students is another issue to watch as budget talks begin. Mayor de Blasio's preliminary budget eliminates the funding for the programs which serve about 34,000 middle school students.

Last year, de Blasio’s preliminary budget cut funding for afterschool programs, only to restore funding in the executive budget after Council members and advocates criticized the administration for eliminating the programs and pushed for the funding to be restored.

This year, Mayor de Blasio has said that while “the summer programs are a very good thing, we just don’t feel we can afford it at this point. We’ll take another look going into the executive budget.”

“But this time,” the mayor added, “we’re saying no, we’re not going to fund that. People should not assume it’s coming. They should not prepare for it.”

As chair of the Committee on Housing a Buildings (for which the preliminary budget hearing is March 3), Williams will also be looking to make sure “everything housing related is properly funded with groups that are able to help prevent displacement,” and wants to make sure “that Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Buildings have the assistance they need, particularly technology-wise and for hiring additional staff for things like inspections.”

Preventing displacement is one of many important aspects to remedying the city’s homelessness crisis, however, regarding Mayor de Blasio’s proposed increased spending on programs to address homelessness, Comptroller Stringer says spending money more efficiently is needed.

During the comptroller’s preliminary budget analysis presentation, Stringer pointed out that the city is committing $1.7 billion on homeless services across three agencies - a 46 percent increase over two years - and said more coordination and better management must happen for the city to get the optimal return on the investment.

Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the Committee on Government Operations, told Gotham Gazette that during the upcoming budget hearings, “the first item that folks can expect to see is following up on waste in government contracting. In my first year, I identified $4 billion in potential contract overruns.” Kallos added he looks forward to “getting to the bottom of that waste.”

Given the likelihood of an economic downturn, Kallos said he is “concerned about the city’s capital reserves,” and will be advocating to increase the amount of money put aside in the Capital Stabilization Reserve Fund, which received $500 million last year.

Regarding his goals as committee chair (the government operations preliminary budget hearing is March 14), Kallos said he’ll be looking at “outsourcing and provisionals,” and estimated there are roughly 21,000 provisional employees in the city - civil service positions that are filled non-competitively.

“We need to crack down on provisionals. That falls under the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which I oversee,” Kallos said. Thousands of provisional employees were hired during the Bloomberg years, creating something of a city workforce crisis under de Blasio, with questions about which managerial-level city workers have to take civil service exams and make their employment fit requirements.

“I’m focusing on removing outsourcing where possible,” Kallos added, referring to the hiring of outside contractors and consultants by the city to do work that could be done by government employees.

With four election dates scheduled this year, Kallos will also “focus on making sure the Board of Election has all the funding they need…this is going to be the most expensive year for the Board of Elections.” Millions could be saved by consolidating election dates to hold the state primary on the same day as the congressional primary, which Kallos has called for in a resolution.

For Council Member Vanessa Gibson, chair of the Committee on Public Safety, top priorities include securing more support “in terms of financing and resources” for the city’s district attorneys, evaluating the needs and effectiveness of the special narcotics prosecutor in terms of handling K2 (synthetic marijuana) and opioid abuse issues in the city, increasing support for the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and investing more in anti-gun violence efforts.

“I’m very supportive of anti-gun violence programs,” Gibson said, “I’m grateful the mayor has included in his budget an expansion of ShotSpotter, it’s extremely helpful to detect gunshots in our communities.” Gibson, whose committee’s preliminary budget hearing is March 8, will be looking to expand upon the “incredible investment we’ve already made of about $11-12 million” for initiatives to combat gun violence. Continuing and expanding on trauma services and victim services for those impacted by gun violence is also of importance to Gibson, as is redoubling investments the Council has made in those summer youth employment programs.

The number of reported rapes taking place in New York City has increased in recent years, and advocates and counselors who help victims of sexual assault are eager to see if Gibson and the Council will stick to its word about providing more resources to rape crisis centers.

Gibson told Gotham Gazette she thinks “increasing access for us as a Council to rape crisis centers and counseling and mental health professionals” is a necessary response to the increased number of rapes and sexual assaults. “I know the advocates have talked to us about rape crisis centers and how we need to beef up the borough-wide services because in some boroughs it’s not equal in terms of access, and that’s important for us as well.”

One area of concern for Gibson and others is the state’s proposed Medicaid and CUNY cuts. “The state support from Albany is going to probably be the thing that we’ll talk about with Dean Fuleihan,” Gibson said, referring to de Blasio’s budget chief, “the cuts are not acceptable, and we need to make sure that we do get support from Albany.”

by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Samar Khurshid contributed reporting.

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, February 29

New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Are you ready for some budget crunching? If not, get ready - the City Council starts its preliminary budget hearings on Tuesday, at which Council committees will examine Mayor Bill de Blasio's $82 billion spending plan in general, then department by department.

Meanwhile, state budget negotiations continue in Albany - or maybe we should say start, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that he and the leaders of the Assembly and Senate majorities have yet to meet to discuss his spending plan. Still, the Legislature has held a series of budget hearings in the capital. And on Monday, good government group Citizens Union will spotlight "elements of the budget that are inscrutable, decided behind closed doors by a handful of political leaders, and beyond the reach of the public" through its new "spending in the shadows" report. The report will also include recommendations for making the budget and budget process more transparent.

For his part, Cuomo has been touring the state pushing his plans to raise the minimum wage and enact paid family leave. Much less has been said about ethics reform, in part because Senate Republicans, who control that chamber, have indicated they don't see a need for more reform to limit legislators' outside income, close the LLC loophole, or take other measures to prevent corruption. There is still talk about moving on pension forfeiture so that lawmakers convicted of corruption are not able to collect a pension - both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate President Dean Skelos, each convicted on federal corruption charges - has filed for a pension and will receive it.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has said his conference is looking at a variety of things related to ethics. Assembly Democrats have been slowly moving towards announcing possible reforms of the workings of their chamber. These reform proposals have more to do with democraticizing the workings of the Assembly and making its business more transparent - a group Heastie tasked with coming up with recommendations has shared its ideas with the larger conference. A public look at this list is due any week now.

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:

The state Assembly will not be in session Monday, the previously scheduled session was canceled so that Assembly members can attend funeral services for Assembly Member Barbara Clark, who passed away Feb. 22. The state Senate is in session on Monday in Albany.

On Monday, Mayor de Blasio will attend the viewing of Assembly Member Barbara Clark. Then, at 1:45 p.m., de Blasio and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez will host a press conference in Washington Heights on tenant protection. At 7 p.m. de Blasio will host a town hall meeting in Bayside, Queens.

At 10 a.m. Monday via video conference, Citizens Union will release its latest “spending in the shadows report” analyzing “opaque funds in the state budget” and calling for greater transparency.

At the City Council on Monday:

  • 10 a.m. meeting of the Committee on Governmental Operations to consider several bills related to elections and voting.
  • 10 a.m. meeting of the Committee on Transportation to consider several bills related to the taxi industry.
  • 11 a.m. oversight hearing of the Committee on Housing and Buildings on “The Mitchell-Lama Program.” The hearing is off-site, at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
  • 11 a.m. meeting of the Committee on Land Use.
  • 1 p.m. meeting of the Committees on Civil Rights and Women’s Issues to consider “Ensuring fairness in physical testing.” The bill being considered “would require the Equal Employment Practices Commission to specifically audit and evaluate any physical testing utilized by any city agency, either for hiring or promotional purposes. The Commission would be permitted to use outside resources to complete its audits and evaluations.”
  • 1 p.m. meeting of the Committee on Consumer Affairs on a bill “Establishing protections for freelance workers.”
  • 2 p.m. oversight hearing of the Committee on Courts and Legal Services “Examining Speedy Trial in New York City Criminal Courts.”

Ahead of the 1 p.m. Consumer Affairs committee hearing, there will be a noon rally outside City Hall in support of the freelancer-protection bill: “gig workers rally behind bill to stop NYC's nonpayment epidemic, pass "Freelance Isn't Free" Act,: including “representatives of NYC's 1.3 million freelancers, including wage theft victims,” the Freelancers Union, Council Members Brad Lander, Margaret Chin and Rafael Espinal; unions including the United Federation of Teachers and SEIU 32BJ, and other advocates.

On Monday at noon in Tarrytown, "There will be a special business meeting of the New York State Democratic Committee tomorrow to officially nominate U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer for U.S. Senate. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo will deliver remarks." City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will also attend and deliver remarks.

At 1 p.m. Monday, “City Council Member Mark Levine will join New York City Deputy Mayor Richard Buery on a tour of the pre-k program at PS 153 in West Harlem. The visit will highlight the upcoming March 4 deadline to enroll kids born in 2012 in a pre-k program beginning in the fall of 2016.”

At 2 p.m. on Monday, “Public Advocate James will release the findings of an investigation her office has conducted on programs within the City’s Housing and Preservation Development (HPD).” The release will take place at 1344 St. Marks Avenue in Brooklyn.

At 6 p.m. Monday, the City Council will host a Lunar New Year celebration. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will give remarks.

Both houses of the state Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.

Preliminary budget hearings begin Tuesday at the City Council. At 10 a.m., the Council Committee on Finance will kick things off. Testifying will be: The Office of Management and Budget (Capital Budget, Expense Budget, Revenue Budget); The Department of Finance; The Department of Design and Construction; Comptroller Scott Stringer; The Independent Budget Office; and members of the public. [Read: City Council to Begin Public Examination of Mayor's Budget]

On Tuesday at 6 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is hosting a competition to help promote the plastic bag bill in the City Council. The event is a “best elevator pitch” competition, where contestants will make their brief cases for the bill aiming to limit the use of carryout bags at city stores. City Council Member Brad Lander, a lead sponsor of the bill, will be on the panel of judges, along with environmental advocates. BP Brewer will give opening remarks.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will lead a town hall for school district 31, on Staten Island.

On Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., “Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars, with Samuel I. Schwartz, a.k.a. “Gridlock Sam,” former NYC Traffic Commissioner and one of the leading transportation experts in the United States today.”

Both houses of the state Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.

On Wednesday at the City Council, two preliminary budget hearings:

  • 10 a.m., transportation.
  • 2 p.m., higher education.

On Thursday at the City Council, two preliminary budget hearings:

  • 10 a.m., housing and buildings.
  • 10 a.m., parks and recreation.

On Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Libraries and Education Technology will hold a hearing on “The Use of 21st Century Technology in Libraries.”

Friday and the weekend
On Wednesday at the City Council, one preliminary budget hearing: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Aging with the subcommittee on Senior Centers.

On Friday at 5 p.m. at NYU, “Storytelling with Open Data,” featuring Ben Wellington of I Quant NY and the Pratt Institute and Meredith Broussard of NYU School of Journalism.

On Friday at 6 p.m., the Historic Districts Council will host its 22nd Annual Preservation Conference at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Courthouse. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will deliver the keynote address and share her "insight on current issues and trends in land use planning and policy."

On Saturday at 9 a.m., The NYC School of Data will host a civic technology and open data conference. The conference aims to enrich lives and communities through technology, data, and design, as well as improve New York City’s data ecosystem.

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 Leanna Carroll and Ben Max

The Week That Was in New York Politics, Feb. 22-26

week in review bus readers

photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York

Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday February 26, 2015.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Mayor de Blasio & NYPD officials unveil CompStat 2.0, via Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office; Gov. Cuomo and his minimum wage bus, via Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor.

de blasio bratton compstat

cuomo minimum wage bus

1. Private Sector Retirement:
On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio, joined by Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and others, held a press conference in City Hall to advocate for a city-run retirement savings program for private sector workers. The ‘Security for All New Yorkers’ plan aims to allow some 1.4 million private sector workers who do not have a retirement savings plan through their employer to have contributions automatically deducted from their paycheck. However, federal regulations must change for the retirement plan to move forward. [Read: Private Sector Retirement Security Plans Become Next Progressive Cause]

2. Special Election: Rafael Salamanca, Jr., a district manager at Bronx Community Board 2, is the newest member of the City Council after winning a special election in District 17 in the Bronx on Tuesday. Salamanca’s win against the five other candidates didn’t come as much of a surprise, as he had the backing of the Bronx Democratic County Committee, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and unions. Salamanca will replace Maria del Carmen Arroyo, who resigned last December. [Read: Voters to Fill Vacant Bronx Council Seat in Special Election]

3. Rezoning East New York: On Wednesday, the City Planning Commission approved Mayor de Blasio’s rezoning plan for the East New York section of Brooklyn, despite vocal opposition from community members. The proposal now heads to the City Council, and Council members who represent the area have expressed concern about the plan’s affordability levels for their constituents. East New York will be the first of 15 neighborhoods to be rezoned as part of de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. [Read: Richards Puts Communities of Color at Forefront of Housing Debate]

4. CompStat 2.0: On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, and Deputy Commissioner of Information and Technology Jessica Tish unveiled CompStat 2.0, an interactive online crime data system that tracks the date and location to the nearest intersection of major crimes like shootings, murders, and rapes.

5. Homelessness Dispute: The feud between the city and state over the city’s homelessness problems escalated this week after HRA Commissioner Steven Banks sent a letter to a state official blasting the Cuomo administration for leaking a false report of a gang rape in a city homeless shelter to a tabloid in what Banks described as a “political media hit” that undermined the city’s efforts to help homeless individuals. Banks called on the state to address its own shortcomings to improve the homelessness crisis.


  • 3296 votes cast during Tuesday’s special election in the Bronx, according to the Board of Elections’ unofficial election night results.
  • 19% increase in reported sex crimes on the subways, from 620 in 2014 to 738 in 2015, the Times reports.
  • 9 second increase in the amount of time ambulances took to respond to life threatening emergencies in 2015 (9 minutes, 22 seconds), despite added funding to reduce response times, the Daily News reports.
  • 81 ambulance tours - 10% of shifts citywide - will be eliminated as one of the city’s biggest private ambulance companies shut down Wednesday after filing for bankruptcy, according to WNYC.
  • 49% of New York City residents see the ongoing feud between Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo as a “power struggle,” rather than actual policy differences according to an NY1/Baruch College poll.
  • 43% of working New Yorkers have access to a retirement plan and 40% of New Yorkers between the ages of 50 and 64 have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, Gotham Gazette reports.
  • 11 letters exchanged between city and state officials in recent weeks over the conditions of New York City’s homeless shelters and violence in the shelters, culminating in a scathing letter from HRA Commissioner Steven Banks this week, the Times reports
  • $71.9 million spent by lobbyists in an effort to sway city government in 2014, the Journal reports.
  • 1.4 million New Yorkers currently do not have a retirement savings plan through their employers, the Times reports.
  • 1,083 teachers from New York City schools still collect salaries and benefits without holding full-time positions in the school, according to data released by the education department, Chalkbeat reports.

It was a good week for
Mayor de Blasio, whose approval rating is up 14 points from September according to a NY1/Baruch College poll, which found 58 percent of New York City residents approve of the job the mayor is doing.

It was a bad week for Brooklyn City Council Member David Greenfield, who saw his leadership role questioned amid disagreements within the Council.

Around this time 51 years ago, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was shot and killed by Nation of Islam followers at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights.

Around this time last year, on February 24, 2015, former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver pleaded not guilty to the federal corruption charges against him during his arraignment. Silver was found guilty on all seven counts against him in November, 2015.

Around this time 19 years ago, on February 23, 1997, a gunman opened fire on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, killing one person and wounding six others before turning the gun on himself.

Around this time two years ago, on February 26, 2014, the City Council passed a bill expanding paid sick leave.


Richards Puts Communities of Color at Forefront of Housing Debate, by Ben Max

Caucus Members Cheerful But Cautious as Cuomo Embraces Their Agenda, by David Howard King

Private Sector Retirement Security Plans Become Next Progressive Cause, David Howard King

Application Season Underscores Community Board Reform Efforts, Ryan Brady

Voters to Fill Vacant Bronx Council Seat in Special Election, Samar Khurshid

Special Election Shows Need for Democratization, by Serin Choi (opinion)

Protecting Freelancers: Policy Innovation at Work, by Jesse Strauss (opinion)

No Surprise Uber Drivers Are Protesting, by David Beier (opinion)

Shut Down the Criminal Court, by Steven Zeidman (opinion)

Peter Liang’s Conviction Shouldn't Be Dividing the Asian American Community, by Justin Chan (opinion)

Safe and Healthy Housing for All New Yorkers, by Dulce María Rivera (opinion)


Gotham Gazette’s city government reporter Samar Khurshid and Alex Armlovich, policy analyst from the Manhattan Institute talk about welfare reform under Mayor de Blasio with City Limits executive editor Jarrett Murphy on BRIC TV.

Neil Barsky, founder and chairman of the Marshall Project, and Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union joined NY Slant’s Gerson Borrero and Nick Powell to discuss feasibility, motives, and politics around the movement to close Rikers Island, and efforts to reform the notorious jail complex.

After the City Planning Commission approved a comprehensive plan to rezone East New York as part of an effort to create more affordable housing, Planning Commission Chair Carl Weisbrod sat down with NY1’s Errol Louis to discuss the plan.

Catch up on the latest discussion of housing policy and politics in New York with Gotham Gazette's Ben Max and City Limits' Jarrett Murphy.

Following the dismal turnout in Tuesday’s special election in the Bronx, former Bronx state Assemblymember Michael Benjamin wrote in NY Slant about the dire need for more efforts to increase voter engagement and participation.

NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle @GothamGazette.

If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here. And have a great weekend!

by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max

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