Gotham Gazette https://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/19 Fri, 07 May 2021 05:37:24 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Democratic Mayoral Candidates Offer Ideas for Aging New Yorkers and Greying City https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10379-democratic-mayoral-candidates-aging-new-yorkers-greying-city https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10379-democratic-mayoral-candidates-aging-new-yorkers-greying-city justin brannan hosts

Seniors at a pre-pandemic party (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


Earlier this week, various groups co-hosted a virtual forum with leading Democratic candidates for New York City Mayor on aging issues in New York City. The discussion was moderated by City Limits editor-at-large and Max & Murphy podcast co-host Jarrett Murphy, and co-hosted by City Limits, LiveOn NY, AARP New York, New York Academy of Medicine, United Neighborhood House, Citymeals on Wheels, and Hunter Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging.

Participating candidates were Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, and City Comptroller Scott Stringer. Several candidates arrived late or left early due to other commitments, as well over 500 people watched a livestream on Zoom or YouTube.

During the event, Murphy asked questions about issues specific to older adults in New York such as caregiving and isolation as well as how broader areas such as transportation and housing impact seniors and aging New Yorkers.

Ageism
Murphy first asked candidates how they see ageism and believe the mayor can address it. Adams said it is similar to “other -isms” such as racism and anti-Semitism because it denies “people the basic right to move throughout the city.” He said the mayor “must look at every agency…to make sure every agency is not practicing a systemic ageism.” Garcia, citing her own aging parents in New York City, noted that ageism was about who is viewed as a productive member of society and said that if the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) was funded like the Department of Youth & Community Development, it would receive three times the funding it currently does.

McGuire said older adults in the city are the embodiment of the “shoulders upon which we stand” and discussed the role his mother and mother-in-law have played in his life. To address ageism, McGuire said that the city must ensure that seniors have food, “appropriate care,” and “connectivity” with the outside world.

Senior Centers and Aging Services
Murphy shifted to senior centers, discussing city budget cuts and closures they have faced during the pandemic and asking candidates how they would fund and treat senior centers and aging services as mayor.

Garcia discussed her time last year as the city’s emergency covid food czar and said it caused her to realize, of city government, “we were not actually serving all of the older New Yorkers.” She said that the way the city’s contracts with nonprofits operate currently “don’t work” and “make it so problematic” for them to do their work with older New Yorkers. She touted the work of nonprofit organizations as being on the “front lines” in communities.

McGuire said his four goals as mayor for older New Yorkers were addressing mental health issues and loneliness, increasing access and knowledge of technology, ensuring appropriate caregiving, and providing housing. He would accomplish these goals through device distribution, providing seniors with internet access creating a “Junior/Seniors Corps” to teach seniors how to use their devices, and by doubling the amount of senior housing.

Adams said the city needs to “rethink how we view the social determinants of health” and invest in senior centers and adult daycares.

Housing
Asked about senior housing, McGuire said that “New York City’s approach to housing simply hasn’t done enough to prepare for senior needs.” To increase access to senior housing, McGuire would create new affordable housing for low-income seniors with on-site services, work towards a new tax credit to incentivize the construction or conversion of housing for seniors that’s affordable at lower-incomes, provide rental assistance so that seniors can avoid homelessness, and move any seniors who enter a homeless shelter directly into long-term housing. He said that avoiding having older New Yorkers in shelters “needs to be the highest priority that we have.”

Adams called the city’s current approach to senior housing too complicated and inaccessible, particularly for seniors who speak English as a second language. He would have the city provide a MyCity card, which would use the information the city has on file on seniors to automatically connect them to city resources. He also mentioned supporting SCRIE, Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemptions, which helps eligible older New Yorkers stay in affordable housing through rent freezes. Adams concluded by discussing support for rent subsidies for senior citizens and increasing the amount of senior housing available through the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

Garcia also discussed the role of NYCHA in providing senior housing, adding that it was important to ensure that seniors “can age safely in those homes,” including by retrofitting units to contain wider doors and grab bars. Garcia echoed Adams about increasing the enrollment of older adults in SCRIE and that this enrollment should be automatic, and said that the city should increase awareness of property tax exemptions, that while the city does have resources “being able to leverage these benefits is a real access issue.” She also would create 2,000 units of deeply affordable housing for older adults experiencing homelessness, she said.

Stringer, who joined the forum in time for this question, touted his experience managing public pensions for the city as comptroller, saying that they have “never been stronger.” He pointed towards the Aging in Place report he issued as comptroller as the “blueprint” of what he would do as mayor. He called automatic enrollment in SCRIE “obvious,” mentioning that the city should increase enrollment in the DRIE — a similar program to SCRIE for those with disabilities.

On housing, Stringer said that the “We can no longer build housing for the wealthiest people in the name of affordability” and that “gentrification is putting people out of the neighborhoods they spent a lifetime building.”

Lessons from the Pandemic
Murphy then asked candidates what lessons they felt they had learned from the pandemic about protecting seniors.

Stringer referenced his mother, who died of COVID-19 in a Bronx hospital, saying that the past year has been “a very rough ride” for his family. He criticized the de Blasio administration’s rollout of the vaccine, saying that while the city could not have foreseen the pandemic,

“we sure knew this vaccine was on the way,” and that as comptroller he had encouraged the city to create a plan for fair vaccine distribution. “We’ve had vaccine inequity, that’s no surprise with this admini stration,” he said, adding that the rollout has “bungled every step of the way” by de Blasio. Stringer mentioned that his office is investigating the city’s vaccine distribution, but that its results will not be released during the mayoral race. Stringer said that the city could’ve improved the integration of senior centers into the vaccine distribution network and that it could have offered the vaccine “door-to-door” for seniors (which is now happening).

Adams called the city’s approach to using data akin to a plane with no instrument panel, a metaphor he is fond of using. He said that the city should have immediately opened a command center to provide “real-time analysis” of testing, food delivery, and vaccination distribution, and that the city’s response to the pandemic “failed everyday New Yorkers.”

Garcia said that the “next mayor will face something we cannot yet imagine” but that the pandemic provided many overlapping social service challenges. She made a point of saying that if DFTA had been effective at providing food deliveries to seniors, she would not have been appointed as food czar, criticizing how she was “literally designing programs over a weekend that ended up delivering a million meals a day.” To improve vaccine distribution, Garcia referenced her previously-released vaccine plan and also said the vaccinations should be done door-to-door. Garcia added that the city should partner with community-based organizations with “deep relationships” with seniors to help connect seniors with services and overcome vaccine hesitancy.

McGuire said “we have not planned for anything expected or unexpected during this administration” and the question the city faced with seniors is about connecting them to “the real world,” particularly with technology distribution and education.

Connection
Murphy asked candidates how they would address connectivity issues with seniors to prevent isolation and loneliness.

Garcia, calling isolation “physically dangerous” as well as mentally so, advocated for providing seniors with tablets and the education on how to use them. She stressed the importance of incentivizing “older adults to take advantage of opportunities to connect” such as by creating event calendars and providing “content that really speaks to them.” If affordability was an issue, Garcia would have the city provide assistance as “writing a check is not having to rewire a building.”

Adams would turn Wi-Fi into a utility, invest in senior centers and adult daycare centers, and support telemedicine.

Donovan joined the event in time for this question and said the biggest issue was affordability rather than technology or wiring, and that the city needs to “make sure in the meantime that we have community-based centers.”

Home Care
The candidates were then asked about low pay and poor working conditions for home care workers, and whether there was anything the mayor could do.

Donovan said that “the next mayor can and must,” and that he would work with home care workers, city agencies, and unions to “create a safety net of benefits that actually work.” These benefits would “create real pathways into jobs that can advance careers” and provide a “ladder of opportunity for folks in home care.”

McGuire would invest in a program to train home care workers, ensure that seniors and home care workers are given access to vaccine healthcare and expand the VOICES program, which is run by DFTA and matches isolated older New Yorkers with volunteers who call or video call with them.

As mayor, Adams would ensure that all contracts for home care work include living wages and look at failure of the city to pay on time. He said that he would “make sure we do right with nonprofits so they can do right with their employees.”

Garcia pointed out that many caregivers are older New Yorkers themselves, and that part of the issue has to do with the state, saying that the city must advocate for “the rightful dollars that we need to ensure that we are protecting our seniors” as well as addressing living wage and contract issues.

Seniors and Work
Murphy then asked how the candidates, if elected to be the head of the city’s municipal workforce, would ensure “age is seen as an asset,” referencing age-based workplace discrimination many seniors can face. McGuire referenced the “richness” and “wisdom” of seniors, and said his administration would “keep them by my side…as long as they are prepared to stay.” As workers transition to retirement, McGuire would look to have them continue to contribute in “active and engaged” ways, mentioning retired educators as an example.

Adams noted that many government employees regularly must handle the “trauma” of the New Yorkers they serve, and that he would provide respite periods and create “user-friendly” working environments.

Garcia answered the question most directly to how Murphy asked it, noting the discrimination older New Yorkers face and pushing for the full funding of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) so that the agency can investigate complaints.

Donovan agreed with Garcia about “enhancing” the work of the CHR, but said there are “many, many steps we have to take to go further.” He said that on the first day of his administration he would issue an Aging Bill of Rights and that he would issue an executive order to require all agencies to annually update their aging plans in every phase of their activities.

Middle-Income Seniors
Candidates were asked to discuss “realistically” what the city could do about the fact that “middle-income seniors are sometimes caught in between” having too little money to be secure in their finances and having too much income to qualify for certain income-based programs for seniors.

Adams touted his MyCity card idea, saying that the city would be able to use users’ data to sign them up for programs such as SCRIE, DRIE, and SNAP (food stamps), and take the burden “off the seniors to go out and seek what’s available.”

Garcia would push to secure already-allocated federal funding for the city and use some of it to assist seniors, and to engage with “all of these different populations in the Mayor’s Office” and work to individualize programs.

Donovan focused on housing issues first, saying that the city needs to make investments to keep seniors in their homes, such as loans and tax exemptions. He also said that the city should invest in programs that serve entire neighborhoods independent from income, such as keeping libraries open seven days a week.

McGuire would fund employment programs and subsidize jobs for seniors. He would support nonprofits and libraries to provide services, and work to make sure older New Yorkers know what programs are available to help them. He raised home-sharing as an option to help keep seniors in their homes, though he warned of predators who may approach seniors to sell their homes at a disadvantage.

Street Safety
The next question, from “Harry of Chelsea,” asked candidates what they would do to make walking streets safer for seniors. Garcia called her transportation plans a “critical part” of her overall platform, and that she seeks to “redesign the entire public realm and put pedestrians at the center of it” through changes such as bike lanes.

Donovan said “we need to recognize that we’re living in a 21st century city with 20th century streets.” He said that the city needs to provide truly protected bike lanes, use Bus Rapid Transit, keep well-maintained sidewalks, and improve bus stops and public benches.

McGuire said he would use “comprehensive community-driven neighborhood planning” as “no one size fits all.” He would look at lowering speed limits, adding red light cameras, closing some areas to vehicular traffic, improving pedestrian signage, installing more countdown clocks and accessible signals. McGuire would also better pedestrian ramps on curbs, pointing out seniors using walkers and motorized scooters need them to be accessible, and strengthen the Open Streets program, installing semi-permanent seating and barriers.

Adams touted his work in the state Legislature to decrease speed limits in the city and his borough president office’s work on an Age-Friendly Brooklyn analysis. Rather than specific proposals, Adams said he would have the city government consult with seniors and “find out from them to make sure that the city is the safest city” to move around in.

Caregiving
The candidates were then asked about easing burdens on caregivers. Donovan would look to “support them financially, support them emotionally, and support them by connecting them to networks that help them get the resources and support they need.” He would want to have the city to look at how to provide a “continuum of care” as needs of seniors increase and connect caregivers to senior centers for resources they could access and to answer questions they may have.

McGuire promoted working with the Biden-Harris administration to steer federal funds to New York City from the administration’s infrastructure plan if passed, which includes millions for caregiving needs. He would partner with nonprofits that provide caregiver support programs and

“empower more New Yorkers to recognize themselves as caregivers” so that they can begin the process of being connected to services. His goals for caregivers would be for them to be “properly compensated” and "properly taken care of themselves.”

Adams pointed out that many people do not know about the extent of resources the city offers and would move to centralize information for caregivers to one place to facilitate ease of access. He would appoint a “caregiver czar” to lead a team to connect caregivers to city resources.

Accessibility and Transportation
Increasing accessibility, especially for the subway system and other modes of transportation, was next on the agenda.

McGuire said that he would prioritize fixing the elevators in the subways and other “things as basic as that” and that his economic comeback plan “has at its core” infrastructure improvements for things such as buses, subways, and vans that transport senior citizens.

Adams agreed with McGuire’s emphasis on fixing “the simple things” such as installing elevators, but also called for creating a ride-hailing app for Access-a-Ride, expanding the Fair Fares program, investing in Bus Rapid Transit, and training cab drivers and limousine drivers to handle older adults.

Donovan said similar things about fixing accessibility issues at the MTA, and said that, given his work in the Obama-Biden cabinet, he was “better prepared than any of the other candidates to work very closely with the administration and with Congress” to secure funding for New York City’s transportation infrastructure from a federal infrastructure package.

Donovan would implement congestion pricing and invest more city revenue into the MTA to gain more control of the state-run agency, where the city does have some influence now, and push for an on-demand Access-a-Ride system.

Lightning Round
The forum concluded with a lightning round with the remaining candidates: Adams, Donovan, and McGuire.

The top three issues affecting older adults? Adams said housing, healthcare, and food insecurity. Donovan said housing, healthcare, and transportation. McGuire said housing, healthcare, and technology.

Would DFTA have a larger share of the city budget in your mayoral administration? Donovan said “Absolutely, and I would ensure through my executive order that every dollar we spend goes to helping our seniors,” while McGuire kept it simple with an “Absolutely, yes.” Adams agreed, but said the agency “would have to show me how they’re using the dollars.”

The third question was about how the candidates’ campaigns have reached out to seniors who are afraid of venturing out because of COVID-19 and/or cannot digitally access information about the mayoral race. Donovan pointed to his food program Common Table, which brought food to seniors in their apartments and allowed his campaign to connect with potential voters. McGuire said tongue-in-cheek that his campaign was employing a “much maligned part of how this country works…the United States Postal Service.” Adams echoed Donovan about using the “opportunity of campaigning” as an “opportunity of providing services.” His campaign has gone door-to-door to hand out masks, food, and PPE and to introduce the Adams campaign to potential voters, he said.

Murphy asked the candidates about the role for the NYPD and prosecutors in addressing elder abuse. McGuire said “we need to be much more attentive” about monitoring for elder abuse, and that the NYPD could help monitor that such as through community policing. Adams also said yes, and that the city should look to being “more proactive” than reactive about catching elder abuse. He also wants to “partner with credible messengers in our community” and use banks to catch early warning signs of elder abuse.

Donovan said that “[we] need not just our police, but all of our law enforcement agencies to really focus on ageism, discrimination, and the safety of our seniors,” and that anything done to make New York a more safe and more fair city will ultimately help older New Yorkers.

Murphy finished up by asking the candidates what they most anticipated and what they were most worried about growing older in New York City themselves. Adams said he looked forward to the “luxury of traveling and spending time” with his grandchildren, but was worried about public safety and the efforts to legalize drugs, which he felt endangered public safety. (Mayoral candidate Dianne Morales, the furthest left candidate in the top tier and who has sworn off Zoom forums, has called for legalizing all drugs as a part of her platform.

Donovan looked forward to “having the time to enjoy every aspect of what makes New York City unique in this world,” but worried about having “a city where quality of life has decreased for everyone.” McGuire, on the other hand, said he anticipated playing more basketball but worried about the “lack of respect that is given to our elders.”

The final question of the forum was about how to treat older New Yorkers as more than just “service recipients'' but as people who had contributions to make to the city. Adams discussed including seniors in jobs corps programs and said, “I believe we should create a real intergenerational relationship with our young people.” Donovan said, “We need a mayor in City Hall who understands we need to be the best city in the world on welcoming, celebrating, and honoring older New Yorkers.” McGuire said that he “harnesses” the power of older New Yorkers by listening to his mother for advice everyday, and that he would seek opportunities for retired seniors to contribute to nonprofits or to the education system, such as retired teachers.

{moduleAuthor Grace Getman}

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Democratic Mayoral Candidates Offer Ideas for Aging New Yorkers and Greying City Thu, 15 Apr 2021 04:00:00 +0000
After Rally with De Blasio, City Council Hears Bills on Private Sector Retirement Security https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8809-de-blasio-city-council-hearing-bills-on-private-sector-retirement-security https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8809-de-blasio-city-council-hearing-bills-on-private-sector-retirement-security sep mon rotunda

De Blasio, Council members, AARP members & others rally (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


Just days after he ended his presidential campaign that was focused on issues affecting working people, Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied with AARP volunteers and City Council Members at City Hall on Monday to push for a proposal that could help millions of New York workers save for their futures.

The Retirement Security for All proposal, which de Blasio first raised three years ago and then again in his State of the City speech this year, would establish a retirement savings program for private-sector employees whose employers do not currently provide those options, and a city government board to oversee its implementation.

There are two bills in the legislative package that would create the system and the board and sponsored by Council Members I. Daneek Miller and Ben Kallos, who led a hearing on the proposal shortly after the Monday morning rally.

“You should not have to work until you die,” de Blasio said at the rally. “You should be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You should be able to have some time in your life when you retire with dignity.”

The mayor said that 40% of New Yorkers aged 50-64 have less than $10,000 saved for when they retire.

At the hearing of the Council’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor, chaired by Miller, there was broad support for the legislation as well as opposition from some who raised concerns about the administrative burdens the program could place on employers and small businesses.

Kallos’ bill would mandate that businesses with ten or more employees automatically enroll their workers in individual retirement accounts, while giving them the option to opt out. The retirement plans would be funded only through employee payroll deductions, at a default rate of 3% of income, though employees would be allowed to choose a higher or lower rate.

Miller’s bill creates a board of mayoral appointees to oversee the implementation of the program, which would likely hire an outside firm to manage the retirement plans and charge low fees to make the programs affordable and attractive to employees.

The bills are a solution to a stark problem. Testifying on behalf of the de Blasio administration was John Adler, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Pensions and Investments, who reiterated the data point that 40% of New Yorkers aged 50-64 have less than $10,000 saved for when they retire. Out of the roughly 3.5 million private sector employees in the city, only about 41% have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, down from 49% ten years ago, Adler said, citing a report from The New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis.

“This program has the potential to significantly reduce future poverty among retirees in New York City,” Adler said in his opening remarks at the Council hearing, “and take an important step towards helping over a million New Yorkers maintain or improve their standard of living when they stop working.”

The proposal is also similar to programs that have already launched in California, Illinois, and Oregon, and following their lead would allow New York City to avoid any hiccups in implementation, he said. De Blasio estimated earlier that the city’s management of the programs would cost between $1.5 to $3 million each year for the first three years, and that the program would eventually be self-funded through fees on the investments made by the retirement plans.

Though New York State passed a measure last year to allow employers to create voluntary retirement savings plan, there has been little movement on that front. Adler said that program, which is an opt-in rather than an opt-out plan, would likely fail to expand access like the city’s proposal.

“We don’t think that we should be waiting for the whims of Albany to possibly change or strengthen their plan,” he said. “We have a crisis now in New York City...and frankly every month that we wait is an opportunity that’s lost for workers to begin saving for their own retirement.”

Adler also recommended that Kallos’ bill be amended to establish a 5% default contribution rate, insisting that it does not discourage participation as is evident from other jurisdictions with similar programs.

The mayor’s push for the retirement security proposal in 2016 died soon after because of the Republican-led Congress, which struck down an Obama-era rule by the Department of Labor that explicitly allowed municipalities to create private sector retirement programs. But that Republican measure did not change the underlying federal retirement law, which Adler said still allows the city to move forward. That’s why other states have been able to legally create their own retirement savings programs, he said.

The two bills have limited support so far from other Council members, at least as far as co-sponsorship goes. Kallos’ bill has five other sponsors besides him and Miller, while Miller’s bill has four other co-sponsors. But Kallos seems confident that the bills will advance quickly, particularly with the mayor’s backing. At Monday’s hearing, Council Member Andy King also said he would sign on to the legislative package. The bills have no timeline for passage but the mayor’s office, in a release sent out Monday afternoon, estimated that the program would be launched by the end of 2021, when de Blasio and most of the City Council will be leaving their current posts due to term limits.

Experts and researchers who testified at Monday’s hearing recommended several measures to ensure that the city’s program is a success. Caroline Crawford, assistant director of state and local research at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, said “three criteria are essential to success” of the program – a mandate to ensure employer participation, minimizing opt-out behavior and an adequate default contribution rate.

Representatives of the Communication Workers of America and AFL-CIO also supported the bills at Monday’s hearing.

A crucial mover behind the proposal has been the AARP, which first rallied with the mayor for Retirement Security for All in 2016. Beth Finkel, state director of AARP New York, noted that employees were 15 times more likely to start saving money if offered a retirement program by their employer. Finkel also urged the Council members to strengthen the proposal, by expanding the mandate to employers with five or more employees and to establish a 5% default  contribution rate.

“New York City is the greatest city in the world but it is also an expensive city and we know Social Security alone is not enough to retire on alone,” she said.

There was some pushback against the bills. Aliya Robinson, senior vice president of Retirement & Compensation Policy at the ERISA Industry Committee, brought up concerns about how the legislation may affect existing retirement programs. Robinson urged changes to Kallos’ bill, including completely excluding all employers that provide a retirement plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, setting restrictions on eligibility based on age and number of hours worked as established by the ERISA law, and exemptions without reporting requirements for employers similar to programs in Oregon and Illinois.

Alison Wielobob, general counsel of the American Retirement Association, similarly echoed Robinson’s testimony. She said the bills would “would place undue complexity and burdens on employers by imposing a set of rules that parallel the extensive and effective set of federal rules that already apply to workplace retirement plans.”

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, also warned that the bill could violate the ERISA law, despite other jurisdictions having faced no legal challenges yet, and cited anecdotal comments from the restaurant industry to insist that tipped workers with small paychecks will be hesitant to participate. He also raised the spectre of complications for businesses that employ undocumented workers.

But there was ample testimony that indicated those concerns were largely unfounded or insufficient to not act.

Rick McGahey, senior fellow at The New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, said a failure to act could mean that by 2026, about 825,000 middle class workers in the state could face poverty at retirement – half of those workers live in the city.

Michele Evermore, senior researcher and policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, spoke of the racial wealth gap that persists into retirement, and the need to address it through any means necessary, including a retirement security program.

And Angela Antonelli, research professor and executive director of the Center for Retirement Initiatives at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, laid out multiple benefits of New York City creating an automatic enrollment retirement savings program – it would help millions of workers save money and be more mobile, make small businesses more competitive, help gig economy workers, benefit underserved populations, reduce burdens on state and federal budgets, and create a model for other states, among other positive impacts.

Michael Parker, executive director at the Oregon Savings Network, which was the first-of-its-kind plan when it launched two years ago, touted the success of the state’s program in testimony via video conference. He said about 50,000 new retirement accounts had been established, worth about $30 million saved, with the rollout continuing. The program’s participation rate is holding steady at about 72%, he said, meeting projections. “By not having compliance at the beginning, we sort of set up a culture of noncompliance instead of the other way around,” he said.

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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After Rally with De Blasio, City Council Hears Bills on Private Sector Retirement Security Mon, 23 Sep 2019 04:00:00 +0000
LISTEN: Public Advocate Candidate Forum - Nov. 14, 2018 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8074-listen-public-advocate-candidate-forum-nov-2018 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8074-listen-public-advocate-candidate-forum-nov-2018 pa forum aarp afterward

The candidates, moderator and hosts (photo via Gotham Gazette)


With Public Advocate Letitia James' victory to become the next New York State Attorney General, she will vacate her current position on January 1 and there will be a special election to fill it sometime in February, once the Mayor decides on the exact date within a limited window he has to call it. In the days before and after Election Day 2018, candidates for Public Advocate have announced their intentions to run, or at least explore it, in some cases. Seven of those candidates participated in a forum on Wednesday, Nov. 14, hosted by Citizens Union, AARP NY, and New York Law School: Assembly Members Michael Blake and Danny O'Donnell; City Council Members Eric Ulrich, Jumaane Williams, and Rafael Espinal; activist and journalist Nomiki Konst; and attorney and former federal aide Dawn Smalls (there are other candidates who have declared or are exploring a run -- candidates will have to decide early in January at the latest).

The debate touched on a wide range of issues, but was especially focused on how the candidates would approach the office of Public Advocate and what issues they would focus on, and it was moderated by Gotham Gazette's Ben Max. Listen to the debate through the audio embedded below, or find it wherever you get your podcasts under "Gotham Gazette" and "Max & Murphy" -- we've added it to those podcast streams.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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LISTEN: Public Advocate Candidate Forum - Nov. 14, 2018 Thu, 15 Nov 2018 05:00:00 +0000
Federal Government Paves Way for City-Backed Retirement Savings Program https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6692-federal-government-paves-way-for-city-backed-retirement-savings-program https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6692-federal-government-paves-way-for-city-backed-retirement-savings-program de blasio aarp retirement savings city hall rally

Mayor de Blasio at a February rally (Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


Responding to interest from cities including New York, the federal Department of Labor has ruled that certain municipalities can establish publicly-run retirement savings programs for private-sector workers whose employers do not offer such a program.

In February, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his intention to create a new retirement-savings program during his State of the City speech, citing the fact that more than half of private sector workers in New York City do not have access to a retirement savings program through their place of work. New York City could become the first city in the country to launch such a program, which exist in five states.

The de Blasio administration hailed the Department of Labor ruling, which was posted December 19, as a key step in making the plan a reality.

“We applaud the United States Department of Labor for taking this important step toward building retirement security for everyday Americans,” said de Blasio spokesperson Freddi Goldstein, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “For the better part of the year, we have been advocating and preparing to become the first city in the country to create a retirement savings program for private sector employees, and with the recent DOL rule, we are one step closer.”

Soon after de Blasio’s February announcement, the mayor rallied at City Hall with other top elected officials and advocates in support of creating a private-sector retirement-savings program in New York City. The mayor said he would be working with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, and City Council Member Ben Kallos on legislation. In June 2015 Public Advocate James released a reporting highlighting gaps in retirement savings for many New Yorkers. City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who oversees the city’s public pension system and was at the time studying the best path for a private sector program, also attended the rally in support.

In order to move a bill and launch a program, the city needed clearance from the Department of Labor, which it petitioned for and has now received.

“More workers saving for retirement now means more financially secure retirees in the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in a statement accompanying the DOL ruling. “This is good for workers and families trying to build their nest eggs, and good for the long-term strength of the economy.”

The DOL announcement said that three cities -- New York, Philadelphia, and Seattle -- have shown interest in launching a city-backed private-sector retirement-savings program. According to the de Blasio administration, the city would put up seed money to launch the program and expects it to be self-sustaining after an initial start-up period. The city would not have any additional financial burden and would not guarantee benefits like it does with its public sector pensions. Goldstein said there is no timetable for legislation at this point.

As initially outlined by de Blasio, the program would apply to workers at business of ten employees or more that do not already have a retirement-savings program (a pension or 401(k)). Businesses that offer programs could not dissolve them to move employees to the city-initiated one.

As mandated by the Department of Labor, it would be optional for workers, though advocates like AARP New York are calling for any such program to include auto-enrollment, which would make opting in far easier and is said to drastically increase participation. De Blasio’s initial proposal outline included auto-enrollment.

De Blasio’s February outline also said that contributions would be “exclusively from employees (rather than from employers or the City) and made through payroll” and “based on a default rate,” though “employees would have the ability to change their rate or opt out of the program.” Additionally, workers “would be able to transfer the savings account from job to job.” The city “would create a board to establish and oversee the management of the program,” which would be phased in over the course of years.

In October, Comptroller Stringer put out a detailed proposal for what the program could like like, including a new "NYC 401(k) marketplace."

In a statement Thursday, Stringer called the Department of Labor's new ruling "a major step in the right direction, because every worker should have a fair shot at a secure retirement." Of his report, Stringer said, "We hope New York City Nest Egg will be a blueprint for reform. This work is so important, and we will work with stakeholders across all levels of government to move this issue forward in the new year."

According to AARP’s policy shop, more than half of private-sector workers in New York State -- over 3.5 million people -- lack access to a retirement savings program, which are especially scarce through small businesses.

Per the de Blasio administration, “only 43 percent of working New Yorkers have access to a plan that can help them save for retirement,” but they are often subject to large fees, and “even those who have started to save do not have much: 40 percent of New Yorkers between the ages of 50 and 64 have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.”

The city-focused ruling from the Department of Labor, which applies only to municipalities of a certain size, comes after DOL paved the way for state-run programs earlier this year. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo already has a commission studying the issue. A state program could supercede a city one, though it would also depend on the details of the programs if the city were to launch one before the state. It is too early to tell which level of government will act first. In the city, Public Advocate James and City Council Member Ben Kallos are expected to lead on introducing legislation at the City Council, and the bill would likely go through Kallos' governmental operations committee.

According to the Department of Labor, “States and political subdivisions have a substantial governmental interest to encourage retirement savings in order to protect the economic security of their residents.”

“Our city and state leaders have a golden opportunity to empower millions of New Yorkers to build financial security,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel, in a statement reacting to the new DOL ruling. “The state and city should fill in the gaps left by an economy in which fewer companies are able to provide savings options.”

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: this article has been updated with comment from Comptroller Stringer and a few additional details.

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Federal Government Paves Way for City-Backed Retirement Savings Program Thu, 29 Dec 2016 05:00:00 +0000
AARP Emerges as Key De Blasio Ally https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6233-aarp-emerges-as-key-de-blasio-ally https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6233-aarp-emerges-as-key-de-blasio-ally aarp ny

AARP members pack City Council chambers (photo via @aarpny)


There are about 800,000 AARP members in New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio has been arm-in-arm with them of late. The organization has come out in strong support of key pieces of de Blasio's affordable housing agenda and his plan to create a city-run retirement savings program for private sector workers.

De Blasio has sought and embraced the support, frequently engaging with AARP members and regularly citing AARP's endorsement as validation for his housing plan, specifically controversial changes to the city's zoning rules that he is negotiating through the City Council. On Tuesday, the Council will pass changes to the zoning code that AARP supports as essential to creating more affordable housing for seniors.

Not only is AARP helpful in the near-term as de Blasio builds support for his policies, but older voters are also an important bloc as de Blasio heads toward a 2017 re-election bid. There are more than 2 million registered voters in New York City over the age of 50, which is the threshold for AARP membership, and 72 percent, or 1.5 million, are Democrats, according to Steve Romalewski, Director of CUNY Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research/The Graduate Center.

Older people are known to vote in higher percentages than other age groups, and that is the case in New York City. According to Romalewski, in the 2013 mayoral election, which saw very low overall turnout as de Blasio cruised to a landslide, about 38% of the one million-plus registered voters 65 and older voted, compared to 12% of the one million-plus registered voters 35 or younger.

While AARP has become a key ally for the mayor, the group does not officially endorse candidates. Still, de Blasio's attention to issues of concern for older people and their regular exposure to him as a champion of their causes certainly appear to have created a mutually beneficial dynamic. AARP support for de Blasio's zoning changes became loud during a tough time for the mayor as community boards and others around the city criticized the plan.

On Monday evening, de Blasio held his fourth tele-town hall with AARP-NY in the last nine months, during which he has discussed affordable housing and other issues with thousands of older constituents. According to AARP, 12,800 people participated over the course of an hour-long tele-town hall in February.

During Monday's call, de Blasio struck a celebratory tone on the eve of the City Council voting through the zoning changes. Saying that Tuesday is "going to be a great day for New York City," de Blasio thanked AARP members for "the decisive support you have provided for our affordable housing plan." The "historic" day, de Blasio said, will usher in new policies "to open up a lot of different places where we can create the affordable housing seniors need." De Blasio told call participants that there will be a celebratory rally in Foley Square at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Over the past two months, AARP also figured significantly in two de Blasio-led rallies at City Hall - one on his housing policies, one on his new retirement savings plan - and helped coordinate an in-person town hall meeting de Blasio held on senior housing in Manhattan.

"AARP is an extraordinary force for good," de Blasio said during one of the tele-town halls, "looking out for the needs of our seniors, making sure their rights are respected, and building a more fair society."

In response to de Blasio's affordable housing plans outlined in his 2015 State of the City speech, AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel said in a statement, "Mayor de Blasio outlined a bold initiative to help make New York City more affordable...AARP looks forward to working with Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to address a primary concern of so many New Yorkers - the cost of living here - and continuing to make New York a great place to live, work and play for all age groups."

AARP has followed up on that pledge, especially as the debate over de Blasio's key senior housing-related proposal, known as Zoning for Quality and Affordability, recently came toward a vote in the City Council. AARP has encouraged its members to call their City Council representatives and conducted a targeted social media campaign to lobby Council members. It also purchased radio ads in support of the mayor's plan and sent mailings. (Another advocacy group for older New Yorkers, LiveOn NY, has also been a vocal supporter of ZQA.)

In a Friday interview with WNYC, de Blasio said that as he and his administration engaged more people on his zoning proposals and larger housing plan, more came to support it. "[A]s this legislation moved forward," de Blasio told WNYC's Brigid Bergin, "crucial organizations like AARP got involved and they spoke powerfully to seniors about why this would help create more senior housing. And that brought in a lot of support." He also referenced the support of a variety of labor unions.

A nonpartisan advocacy group, AARP does not endorse candidates or make campaign contributions. It does, however, support policies, and it has put significant resources behind de Blasio's zoning changes. AARP has also committed to full-throated support for the retirement savings program, which the group's representatives say is a major national priority.

Still, AARP representatives are firm that the organization does not endorse, donate to campaigns, or promote candidates through independent expenditures. In response to a tweet from Gotham Gazette in which this reporter speculated that AARP could be a formidable source of election support for de Blasio, AARP Associate State Director for New York City Chris Widelo tweeted back, "we are strictly non-partisan and do not endorse...but our members do vote!"

During a phone interview Monday afternoon, Widelo explained more about AARP's approach to issue advocacy versus candidate campaigns. "If it were an election, I think our tone would be different," Widelo said. He added that AARP has been behind the mayor's housing plan with such energy because it is a key priority, but he stressed that the organization will not be supporting de Blasio's reelection campaign. "Next year, you'll probably notice AARP, we have a hard deadline when candidates file paperwork and become a candidate in our eyes, even if they are a sitting elected official, and we adjust how we may coordinate." Widelo said that the deadline is in the summer, but that AARP will judge the political landscape.

AARP has also done tele-town halls with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Public Advocate Letitia James, Widelo noted. "It just so happens that our priorities have lined up with the mayor's and others here in the city," Widelo said. "We're happy to have the mayor of the largest city in the country on our tele-town hall, for sure," he added, "but for us, it's more important to tell [members] the story about what this policy is...it's educational."

While AARP is appreciative of the mayor's attention to issues older New Yorkers care about, de Blasio is certainly happy to have the group's support.

At a March 9 rally outside City Hall to support his housing agenda, de Blasio was surrounded by representatives from AARP and several labor unions, each of which he thanked. "I have to say, there are so many great organizations," de Blasio yelled through a megaphone, "but one that has done absolutely awesome work has been AARP."

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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AARP Emerges as Key De Blasio Ally Tue, 22 Mar 2016 01:13:02 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 21 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6231-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-march-21 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6231-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-march-21 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week will be another busy one when it comes to budgets: the City Council continues its preliminary budget hearings and state budget negotiations enter their final ten days - a state budget is due by April 1 and some say a deal could be announced before the end of this week. Don't count on it, though, state budgets usually come in just before (or, as was the case last year, just after) the March 31 midnight deadline. This practice under Governor Andrew Cuomo is actually a serious improvement given that the state used to regularly wind up with late budgets extending weeks past the start of the new fiscal year, which begins April 1.

There are a variety of issues to be worked out, with several of importance to New York City. As always, there are a number of high-profile items, like an increase of the minimum wage or government ethics reform, that could be pushed beyond the budget and into the legislative session to follow. That session runs until mid-June. The budget, after all, only must include necessary state expenses. Expect at least a couple of closed-door meetings among Cuomo and the two legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican. On Monday, City Council "Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Members will travel to Albany to advocate for the City Council's 2016 State Budget and Legislative Agenda," according to Mark-Viverito's public schedule.

Also worth watching in Albany this week, the Assembly will consider internal reforms announced by Heastie and his conference at the end of this past week. The 40-plus reform proposals received a mixed reaction from elected officials and good government advocates, but still indicate a number of changes that many have been advocating for years. And, keep an eye out for a related conference in Albany on Friday, which will look at ethics reform through the lens of a state constitutional convention - details below.

While it is another busy week of budget hearings at the City Council, the Council will also hold a full-body Stated Meeting on Tuesday, at which new bills will be introduced and the Council will vote on the two high-profile zoning changes - Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) - that have been the source of months of discussion, negotiation, and controversy, and that are key to Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing plans.

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: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
Mayor de Blasio is doing a series of six media appearances to discuss his affordable housing agenda on Monday. He'll be on NPR, 880AM and 710AM radio, and on NY1, NY1 Noticias, and Univision TV.

Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.

At 10 a.m. in Albany, following the full meeting of the NYS Board of Regents, the board’s newly-elected Chancellor and Vice Chancellor will hold a press conference with the State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.

At noon Monday, a coalition of over 90 HIV/AIDS advocates will launch a statewide Week of Action on the steps of City Hall, calling upon Governor Cuomo to invest $70 million in a plan to end AIDS in the 2016 New York State budget.

At the City Council on Monday:

  • At 9:30 a.m., the Committee on Health will hold a hearing on a bill to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products at sports arenas and recreational areas that require tickets.
  • At 10 a.m., the Committee on Health will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.
  • At noon, the Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.
  • At 1 p.m., the Committee on Youth Services will discuss a bill requiring the establishment of a training coordinator to teach certain agency staff throughout departments such as Parks and Recreation, Homeless Services, and Human Resources Administration/Social Services how to identify runaway, homeless or sexually exploited youth and how to connect them with appropriate services. The committee will also discuss several technical changes relating to an annual report produced by the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Youth and Community Development on the number of sexually exploited youth each agency has come into contact with over the course of the calendar year.
  • At 1 p.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.
  • At 1:30 p.m., the Committee on Higher Education will meet to discuss a resolution to increase State funding to CUNY, and to reach a fair labor agreement with the University’s faculty and staff in the 2016-17 NYS Executive Budget.
  • At 3 p.m., the Committee on Civil Rights will examine a bill to broaden or incorporate a right to truthful information for a variety of activities covered by the New York City Human Rights Law, including lending, employment, and access to public accommodations and others.

At 2 p.m. Monday, "First Lady McCray will deliver opening remarks at a panel at Fountain House, an organization dedicated to supporting those living with serious mental illness."

At 6 p.m. Monday, the LGBT Task Force of Manhattan Community Boards 9, 10, 11, and 12 will host an LGBT Resource Fair featuring New York City Agencies. The event is sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

At 6:10 p.m. Monday evening, "Mayor Bill de Blasio will discuss affordable housing with an anticipated 10,000+ AARP members from New York City on an interactive call that allows participants to ask questions," according to AARP-NY.

On Monday at 6:30 p.m., schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will attend a town hall meeting of District 16's Community Education Council at MS 267 in Brooklyn.

Tuesday
Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Crain’s New York Business will host an event on how startup businesses take off in New York City, featuring: Gregg Bishop, Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services; Howard Lerman, Co-Founder & CEO, Yext; Rachel Shechtman,, Founder and CEO, STORY; Adam Shwartz, Director, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech; and moderated by Matthew Flamm, Senior Reporter, Crain's New York Business.

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the YWCA of New York City will host “its third breakfast panel for Women’s History Month “New York City Women Leaders: The Power of Influence and Purpose.” The panel will include Maya Wiley, counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio; City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley; and Carmelyn Malalis, commissioner of the city’s Human Rights Commission; among others.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Commission on Public Information and Communication will meet to discuss the implementation of the webcasting law and the establishment of a central portal for webcasts.

At the City Council on Tuesday:

  • At 9 a.m., the Committee on State and Federal Legislation will meet to press for authorization that Christopher Park in Manhattan is discontinued as city parkland.
  • At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to approve new designations for certain organizations to receive funding in the expense budget; to communicate the transfer of City funds between various agencies in FY ‘16 in the expense budget; and to communicate the appropriation of new revenues of $982 million in FY ‘16.
  • At 1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body Stated Meeting. The highlight of the hearing will be the Council’s votes on the MIH and ZQA zoning text amendments.
  • Before the Stated, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will host a pre-Stated press conference at 12:30.

Also prior to the Stated Meeting, at noon, City Council Members Costa Constantinides and Ydanis Rodriguez will host a press conference on the steps of City Hall to rally before introducing a bill to create a pilot program for electric vehicle charging stations on street parking. The program hopes to encourage the use of electric cars and reduce carbon emissions citywide.

Wednesday
Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.

At the City Council on Wednesday:

  • At 10 a.m., the Subcommittee on Libraries will meet jointly with the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations for a preliminary budget hearing on libraries.
  • At 11 a.m., the Committee on Contracts will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.
  • At 1 p.m., the Committee on Courts and Legal Services will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will host a Women’s History Month celebration at Mott Haven Library.

Thursday
At 8 a.m. Thursday, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce will host a breakfast event focused on combating the rising tide of cybercrime and featuring Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

Friday and the weekend
At 1:30 p.m. Friday in Albany, a forum, “Can a NYS Constitutional Convention Strengthen Government Ethics?” The event, hosted by The Rockefeller Institute, will feature discussion about whether issues of integrity in government can be fixed statutorily, or if would be better resolved through constitutional change. Speaking will be former NYS Comptroller H. Carl McCall; and Columbia Law School Professor Richard Briffault, who is also a former assistant counsel to Governor Hugh Carey; as well as a panel of experts.

On Saturday, March 26, Participatory Budget voting begins in New York City Council districts running the program. In Participatory Budgeting, Council Members ask New York City residents “to decide how to invest public funds in their neighborhoods.” Voting will take place throughout the nearly 30 participating districts through April 3.

***
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 Kelly Fan and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 21 Sat, 19 Mar 2016 14:22:16 +0000
Private Sector Retirement Security Plans Become Next Progressive Cause https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6192-private-sector-retirement-security-plans-become-next-progressive-cause https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6192-private-sector-retirement-security-plans-become-next-progressive-cause de blasio state of the city

De Blasio delivers his State of the City (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office) 


Experts warn that the entire country could be headed for a financial crisis caused by the fact that an aging workforce has not been saving for retirement.

Whether due to cutbacks of public pensions, the lack of retirement plans offered by private employers, or workers forced to raid their savings, it appears to a growing number of advocates and politicians that many Americans will be forced to keep working far into old age or attempt to survive on below-poverty-level support from Social Security and local welfare programs.

"If we don't make sure something is in place to prevent this, the city and state will have a catastrophe on their hands," Beth Finkel, director of AARP's New York office, told Gotham Gazette. "Ultimately these people are going to turn to the state and city to survive."

City officials cite stark statistics - only 43 percent of working New Yorkers have access to a retirement plan and 40 percent of New Yorkers between the ages of 50 and 64 have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.

It appears to be an issue that is keeping New York's political leaders up at night. It also presents an opportunity for elected officials to lead on another progressive policy matter.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio both announced plans to confront the issue in their recent annual addresses - Cuomo's State of the State, de Blasio's State of the City. Cuomo appointed SUNY Chairman Carl McCall to head a commission to study the issue, while de Blasio said he plans to work on legislation with the City Council that would allow the city to offer retirement plans to private sector workers who are not offered plans by their employer. He outlined the framework in his Feb. 4 speech.

De Blasio's plan would make the city the first in the country to offer such a retirement program, although a few states have adopted legislation to create something similar.

Many see the issue of government-backed retirement for private sector workers as the next progressive push, after minimum wage and paid family leave. De Blasio said as much during a recent appearance on Bill Samuel's Effective Radio program. "So this is our contribution to New York City towards what I hope will be a much bigger forward march of history and it certainly aligns with what we've done on the other issues you've talked about like paid sick leave and affordable housing, pre-K, et cetera," said de Blasio. "This is a package of things that have to change urgently, not just at the local level, but up to the federal level."

De Blasio's retirement plan would require employers with 10 or more employees to offer voluntary access to a city-run retirement plan. The city would cover upfront costs of starting the plan and a board would be appointed to implement it. Employees would have their contributions automatically deducted from their paychecks. Neither the city nor the state would contribute to the plans.

Businesses would not be able to drop plans they currently offer. The bill will be crafted by the de Blasio administration in collaboration with the offices of City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Tish James, and Comptroller Scott Stringer. Representatives of the de Blasio administration did not respond when asked about a timeline to introduce a bill.

"[I]t's something the city would manage and we would put some initial investment into," the mayor told Samuels during his Sunday radio appearance. "And it would give every worker the opportunity to join a retirement security plan that they could really depend on, would not evaporate because it would be supported and backed by the City of New York, and it would mean putting their own resources into it," de Blasio said.

The de Blasio administration has also asked the federal government to act to ease burdens and liabilities the city could face in managing retirement accounts. However, not many involved in the issue expect Washington to take action anytime soon. The Department of Labor has been giving guidance to states that have attempted to implement similar programs, but has yet to issue a full set of guidelines. It is likely that the state would have to approve any city-backed retirement program.

The mayor is set to hold a press conference on the plan Thursday afternoon at City Hall at which Stringer, James, and Mark-Viverito will each also speak.

Stringer was one of the first New York officials to take on the issue, constructing a working group of nationally recognized academics to study the retirement crisis in February of last year. The group, which features academics from across the political spectrum, is expected to issue recommendations this spring.

"There's no question we have a looming crisis on our hands when it comes to retirement security – in New York and the nation," Stringer said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "Today, 57 percent of New Yorkers lack access to a workplace retirement plan, which has huge implications both for city services and for the ability of our seniors to live out their lives in dignity."

Citing a "need to recognize that one size does not fit all when it comes to retirement security," Stringer said that his "office has been working over the past year with a diverse group of some of the nation's top academics to put together thoughtful, innovative proposals to increase retirement savings options and protect the City's budget."

Public Advocate James proposed a bill in February of last year that would have established a review commission to study the feasibility of a city-backed pension fund for private workers. The bill hasn't made it out of committee, but de Blasio's plan appears to be making it obsolete. James issued a study about the impending retirement crisis.

"There are so many major players who are committed to this that it is hard to imagine we won't get something done, but the devil is in the details," said Finkel of AARP. "I think the major players understand the urgency. Every year we put off is another year people aren't saving."

Samuels, head of public policy think tank Effective NY, said he has been lobbying top state and city leaders on the issue for a few years. Now, he said, even with interest from Cuomo, de Blasio, and a host of other city officials known to compete with each other, "There is a cooperative environment at this point." Samuels says that a number of the leaders involved in the issue have been meeting to hash out a sensible solution.

It is unclear how a state plan might interact with a city plan - whether one would override the other, or if it would make sense to have two if the state acts. Some insiders see de Blasio and Cuomo focused on an issue and wonder when the competition and skullduggery will start. Some hope that city officials will unite around one plan that will then be used by the Cuomo administration as a blueprint. De Blasio administration officials said they would welcome action by the state.

Samuels said he was first moved to address the issue during a trip to his hometown of Canandaigua, in Western New York, while talking to his old friends about their children. "Their kids, even if they had a 401K, they had to raid it for an emergency, so they have nothing for retirement. It was an eye-opener," explained Samuels.

"There is a real national problem and it's not going to get solved in Washington. We have a startling number of people heading into retirement in poverty," Samuels told Gotham Gazette. "I worked for a company that put 15 percent of my salary into retirement. Reagan convinced people they should manage their own money. So What happened was 401Ks were set up and almost all companies stopped putting any money in toward retirement."

There is debate among politicians, academics, advocates, and business leaders about how to offer a retirement plan that actually helps workers save without hurting small businesses. Issues in play include: what size of businesses to target, how to manage employee deductions, what kind of plans make sense for workers, and how to make sure plans are transferable should an employee find a new job or move. There will also be questions about management of the program, as there always are about public pension funds.

The Partnership for New York City, a leading city business group, is supportive of the idea behind de Blasio's plan. The group's president, Kathryn Wylde, said in an interview that the issue is extremely complicated and that she has concerns. "Frankly, I'd rather have the federal government or the state do something broader," Wylde told Gotham Gazette, whiling stressing that she supports de Blasio's action.

Wylde said businesses in different locales would have more of an equal footing if a retirement plan was offered by the federal or state government. She also pointed to underlying economic issues. "I'm not sure that simply providing a plan is a magic bullet," Wylde said. "People living on subsistence wages aren't suddenly going to have enough money to save. So I'm not sure there is a way to make this work without some sort of subsidy."

Mike Durant, state director for the National Federation for Independent Business, said that his members are concerned about having the state get involved in the issue, given their current fight against New York Democrats' push for a higher minimum wage and paid family leave.

"From the small employer perspective, we balloted our members on this topic last Fall with 85 percent of respondents opposed, with wide-ranging fears," Durant told Gotham Gazette.

Durant said members are concerned about liability issues, and "yet another mandate handed down by government that could potentially fail to recognize the significant differences between Main Street and big business." Costs for managing contributions could be prohibitive to small "mom and pop" businesses that operate without a formal human resources office, Durant said.

"Simply, these proposals are concerning and have many moving parts and there is definitely not a simple solution across the spectrum of business," said Durant. "Albany has definitely not proven it is capable of acknowledging the complex differences between big and small business through legislation, which adds to our concerns."

A number of states have passed legislation to implement state-backed private sector retirement plans in a variety of ways.

California adopted such a plan in 2012. There, the bill requires employers of five or more that don't offer a retirement plan to offer a savings plan similar to an IRA that is backed by the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

Illinois adopted a plan in 2014 that requires employers that do not offer a retirement plan, have been in business for more than two years, and employ 25 or more to automatically enroll employees in a state-managed plan that offers a variety of investment plans and payroll deduction levels.

Connecticut has dedicated $400,000 to the creation of a board to study and create a state-based retirement security plan. The plan must be submitted to the state by April of this year.

None of these states have begun accepting contributions to their plans and many are waiting for more guidance from the federal government.

Samuels, of EffectiveNY, said that the wide variety of opinions on how to implement a plan, the number of principles involved, and the scope of the debate are encouraging to him. "Everyone is on the same page that this is an important issue," he said. "There is lots of overlap but we are headed toward a solution. The reason I pushed the city first is I felt it would be tough to get through in the state, but the politics have changed and now Cuomo has named a commission."

Finkel of AARP said that she expects New York City will lead on the issue and that cities and other states across the country will follow.

"Studies tell us that people are 15 times more likely to save if they have something automatically deducted from their paycheck. It's low-hanging fruit and I would hope that New York City will be the first city in the country to implement this kind of plan."

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Private Sector Retirement Security Plans Become Next Progressive Cause Wed, 24 Feb 2016 23:31:50 +0000
The Week That Was in New York Politics, Dec 7-11 https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/6031-the-week-that-was-in-new-york-politics-dec-7-11 https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/6031-the-week-that-was-in-new-york-politics-dec-7-11 week in review bus readers

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


Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday 

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Mayor de Blasio signs legislation creating the city's new Department of Veterans' Services, via Joe Bello, @NYMetroVets

BdB vets joe bello

TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:

1. Skelos Guilty: Former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam Skelos were found guilty on eight counts Friday. They will be sentenced in March. [Read: Tenant Activists Trace Road to Corruption Trials, Eye Elusive Reform]

2. Security Guards for Private Schools: On Monday, the City Council passed a controversial bill to provide public funding to private and religious schools to pay for security guards. $19.8 million will be spent to place at least one security guard at every private school in New York City with at least 300 students that wants one. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law.

3. Cuomo’s Common Core Overhaul: A task force created by Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a report Thursday which found that the state made a number of mistakes in its implementation of Common Core learning standards and recommended reducing the tendency to “teach to a test,” giving shorter tests, and not linking test results to teacher evaluations until the 2018-2019 school year.

4. Housing Developments: The Staten Island Borough Board became the fifth to vote against Mayor de Blasio’s zoning amendment proposals on Thursday, adding to the significant criticism the plan has received from community and borough boards. Creating more affordable housing is a signature issue for the mayor determined to make New York City more equal, and de Blasio's administration is now prepared to devise a new strategy to regain momentum and secure support for a plan they believe has been poorly understood. On Thursday, AARP endorsed the mayor’s plans (it has 750,000 members in New York City), adding to two significant union endorsements the plans have recently received. [Read: Mayor & Speaker: Rezoning Plans Will Change Before Council Vote & Next Steps for the Mayor’s Controversial Zoning Proposals]

5. Public Housing Problem: A New York City Department of Investigation report found that the NYPD’s “systematic failure” to communicate required information to the city’s public housing authority, NYCHA, is partially responsible for the disproportionately high crime rates that have plagued public housing projects. In response to the report, the NYPD will create an interactive database to improve information sharing about criminal activity in public housing with NYCHA officials.

THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS:

  • 4,000-plus inmates are currently in solitary confinement in New York, despite vows by officials to limit its use, the Daily News reports.
  • 4,747 stop-and-frisks were recorded in New York City in July, August, and September - the lowest quarter since the numbers were first released in 2002, according to NYPD statistics.
  • 93% decrease in the number of stop-and-frisks between 2011 and 2014, according to a report released by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
  • 797 fatal drug overdoses were recorded by the city Health Department in 2014, the most since 2006, the New York Post reports.
  • 20% increase in annual state spending for nonprofits is needed in order to fund a $15 per hour wage floor for nonprofit human services workers, according to a report released by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Fiscal Policy Institute and the Human Services Council.
  • 75% of incidents the FDNY responded to in 2014 were medical-related calls, and only 5% were fire-related, though a vast majority of the FDNY's resources are devoted to staffing fire units, according to a report from the Citizens Budget Commission.
  • $12 million will be added to the city’s budget to increase job training programs for homeless individuals in the shelter system in 31 shelters across the 5 boroughs, the Daily News reports.
  • 6,217,621 people rode the subways on October 29, 2015, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority - about 50,000 more than the previous record reached last year.

THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:

It was a good week for supporters of raising the minimum wage, as a state appeals board upheld Governor Cuomo’s planned increase to a $15 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers, disputing arguments that certain factors weren’t adequately analyzed before making the decision to raise the wage.

It was a bad week for Anthony Mangone, a former attorney whose cooperation aided in the conviction of three New York state senators, who was sentenced to 18 months behind bars this week after a judge said the “dirty lawyer” had committed crimes too serious to escape incarceration.

THE FLASH:

Around this time 40 years ago, on December 9, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a $2.3 billion seasonal loan authorization to prevent New York City from having to default.

Around this time 74 years ago, on December 7, 1941, in the panic that ensued after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Japanese nationals living in New York were rounded up by FBI agents and held on Ellis Island. They were later transferred to internment camps for the remainder of the war.

Around this time 22 years ago, on December 7, 1993, Colin Ferguson opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road train, killing six passengers and wounding 19 others. Days later, a New York Times editorial called for stronger gun control laws in response to the murders, pointing to the ease with which Ferguson obtained a handgun in California, which had one of the country's stricter gun laws at the time.

GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:

Resignation Highlights City Council Gender Imbalance, by Ben Max

Cuomo Urged to Sign Executive Transparency Bills Before Looming Deadline, by David Howard King

Next Steps for The Mayor's Controversial Zoning Proposals, Christian Zhang

Tenant Activists Trace Road to Corruption Trials, Eye Elusive Reform, by David Howard King

Little-Known Commission Expands Access to City Government, by Meg O’Connor

Hearing to Examine ‘Efficacy’ of City Response to ‘Homelessness Crisis’, by Ryan Brady

In Zoning Amendment, One Size Does Not Fit All, by Council Member Donovan Richards (opinion)

Harmful Legal Reform Is Not an Ethics Solution, by Joanne Doroshow (opinion)

Give Police Tools to Reduce Arrest and Improve Community Health, by Chelsea Davis (opinion)

Public Money Is For Public Schools, by Ayishah Irvin (opinion)

MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:

Mayor de Blasio spoke with Errol Louis on NY1's Inside City Hall on Wednesday to discuss his first two years in office, and spoke about the city’s homelessness crisis, his affordable housing plan, and more.

An in-depth report by ProPublica’s Marcelo Rochabrun and Cezary Podkul reveals that city and state regulators stood by as developer Two Trees Management disregarded laws requiring rent stabilization in exchange for the large property tax break it received.

Politico New York’s Bill Hammond writes that Cuomo is making excuses about not doing anything to stop Albany’s ongoing culture of corruption, and argues that there are many glaring weaknesses left in New York’s anti-corruption laws.

 

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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: bmax@gothamgazette.com

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!

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by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max

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The Week That Was in New York Politics, Dec 7-11 Fri, 11 Dec 2015 18:25:28 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 11 https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5717-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-may-11 https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5717-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-may-11 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to look for this week in New York politics:

SKELOS WATCH: The fallout from Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos' arrest on federal corruption charges continues, with Skelos facing increased pressure to step down from his leadership post. The Legislature is back in session in Albany on Monday, it seems that it is only a matter of time before Skelos takes the path indicted Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver took after his arrest: becoming a rank-and-file member of his body while a colleague ascends to the throne. [Read our in-depth look at how Skelos came to power and what he's done over the years to maintain it]

Meanwhile, there are only about five weeks left in the legislative session and for any real policy work to get done, the Senate leadership must be stabilized. There are a whole host of issues that lawmakers and advocates want to see action on, but in order for anything to really get done, it will come down to negotiations among Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and the leader of the Senate, whether it is Skelos or a replacement. Some of the key issues on the negotiating table include mayoral control of New York City schools, rent laws and the 421-A tax break for real estate development, 'raise the age' and other criminal justice reforms, paid family leave, the minimum wage, and more. It doesn't seem anything else will be done on the ethics reform front, even though there is more and more scrutiny on the LLC loophole and the problems with the influence of campaign donations and donors. Gov. Cuomo is in a tough spot, the worse Albany looks the worse he looks, and he also wants to get more legislation done before the end of session, but his hands are tied as the Senate deals with the upheaval of Skelos' arrest. The governor may just resort to doing as much as he can without the Legislature, as he's indicated with recent decisions to convene a wage board looking at the minimum wage for fast-food workers.

DE BLASIO TO DC: Mayor Bill de Blasio is heading back to Washington, DC this week. On Tuesday he'll unveil the "Progressive Agenda" that he and collaborators from around the country have put together. A liberal version of the 1994 Republican "Contract with America," it will focus on reducing inequality and creating opportunity. The mayor has argued that a national progressive movement can be extremely helpful to his work in New York. De Blasio will reportedly also head to California this week, where he will speak at his daughter's school, Santa Clara University.

Meanwhile, it promises to be another busy week in the City of New York itself, with the City Council in action, many events and rallies around the city, and continued analysis of de Blasio's recently unveiled fiscal year 2016 Executive Budget leading up to the start of council hearings on the budget, which start May 18, and a final budget deal by the end of June.

Public Advocate Letitia James is due back from Israel this week, she's been there on a nine-day visit.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - 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 morning, Eleanor’s Legacy will host its Spring Breakfast honoring Congressional Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and featuring appearances from Congressional Reps. Nita Lowey, Grace Meng, Louise Slaughter, and Nydia Velazquez, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List.

Mark-Viverito has a busy Monday: in addition to the Eleanor's Legacy event, the speaker will be speaking "at MOVE Systems Press Conference to Announce Food Cart Pilot Program" at City Hall; speaking at "Press Conference to Announce the Grand Marshals for the 2015 National Puerto Rican Day Parade; speaking "at New York City Council Jewish Heritage Event" at City Hall, and appearing "Live on BronxTalk" at 9 p.m.

On Monday at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall, "workplace safety advocates will unveil the latest alarming findings from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health's "Price of Life: 2015 Report on Construction Fatalities in NYC...Advocates will call for: public agencies to stop awarding taxpayer dollars and public contracts to repeat safety offenders; prosecutors to use criminal statutes to go after contractors who violate safety regulations; increased resources for OSHA inspectors to spot problems before they become fatalities; and elected officials to keep a strong Scaffold Safety Law, which holds those who control construction sites responsible if they fail to provide proper safety equipment and a worker is injured or killed as a result."

At 10 a.m. Monday, "Governor Cuomo Makes an Announcement Regarding the Enough is Enough Campaign" at FIT in Manhattan.

At about 10:30 Monday morning, "The New York City Independent Budget Office will release a report...that examines the city's provision of mental health and discharge planning services in the jail system. The report specifically looks at these services in relation to the city meeting its obligations under the Brad H. court settlement and provides data on the number of inmates eligible for and receiving mental health and discharge planning services in 2009 and 2013. Details on city spending are also included."

At 11 a.m. on Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will hold a "Press Conference Kicking Off Shred It Events with AARP" at Union Settlement, 237 East 104th Street. On Monday evening, Stringer will "Holds a Town Hall at Big Six Towers" in Woodside.

"On Monday, Mayor de Blasio will visit Corona Family Residence, a homeless facility in Queens...After the visit, the Mayor will hold a media availability to make an announcement related to homelessness" at about 1:30 p.m., according to his public schedule.

On Monday at 2 p.m. at City Hall, "leading housing coalitions and labor leaders to announce massive mobilization for stronger rent laws," specifically a march on Thursday "to demand laws that can keep NYC affordable for working people."

Monday’s City Council schedule will include "the Committee on Housing and Buildings will hold a hearing on Introduction 222-2014, in relation to amending the obligation of owners to provide notice to their tenants for service interruptions, and Introduction 592-2014, in relation to preservation of hotels. The Committee on Housing and Buildings will also hold an oversight hearing on construction safety.

"The Committee on Environmental Protection will hold a hearing on Introduction 240-2014, in relation to filing semiannual reports on catch basin cleanup and maintenance, and Resolution 549-2015 calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto the application by Liberty Natural Gas, LLC to construct the Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas terminal off the coast of New York.

"The Committee on General Welfare and the Committee on Governmental Operations will hold a joint hearing on Introduction 251-2014, in relation to the collection of demographic data regarding numerous Asian Pacific American sub-demographic groups, Introduction 551-2014, in relation to requiring city agencies to amend their official forms and databases to accommodate multiracial identification where racial identification is required, Introduction 552-2014, in relation to collecting and reporting data related to sexual orientation and gender identity, and Resolution 472-2014 calling on the state and federal governments to amend their official forms and databases to accommodate multiracial identification in all instances where racial identification is required."

On Monday, the state Legislature is in session in Albany.

At 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, “Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Tish James, the New York City Council Jewish Caucus, and members of the New York City Council cordially invite you to a Jewish Heritage Month Celebration, featuring special guest speaker Dr. Ruth Westheimer.”

Monday evening, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will hold a Queens Borough Board Meeting.

Also Monday evening, the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit (CAU), in collaboration with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, will host an LGBT City Agencies and Community Meet & Greet: “Meet and connect with all of New York City's LGBT focused agency representatives and learn about all the services and resources city agencies have to offer to the LGBT community.”

At 6:30 p.m. Monday, the New York Press Club will host the panel event, “The Investigators,” where a “panel of investigative reporters will discuss the state of their art in contemporary New York, joined by the City's new Investigations Commissioner, Mark G. Peters.” Panelists will include Greg Smith of New York Daily News, William Rashbaum and Michael Schwirtz of The New York Times, and Murray Weiss of DNAinfo.com New York, and the panel will be moderated by Tom Robbins.

Also Monday evening at 6:30 p.m., the Manhattan Institute will hold its Fifteenth Annual Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner, honoring Senior Fellow at Manhattan Institute and Co-Author of 'Broken Windows Policing,' George Kelling, and Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, Eva Moskowitz, “for Their Dedication to Increasing Safety and Opportunity in New York...The Alexander Hamilton Award was created to honor those individuals helping to foster the revitalization of our nation’s cities.”

Tuesday
Mayor de Blasio will be in Washington, DC on Tuesday: according to POLITICO, early in the day he'll appear at a Roosevelt Institute event with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others, and then he "will hold a 3 p.m. news conference outside the U.S. Capitol with labor leaders, Democratic lawmakers and liberal activists to unveil his "Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality.""

From the mayor's office: "On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio will travel to Washington, D.C. to unveil The Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality. There will be two events. In the morning, the Mayor will deliver remarks at the National Press Club. This event, hosted by the Roosevelt Institute, will also feature Nobel Prize winning economist and professor Joseph Stiglitz and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. In the afternoon, the Mayor will make an announcement at the House Triangle near the U.S. Capitol Building steps."

Tuesday morning, the Association for a Better New York will host a “breakfast with Scott Rechler,” who will "provide a regional perspective for addressing New York's competitive challenges and opportunities. He will also outline reforms underway at the Port Authority as well as priorities and goals for the Port Authority and for the region going forward.”

At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will hold a Queens Borough Cabinet Meeting.

Tuesday’s City Council schedule will include a joint hearing of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services, the Committee on Public Safety, the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, and the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services to “examine New York City’s action plan” on behavioral health and the criminal justice system.

On Tuesday, the state Legislature is in session in Albany.

Wednesday
On Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio "will be joined by a bipartisan coalition of mayors from around the country for meetings with Congressional leadership to call for a six-year transportation authorization that significantly increases federal transportation investments. Wednesday afternoon, the mayors will hold a press conference at the U.S. Capitol. Additional details regarding Mayor de Blasio's schedule while in Washington will be released as they become available." Later on Wednesday, "Mayor de Blasio will travel to Santa Clara, California."

"Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams announced Brooklyn Job Fair 2015, an opportunity for Brooklynites to come to Brooklyn Borough Hall on Wednesday, May 13th from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM and apply for positions at some of New York City's major businesses. This networking event is being co-hosted by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and is part of a sustained effort by Borough President Adams to advance hiring of local residents through the borough. According to statistics by the New York State Department of Labor, Brooklyn's unemployment rate in March 2015 was 6.7%, a higher number than that of the city and the state."

Wednesday, City and State, in collaboration with the Bronx Borough President’s Office, will host an event in celebration of its first ever Bronx Special Issue publication: “City & State will publish our first ever special issue covering everything Bronx. This special print edition will feature comprehensive coverage of major issues and industries in the Bronx, perspectives from every Bronx elected official and much more! This print edition will be launched City & State’s first ever Bronx-based event that will correspond with Bronx week.” Attendees will include Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., SOMOS Chair and Bronx Democratic Party Chair Marcos Crespo, State Senator Jeff Klein, and Kyle Kimball, President of the New York City Economic Development.

At noon Wednesday, the Senate Task Force on Workforce Development will meet for a hearing on “Bridging the Employment Gap.”

The state Legislature is due to be in session on Wednesday.

Wednesday evening, Cooper Union will host "The Monopoly Moment: The New Anti-Trust Paradox" featuring Fordham Law professor and former gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout.

Also Wednesday evening, Vets GSA in partnership with CUNY and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will host “a workshop and seminar that will be focusing on identifying contracting opportunities for New York State and the US Federal Government for Veteran Owned Businesses...This session will provide information for Services Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses and Veteran Owned Small Business to make them award or the multitude of open source business development intelligence websites that can be used to assist in the increasing the businesses ability to assess competition and identify and bid on viable opportunities.”

Thursday
Thursday morning, the Senate Standing Committee on Codes, the Senate Standing Committee on Consumer Protection, and the Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, will hold a joint hearing regarding “Cyber Security in New York State as it Relates to Businesses and the Private Sector.”

Thursday’s City Council schedule will include a meeting of the Committee on Finance “concerning amendments to the District Plan of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District” and a full-body Stated Meeting at 1:30 p.m.

At 5:00 p.m. Thursday, New York Communities for Change, Real Rent Reform Campaign, and Alliance for Tenant Power will host “Rally to Save NYC..Landlords and developers are taking our neighborhoods away from us. The affordable housing crisis and gentrification have brought millions of New Yorkers to a breaking point. If we don’t win stronger rent laws in June, our city will be lost. This is our last chance to hold onto the place we call home.” There will be a rally in Foley Square, followed by a march.

On Thursday evening, Manhattan BP Brewer will speak "at American Planning Association panel discussion on 421-a and rent stabilization, Rudin Family Forum at the Puck Building."

Friday and the weekend
Friday morning, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research will host “New York’s Next Health Care Revolution: How Employers Can Help Empower Patients and Consumers...In a just-released collection of essays published by the Manhattan Institute, a group of leading experts offer a clear diagnosis of New York’s health care ills, as well as a menu of concise, actionable reforms that employers and policymakers can use to make the Empire State’s health care system truly patient-and consumer-centered.”

On Saturday morning, Brooklyn BP Adams, in coordination with The Youth Council on Community Engagement, will host “Youth Participation on Community Boards Boot Camp...Brooklyn’s youth ages 16 – 25 and those who work with youth are invited to learn about civic engagement and how their local community board addresses the issues in their neighborhood.”

Saturday evening, Lea DeLaria (of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black) and the Empire State Pride Agenda will host its Spring Dinner at Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center: “The Empire State Pride Agenda is New York’s statewide civil rights and advocacy group dedicated to winning equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) New Yorkers and our families.” New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will provide the evening’s keynote.

Also Saturday evening, City Council Member Jumaane Williams and supporters will host a 39th birthday celebration/fundraiser for Williams: “Join us as we celebrate one of the most progressive and visionary public servants representing New York City communities today. Help fundraise to support the future of Brooklyn's rising star in government and invest in OUR future!”

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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).

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by Shannon Ho, Marco Poggio, and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 11 Sun, 10 May 2015 02:56:23 +0000