Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Brad Lander

Brad Lander

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    City Council chambers (photo: Sofie Hecht/Gotham Gazette)


    A majority of the incoming class of the New York City Council, including newly elected and returning members, has signed on to a newly-released package of internal rules reforms for the next four-year session, which begins in January. The agenda is intended to improve the Council’s budgeting and legislative drafting processes, strengthen the role of committees, bolster internal budgets, and enhance workplace conditions for Council staff, among other measures.

    Of the 51-member

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  • Mark Peters DOI City Council

    DOI Commissioner Mark Peters (photo: William Alatriste)


    Four years ago, over the veto of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the City Council passed the Community Safety Act, a landmark piece of legislation relating to policing in New York City. One of the law’s most prominent planks was the creation of the NYPD Inspector General, an independent police department watchdog that would audit NYPD practices and operations and make recommendations on improvements.

    With the nation on edge over widely disseminated videos of black men

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    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    This article is part of a series on Mayor de Blasio's first term record as he seeks reelection this fall, in partnership with WNYC radio and City Limits. Find all pieces of the series here.

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    (photo: Council Member Lander's office)


    After an 11-day window in which over 100,000 residents of pertinent districts cast ballots, the City Council recently announced the winners of the 2016-17 participatory budgeting cycle. Thirty-one of 51 Council districts participated this year, leading to $34 million in capital funds going towards hyper-local projects chosen directly by the districts’ voters.

    A total of 138 projects received funding in this cycle, with most districts backing three to five projects. Some districts awarded funding for many more

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: @NYCCouncil)


    A bill heard by the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations on Thursday aims to further limit the influence of big-dollar donations and special interests in city elections. The bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, who chairs the committee, would tweak the city’s public campaign finance system by removing a cap on public funds disbursed to candidate campaigns by the Campaign Finance Board (CFB).

    The city’s campaign finance system is held up as a national model that incentivizes small

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  • Lander Council members

    City Council members, with Brad Lander center (photo: William Alatriste)


    A first-time entrant into the New York City electoral system stands almost as much a chance of running a solid campaign as long-time political insiders and incumbents. That’s because the New York City campaign finance system includes a public matching funds program, which helps levels the playing field by incentivizing local small-dollar contributions, matching them at a 6-to-1 ratio. In doing so, it also reduces the influence of special interests in elections and helps

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  • Corey Johnson hearing

    City Council Member Corey Johnson (photo: William Alatriste)


    The City Council General Welfare Committee conducted a budget hearing Monday to evaluate the programs, expenditures, and needs of the Human Resource Administration (HRA) and Department of Homeless Services (DHS). Steven Banks, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services (DSS), which oversees both HRA and DHS, provided testimony for the two agencies before taking questions from concerned Council members.

    Though HRA provides a wide variety of services -- including job training

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    Senator Felder & opponents of the bag fee (photo: Scott Reif)


    An attempt by lawmakers in Albany to prevent the New York City Council from imposing a fee on plastic and paper bags at retail stores has reignited a debate over home rule and the state government’s interference in the work of a democratically elected local legislative body.  

    The New York State Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that prohibits “the

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    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign account recently posted a Twitter message touting the NYPD’s neighborhood policing initiative. “New York City is proving to the rest of the country that respectful, compassionate neighborhood policing drives down crime & makes us safer,” the tweet from @BilldeBlasio read.

    In a response symbolic of a problem de Blasio is facing as he heads into his re-election year, Lumumba

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: @NYCCouncil)


    Within the next two months, the City Council is expected to vote on a large legislative package that would alter the city’s campaign finance system in a variety of ways and regulate donations to political nonprofits, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said this week. Some of the proposals and the timing of their likely passage have raised concerns, though, that the Council is weakening the city’s model campaign finance system, pushing some reforms through after too long a wait and rushing other, newer bills through just in time for the next

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    Henry Berger testifying (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The City Council heard testimony Monday on a broad package of bills that would prevent conflicts of interest between elected officials and political nonprofits, limit the electoral influence of those who do business with the city, and make it easier for first-time candidates to navigate the city’s campaign finance system.

    The Council’s Committee on Standards and Ethics heard 14 bills on Monday in what was the current Council’s first hearing of the committee focused on legislation. Of the 14, the headlining bill,

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  • garbage trucks

    Trucks (photo: Sofie Hecht/Gotham Gazette)


    This is part two of a two-part series on the city’s Fair Share rules. Read part one: City May Soon Have More Formal ‘Fair Share’ Discussion

    Fair Share Flawed from the Beginning, Some Say
    Ronald Shiffman, now professor emeritus at the Pratt Institute and co-founder of Pratt’s Center for Community Development, was appointed to the newly-expanded City Planning Commission in

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    Mayor de Blasio at a town hall (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    In recent weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policies have run up against an age-old forces of inertia and resistance in the city, especially one that springs forth in policy debates on everything from housing to bike lanes to school desegregation and even closing down Rikers Island jails. That force -- NIMBY or Not In My Back Yard-ism -- has taken distinct forms on different issues, but has been causing the de Blasio administration trouble and frustrating the mayor. At

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    Anti-street harassment mural in Bed-Stuy, led by Groundswell


    Street harassment is a pervasive and public form of sexual harassment that most women face at some point in their lives. Overwhelmingly, it is experienced for the first time ...

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    132-40 Sanford Ave in Flushing, a Treetop Development-owned rent-stabilized building

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    Mayor de Blasio at a town hall (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    Over the last few weeks, facing the spectre of multiple investigations, Mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly stressed that he, his administration, and his allies operate ethically. “We hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity,” the mayor has said repeatedly as reporters have questioned him about allegations of impropriety in his fundraising operations.

    In support, the mayor has regularly referred to the city’s internal mechanisms for ensuring

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    (photo via @nystateparks)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio recently faced an embarrassing situation and had to act quickly to remedy it. Seemingly out of nowhere, there was a lack of clarity around the city’s investment, or apparent lack thereof, in water infrastructure - namely the long-under-construction third water tunnel. The tunnel, along with other elements of the city’s water system are nearer the top of the Spring political agenda. City Council members want answers about what the city is doing to protect and ensure its clean water supply, and will

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    Council Member Lander & young people against plastic bags (photo: William Alatriste)


    “Last year, we said bag fees by Earth Day,” Council Member Brad Lander told Gotham Gazette, shortly before an unrelated committee hearing at City Hall. “I’m saying it again. Bag fees by Earth Day.”

    Even a year later, Lander is confident that the bill he is co-sponsoring with Council Member Margaret Chin to impose fees on single-use plastic and paper bags at grocery stores and bodegas will pass

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    Freelancers Union rally 


    In 2012 when I started bringing cases under the New York Labor Law and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act the hot area was "independent contractor misclassification." Employers in the "on-demand" economy were (mis)classifying their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying overtime or, in some cases, the minimum wage. Employers did not have to buy unemployment insurance, workers compensation, or pay the employer portion of payroll tax (FICA). Over the next few years, almost every player in the on-demand economy would

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    (photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)


    Google Maps estimated an hour-and-a-half for a trip from near City Hall to a location in Southeast Queens, leaving at 5:30 p.m. on a recent Tuesday. On the E train to its final stop and a bus crawling along jam-packed Merrick Boulevard, the trip took about an hour longer, two-and-a-half hours from door to door.

    “Now you know what we go through every day,“ City Council Member I. Daneek Miller told Gotham Gazette following that night’s event, which he co-hosted with Council Member

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  • lander car wash workers

    Council Member Lander with carwash workers (photo: William Alatriste)


    There are more than 1.3 million freelancers working in New York City and with the help of the City Council, these workers may soon be afforded certain protections on par with full-time workers.

    Initially focused on wage protection and health benefits, Council members and advocates are also looking at legislation to expand

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  • bk overcrowding forum

    The community school forum (photo: @JoAnneSimonBK52) 


    As rezoning problems plague some city school districts, leaders in one area of Brooklyn are looking to avoid similar pitfalls while reducing overcrowding.

    In Carroll Gardens last week, local officials and parents gathered in the PS 58 auditorium to discuss overcrowding issues facing three elementary schools. Like others across the city, District 15 - which includes the schools at

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  • New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    This week will include a focus on what the city can do to stop gas-related explosions after another such explosion occurred this weekend, this time in Borough Park; education politics and policy, as the pro-charter, anti-de Blasio group Families for Excellent Schools will hold a large rally; a continuation of negotiation and criticism between city and state entities over MTA funding; and more.

    Oh, and it's the

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  • Chirlane PP

    NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray at a Planned Parenthood rally (photo: @Chirlane) 


    In the face of federal debate and brinksmanship over funding for Planned Parenthood, many in New York City have doubled down on support for the women's health care organization.

    In the past month, the city has seen the...

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    Mayor de Blasio & the founders of Warby Parker (photo: @BilldeBlasio)


    The de Blasio administration is attempting a new approach to a familiar game in municipal politics. Public-private partnerships, also known as P3s, are a popular tool throughout local, state, and federal government. They are often sought after as a way to formalize coalitions around an issue and take advantage of the flexibility and resources of the private sector to accomplish goals of government.

    Run a search in any given political press

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