Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Carl Heastie

Carl Heastie

  • Passed by Senate, NYC Board of Elections Reform Shelved by Assembly

    Board of Elections reform on the table (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    A package of reforms to the way elections are run in New York State all but died last week when the Assembly adjourned without bringing the legislation to a floor vote after they passed the Senate. That includes a sweeping bill to restructure the membership and executive leadership of the New York City Board of Elections, which has been plagued by political patronage, nepotism, and mismanagement year after year.

    While legislators

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  • Slate of Insurgent Candidates Focused on Climate Seizes on Failure of State Bill

    Climate march (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The Democrat-led state Legislature ended its session over the weekend without passing any additional major pieces of climate-related legislation that some legislators and activists had been pushing for months. The failure to act has provided renewed vigor to several candidates running in the primaries this year who had already been centering climate action in their campaigns, many of them challenging incumbent Democrats.

    They say that the state must take immediate and extraordinary action as the adverse effects of climate change continue

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  • What's In, What's Out: 2022 State Legislative Session Ends with Major Policy Decisions

    An Albany rally for abortion rights (photo: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)


    State lawmakers voted on legislation late into the night Thursday, the scheduled end of the legislative session, and while the State Senate finished its business the Assembly continued passing bills throughout Friday and into Saturday.

    A number of major deals were reached in the final week as the session came to a crescendo, while other marquee proposals fell by the wayside.

    And as of Saturday morning, with the Senate on break but the Assembly still wrapping up business, the fate of at least two

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  • 12 Issues to Watch in Albany's Post-Budget Legislative Session

    Legislative leaders Stewart-Cousins and Heastie (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    With a whopping $220 billion state budget approved, Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature now move on to the post-budget legislative session with a long list of issues to address. The governor and two legislative majorities, all Democrats, have their own priorities, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams also has unfinished state business that he is hoping to accomplish before the session is over.

    But the clock is ticking, with the legislative session scheduled to end June 2, just

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  • Promising ‘New Era’ of Collaboration and Sweeping Agenda, Hochul Delivers First State of the State Address

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    Governor Hochul delivers her 2022 State of the State (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)


    Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her first State of the State address on Wednesday, laying out a vision for New York's future as the state enters another year of pandemic and economic recovery. Facing a primary in June, Hochul's speech outlined the agenda of her first — and possibly only — full year in office.

    Speaking to the State Legislature and all New Yorkers from the Assembly Chamber — a return to tradition but a break from her predecessor, disgraced former

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  • In the 'New Albany,' State Senate Regularly Outpaces Assembly on Reform

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    The New York State Senate (photo: NY Senate Media Services)


    For years the Democratic majority of the New York State Assembly advanced bills its members knew the Republican-controlled State Senate wouldn't pass. Still other legislation, especially related to government ethics, transparency, and elections, stewed on the backburner with neither majority moving it forward. Those were the days of two-party rule in Albany, of a group of breakaway Democrats who buoyed Republicans, and a governor happy to straddle the middle.

    Since

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  • Fighting Covid, Distributing Aid and Changing Albany's Culture: Governor Hochul Outlines Priorities in First Public Address

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    Governor Kathy Hochul (Mike Groll/Governor's office)


    Newly sworn-in Governor Kathy Hochul said Tuesday she would take proactive measures to fight the spread of the Covid delta variant, quickly distribute federal relief funds and immediately strengthen state ethics and sexual harassment regulations as she seeks to change the culture in Albany that she inherited from disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

    Hochul, a Democrat, was sworn in earlier in the day, becoming the 57th governor of New York State and making history as the first woman to hold the

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  • Yes, the Assembly Can and Should Still Impeach the Governor

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    Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (photo: governor's office)


    Friday brought sad but unsurprising news in Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s decision to call off impeaching Governor Andrew Cuomo. For survivors, lawmakers, and advocates who doubted the Legislature would impose real accountability, this decision confirmed their worst fears. While Cuomo’s promised resignation is a monumental fall from power and an important safeguard against future abuse, it provides little justice for those he attacked in the past.

    There are

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  • Governor Cuomo Sexually Harassed Multiple Women, Investigation Finds

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    Photo: Kevin Coughlin/Governor's Office


    Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple current and former state employees, and his executive office retaliated against one woman who publicly accused him of harassment, according to the findings of an investigation released on Tuesday by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.

    James released a lengthy report concluding a five-month investigation by independent attorneys

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  • As Cuomo Says He's Not Stepping Down, Legislative Leaders Point Him Toward Resignation

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    Gov. Cuomo, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins & Speaker Heastie (photo: June 2020/Governor's Office)


    Shortly after Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday gave a defiant press briefing in which he reiterated he has no plans to resign from his position, two major shoes dropped in the scandals engulfing the third-term Democratic governor: State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called on Cuomo to resign and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he supports Stewart-Cousins' questions about Cuomo's ability to govern and that the governor

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  • The Bronx Becomes a Focal Point in 2021 Mayor’s Race

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    Ruben Diaz Jr. outside City Hall (photo: Diaz Jr./Flickr)


    After Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., a Democrat, announced that he would retire from government at the end of his third term, it opened up the Bronx as fertile ground for votes in the 2021 New York City mayor’s race. Diaz Jr. had long hinted at and prepared for a run for mayor, and was considered a top contender. Without the threat of his charisma and popularity in the race, candidates who are running immediately saw a better opportunity to compete for the hearts, minds, and

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  • New Yorkers Celebrate Biden Victory, Defeat of Trump

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    Brooklynites celebrate Biden's win, Trump's loss (photo: Ethan Geringer-Sameth/Gotham Gazette)


    It was a great day for the Doppler effect Saturday in Brooklyn as a near constant stream of car horns trumpeted elation after it became clear Joe Biden had won Pennsylvania and clinched the 2020 presidential election. Throngs of New Yorkers took to the streets, plazas, and parks to breathe a collective, mostly masked, sigh of relief.

    In New York, that sigh took the form of spontaneous dancing on sidewalks and in streets, clanging pots and pans, and uncorking

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  • De Blasio Reups 2016 Board of Elections Reform Plan in 2020

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    Mayor de Blasio after voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    In April 2016, just after party primary elections featuring a major error by the New York City Board of Elections, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would push for legislation in Albany to professionalize the day-to-day operations of the Board, among other bills that could improve the city's perennially bungled election administration and create more access to the ballot box for New Yorkers. Over four years and several poorly-run elections later, de Blasio made a similar announcement

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  • State Inaction Means New York City Won't Launch Online Voter Registration Before 2020 Deadline

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    Voter registration (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    A bill that would have made it possible for many thousands of New York City residents to register to vote online, which passed the State Senate but stalled in the Assembly earlier this year, is unlikely to pass before the general election registration deadline and would be too late to be implemented even if it did, officials say.

    The legislation, first introduced in the summer of 2019, would allow the New York City Campaign Finance Board to open the online voter registration portal it created

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  • Where De Blasio's Push to Borrow Billions Stands

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    The Financial Control Board meets (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio has until the end of September to present a state fiscal oversight body with a plan to find $1 billion in savings that will help balance the city budget for the current fiscal year. In lieu of a federal aid package to help replace lost tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor and labor union leaders are pushing the Legislature and Governor Cuomo to allow the city to borrow billions of dollars to cover operating expenses, a proposal that many city and state

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  • 'We're in a State of Transition': Bronx Democrats Wrestle with Changing of the Guard

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    Bronx political leaders Heastie, Diaz Jr., Crespo (photo: Bronx Borough President's Office)


    To say the Bronx political landscape is changing is simultaneously both a trite observation and a vast understatement. The once-vaunted Democratic machine in the borough is currently leaderless and has lost many of its longtime fixtures in recent years, with more on their way off the political stage. This comes at a time when progressive and anti-establishment forces are gaining momentum across the city, though in some ways less so in the

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  • 'Break in the Dam': New York Sees Flood of Long-Stalled Police Reforms in Response to Outcry

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    Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, at a recent press conference (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    New York, and the nation, was teetering on the edge when it was suddenly and violently pushed over it on May 25, as George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota by police officer Derek Chauvin. It was an incident as shocking as it was familiar, an unarmed Black man dying at the hands of a police officer with the episode caught on video and broadcast to millions of people.

    “I can’t breathe,” Floyd cried out, as Chauvin knelt on his

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  • After Strong Primary Showing, Will New Crop of Progressives Push Assembly Democrats Further Left?

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    The State Assembly (photo: @NYSA_Majority)


    For some time, a lack of Democratic control in the New York State Senate prevented progressive legislation from becoming law. But even after the chamber flipped from red to blue through the 2018 elections and a long list of Democratic priorities were acted on, some bills that once passed the State Assembly when Republicans held the Senate are now having trouble reaching that chamber’s floor, leading to frustration that multiple insurgent campaigns capitalized on in this year’s primary

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  • ‘Not a Budget Anybody Should Be Celebrating’: Democratic Legislators Displeased with Albany Compromise

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    A nearly-empty State Senate Chamber as business is conducted amid coronavirus outbreak (photo: NY Senate)


    If New Yorkers take Governor Andrew Cuomo’s word for it, the new $177 billion budget approved last week will “deliver results” for the people of the state and was a far cry from a “bare minimum” spending plan at a time when the state’s finances are racked by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. But within his own Democratic Party, which controls both houses of the Legislature where the plan was passed, the budget is a highly unpopular document that to

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  • Three Democratic Leaders in Albany, Three Different Positions on Altering Bail Reforms

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    Gov. Cuomo and other state leaders (photo: Darren McGee, Governor's Office)


    In the opening days of the 2020 state legislative session, debate continues to rage over whether to revisit major changes to the bail system made last year and key Albany policy-makers have been staking out initial positions in a reignited conversation that could lead to revising the reforms.

    The three top decision-makers -- Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, all Democrats -- have each taken a

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  • Issues to Watch in the 2020 Legislative Session in Albany

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    (photo: governor's office)


    The 2019 legislative session in Albany was, as Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins described it, “[T]he most historic and productive legislative session in New York State history, period.” The Democratic-controlled Legislature notched up a long list of victories, including many progressive bills that had languished under prior Republican leadership in the state Senate. But there remained unfinished business, imperfect new laws, and pressing concerns that have carried forward and will define the legislative calendar in 2020, which

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  • State Lawmakers Criticize Campaign Finance Commission Results While Legislative Leaders Stay Mum

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    (photo: @FairElectionsNY)


    A state commission charged with creating a system of public financing for state elections has prompted harsh rebukes from several state legislators for proposing what they say is watered down campaign finance reform and for ostensibly advancing a political agenda that targets longtime critics of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

    The New York State Public Campaign Financing Commission was appointed by Cuomo and state legislative leaders after a failure of consensus on overhauling the state’s campaign finance system. It was tasked in

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  • State Commission Approves New Campaign Finance System, Raises Bar for Political Party Ballot Access

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    the state campaign finance commission at its final meeting


    The New York State Public Campaign Financing Commission held its final meeting on Monday, voting to institute the creation of a new system for public funding of campaigns for statewide and state legislative offices, with lower contribution limits intended to reduce the effect of money in elections. Though the commission did not act to eliminate fusion voting, as minor political parties and their allies feared, it did move to increase the threshold for parties to obtain a position on the ballot, creating uncertainty

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  • Advocates Remind State Leaders of Approaching Deadline to Name Redistricting Commission

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    (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)


    New York State government leaders are fond of appointing commissions, but those bodies are not known for meeting their deadlines. With those facts in mind, an advocacy group released a public letter Tuesday with an important message about governmental machinations that will significantly impact the state’s future.

    With the 2020 Census around the corner, the League of Women Voters of New York State is urging the state Legislature to keep its eye on a key deadline that falls ahead of the all-important population

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  • Amid Another Poorly-Run Election, Top New York Officials Point Fingers, Offer Plans, or Say Nothing

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    Mayor de Blasio on line to vote (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Hours-long lines for early voting in New York City have become the latest fodder for New York’s highest elected officials to renew calls to overhaul the New York City Board of Elections. The general request comes from some government leaders every election cycle but has never been followed with action by those in power and there is little indication that this time will be different.

    Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, three of the

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