Gotham Gazette Fri, 28 Feb 2020 02:58:09 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Webmaster) A Historic Day for Animals in New York City animal rights histor

(photo: @theanimalvoters)

A landmark package of nearly a dozen animal protection measures is set to pass the New York City Council this week, championed by Speaker Corey Johnson, along with several other members. The strength of our city’s progressive roots grows deeper with the passage of this animal protection package, and it will be a defining moment in our city’s history.

What does it say about a society that allows horses to pull carriages in rush-hour traffic in the blistering summer heat or restaurant menus to offer for sale a product that comes from the diseased liver of a tortured duck force-fed with a foot-long pipe?

On the other hand, what does it say about a City Council speaker and Council members who stand against these blatant cruelties to animals? We believe it says everything about them because, in the end, our true moral test consists of our actions or inaction toward those who are at our mercy.

Among the nearly dozen measures set to pass, four stand out most notably.

A bill sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan, Intro 1478A, will make New York the first city in the nation to establish an Office of Animal Welfare within the Mayor’s office. A bill sponsored by Council Member Keith Powers, Intro 1425A, will prohibit the abusive horse-carriage industry from working horses on extremely hot and/or humid days.

A bill sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera, Intro 1202A, seeks to deter and punish individuals who steal wild birds from our city’s parks. And another bill sponsored by Council Member Rivera, Intro 1378A, would prohibit the sale of force-fed foie gras in New York—the largest foie gras market in the country. The foie gras sales ban bill has more support than any other bill in the package, including a coalition of over 50 not-for-profit organizations led by Voters For Animal Rights, 50 New York-based veterinarians, 30 Council co-sponsors, over 90 New York City-based restaurants, and 81% of New York City voters, according to a Mason Dixon poll.

Foie Gras—French for fatty liver—is a gruesome luxury food product made from the diseased and enlarged liver of a duck produced through force-feeding. Ducks abused by the foie gras industry suffer immensely from ruptured organs, esophagus trauma, broken bones, illnesses, and diseases as a result of having a foot-long metal or plastic pipe shoved down their throats and a large mass of food injected into their delicate digestive system several times a day for weeks. The sole purpose of this barbaric force-feeding is to swell and disease the bird’s liver to ten times its normal size so it can be sold as foie gras.

The force-fed foie gras sales ban legislation exemplifies the historic nature of this animal package moving through the City Council. First, it is one of the most important animal protection bills passed by any city in the country on account of the vast number of animals it will save per year. Second, rarely in politics do you see unpaid grassroots volunteer-run organizations — like those at Voters for Animal Rights — take on and win against multimillion-dollar companies with high-paid lobbyists. Lastly, the sheer brutality behind the production of foie gras provides important context to the plight of farmed animals on industrial farms, such as the ducks on Hudson Valley Foie Gras and La Belle Farms.

These measures send a strong and clear statement to the world that New Yorkers reject the notion that animals are mere property, but rather sentient beings whose capacity for suffering affords them the right to legal protection from cruelty.

This package represents far more than just a few laws that protect horses, ducks, and pigeons from abuse. It is irrefutable evidence of our moral progress as New Yorkers.

Gandhi famously asserted that “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” While we certainly have a long way to go when it comes to protecting animals from abuse, this is a landmark of progress and surely a moment worth celebrating. Speaker Johnson, Council members, your leadership on this issue is commendable and well-deserving of praise.

by Allie Feldman Taylor & Matthew Dominguez, Voters for Animal Rights. On Twitter @AllieFeldman212 & @Matt_Dominguez & @theanimalvoters. And co-signed by coalition partners:
Humane Society Veterinarian Medical Association
Animal Legal Defense Fund
World Animal Protection
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Compassion in World Farming
Farm Sanctuary
Barn Sanctuary
Woodstock Sanctuary
Four Paws
Animal Protection Rescue League
Animal Defenders International
In Defense of Animals
Last Chance for Animals
Compassion Over Killing
Lady FreethinkerTheir Turn

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A Historic Day for Animals in New York City Tue, 29 Oct 2019 04:00:00 +0000
A Good Deal for Horses NYCLASS horses central park

photo via NYCLASS

***Editor's note: this op-ed column was published in anticipation of a vote on legislation that did not occur when a deal fell apart at the last minute on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2015 ***

The The New York City Council has the opportunity this week to take carriage horses out of dangerous city traffic and create new protections that will help these horses lead happier, safer lives.

They should jump at the opportunity.

For all of the political back and forth, this is a smart, sensible plan – especially if your goal is to protect horses. Consider the details of the plan:

First, it reduces the number of carriage horses by nearly half and protects them from being sold into slaughter when they are done working. NYCLASS has publicly stated that we are willing to pay – without the use of a single dime of taxpayer funds – for these retired horses to be sent to a sanctuary. So ignore any false rhetoric about these retired horses being sold to slaughter - it's just not true.

Second, the plan requires that the remaining carriage horses live and work in Central Park, not in dangerous city traffic. New York City streets are loud and congested with honking taxis, ambulance sirens, and double-decker buses. That's a reality that horses should not be forced to manage. Under this plan, they won't have to.

Third, it nearly doubles the stall size for each horse to 100 square feet and provides daily time and space for horses to roam – essential elements for protecting the horses' mental and physical well-being.

Some have falsely claimed that having half the number of horses will mean that the remaining horses will be worked twice as much. This is simply not true. The legislation limits the horses to working only one shift per day and there are clear penalties for overworking any horse.

None of these protections exist today and everyone who loves horses should support them.

Of course, there are some opponents now pushing the City Council to follow the "delay to death" strategy – dragging this process out even further. Enough is enough. We have debated and discussed this for years. Heck, the City Council passed – and the editorial boards of both the New York Times and the New York Daily News supported – legislation to move the horses into the Park in 1988! The time for debate is over. The Council needs to do what is right and pass this legislation.

What's more, delaying the process isn't a solution; it only allows opponents to continue to spread misinformation, particularly regarding bizarre real estate conspiracy theories. Let's set the record straight – again – on this: the stables are privately-owned property; the owners can do whatever they want with them. No one at NYCLASS, including our founder Steve Nislick, has or will have anything to do with the West Side stables. Period.

Strangely enough, some are surprised that NYCLASS and other animal rights organizations have so strongly supported the new compromise. They shouldn't be. Our number one priority is and always has been to protect the horses in the best and most practical way we know how. This plan does that.

The same can't be said for those supporting the status quo. These individuals claim that the horses are well cared for. This couldn't be further from the truth. Carriage horses are forced to live their entire non-working lives in small, confined stalls without access to open pastures. They travel to work through dangerous city traffic, forced to dodge enormous trucks, speeding cars, and bicycles, often spooking, and in too many cases, they are struck and injured. Are these proper conditions for beloved animals? We certainly don't think so. That's why numerous animal protection organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States support this plan too.

Other opponents claim that the compromise doesn't go far enough. They want a complete ban on horse carriages. While we are sympathetic to these passionate voices, we believe that New Yorkers should support the proposed legislation because it helps achieve our number one priority: protecting and improving the lives of carriage horses. This compromise is a real-world solution to a problem that should have been eradicated decades ago.

It is time for us all to come together on the most important point: horses – as all animals – should be treated humanely and with care.

This new compromise is our opportunity to do just that. Because protecting our city's precious animals is not a choice, it's an imperative.

Allie Feldman is the Executive Director of NYCLASS. On Twitter @NYCLASS.

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A Good Deal for Horses Wed, 03 Feb 2016 22:17:25 +0000
The Week That Was in New York Politics, Jan. 18-22 week in review bus readers

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

Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday January 22

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: City Council Members and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, via @ydanis; City Council Member Donovan Richards, Gov. Cuomo, Bronx BP Diaz Jr., via @drichards13

cms schneiderman peace

richards diaz jr cuomo rebny

1. $82 Billion Budget: On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio unveiled his $82.1 billion preliminary budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1. De Blasio didn’t outline any major new initiatives, but rather stressed fiscal responsibility, building reserves, and warned of possible trouble ahead, citing concerns over the stock market and the possibility of losing state aid. The budget includes over $740 million in new agency spending, mostly for programs de Blasio previously announced, like plans to address the homelessness crisis. [Read: De Blasio Releases Cautious $82 Billion Preliminary Budget & What to Watch for as City Budget Season Begins]

2. 421-A: Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio seem to have found something they agree upon after stakeholders failed to reach a deal necessary to renew the 421-a tax abatement program, which incentivizes affordable housing development. After 421-a expired last Friday, Mayor de Blasio said he is “deeply disappointed” and intends to push the issue in Albany this session. Cuomo has also expressed disappointment over the expiration and agrees that it was critical to the city’s affordable housing plan, though many blame Cuomo for its end. [Read: De Blasio Calls for Albany to 'Make Right' on Program at Center of Rift with Governor]

3. Grocery Worker Retention Act: On Tuesday, the City Council passed the Grocery Worker Retention Act, which requires new owners of large grocery stores to retain the workforce that existed under the store’s previous ownership for 90 days. The bill, which passed 40-7, sparked a rare level of dissent on the City Council floor, with several Council members explaining their opposition to the bill during the vote. [Read: Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent]

4. Horse-Carriage Controversy: On Sunday, the Mayor and the City Council Speaker announced an agreement with Central Park horse-carriage drivers to reduce the number of horses and restrict them to Central Park, where they will eventually be housed in stables created by the city. Yet the plan has been met with widespread criticism, with pedicab drivers (whose area of operation would be restricted under the deal) protesting outside City Hall, carriage drivers vowing to fight the plan, and park advocates criticizing the use of park land to build stables for a private industry. The City Council held a lengthy and contentious hearing on the new plan on Friday, with even the carriage drivers now saying they are unhappy with the deal as written - its future is unclear.

5. Cuomo’s Ethics Package: In Albany on Tuesday, leaders from three good government groups (Citizens Union, New York Public Interest Research Group, and Common Cause) gave their evaluation of ethics proposals Governor Cuomo included in his State of the State and budget address last week. They called for follow through and pushed the governor to add budget transparency to the list. [Read: Good Government Groups Rate Cuomo's Ethics Package]

$82.1 billion preliminary budget unveiled by Mayor de Blasio on Thursday, Gotham Gazette reports.

231 people killed in traffic crashes in 2015, down from 257 in 2014, DNAinfo reports.

95 horses will remain in Central Park under the much-debated deal between the city and the carriage-drivers union, down from about 220, the New York Times reports.

$176 million in federal funding will be given to New York City to build a new flood protection system around lower Manhattan, the New York Times reports.

$79,223 yearly pension is still being collected by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, despite being convicted on federal corruption charges last November, the state comptroller's office confirmed Wednesday.

$5 million has been given to Governor Cuomo from contributors over the past six months, all while he continues to call for closing the “LLC loophole,” the Times Union reports.

It was a good week for Westchester County district attorney Janet DiFiore, who was unanimously confirmed as the new chief judge of the state Court of Appeals this week.

It was a bad week for Success Academy Charter Schools leader Eva Moskowitz, as the parents of 13 children have filed a lawsuit against the city’s largest charter school network, claiming Success Academy discriminated against students with disabilities and pushed some students out of the schools. it is the 22nd lawsuit filed against Success Academies, Moskowitz said Friday morning during a speech.

Around this time 232 years ago, on January 21, 1784, the state legislature met for the first time at City Hall. New York City remained the state capital until 1796, when Albany was chosen as the new capital.

Around this time 108 years ago, on January 21, 1908, New York City passed the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public places. One woman spent a day in jail for breaking the law after refusing to pay the fine. Two weeks later, Mayor George McClellan Jr. vetoed the measure.


'Dangerousness' Aspect of Cuomo's Bail Plan Troubles Reformers, by David Howard King

De Blasio Releases Cautious $82 Billion Preliminary Budget, by Ben Max

Once Rife with Problems, City Budget Process Now a Model for State System in Need of Reform, by David Howard King

De Blasio Calls for Albany to 'Make Right' on Program at Center of Rift with Governor, by Ben Max

Concerns of ‘Voter Fatigue’ as New York Schedules Four 2016 Election Days, by Meg O’Connor

Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent, by Ben Max

Good Government Groups Rate Cuomo's Ethics Package, by David Howard King

What to Watch for as City Budget Season Begins, by Samar Khurshid

Overdue DOE Capital Plan To Be Released, by Samar Khurshid

Cuomo’s Preparatory Commission Should Prioritize Fixing ConCon Process, by J.H. Snider (opinion)

New York's Education Policy in Historic Disarray, by Bruce W. Deartsyne (opinion)

The Wisdom of Primaries, by Theodore Hamm (opinion)

DOE Language Access Expansion Builds Bridges to City Families, by Steven Choi (opinion)

Move Martin Luther King Day to November, by John Martin (opinion)

Stand Against Racism, Protect Asian-American Women's Health, by Margaret Chin and Miriam Yeung (opinion)

On the anniversary of Citizens United, Senator Liz Krueger and Anthony Cresswell, an organizer with the New York for Democracy Coalition, appeared on the Capitol Pressroom on WCNY to make the case for a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United and related cases.

Continuing the conversation on the rising number of reported rapes in New York City and what the city can do to prevent sexual assault, Kathleen Basile of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control appeared on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC to discuss the “buddy system” and other, more effective methods of assault prevention.

First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and City Budget Director Dean Fuleihan spoke about Mayor de Blasio’s $82.1 billion budget proposal with Errol Louis on NY1’s Inside City Hall.

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:

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

by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max

The Week That Was in New York Politics, Jan. 18-22 Fri, 22 Jan 2016 19:15:07 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, January 18 New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo released his Executive Budget for fiscal year 2017, which, for the state, begins April 1. It was not without controversy for the city, with Cuomo including significant cuts to state aid for city Medicaid and CUNY costs. Mayor Bill de Blasio and others from the city pushed back quickly and firmly, and the governor seemed to indicate that he was ready to work with the mayor and others to find efficiencies in the two programs in order to save money, rather than simply moving costs to the city.

This week, it's de Blasio's turn. The mayor is due to release his Preliminary Budget for FY17 on Thursday. It will be especially interesting to see how the mayor accounts for the Medicaid and CUNY aspects of Cuomo's budget. Also, many are watching to see if the mayor calls for clearer savings from his agencies - a majority of City Council members sent the mayor a letter recently, asking him to ask his commissioners to identify five percent savings. The city budget has grown significantly over the past two years, in part due to labor contracts the mayor has signed - he inherited a labor situation with none of the city's labor unions under non-expired contract.

The state legislature is in session on Wednesday and Thursday in Albany, beginning budget hearings on the governor's budget. And, on Wednesday, the legislature will consider the governor's nominee to fill the vacancy for the state's chief judge. Details below.

In the city, we're watching reaction to the announcement of a deal on Central Park carriage horses, announced Sunday evening; what the next steps are related to the for-hire vehicle study the city released Friday, as well as the related legislative package the City Council announced, and more. We also saw on Friday the expiration of the 421-a real estate development tax break meant to spur affodable housing. What's next there is also to be seen.

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:***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There are commemorative events all over the city and many elected officials are either holding events or participating in them.

Mayor de Blasio is speaking at three Martin Luther King Jr. Day events Monday, per his public schedule:

  • At 11 a.m. Monday at BAM in Brooklyn, "Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at the 30th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." (after which the mayor will speak with members of the media)
  • At 2:45 p.m., "the Mayor will deliver remarks at the National Action Network's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Policy Forum in Manhattan."
  • "In the evening, the Mayor will deliver remarks at the St. Mary's Episcopal Church's Community Celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day."

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will also speak at the BAM event, at 10:30 a.m. She will then speak at Convent Avenue Baptist Church's Martin Luther King Day service at 11:30, and at the National Action Network event at 1:15 p.m.

Public Advocate Letitia James has nine Martin Luther King Jr. Day events on her schedule, including the BAM and NAN events mentioned above. Comptroller Scott Stringer has several MLK Day events on his schedule, too.

Gov. Cuomo will be honored at NAN, according to the governor's public schedule, on Monday at 3 p.m., "Governor Cuomo Delivers Remarks and Receives the "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Crusader for Social Justice Award" at the National Action Network's Annual NY King Day Public Policy Forum." After the event, "the Governor will join the National Action Network in a "Fight for Fair Pay" march."

At the City Council on Tuesday:

  • At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet on three bills related to business improvement districts, one bill that would "require the Department of Finance to include a notice regarding legal and preferential rents on certain documents related to the NYC Rent Freeze Program" and a resolution to approve designation changes in its expense budget.
  • At 1:30 p.m., the Council will have a Stated Meeting. It will be prefaced, as usual, by the Speaker's pre-stated press conference at 12:30.

Prior to the stated meeting, at 10 a.m., "elected officials, labor and community leaders will gather on the steps of New York City Hall to rally in anticipation of a vote on the Grocery Worker Retention Act (GWRA). The GWRA (Int 632-2015) provides for a ninety day transition period to eligible employees following a change in ownership of a grocery store." This will be led by "Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Council Progressive Caucus members, RWDSU, RWDSU 338, UFCW 1500, other elected officials, labor and community leaders, and more." [Read: City Council Considers Regulating Grocery Personnel Decisions]

At 10 a.m. in the John Adams Houses projects in the Bronx, New York City Housing Authority CEO and Chair Shola Olatoye is expected to announce "the completion of major CCTV installation and ongoing security upgrades at 32 NYCHA developments citywide."

At 11 a.m. at the Razi School in Queens, "Mayor de Blasio will host a press conference to make an announcement related to Vision Zero."

At 11:30 a.m. outside City Hall, "Wheelchair advocates and taxi drivers will join a first-of-its-kind rally aimed at forcing the City Council to act and leveling the playing field for all sectors of the taxi and for-hire industries...Uber now has over 30,000 vehicles in the city, but not a single one is wheelchair accessible. Uber's growth has also driven down medallion values, poached drivers from the taxi industry, and reduced taxi-generated MTA revenue by displacing existing taxi pickups."

On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. a large number of community groups will organize representatives outside U.S. Attorney Preet Bharar's office, where "Youth speakout to demand Preet Bharara & DOJ prioritize justice in killing of Ramarley Graham and protection of Black & Brown young people's lives." The action is being led by Communities United for Police Reform.

At 6:30 p.m., the Museum of the City of New York is hosting a panel called "Housing a Growing City," featuring City Council Member Ritchie Torres, Department of City Planning Executive Director Purnima Kapur, Citizens Housing and Planning Council Executive Director Sarah Watson and Seema Agnani and National CAPACD's director of policy and civic engagement. The panel will be moderated by Ingrid Gould Ellen, NYU professor and the director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.

At the City Council on Wednesday:

  • At 10 a.m., the Committees on Fire and Criminal Justice Services and Parks and Recreation will meet for an oversight hearing to examine Hart Island's future and to introduce a bill that would give the Department of Parks and Recreation jurisdiction over the island, which is currently controlled by the corrections department.
  • At 1 p.m., the Committee on Youth Services will have an oversight hearing to discuss "Connecting Young People to Volunteer Opportunities".

The New York state legislature is in session on Wednesday, and will also have three hearings in Albany, including the first joint budget hearing on Governor Cuomo's recently unveiled Executive Budget for fiscal year 2017:

  • At 9:30 a.m., a joint legislative public hearing on the governor's 2016-2017 budget proposal on transportation.
  • At 11 a.m., a joint hearing by the Assembly Standing Committees on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions and Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry will be held about "Providing Affordable and High Quality Cable, Broadband, and Telephone Service".
  • At 1 p.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing about the appointment of Gov. Cuomo's nominee for Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore.

The City Planning Commission will discuss several items during a public meeting at 22 Reade Street at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Panel for Educational Policy will meet at the Taft Educational Campus in the Bronx. The panel is set to vote on the DOE Community Schools Policy, "proposals for significant changes in school utilization" and Chancellor's Regulations amendments and proposed contracts.

The New York state legislature is in session on Thursday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver his preliminary fiscal year 2017 budget on Thursday. Later on Thursday, de Blasio will head to Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter gathering. He's set to speak at a Friday plenary and then head back to New York City.

Queens Borough president Melinda Katz will will deliver the State of the Borough address at Queens College's Colden Auditorium at 10 a.m.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, there will be a press conference held by state legislators, health professionals, advocates and educators about the Mental Health First Aid bill sponsored by State Senator Jesse Hamilton, at the Legislative Office building in Albany.

At the City Council on Thursday: At 1 p.m., the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency will meet to introduce a bill to absolve criminal and civil penalties for owners of buildings with code violations that were created in response to natural disaster, and a bill with the same function for building owners waiting for repairs from a city disaster recovery program that also requires that the city refund them of fines paid for these penalties.

At 6:30 p.m., Representative Hakeem Jeffries will give his State of the District address at Long Island University's Paramount Theatre.

Friday and the weekend
Mayor de Blasio will speak Friday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering in Washington, D.C.

Success Academy Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz will speak at a CityLaw breakfast at 8:15 a.m on Friday at New York Law School.

On Friday at 9 a.m., the Urban Justice Center will host a policy briefing. The Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision and the Coalition for Community Advancement in Cypress Hills/East New York will discuss the community plans, which are alternatives to the de Blasio’s administration’s plans.

At the City Council on Friday: at 10 a.m., the Committees on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations and Juvenile Justice will discuss “Cultural Non-Profits in the New York City Juvenile Justice System” in a joint oversight hearing.

At the New York State Legislature Friday: at 1 p.m., the Assembly Standing Committee on Real Property Taxation will have a public hearing about the real property tax system of New York City.

At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Assemblymember Michael Blake will deliver his State of the District address at Dreamyard in the Bronx on Saturday.

The second public workshop on Inwood’s neighborhood rezoning will be held by Community Board 12, the Department of City Planning, and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez at J.H.S. 52 on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

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: (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Ryan Brady and Ben Max

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, January 18 Mon, 18 Jan 2016 00:38:21 +0000
The Week That Was in New York Politics, Jan. 11-15 week in review bus readers

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

Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday January 15

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Governor Cuomo gives his State of the State address, via the governor's office

andrew cuomo mario cuomo


1. State of the State: Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his combined State of the State and budget address on Wednesday. The plan has major infrastructure components to it as well as efforts to achieve social and economic justice, as the governor put it. Some of Cuomo’s 2016 “Built to Lead” agenda will place new financial strains on New York City, as the plan would end the state’s payment of some of the city’s Medicaid costs and change how CUNY is funded. Those changes and others are expected by some experts to cost the city $1 billion starting in the next fiscal year. In response, Mayor de Blasio has called the budget proposal “debilitating,” and said he would use “any means necessary” to restore the millions in state financing. Cuomo appeared to strike a conciliatory tone on Thursday, saying the city and state would work together to find Medicaid and CUNY efficiencies. [Read: Cuomo Outlines $144 Billion Budget & Cuomo Unveils Ethics Plan to Questions Of Follow Through]

2. Cuomo Cleared: On Monday, the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced there was not enough evidence to prove a federal crime in the investigation into Governor Cuomo’s interference with and closure of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.

3. Gun Courts: On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio announced “Project Fast Track,” which aims to reduce gun violence in New York City through the creation of a new Gun Violence Suppression Division in the NYPD and by designating judges to fast-track illegal gun cases and resolve the cases within six months. [Read: City to Open Gun Courts to Expedite Prosecutions]

4. Spotlight on Sexual Assault: The alleged gang-rape in a Brownsville playground last Thursday, the rise in the number of reported rapes in 2015, and NYPD Commissioner Bratton’s suggestion that women going home late at night use the “buddy system” have led sexual assault to become the focus of public discussion this week. On Monday, lawmakers and advocates rallied outside City Hall to call for more legislation and resources to protect women from sexual assault. [Read: To Combat Increase in Reported Rapes, Experts Point to Prevention & Sexual Assault Becomes Focus of Public Discussion]

5. 421-a, Uber, Carriage Horses: Negotiations between construction unions and real estate developers to extend the controversial 421-a development tax break are at a standstill, with both sides certain they will not reach an agreement by the Friday deadline to renew the program. Meanwhile, the city releases its long-awaited study of the for-hire vehicle industry, leading to little other than acknowledgement that the city is unlikely to pursue a cap to Uber’s growth. And, a deal on reducing horse carriages appeals imminent. [Read: Negotiations to Extend Important Affordable Housing Tax Break Said to Reach Impasse]


  • $145 billion budget was laid out by Governor Cuomo during his annual state of the state and budget address.
  • $20 billion commitment to combat homelessness was announced by Governor Cuomo during the address, with $10 billion earmarked for 100,000 permanent affordable housing units and $10 billion for 6,000 new supported beds over 5 years, 1,000 emergency shelter beds, and other services, Gotham Gazette reports.
  • $1 billion is about how much experts estimate the changes in funding to CUNY and state payment of Medicaid costs will cost New York City starting in the next fiscal year, Capital New York reports.
  • 78.1% of public school students in New York graduated on time last june, up from 76.4% the previous year, marking an increase for the third year in a row, Gannett Albany reports. Meanwhile, the graduation rate in New York City crept above 70% for the first time.
  • 1,439 rapes reported in 2015, up 6.3% from 1,354 in 2014, Gotham Gazette reports.
  • 1.4 million New Yorkers - 16.5% of the population - are food insecure, Gotham Gazette reports.


It was a good week for Governor Andrew Cuomo, after he was cleared by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office in the investigation into his interference with the shutdown of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.

It was a bad week for Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who came under fire for suggesting women should use the “buddy system” when coming home late at night to avoid becoming the victim of sexual assault. The NYPD has also been criticized this week for not notifying the public of the alleged gang rape in a Brownsville playground sooner.


Around this time 27 years ago, on January 13, 1989, subway gunman Bernhard Goetz was sentenced to a year in prison for possessing an unlicensed gun which he used to shoot four people he said were going to rob him.

Around this time 116 years ago, on January 10, 1900, bids went out for the construction of an underground railroad line running between City Hall and the Bronx. The city’s first subway opened four years later.


Special Election Spotlights Machine Politics in The Bronx, by Gabe Ponce de León

To Combat Increase in Reported Rapes, Experts Point to Prevention, by Meg O'Connor

Cuomo Outlines $144 Billion Budget, by David Howard King

Cuomo Unveils Ethics Plan to Questions of Follow Through, by David Howard King

At Hearing on Hunger, Council Presses De Blasio Administration on SNAP Participation, by Ryan Brady

New Data Indicates IDNYC Popularity Among Immigrants, by Samar Khurshid

Cuomo Heads Into State of the State After Big Announcements, With More to Say, by Ben Max

Assembly Democrats Reject Republican Rules Changes, Promise Own Proposals Soon, by David Howard King

Council to Assess Hunger Problem, City Efforts to Reduce It, by Ryan Brady

New York One Signature Away from Calling for Overturn of Citizens United, by Samar Khurshid

Sexual Assault Becomes Focus of Public Discussion, by Ben Max

To Meet Staten Island Needs, Borough President Focuses on Beating Bureaucracy, by Meg O'Connor

Don't Be Seduced By Sexy Transportation Projects, by Philip M. Plotch and Nicholas D. Bloom (opinion)

A Case for None-Time-Limited Supportive Housing for Young Adults, by Colleen Jackson (opinion)

More Cities Should Do What States and Federal Government Aren't on Minimum Wage, by JoEllen Chernow (opinion)


Governor Andrew Cuomo sat down with NY1's Errol Louis for an interview Wednesday after laying out his vision for the year in his State of the State address.

Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks discussed the ways the de Blasio administration is dealing with the homelessness crisis and the governor’s plans to audit the city’s shelter system with Errol Louis NY1.

Mary Brosnahan, executive director of Coalition for the Homeless, talks about the new proposals for addressing New York City's homeless population on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC.

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.

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

by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max


The Week That Was in New York Politics, Jan. 11-15 Fri, 15 Jan 2016 19:44:06 +0000