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Citizens Union

Citizens Union

  • New York’s Opportunity to Advance Two Great Choices to the General Election for Governor

    Voting is underway (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    New York is at a crossroad. Our state faces many challenges, including a resurgent virus, rising gun violence, and political turmoil. We need a Governor who is up to those challenges, who can build consensus in addressing them, who can restore ethics and integrity and honesty to our state government, and who can make us proud again.

    Fortunately, there are such candidates running on both sides of the aisle. That is why Citizens Union, where I am Chair of

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  • New York City Council Redistricting Process Set to Kick Off

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    City Council chambers (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    The New York City Council is set to kick off the process of redrawing the boundaries of the city’s 51 Council districts on Monday with Council members appointing eight members to an redistricting commission. The new districts, reflective of data from the 2020 Census and other factors, will be at play for the 2023 elections when all 51 seats of the City Council will again be on the ballot, as well as the subsequent 2025 and 2029 elections.

    Under the city Charter, the new

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  • WATCH: Experts Discuss Essentials to a Successful Mayoral Transition

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    Carl Wesibord, left, & Richard Buery with Mayor de Blasio at the announcements of their 2014 appointments


    As Mayor-elect Eric Adams is in the process of transitioning to become the next Mayor of New York City on January 1, two veterans of city government and mayoral transition processes spoke about the keys to a smooth transition, setting up a new city government, accomplishing top goals, and more. During an online "civic conversation" hosted by Citizens Union Foundation on Friday, December 3, former Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and Carl

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  • City Council to Examine Bill Loosening Rules Around Mailing Constituents Before Elections

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    City Council chambers (photo: Gerardo Romo/NYC Council)


    With less than three months before the end of its term, the City Council is assessing legislation that could weaken rules meant to prevent the use of government resources for political purposes.

    City officials are banned, with few exceptions, from sending official mass mailers to constituents for 90 days before a primary or general election. The rationale behind that blackout rule is to thwart the potential use of city funds and resources to boost an elected official’s image and political

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  • As Latest Reforms Head to Voters for Approval, Advocates Celebrate Passage of Extensive Election Package

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    Voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The New York State Assembly on Tuesday approved two bills that would amend the state constitution to make significant changes to voting laws, and the proposals will now go to voters on this fall’s ballot.

    One would allow voters to request “no excuse” absentee ballots, opening up voting by mail to all. The other would allow voters to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day. The bills had been previously approved by the Senate, and passed by both houses of the State Legislature

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  • WATCH: Experts Discuss Ranked-Choice Voting as New York City Begins Implementation

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    Voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    On February 1, Citizens Union hosted an online discussion on the implementation of ranked-choice voting in New York City, which starting this year is being used in party primary and special elections for city government positions.

    Gotham Gazette's Ben Max moderated a discussion among three expert panelists: Audrey Cooper, the editor-in-chief of WNYC who covered ranked-choice voting in San Francisco; Lurie Daniel Favors, the Interim Executive Director at the Center for Law and

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  • De Blasio's First Chief Democracy Officer Quietly Resigned in January and Hasn't Been Replaced

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    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Ayirini Fonseca-Sabune, New York City’s first Chief Democracy Officer, quietly resigned in January and Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to name a replacement to the position, even amid an especially complicated and consequential election year.

    The mayor created the office of DemocracyNYC to be led by the Chief Democracy Officer in 2018, announcing it in his State of the City speech that February. The office was part of a ten-point agenda aimed at

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  • Compelled to Act: An Unprecedented Leap Into Presidential Politics

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    Joe Biden and Donald Trump


    This guest column is part of Citizens Union Speakers, a regular series of op-eds written by members of the Citizens Union Foundation community in Gotham Gazette, CUF's flagship public

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  • Voting in a Pandemic: How New York, and New Yorkers, Must Lead the Way

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    New York has made some adjustments to voting amid COVID-19 (photo: governor's office)


    This guest column is part of Citizens Union Speakers, a regular series of op-eds written by members of the Citizens Union Foundation

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  • Key Constitutional Obstacles to Efficient Reopening of New York Courts

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    Important challenges when New York courts reopen (photo: governor's office)


    This guest column is part of Citizens Union Speakers, a regular series of op-eds written by members of the Citizens Union

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  • As 2020 Count Proceeds, New York State Census Plans Haven't Launched

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    Gov. Cuomo at the NY Census Conference (photo: governor's office)


    According to plans, New York state government would have spent the equivalent of $70 million this year on its effort to ensure that all New Yorkers are counted in the 2020 Census. But as the state has experienced a devastating coronavirus outbreak, that effort has, for all appearances, never gotten off the ground, and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration has done little to inform residents that it is in their best interest and that of the entire state to fill out the Census.

    The

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  • Cuomo v. De Blasio: Who Has the Last Word on Reopening New York City?

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    Cuomo and de Blasio at a March briefing (photo: Don Pollard/Governor's Office)


    This guest column is part of Citizens Union Speakers, a regular series of op-eds written by members of

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  • Key Details Emerge for How Ranked-Choice Voting Will Work in New York City

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    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Though a new system for holding many city elections was overwhelmingly approved by voters last fall, new details about how ranked-choice voting will actually work continue to emerge.

    Ranked-choice voting, which will apply to only special and primary elections for New York City government positions, allows voters to rank up to five candidates in order of preference. If no candidate hits a majority of votes, a system of vote redistribution based on second and possibly subsequent choices is

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  • Criticism Grows as State Campaign Finance Plans Head Toward Law

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    (photo: governor's office)


    New York State is set to adopt a new electoral campaign finance system, with voluntary participation, lower individual contribution limits, and a new public matching system to amplify small donations. It is based on the recommendations of a state commission, which also raised the threshold for political party ballot access, that will become law unless the state Legislature acts to amend them by Sunday, December 22, which legislative leaders have given no indication they will attempt.

    But while many reform-minded elected

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  • Max & Murphy Podcast: Breaking Down the Consequential Questions on Your Ballot

    Rachel Bloom and Susan Lerner

    (photo: @Gothamgazette)


    October 23, 2019 - Max & Murphy Podcast: The Consequential Questions on Your Ballot

    rb sl podcastThere are 5 consequential questions on the New York City ballot this fall, each of which poses changes to city elections or governance for "yes" or "no" reponses from voters. Two leading goverment reform experts -- Susan Lerner of Common Cause NY and Rachel

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  • Push Launched to Get Voters to Choose Ranked-Choice Voting

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    (photo: @commoncauseny)


    A coalition of elected officials, business and labor leaders, and reform groups gathered Thursday in Lower Manhattan to launch a campaign to convince New York City voters to change the way they elect their representatives in city government.

    Voters in New York City this fall will have the opportunity to approve ballot referenda on a number of reforms to the City Charter, including a new election system known as “ranked-choice voting.” The new system would allow voters in primary and special elections -- but not general elections -- to

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  • LISTEN: Public Advocate Candidate Forum - Nov. 14, 2018

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    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

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  • Mayoral Charter Revision Commission Hears Expert Testimony on Community Boards and Land Use

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    A community board meeting (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    The mayor’s Charter Revision Commission met on Tuesday at the Pratt Institute for the third of its four expert advisory issue forums, this time discussing potential changes to community boards and the city’s land use process. The first meeting, held last Tuesday, ...

  • Brooklynites Testify at Charter Revision Commission Hearing

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    Mayor de Blasio at a hearing at City Hall (photo: Mayoral Photography Office)


    Calls for campaign finance improvements, election reform, and changes to the structure and functions of community boards dominated the fourth borough hearing of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Charter Revision Commission, held Monday night at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

    Created by the mayor to review the charter, which outlines the city’s foundational governance, the commission is holding a slew of hearings across the city to solicit public input on changes

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  • Reform Groups Launch 'Restore Public Trust' Campaign

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    (photo: The Governor's Office)


    New York’s leading government reform groups reacted to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State agenda on Thursday in Albany, holding a press conference to urge the governor and legislative leaders to adopt a package of reforms to help restore public confidence in state government.

    Despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that Cuomo failed to pass any of the reforms he promised in the wake of the alleged bid-rigging schemes associated with his signature economic development programs, government ethics

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  • City Council Speaker Candidates Address Power, Reform and Transparency

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    the City Council Speaker candidates at a prior forum (photo: William Alatriste)


    Seven of the eight candidates vying to become the next Speaker of the New York City Council convened at New York Law School on Monday night for a forum focused on government reform, running the Council, transparency, ethics, voting, and elections.

    The candidates made their cases for their leadership prowess, and discussed extending term limits for Council members, greater transparency around lobbying, key questions about campaign finance reform in the city, and

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  • A Rarity: City Council Candidate Releases Detailed Reform Agenda

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    City Council candidate Keith Powers (photo: @KeithPowersNYC)


    Candidates across the city this year are running for City Council on all sorts of issues, but only one has released a detailed list of government, campaign finance, and voting reform proposals. That agenda, called “

    De Blasio, NYPD Won’t Release Taxpayer Cost for Germany Trip

    Gotham Gazette: Mayor

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


    Asked about the cost to taxpayers for his recent trip to Germany, Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated at a press conference Wednesday that expenses for himself and three aides were paid for by the organizers of a protest rally the mayor was asked to headline. As for his NYPD security detail, which did come at taxpayer expense, the mayor said, “The NYPD always provides some kind of estimate so please ask them for that.”

    But, news outlets had already been asking the NYPD for that cost estimate

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  • Reviews Are In: What Watchdogs Say About The New State Budget

    Cuomo budget presentation

    (photo: The Governor's Office)


    A new state budget was passed in April in typical Albany fashion: with almost no time for public scrutiny of the bills or proper review by the legislators who quickly voted them through. Since the $153.1 billion budget was passed, watchdogs both in and out of government have released analyses, helping to better inform citizens and increase accountability.

    The budget was adopted a

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  • As Legislative Leaders Warn of Con Con Dangers, Good Government Groups Come Out in Favor

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    The Assembly (photo: wikicommons)


    While legislative leaders are declaring opposition to a New York State constitutional convention, government reform organizations are trending in the other direction, with some who were wary of the idea in previous years coming out in support or considering doing so.

    Leading up to the November 7 vote on whether to hold a convention, the debate is shaping up around fear of what could be taken away versus hope that the public can take a shot at democratic reform.

    Republican Senate

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