Gotham Gazette https://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/111 Fri, 17 Jan 2020 13:59:22 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) City Whistleblower Protections; Campaign Finance Filings; NYCHA in the Spotlight; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, January 13 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9046-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-january-13-2020 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9046-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-january-13-2020 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week begins with continued focus on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recently-unveiled 2020 State of the State policy agenda, anticipation of Cuomo’s executive budget plan that’s due by January 21, and the ongoing debate over reforming the state’s bail reform laws passed last year.

The City Council has its first busy week of hearings this year, and the state Legislature is in session on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in Albany.

There’s also plenty of politics this week: candidates for office in New York City, mostly for the 2021 election cycle, will have to file their latest fundraising and spending disclosures with the Campaign Finance Board by Wednesday night. The board quickly makes those filings publicly available. Particularly of note will of course be the latest numbers from the declared and expected mayoral candidates, as well as those from candidates for city comptroller, the borough president posts, and City Council offices that will be "open" due to term limits.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Democratic Party leader Frank Seddio is stepping down from the post, according to the Brooklyn Paper, which will make for a likely quick and interesting contest to replace him. There’s also another Democratic presidential primary debate this week, on Tuesday night.

The week will also see two of the city officials with the most responsibility -- schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and NYCHA CEO Gregory Russ -- give public speeches. See details of those events and others in 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, January 13
Mayor de Blasio begins his week with one public event: his weekly appearance on NY1’s Inside City Hall.

Governor Cuomo has one public event Monday: he'll make an announcement at 11 a.m. in Airmont.

The New York State Board of Regents will meet on Monday and Tuesday in Albany.

On Monday morning, Teens Take Charge members and allies will hold a walkout and “strike for integration” of city schools, outside Brooklyn Borough Hall. At 8:15 a.m., Public Advocate Jumaane Williams “will join Brooklyn students walking out in protest for equitable resources, opportunities, and diversity in New York City schools.”

Comptroller Scott Stringer is delivering keynote remarks at a Monday forum hosted by Center for an Urban Future focused on expanding and improving services for older adults in New York City. The conference will also feature City Council Members Margaret Chin and Adrienne Adams, among others.

At 9:30 a.m. Monday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will tour “Mobile Low-Dose CT Unit Providing Free Lung Cancer Scans” at “the Center for Early Detection (CEDC) mobile unit providing lung cancer screenings to underserved communities” in Brooklyn.

At the City Council on Monday:
--At 10 a.m. the Committee on Oversight and Investigations will hold an oversight hearing on “Strengthening Whistleblower Protections” and hear a bill, sponsored by committee Chair Ritchie Torres, that would “expand whistleblower protections for individuals facing adverse personnel action as a result of cooperating with a Council oversight or legislative matter,” among other changes.
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Housing and Buildings will hold a hearing on two bills, including to make “Modifications to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development housing portal and another “Excluding cooperatives from the housing portal.”

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will deliver two State of the State presentations on Monday: at 11 a.m. at the Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn and at 2:30 p.m. at SUNY Schenectady Community College.

At 11 a.m. Monday at Bowling Green, “The grassroots Riders Alliance together with 'Build Trust' coalition partners TransitCenter, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and Reinvent Albany will reveal a new analysis of MTA alert data showing that subway signal problems delayed trains during 78% -- nearly four of every five -- weekday morning commutes in 2019. The news comes at the official conclusion of the emergency Subway Action Plan and outset of the 2020 - 2024 MTA Capital Program. Advocates will call on Governor Cuomo and the MTA to release the timetable for signal upgrades promised to legislators last fall in the run-up to the approval of the agency's largest-ever capital plan.”

At 1 p.m. Monday at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, “Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and advocates will join LIRR President Phil Eng to introduce a new, private ADA-Accessible space available for nursing moms who travel through LIRR’s Atlantic Terminal.”

At 1:15 p.m. Monday, city schools “Chancellor Carranza will attend the NYC Teaching Collaborative (NYCTC) Welcoming Event and deliver brief remarks.” “In the evening, he will attend a town hall meeting of District 27’s Community Education Council” at Goldie Maple Academy in Queens.

At 6 p.m. Monday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will swear in new members of the West Side Urban Renewal (WSUR) Brownstones board.

At 6:45 p.m., Comptroller Scott Stringer  will attend the Korean American Association of Greater New York 60th Korean American Night Gala.

Tuesday, January 14
At 8 a.m. Tuesday, Crain’s New York Business will host a breakfast forum with Gregory Russ, Chair and CEO of NYCHA.

At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Real Property Taxation will hold a public hearing on “real property taxation budget implementation,” particularly “To discuss changes in the 2019-2020 New York State Budget regarding the STAR Program.”

At the City Council on Tuesday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Youth Services will hold an oversight hearing on “Afterschool Programming (COMPASS and SONYC)” and related bills to mandate creation of a “Universal after school program plan” and new reporting requirements on afterschool programs.
--At 10 a.m., the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Contracts will hold an oversight hearing on local food procurement.
--At 1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions will hold a hearing.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday in Albany, the State Board of Elections will meet for “Public testing of the ES&S ExpressVote XL voting system tool, a component of the State Board’s voting system certification program.”

Wednesday, January 15
At the City Council on Wednesday, the Committee on Public Housing will hold an oversight hearing on NYCHA’s winter preparedness.

On Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Queens Public Library in Flushing, "the de Blasio Administration will celebrate five successful years of the IDNYC program by holding a press conference to announce a historic addition to the card to increase accessibility and new national, regional, and local benefit partners. The program recently launched its #RenewYourIDNYC campaign. New Yorkers whose IDNYC is expiring in less than 60 days, or whose card has been expired for less than 6 months, are able to apply to renew their IDNYC through an online portal or in person at an Enrollment Center."

This week’s Max & Murphy show will air on WBAI radio, at 99.5FM or wbai.org, from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

On Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Brooklyn Historical Society, “Gentrification 2.0: The Good, the Bad, and the Blurry,” with “Matthew Schuerman, author of Newcomers: Gentrification and Its Discontents; Kay Hymowitz, Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The New Brooklyn: What It Takes to Bring a City Back; and James Rodriguez, professor of history at Guttman and contributor to the book Racial Inequality in New York City Since 1965, for a balanced examination of a heated topic. Moderated by Jarrett Murphy, executive editor of City Limits.”

Thursday, January 16
At noon Thursday, the State Board of Elections will meet in Albany.

On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is hosting “Trash Talk,” a discussion for participants to “learn more about innovative sustainability projects in Manhattan and across the city to help New York reach its "Zero Waste to Landfill" goal by 2030. Each presenter will speak for 5 minutes on their project. The event will also include networking time for New Yorkers passionate about sustainability to meet and spark ideas with one another.” Speakers will include: Diana Blackwell, President of Frederick Samuel Houses Resident Association; Matthew Civello, Chair, Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board; Melissa Iachan, Senior Staff Attorney, Environmental Justice Program at New York Lawyers for Public Interest (NYLPI); Mark Prehn, Food Justice Coordinator, Hell's Kitchen Farm Project; Martin Robertson, Facilities Manager, Strivers Gardens and President of HHM Consulting; Nelson Villarrubia, Executive Director, Trees New York; NYC Department of Sanitation (invited).”

Friday, January 17, and the weekend
At 8:15 a.m. Friday, the Center for New York Law and New York Law School will jointly host a CityLaw Breakfast with Richard Carranza, Chancellor, Department of Education.

Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show on Friday at 10 a.m.

Saturday will be the annual Women's March in New York City and elsewhere around the country.

***
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 Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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City Whistleblower Protections; Campaign Finance Filings; NYCHA in the Spotlight; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, January 13 Sun, 12 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000
New York Lawmakers Must Consider Consequences of Banning Both Vaping Flavors and Menthol Cigarettes https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9031-new-york-lawmakers-must-consider-consequences-banning-vaping-flavors-menthol-cigarettes https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9031-new-york-lawmakers-must-consider-consequences-banning-vaping-flavors-menthol-cigarettes laws reduce smokers num 160

(photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


The New York City Council recently voted to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Mayor Bill de Blasio will reportedly either sign the bill or let it pass into law. The City Council also considered a bill banning menthol-flavored traditional cigarettes but did not vote on the measure.

Still, energized by their legislative victory, anti-smoking activists continue to push for the menthol ban. Yet by banning all of these products, policymakers would both remove a legal alternative to menthol cigarettes and increase the likelihood of significant black market activity.

To be sure, smoking is terrible for you and has claimed an astounding number of lives. The motivation behind the ban proposals is thus both noble and understandable. But ban advocates have committed a fundamental error in reasoning: They assume that a ban will magically end all sales of menthols and flavored e-cigarettes. However, both economic reasoning and history suggest that bans often shift sales to an illicit market.

The reality is that people with strong consumer preferences tend to seek out certain products regardless of their legal status. And plenty of research shows that menthol smokers don’t find other cigarettes to be substitutable alternatives. Worse still, areas attempting to ban menthols — usually larger urban hubs — tend to have strong pre-existing infrastructure for illicit cigarette markets. In fact, New York is the “smuggled cigarettes capital” of the country. This suggests that if a menthol ban were imposed, a black market in menthols would spring up quickly and be difficult to eradicate.

Ban proponents respond by pointing to a survey in which 40 percent of menthol smokers indicated they would try to quit if a ban were instituted. But a study from a menthol ban in Ontario showed that while just under 30 percent attempted to quit in response to the ban, only 7 percent were successful.

The good news is that smoking rates have been trending downward for decades. And with the rising popularity of e-cigarettes, this trend could continue. Vaping products like e-cigarettes often serve as an alternative for menthol smokers looking to quit combustibles (traditional cigarettes that are burnt and smoked, not vaped). This is good for public health: Evidence suggests that these products are safer than combustible cigarettes.

Unfortunately, menthol ban advocates like those in New York often push just as strongly for bans on flavored vape products as they do for menthol bans. But in prohibiting the sale of both menthol cigarettes and flavored vaping or e-cigarette products, policymakers remove a healthier, legal alternative for menthol smokers looking to quit and thereby increase in the likelihood they will turn to the black market to obtain menthols.

Of course, there are no close substitutes for e-cigarettes either, so those consumers will likely choose illicit products as well. In a twist of tragic irony, the vaping black market is actually what has led to the recent outbreak of lung illnesses — not flavored products or even vaping itself. Former Food and Drug Administration head Scott Gottlieb acknowledged this fact when he said, “It appears that many of these acute lung injuries are being driven by illegal products that have oils in them.”

Illicit markets do more than just endanger consumers; their revenues often end up in the accounts of criminal syndicates and gangs. And to the extent any ban is effective, it will require police to stamp out illegal transactions. This puts both law enforcement and the communities they protect in tense situations, which tends to increase levels of mistrust. And neither group nor the larger society is served by a thriving black market.

Bans on vaping products and menthol cigarettes will not make communities safer. Rather than saving people from themselves, budding black markets could instead expose them to other harmful substances. Even as Governor Cuomo lists instituting and enforcing these bans as part of his 2020 agenda and as the New York City Council considers further  prohibition, both the governor and the city’s leaders should acknowledge the possibility that waving a legislative wand does not make smoking disappear. Instead, by banning both products, they would be inviting a black market that endangers smokers, vapers, the police and the communities they protect.

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Jonathan Haggerty is a Resident Fellow of Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties Policy at the R Street Institute. Jesse Kelley is R Street’s Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties Government Affairs Manager. On Twitter @Jhaggrid & @JessDKelley.

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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New York Lawmakers Must Consider Consequences of Banning Both Vaping Flavors and Menthol Cigarettes Mon, 06 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Cuomo's State of the State; Katz's Inauguration; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, January 6 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9007-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-january-6-2020 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9007-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-january-6-2020 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

The week begins just after a very well-attended solidarity march against anti-Semitism over the Brooklyn Bridge, with participation from Governor Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Hochul, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Attorney General James, Mayor de Blasio, and many other elected officials, Jewish leaders and leaders of other faiths, and other New Yorkers. The march was in response to a major spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York over the last few years, with an especially high number in 2019, including the slashing of several victims celebrating Hanukkah in Monsey.

The governor announced at the march the availability of $45 million in state funds, allocated in this year’s budget, for religious institutions to apply for to enhance their security.

Many eyes are on Cuomo this week: he’ll deliver his 2020 State of the State speech on Wednesday in Albany. The third-term Democrat has already laid out more than 20 of his 2020 policy proposals that form the start of his agenda for the year, but he will also make new announcements at the start of the week, including at a Monday event in Manhattan, and he always saves some big ideas for the speech itself.

Cuomo’s policy agenda will stretch many dozens of planks when the annual booklet is released. The governor will soon follow his big speech with a presentation of his executive budget for next fiscal year, which must be crafted to solve a $6.1 billion deficit that recently came to light and presents major challenges for the governor and the Legislature. The date of that budget presentation has not yet been announced.

As legislators return to Albany for the start of the 2020 session this week there is also the new question of who will be the Assembly minority leader after Republican Brian Kolb just stepped down from the post after his arrest for driving while intoxicated, an incident during which he crashed his state-issued vehicle. Assemblymember Will Barclay appears to be the frontrunner heading into the conference’s vote this week.

The State Legislature is in session on Wednesday and Thursday this week in Albany. Many members will begin the legislative year by attending Cuomo’s State of the State speech.

This week will also include the inauguration of Melinda Katz as Queens District Attorney; continued discussion of how the city and state are responding to hate crimes, especially anti-Semitic ones; the implementation of new bail reforms; and much more -- 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, January 6
“On Monday, Mayor de Blasio and FDNY Commissioner Nigro will deliver remarks at a plaque dedication ceremony to honor Firefighter Steven H. Pollard” at 11 a.m. in Brooklyn. At 1 p.m., “the Mayor and Police Commissioner Shea will deliver remarks at an NYPD recruit swearing-in ceremony...Following, the Mayor and Police Commissioner Shea will hold a media availability on crime statistics.” In the evening, “the Mayor will deliver remarks at the inauguration of Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.” In the 7 and 11 p.m. hours, de Blasio “will appear on NY1’s Inside City Hall with Errol Louis.” And also in the evening, “the Mayor will deliver remarks at the AIPAC Northeast Gala. This event is closed press.”

Monday is Three Kings Day and will feature the 43rd annual celebratory parade, preceded by a kickoff breakfast in East Harlem. Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer are among many who will participate.

At 11 a.m. Monday, “Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will host a media preview of the 9th Annual “Savor the Bronx” Restaurant Week at Seis Vecinos, a Central American restaurant that is featured in the 2020 Michelin Guide and is located in the Longwood neighborhood of The Bronx. “Savor the Bronx” Restaurant Week is produced by the Bronx Tourism Council and this year takes place from January 6 through January 17, 2020.”

At 11:30 a.m. Monday, Governor Cuomo will deliver remarks at a lunch hosted by the Association for a Better New York in Manhattan to outline his 2020 transit and infrastructure agenda.

At 1 p.m. Monday in the Bronx, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams “will join Council Member Vanessa Gibson, anti-violence advocates and community leaders to denounce the recent attack on Juan Fresnada and his partner in the Morrisania area.”

At 1:45 p.m. Monday, “Chancellor Carranza will attend SoapboxNYC, a public speaking showcase for NYC public school students as part of Civics for All, and deliver brief remarks.”

At 5:30 p.m. Monday, Melinda Katz will be inaugurated as Queens District Attorney, in a ceremony at St. John’s University. Mayor de Blasio and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will be among those who deliver remarks. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will be among those in attendance.

At 7:30 p.m. Monday, "Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul Attends the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Northeast Gala" at Lincoln Center.

Tuesday, January 7
No events as of now.

Wednesday, January 8
At noon on Wednesday, the City Council will hold its initial full-body Stated Meeting of the year at City Hall.

The State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.

At 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Governor Cuomo will deliver his 2020 State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, this week’s Max & Murphy show on WBAI radio (listen at 99.5FM or wbai.org) will feature summary and analysis of Governor Cuomo’s State of the State speech and agenda.

Thursday, January 9
The State Legislature will be in session on Thursday in Albany.

At 1 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, the City Council Committee on Immigration will meet to consider several bills related to the Office of Immigrant Affairs, including one to turn the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs into a full-fledged Department of Immigrant Affairs.

Friday, January 10 and the weekend
Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show Friday at 10 a.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: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

***
by Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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Cuomo's State of the State; Katz's Inauguration; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, January 6 Sun, 05 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: 2020 Vision - Previewing the Year Ahead in New York Politics https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9010-max-murphy-podcast-2020-vision-year-ahead-in-new-york-politics-de-blasio-cuomo https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9010-max-murphy-podcast-2020-vision-year-ahead-in-new-york-politics-de-blasio-cuomo speaker co jo

(photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


January 1, 2019 - Max & Murphy Podcast: 2020 Vision - Previewing the Year Ahead in New York Politics

PodcastJeff Mays of the New York Times, Dana Rubinstein of Politico New York, and Brendan Lyons of the Albany Times Union joined the show to preview 2020 in New York politics, with the first segment focused on New York City politics, Mayor de Blasio, and more, and the second segment focused on state government, Governor Cuomo, and more.

Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @JarrettMurphy. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max & Murphy," and listen to Max & Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Max & Murphy Podcast: 2020 Vision - Previewing the Year Ahead in New York Politics Wed, 01 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000
50 Questions for New York Politics in 2020 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9014-50-questions-for-new-york-politics-2020-de-blasio-cuomo https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9014-50-questions-for-new-york-politics-2020-de-blasio-cuomo bdb cohosted town vanessa gibson cm

(photo: Mayoral Photography Office)


1. Will Donald Trump be removed from office? Will he win a second term as president? What will be the results of any known or unknown investigations into Trump world, from Congress to New York Attorney General Letitia James to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York or elsewhere?

2. How will Mike Bloomberg fare in the 2020 presidential race? What impact will he have on the race (even if he isn’t the Democratic nominee)?

3. Who will key New York Democratic officials endorse for president? Who will win the April Democratic presidential primary in New York? Will that primary matter?

4. How will Chuck Schumer perform as Senate minority leader? Will the 2020 elections put him on a path to majority leader? Which other New Yorkers will play the most prominent roles in both government proceedings and the presidential campaign? What impact will AOC have in year two of her tenure and as a supporter of Bernie Sanders for president? What does Hakeem Jeffries’ year have in store?

5. Can Max Rose keep his seat? How will other New York House races turn out? Will any incumbents fall in the primaries? Might the second time be the charm for Adem Bunkedekko against Yvette Clark, for example? Who will prevail in the crowded ‘open’ race for retiring Jose Serrano’s seat? Will Democrats keep the House, and if so, will it be because of or in spite of key New York races like Rose’s and others outside the city?

6. Could Andrew Cuomo or Bill de Blasio or Kirsten Gillibrand (or other prominent New Yorkers) wind up in the administration of a victorious Democratic presidential candidate?

7. How well will New York fill out the 2020 Census? Will city and state government efforts prove successful in encouraging stronger participation than in 2010? How many congressional seats will New York lose?

8. What will drive Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2020 agenda?

9. What will Cuomo and the Democratic majorities in the state Legislature do for an encore after their historic and highly-prolific 2019? Will the Carl Heastie-Andrea Stewart-Cousins bond continue to flourish or will the two legislative majorities diverge more than in 2019? How will Cuomo’s relationship with the Legislature, and with each legislative majority, play out? How will the Senate Democratic conference hold up in year two if its new majority amid a legislative election year?

10. Will New York legalize adult use of marijuana? Will another go at e-bike and e-scooter legalization pan out? Will the state legalize paid gestational surrogacy? Will there be a compromise on a new prevailing wage law? New limits on solitary confinement? Any real movement on the New York Health Act for single-payer health care? Anything allowing ‘safe injection sites’ to open? New affordable housing laws? Additional voting and criminal justice reforms? Will the cap on charter schools in New York City be lifted? What other high-profile policies pass or fail?

11. Will state lawmakers tweak the new campaign finance and political party ballot access laws? How will the state's smaller parties fair under the new ballot line requirements, which are set to take effect for the presidential election? Will lawmakers pass legislation to institute legislative and executive pay raises and outside income limits that were struck down in court? Will there be any movement to reform or replace JCOPE?

12. How will Cuomo and legislators fill a $6.1 billion budget gap? Will there be any major changes to education aid, Medicaid reimbursements, economic development spending? Will there be tax increases? Significant spending cuts? How much will Cuomo try to raid from New York City?

13. How will implementation of key 2019 state accomplishments go? Will criminal justice reforms show positive results or will naysayers be proven right, or both? Will lawmakers change any of the new bail or discovery laws? How will initial implementation of the state’s new environmental and energy policies go, including the plastic bag ‘ban’?

14. Will there be any new steps by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli or the Legislature to move state pension money out of fossil fuel company investments? Will New York City’s efforts on this front move ahead as planned by Comptroller Scott Stringer and Mayor de Blasio?

15. Will we see other State Senate Republicans decline to run for reelection? How strong is the new left-wing movement, including the Democratic Socialists of America? Will progressive candidates unseat incumbent Democratic state legislators in the June primaries? Can the Democrats keep and grow their State Senate majority in November? Will there be any demonstrable moderate and/or conservative backlash to the state’s progressive swing?

16. Will the MTA’s subway service continue to improve? Will the MTA and the de Blasio administration get the city’s buses moving more quickly and reverse ridership declines? Will implementation of the new MTA capital plan move along as planned? Will the funding for it materialize as outlined?

17. Will Andy Byford remain at the MTA?

18. How will the MTA/NYPD crackdown on homelessness and fare evasion and other crimes in the subways go?

19. Will de Blasio announce any other busways? Will the city make any real dents in street congestion and traffic? Will there be any movement on curbing deliveries? Will the city do anything new about the way trash is collected from sidewalks?

20. What will the congestion pricing system look like?

21. Will there be any next steps from the City Council and Speaker Corey Johnson in efforts to “break the car culture”? Will the Council move to reduce on-street parking or create a resident parking permit system in certain neighborhoods? Will there be any demonstrable reduction in parking placard abuse?

22. Will the city improve on the 2019 setbacks to Vision Zero and reverse the increase in deaths among pedestrians and bike-riders?

23. Will there be any movement to decrease the per-ride subsidies in the city’s ferry system? Will there be any progress in integrating the ferries with MTA payment for buses and subways?

24. Will there be any real movement on the BQX? What will the city decide to do about the BQE? Might Cuomo swoop in?

25. Can Mayor de Blasio reinvigorate his mayoralty and improve his standing among New Yorkers? How much time will de Blasio spend on national politics? Will he wind up as a prominent surrogate for whichever Democratic presidential candidate he endorses? What city issues will he focus on, what will he propose in his 2020 State of the City speech and preliminary fiscal year 2021 budget?

26. Can the mayor and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams get paid personal time legislation passed? What else will Williams focus on in 2020?

27. What will de Blasio do about school desegregation, which aspects of his task force’s recommendations will he support? What will his new specialized high schools admissions reform plan look like? What will he do about property tax reform? What will the mayor’s Albany agenda include on education, property taxes, and other items?

28. What will 2020 bring in the ongoing Bill de Blasio-Andrew Cuomo saga?

29. Can de Blasio make significant progress with regard to NYCHA, homelessness, and other major crises and challenges facing the city? How many, if any, NYCHA infill development plans will move ahead? Which, if any, neighborhoods will the city rezone? How will the Gowanus rezoning pan out? Bushwick? Industry City? Will the mayor further tweak his affordable housing plan as promised when he announced Vicki Been as Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development?

30. What will be the big city budget battles of 2020? How will the City Council assert itself on the budget, legislatively, in its oversight capacity?

31. Can the mayor show progress with the city’s most troubled schools? Will de Blasio move to close more underperforming schools? How will the first full wave of 70,000 pre-K students fair on 3rd grade state exams? What’s next in the city’s oversight of yeshivas?

32. What’s next for ThriveNYC? Will the de Blasio administration’s “mental health roadmap” run by First Lady Chirlane McCray begin to show stronger results? Will there be additional City Council clamor for a reduction in funds provided to the initiative? How will the city’s recently-announced plans to better tackle problems associated with untreated serious mental illness pan out?

33. How will Dermot Shea perform in his first full year as NYPD Commissioner? Will he implement ongoing and promised reforms to key aspects of how the NYPD does business, including officer discipline and the special victims division, among others?

34. Will the 2019 uptick in murders be reversed? Will the increase in hate crimes, especially anti-Semitic ones, be reversed? Will the city stay on track in its plans to reduce the jail population, close Rikers Island jails, and build new jails? Will there be any indication of what's next for Rikers Island?

35. Will there be any change to section “50-a” of state civil rights law that has been re-interpreted by the de Blasio administration to shield NYPD personnel records?

36. Will anything be done to help distressed taxi driver-medallion owners in the city, especially with regard to their debt?

37. What high-profile departures from the de Blasio administration will we see?

38. How will Melinda Katz perform as Queens District Attorney?

39. What’s next for Tiffany Cabán?

40. Who will succeed Katz as Queens Borough President? If that person is leaving a City Council post, who will then win that next special election?

41. How much of a role with the scuttled Amazon deal play in Queens and other elections, including for state legislative seats?

42. What will jockeying for the city’s 2021 elections look like? What are the next steps in the early mayoral race? Who jumps into the race or at least flirts with it? How will the ‘big four’ expected Democratic candidates (Adams, Diaz Jr., Johnson, Stringer) seek to differentiate themselves? How will their fundraising go? Who will declare their candidacies for public advocate or comptroller, for the borough presidencies, for City Council seats? How will the early comptroller race play out? How will the looming city elections impact the City Council's government operations? How will looming implementation of ranked-choice voting impact campaigning?

43. What will early jockeying look like in the race to become the next City Council Speaker?

44. Will there be a definite answer about whether Chirlane McCray is running for elected office? If she is, which office?

45. Will Cy Vance run for reelection as Manhattan District Attorney? Either way, what will that early primary look like as 2020 progresses?

46. Will there be any shake-up or new leadership at the New York City Board of Elections?

47. How will implementation of all of New York’s elections (special elections, April presidential primary, June congressional and state legislative primaries, November general election) go, especially with regard to early voting and voter roll accuracy?

48. Just how high will voter turnout climb?

What did I miss? Let me know: bmax@gothamgazette.com or @tweetBenMax (Yes, the headline says 50 questions, I'm leaving myself room to add two more.)

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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50 Questions for New York Politics in 2020 Mon, 30 Dec 2019 05:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: The Top 10 Stories of 2019 in New York Politics https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9008-max-murphy-podcast-the-top-10-stories-of-2019-in-new-york-politics https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9008-max-murphy-podcast-the-top-10-stories-of-2019-in-new-york-politics hud nycha announcement

(photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


December 25, 2019 - Max & Murphy Podcast: The Top 10 Stories of 2019 in New York Politics

PodcastThe hosts break down the 10 biggest stories of 2019 in New York politics, from all-Democratic control in Albany to Mayor de Blasio's short-lived presidential campaign, from a federal monitor for NYCHA to a 'transformative' year at the MTA, Corey Johnson's quest to 'break the car culture,' and much more.

Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @JarrettMurphy. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max & Murphy," and listen to Max & Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Max & Murphy Podcast: The Top 10 Stories of 2019 in New York Politics Thu, 26 Dec 2019 05:00:00 +0000
It’s Time to Bring MTA’s Paratransit Into the 21st Century https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9003-time-to-bring-mta-paratransit-into-21st-century-access-a-ride https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9003-time-to-bring-mta-paratransit-into-21st-century-access-a-ride mta aar residents

(photo: MTA)


There is a reason why Access-A-Ride is better known as “Stress-A-Ride” for the approximately 170,000 New Yorkers who depend on it. 

The bill for Access-A-Ride will hit $616 million this year and the MTA is seeking additional funding from the City of New York. It’s mind-boggling to think this service can cost the cash-strapped agency so much for such low-quality service. That’s why before anyone kicks in additional funding, the MTA must fundamentally transform the way it runs its paratransit program and bring it into the 21st century.

New York City Transit (NYCT), which is part of the MTA, administers paratransit service, which provides 24/7 shared-ride, door-to-door transportation through the five boroughs and in parts of Westchester and Long Island. The scale and scope of this service is unmatched by any other transit system in the nation. However, disability advocates and budget watchdog groups alike have observed for years that the MTA’s byzantine approach to paratransit services leads to inefficiencies and a lack of transparency and accountability, culminating in the highest cost-per-trip ($68.71) in the country. The second most expensive (Chicago) is half the MTA’s at $38. Why? 

Fundamentally, the way the MTA contracts its paratransit services is both cumbersome and inefficient. Right now, the MTA provides Access-A-Ride through a constellation of for-profit and not-for-profit contractors, including 13 Dedicated Carriers, which use specially-equipped buses and cars owned by NYCT, and two Broker Car Service Providers, which provide transportation services to ambulatory passengers through a network of subcontracted livery and black car service providers.

And there are separate contracts that govern Access-A-Ride’s eligibility determination unit, the command center which receives trip requests and designs schedules and routes, and the carriers that complete those trips. Is your head spinning yet?

In addition, more than half of Access-A-Ride trips are “ambulatory” for people who are able to walk to, enter, and exit vehicles without assistance. Vehicles with special equipment are not necessary for these trips. Putting people in taxis or other for-hire vehicles is cheaper. A single trip under the e-hail program costs the authority $35.91. The same Access-A-Ride trip costs the MTA $68.71. 

So how could we turn things around for Access-A-Ride?

Instead of over a dozen contractors and vendors to provide paratransit services, the MTA should unify the entire system with a single, full-service technology platform to handle all relationships with vehicle providers. The MTA could streamline management of Access-A-Ride and ambulatory services, encourage more competitive bidding, and lower administrative costs.

In the last five years, reports by experts at the Citizens Budget Commission, NYU Rudin Transportation Center, and Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office all point to the burdensome administrative and coordination layers that are the direct result of multiple types of contracts and vendors at every step of the service: verification, booking, dispatching, routing, vehicle operations, customer service, etc.  

While they’re at it, the MTA should require that this platform enable on-demand rides in real-time so that people are no longer forced to call to reserve a trip one to two days in advance and wait to be given an unpredictable and often inaccurate pickup time.

We should have a system to match paratransit customers to right-sized vehicles from a variety of modes; increase efficient sharing and routing of vehicles; and create more transparency and accountability for quality-of-service and customer complaints. The technology for this solution is well-established and the MTA should begin the work immediately to transition to such a system.

In the meantime, it should build on the success of the e-hail program – the MTA’s one innovation in this space in recent memory – instead of curtailing it. The pilot provided the city’s paratransit customers with rides in yellow or green taxis through an e-hail app, Curb or Arro, but was only made available to 1,200 users, less than 1% of the service’s customers. The MTA is now looking to severely limit the one bright spot in its paratransit program by capping rides and having customers pay more. It should instead improve the program.

Most of the rides currently booked through the e-hail pilot are single-passenger rides, but where appropriate we should use ride-matching technology to have more multi-passenger ambulatory trips as a way to lower cost-per-trip.

The MTA recently held a conference inviting technology companies to share ideas for slashing time and cost of modernizing the antiquated signal system in the subway. Mark Dowd, the new Chief Innovation Officer at the MTA, declared, “We are looking for cutting-edge technologies, technologies that may have not been designed for this purpose, but can be applied to this purpose.” The MTA needs to apply this type of thinking to transform the costly and antiquated paratransit program. Now.

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City Council Member Justin Brannan represents parts of Brooklyn; City Council Member Diana Ayala represents parts of Manhattan and the Bronx. On Twitter @JustinBrannan and @DianaAyalaNYC.

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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It’s Time to Bring MTA’s Paratransit Into the 21st Century Wed, 18 Dec 2019 05:00:00 +0000
Cuomo’s 2020 Agenda; Mayoral Control Hearing; De Blasio NYCHA Town Hall; MTA Budget Vote; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 16 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8991-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-december-16-2019 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8991-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-december-16-2019 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Governor Andrew Cuomo launched his 2020 agenda, under the “Making Progress Happen” banner, on Sunday an initial legislative proposal that he will formally include in his January State of the State speech and policy book. Cuomo’s first plan builds on his lengthy gun control record with a proposal to prevent individuals from obtaining a New York State gun license if they have committed a crime in another state that is similar to a crime that would disqualify them from owning a gun in New York. The law would apply to “serious” misdemeanor offenses, according to a press release from the governor’s office, that appear to fit the current grey area, or loophole in a sense.

These “serious misdemeanors...include certain domestic violence misdemeanors, forcible touching and other misdemeanor sex offenses, and unlicensed possession of a firearm,” according to Cuomo’s office.

As he does each year leading up to his State of the State speech (this year scheduled for January 8 in Albany) Cuomo is certain to continue to reveal headline pieces of his agenda as this week unfolds. Cuomo's office released two additional planks of his agenda on Monday. He’s due to give a speech in Manhattan on Tuesday that is likely to include at least one new proposal. (This event was postponed on Monday.)

It’s also an important week for Cuomo’s 2019 agenda: the “green light” law that allows undocumented immigrants to access New York driver’s licenses is set to be implemented beginning Monday morning, though there could be tests to the law from some county clerks and others who oppose it (however a lawsuit was recently thrown out). Make the Road New York, legislators like sponsor Jessica Ramos, a Democratic senator from Queens, and others who pushed the bill have been getting word out and organizing individuals to apply for driver’s licenses this week. Cuomo and his aides appeared to waiver some on support for the licenses bill toward the end of last session, but the governor signed it into law while expressing concerns and trying to shift the burden of responsibility to Attorney General Letitia James.

Cuomo also took great interest in the MTA this year and the MTA Board, which he effectively controls, will vote this week on the authority’s 2020 operating budget. Most of the controversy around that budget has related to its planned inclusion, at the governor’s direction, of funding to pay for a significant increase in MTA police officers, which Cuomo has said are needed to combat fare evasion, homelessness, and attacks on transit workers.

And speaking of Cuomo’s agenda and where 2019 meets 2020: many are watching to see if there’s any indication that the state Legislature will take action regarding the outcome of the campaign finance commission that recently completed its work, with binding recommendations that will become law unless the Legislature and Cuomo act by December 22. There is little indication that legislative action is afoot to change the new campaign finance system and party ballot access requirements that the commission put forth, but a number of advocates and legislators are calling for changes.

Meanwhile, the state Legislature begins the week examining mayoral control of New York City schools during a Monday hearing in Manhattan. Mayor Bill de Blasio is not expected to testify himself, but schools Chancellor Richard Carranza is -- it is the first such hearing since mayoral control was extended with new, fairly modest changes to school governance processes.

De Blasio will be presiding over a ceremony related to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to start the week (see details below). On Tuesday, the mayor is expected at a ribbon-cutting for an affordable housing complex in Brooklyn and on Thursday de Blasio is set to host a NYCHA-related town hall on the west side of Manhattan.

De Blasio spent part of Sunday speaking at a Brooklyn church, where he pushed his plan to require 10 days of paid personal time per year for most employees. The City Council has been slow to get behind the plan as currently designed, with Council Speaker Corey Johnson saying he supports the goal, but wants to work out the details, with special concern for the smaller small businesses in the city. The bill’s lead sponsor is Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who introduced the bill several years ago when he was a Council member.

There was a vigil Sunday evening for Barnard College student Tessa Majors, who was murdered last week, and this week is expected to see continued attention on the safety of the Morningside Park area as well as the investigation into the murder.

And this week is likely to see continued discussion how the city, and its neighbors, are working to both prevent hate crimes and punish those who commit them.

Also this week, there will be a great deal of attention on national politics as the House of Representatives is expected to on Wednesday vote on the two articles of impeachment passed out of committee and on Thursday evening there is the latest Democratic presidential primary debate.

There’s a lot more on the docket this week, which promises to a see a major flurry of activity leading up to two holiday weeks and the end of the year -- 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, December 19
The MTA Board’s monthly committee meetings will take place on Monday.

At 7:15 a.m. Monday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will appear on PIX-11 morning news; at 8:20 a.m., Williams will appear on NY1's Mornings on 1. At 10 a.m. Monday in Foley Square, “Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams will launch a Worst Landlords citywide tour, accompanied by elected officials and tenant advocacy organizations, to visit properties run by some of the worst landlords in NYC. The tour kicks off with a rally with elected officials and tenants to release the Worst Landlords Watchlist for 2019, and will continue to four buildings across the city.” After the rally in Foley Square, Williams will visit sites in the four boroughs other than Staten Island, including a NYCHA visit at Lincoln Houses in Harlem.

At 10:15 a.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will host a roundtable with Fort Greene community stakeholders at The Mark Morris Dance Studio. At 11:35 a.m., Stringer will visit Griot Circle in Brooklyn. At noon, Stringer will visit Fort Greene Council’s Grace Agard Harewood Neighborhood Senior Center.

At 10:30 a.m. Monday at Beacon Theatre, “Mayor de Blasio will issue awards of a high civic honor to the individuals whose advocacy led to the permanence of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.”

At 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, de Blasio will "hold a public hearing for and sign Intro 1362-A, which bans the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes and flavored e-liquids in New York City...In the evening, the Mayor will appear live on NY1’s Inside City Hall with Errol Louis."

At 11:30 a.m. Monday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will speaks at the NAACP education initiative pilot with Council Member I. Daneek Miller and Hazel Dukes, President of the New York State Conference of the NAACP, at P.S./I.S. 116 William Hughley in Queens. At 1:30 p.m., Johnson will speak at a funding announcement for MRI Equipment with Council Member Diana Ayala at Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan. At 7:30 p.m., Johnson will participate in WNYC's lead panel: The Real Story of Lead Poisoning, at The Greene Space in Manhattan.

On Monday at noon at City Hall, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the transportation committee, other Council members, and advocates including Transportation Alternatives will hold a rally “to call on the City of New York to increase protections for cyclists and pedestrians” and “address the bills scheduled for the Transportation Committee hearing at 1:00pm in the Council's Chambers. Among them are the 'Bike and Pedestrian Mayor' bills, introduced by Council Members Rodriguez and Rivera as well as the 'School bus Stop-Arm-Camera' bill introduced by Council Member Kallos. Other bills include, Council Members Landers's legislation related to safety training for street permits and the prohibition of on-call scheduling for utility safety workers that also would provide advance notice of work schedules.”

At the City Council on Monday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Contracts and the Committee on General Welfare will jointly hold an oversight hearing on DHS Homeless Service Provider Contracts.
--At 11 a.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will hold hearing on multiple bills
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Transportation will hold hearing on multiple bills.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing will hold hearing on multiple bills.

At the State Legislature on Monday:
--At 11 a.m. Monday in Manhattan, the Assembly education committee will hold an oversight hearing on mayoral control of New York City schools.
--At 11 a.m. Monday, the Assembly social services committee will hold a public hearing on the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI) at the Erie County Legislature in Buffalo. 
--At 11:30 a.m. Monday in Manhattan, the State Senate Committee on Higher Education will hold a public hearing on funding for public colleges.

At 3 p.m. Monday, “Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer is hosting a meeting of her Manhattan Complete Count Committee to hear from U.S. Census Bureau Regional Director Jeff T. Behler and continue preparations for the 2020 Census. The meeting will serve as an opportunity to coordinate Census activities for the new year and hear about the work being done by partners of the Make Manhattan Count initiative, including 10 grant recipients. Mr. Behler will provide a brief overview of 2020 operations and identify existing Census resources, toolkits, and personnel to facilitate partnerships, support events, and assist with messaging.”

At 5:30 p.m. Monday, the New York City Board of Correction will hold its next public meeting, in Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m. Monday at CUNY Graduate Center, there will be an event focused on New York’s “progressive future” featuring State Senator Brad Hoylman and Attorney General Letitia James, with audience Q-and-A moderated by Micah Lasher. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is among the co-hosts and will also give remarks. Several other Manhattan elected officials and Comptroller Scott Stringer are among the co-hosts.

Tuesday, December 17
The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute will host an urban food policy forum titled “SNAP: 50 Years after the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health,” to commemorate the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health which paved the way for the first major expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.) Speakers will include Alfredo Morabia, Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Public Health; Marion Nestle of NYU and Cornell; Nevin Cohen of CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute; Nick Freudenberg of CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute; and others. The panel will be moderated by Janet Poppendieck, of CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and Hunter College.

At the City Council on Tuesday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations will hold an oversight hearing on percent for art and public art in NY.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Women and Gender Equality and the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will jointly hold an oversight hearing on the status of implementation of the city’s pay equity law and related legislation.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday in Manhattan, the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals will hold its next public hearing.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Albany, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) will hold its next meeting.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, there will be a ribbon-cutting celebration for “New York State’s first LGBT-friendly affordable housing complex,” a NYCHA NextGen building in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Residents of the complex, Mayor de Blasio, City Council Member Laurie Cumbo, other city and state government officials, and the developers of the project — BFC Partners and SAGE — will gather to celebrate the opening.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday in Manhattan, the Assembly Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse will hold a hearing on substance use disorder services and barriers to accessing those services.

At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Governor Cuomo will deliver remarks at an event hosted by the Association for a Better New York at The Ziegfeld Ballroom in Manhattan. (This event has been postponed to January.)

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Board of Elections in the City of New York will hold its monthly commissioner meeting.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Chalkbeat New York, the non-profit organization, will host a conversation with podcast creators Mark Winston and Griffith and Max Freeman of School Colors, for a discussion at the Brooklyn Public Library with special guest, MeQuan McLean from the Community Education Council 16.  

Wednesday, December 18
The Association for a Better New York will host a presentation and panel to discuss “Geography of Jobs,” a new report from the Department of City Planning from 8-9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Baruch College. Panelists will include Carolyn Grossman Meagher, Director of Regional Planning at the New York City Department of City Planning; Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director, Center for an Urban Future; Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive; Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx Borough President; Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, NYU Wagner and Faculty Director, NYU Furman Center ; Jose Ortiz, Jr., Executive Director, New York City Employment and Training Coalition; Seth Pinsky, Executive Vice President, RXR Realty.

The MTA Board will meet on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

At the City Council on Wednesday:
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Transportation, the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction and the Committee on Aging will jointly hold an oversight hearing on Access-A-Ride.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Women and Gender Equity and the Committee on Higher Education  will jointly hold an off-site oversight hearing on CUNY child care centers at the Shepard Hall Building at the City College of New York. 
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Public Safety will hold a hearing on creating a comprehensive reporting and oversight of NYPD surveillance technologies.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Racing and Wagering and the Assembly Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse will jointly hold a public hearing on problem gambling. 

At 1 p.m. Wednesday in Albany, the New York State Energy Planning Board will meet.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday on WBAI radio, this week's Max & Murphy show will air (listen at 99.5FM or wbai.org), and will include discussion of the NYPD's controversial gang database.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the New York City Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy will hold its next public meeting at Prospect Heights High School in Brooklyn.

Thursday, December 19
At the City Council on Thursday:
--At 10:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions will meet.
--At 10:45 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will hold a hearing.
--At 1:30 p.m., a City Council Stated Meeting will take place, prefaced as usual by a press conference led by Speaker Corey Johnson. This will be the final Stated Meeting, where new bills are introduced and bills passed by committee voted on by the full Council, of 2019.

At 10 a.m. Thursday in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Agriculture will hold a public hearing on the “oversight of the SFY 2019-20 State Budget for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.”

Mayor de Blasio will hold a NYCHA-focused town hall on Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Bayard Rustin Educational Complex.

Friday, December 20
At 10 a.m. Friday, Borough President Melinda Katz and NYC Parks will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elmhurst Park. Attendees will include Mitchell  J. Silver, FAICP, Commissioner, NYC Parks; John Rowan, National President, Vietnam Veterans of America; Manuel Edenhofer, President, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32; and Michael O’Kane, Former President, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32.

At 10 a.m. Friday, Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show.

Note: there will be no Week Ahead in New York Politics from Gotham Gazette for the next two weeks. We'll be back for the week of January 6, posting our next Week Ahead the evening of Sunday, January 5.

***
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 Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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Cuomo’s 2020 Agenda; Mayoral Control Hearing; De Blasio NYCHA Town Hall; MTA Budget Vote; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 16 Sun, 15 Dec 2019 05:00:00 +0000
What to Watch for When the City's Property Tax Commission Finally Issues Its Report https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8987-what-to-watch-for-when-city-property-tax-commission-finally-issues-report https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8987-what-to-watch-for-when-city-property-tax-commission-finally-issues-report bay ridge vnb

(photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


“To be the fairest big city, you need a fair tax system. For too long, New York City taxpayers have had to grapple with a property tax system that is too opaque, too complex, and just feels unfair,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in May 2018 after announcing the creation of a commission to examine the issue. “New Yorkers need property tax reform, and this advisory commission will put us on the road to achieve it,” he said.

When the New York City Advisory Commission on Property Tax Reform releases its final report, promised by the end of the year, it has the potential to upend the city’s methods for collecting real estate taxes, impacting its most stable source of revenue -- supporting roughly a third of the current $94.4 billion budget. The result is expected to be recommendations to create a more rational and equitable system, and with it a new field of winners and losers.

Commission Chair Marc Shaw told Gotham Gazette last week that the report would be “out soon,” at which point a slew of public debates will be triggered before the hard work of policy-crafting begins for city and state lawmakers. Much of the city’s property tax system is governed by state law. De Blasio has promised to push for reform once he receives the report and the next state legislative session begins in January.

“This commission is coming back this year with recommendations,” the mayor said in a July WNYC radio interview. “Two things then happen. Some [recommended changes] will be part of city law, which means they can be voted on by the City Council, and then I decide of course whether to sign or not, and the other [changes have] to be done by state law.”

“The state legislative session begins in January,” de Blasio continued. “We’re coming up to the point where these things are going to be put on the table and resolved.”

The commission was created by de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in May 2018 as a way to lay the groundwork for reforming a system described as byzantine, illogical, and unequal -- and one that is largely controlled by state law. It was also partially a response to a lawsuit filed against the city and state calling the property tax system unconstitutional (the suit survived a motion to dismiss, which is currently being appealed).

The commission held a series of public meetings throughout the first half of 2018 to hear from experts and solicit recommendations. Since February, the commission has been working out of public view as it attempts to tackle a complex problem.

“It deserves some care. There is no single easy or obvious way to create a fairer system,” a spokesperson for Johnson told Gotham Gazette in May. But the spring turned to summer, then fall and now winter, with no commission report.

"Property taxes were a top issue in the Mayoral race and Mayor de Blasio committed then to establish a property tax commission to address the inequities with the current property tax system,” said Staten Island Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, de Blasio’s Republican challenger in the 2017 mayoral race, in a statement Wednesday asking for the results of the commission. “People across the five boroughs testified over a year ago and he promised that his commission would present a report of its findings and recommendations before the end of the year.”

Everyone feels the effect of property taxes, from small-home owners to local businesses to landlords and tenants. For almost all property owners -- and those who pay property taxes through rent -- property taxes have risen every year over the past two decades with the relatively stable growth in the real estate market. Almost everyone feels they are too high, even those who pay relatively little.

The property tax system, by and large, is a creature of state law, which dictates the criteria for valuing property in each of its statutorily-designated “classes:” small homes, apartment buildings, utilities, and commercial property. But the city controls the rate at which taxes are levied and the Department of Finance comes up with the formula for determining a specific property’s value based on the state’s broad requirements. Experts say each of these steps comes with flaws the commission could address.

“The Advisory Commission’s recommendations for property tax reforms should reduce inequities in property tax burdens both within and across the existing tax classes, while improving the system’s transparency and simplicity,” wrote Ana Champeny, Director of City Studies at the Citizens Budget Commission, in an email to Gotham Gazette.

With the promise of the commission’s non-binding recommendations, state legislators have been spurred to consider potential changes they may be facing, with some beginning to prepare their staff, committees, and constituents for potentially groundbreaking shifts. But the commission, which is mandated to avoid recommendations that would diminish city revenue, may also offer a reality check to local officials who have historically tried to insulate themselves from the political fallout of raising taxes or cutting services.

At the heart of the issue is inequity across the system. State law divides properties into categories, each to be valued and levied differently, based on the outdated logic of the way land was used when the current system was enshrined in the 1980s. A system of assessment limitations created at the state-level to shield property-owners from rapid market value growth, who would otherwise see their taxes skyrocket, has over the decades distorted the relationship between assessed value and market value.

In perennial attempts to ease the tax burden on particular constituencies, politicians have created a labyrinth of abatements and exemptions that experts say makes understanding one’s real estate taxes virtually impossible for everyday New Yorkers.

“Bottom line is right now owners of multi-million dollar brownstones are paying less in property taxes than people in my district who live in a two family attached house. If that’s not a tale of two cities, I don’t know what is,” wrote City Council Member Justin Brannan, a Brooklyn Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst, in an email, with apparent reference to Mayor de Blasio’s 2013 campaign slogan.

The phenomenon Brannan describes is likely the result of multiple intertwined issues. The one experts point to most frequently, and which was raised at several commission meetings, is the inconsistent methodology with which different state-defined categories of property are valued.

In Class 1 are 1-, 2-, and 3-family homes, which are assessed on their market value (their actual or estimated sales price). In Class 2, are rental properties, valued based on the income they earn in a year. In Classes 3 and 4 are utilities and commercial properties, assessed based on the utility costs or net income, respectively.

Oddly, co-ops and condos -- which include some of the city’s most expensive apartments -- fall into Class 2 with rental property, valued based on the annual income “comparable” apartments receive in rent, even though they more closely resemble Class 1 properties, which also tend to be occupied by the owner.

What recommendations could be on the table?

>Property Classifications and Value Assessments
Among the suggestions most frequently raised by experts are to rationalize the classification of property types and to assess taxes based on market value (which is not often the case now), with a mechanism of relief for property-owners with low or fixed incomes. But changing that formula will mean some New Yorkers will see their taxes rise, including those who already feel constricted by tax collectors.

Many experts want to see classification changes with co-ops and condos in Class 1, where they would be evaluated based on sales price. Doing so would require a change in state law.

Then there is the way the city identifies comparable properties for the purpose of estimating value, which is done by the Department of Finance. Some of the inequities of the system may be helped by adjusting the department’s criteria for determining whether a property is comparable to another.

>Annual Assessment Increases and Circuit-Breakers
State law also imposes limits on the amount the assessed value of a property can grow over a one- or five-year period, which can result in inequity within a given tax class. In areas experiencing acute gentrification this can mean property tax rates lag behind the market value. Studies have found homeowners in the Bronx and Staten Island pay a much higher effective tax rate than the owners of similar property in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Many want to see the state eliminate those “caps and phase-ins.” But doing so could have consequences for homeowners with low, fixed, or even middle incomes -- especially in up-and-coming neighborhoods -- who purchased property when prices were low. To help them keep their homes when the market leaps, a number of experts and elected officials have called for “circuit-breakers,” which offer relief by mitigating property tax liability based on a household’s annual income.

Champeny said circuit-breakers are a more efficient and targeted form of relief than many of the piecemeal abatements and rebates currently in place.

But while contributing to inequities across the system, caps and phase-ins also provide a degree of stability, which is important to maintain the city’s largest revenue stream. When a small home experiences market growth that outpaces the statutory limits on assessment growth over a few years or decades, the assessed value will continue to increase even if the market slows. This provides a buffer for the city during periods of economic contraction. Eliminating caps and phase-ins without undermining the city’s fiscal stability will be one of the challenges the tax commission faces.

“The city’s fiscal health has benefited from the stability inherent in the structure of the current system,” Champeny wrote. “Proposed changes should not adversely impact the long-run stability and reliability of the tax as the City’s primary revenue source.”

>Adjusting the Tax Rate
The city under Mayors Bloomberg and de Blasio has harnessed the skyrocketing price of real estate to increase property tax revenue without changing the tax rate. One way to deal with potential fluctuations in property taxes, either as a result of market changes or changes in the law, is for the mayor and City Council to adjust the tax rate, which has been frozen since 2009.

The Citizens Budget Commission supports a system that favors residential over commercial property and utilities, which Champeny says can be achieved with differential assessment methods or through different tax rates. Class 1 should be saddled with the lowest tax burden (as measured by market value), followed by rental buildings, utilities, and finally commercial properties, she recently said in testimony to the state Senate.

If co-ops and condos are moved into Class 1, like many advocates and elected officials want, over half of the city’s roughly 3 million taxable residential units will fall within it. That new arrangement, along with any changes to the way co-ops and condos are valued, will have implications for the city’s tax rate if it is to maintain its current levy.

>Considering Tenants
Property-owners are not the only ones squeezed by the system. Often the property tax burden for rentals is felt by both landlords and tenants. Some advocates and elected officials want to make sure tenants are considered when lawmakers approach reform.

“Tenants of rent-stabilized units need guarantees that savings will be passed on to them if property taxes decline on rental properties,” Brannan wrote. There are roughly 2 million tenants in about 1 million rent-stabilized apartments in the city.

“Lessening the burden on rental properties can only help the city’s considerable challenge in preserving affordable housing,” he added.

Property taxes make up about 30 percent of the operating cost of rent-regulated units and increased assessments contribute to the rising cost of housing, according to a spokesperson for the Partnership for New York City, an advocacy group for the city’s business community. Kathryn Wylde, the Partnership’s President and CEO, supports reclassifying rent-regulated housing to reduce the tax liability of those properties.

Suing for Reform
The city’s commission is not the only thing compelling lawmakers to act. The aforementioned lawsuit filed by Tax Equity Now New York, a group led by former Department of Finance Commissioner Martha Stark, is challenging the property tax system on constitutional grounds.

“The property tax system is in need of a complete overhaul that should be guided by legal principles enunciated by the court. While the Commission may come up with some good ideas, without the court's guidance those ideas may fail to garner the support of those who need to enact any changes,” Stark wrote in an email to Gotham Gazette.

“The system is unconstitutional, illegal, and discriminatory,” she wrote, “the court is in the best position to offer the parameters for an overhaul that balances these fundamental issues.”

[Read: State Senators Look Ahead to Complicated Task of Property Tax Reform]

[Read: An Old, Unfair System: New York City's Property Tax Conundrum]

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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What to Watch for When the City's Property Tax Commission Finally Issues Its Report Wed, 11 Dec 2019 05:00:00 +0000
Driver's Licenses for All in Effect; Renewed Amazon Debate; Senate Albany Conference; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 9 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8972-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-december-9-2019 https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8972-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-december-9-2019 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week begins with a great deal of focus on two pieces of Albany business: the law passed earlier this year to allow undocumented immigrants access to driver's licenses is set to take effect on Saturday (December 14), though it is the subject of litigation and protest, including from some county clerks who say they won't honor the law.

Meanwhile, one week after Assembly Democrats were in the capital for annual conference meetings, their Senate counterparts are scheduled to gather in Albany. One major topic hanging over the meetings is the binding recommendations from the state campaign finance commission that are set to take effect later this month unless the Legislature acts. A number of lawmakers from both houses have expressed their displeasure with the results of the commission, but it is not at all apparent that there is enough will in either house for action. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie indicated as much this past week after his conference met. This week will show at least some of what Senate Democrats are thinking after they meet.

The week also begins with renewed debate over the ultimately withdrawn deal to bring a major Amazon campus to Queens (where Senate Democrats were a key part of the opposition), given that news broke on Friday in the Wall Street Journal that the e-commerce giant is leasing new space in Hudson Yards for roughly 1,500 employees, far short of the 25,000 promised over many years if the Queens project had moved ahead, albeit with roughly $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies. 

There's a lot happening this week, 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, December 9
Mayor de Blasio will appear on NY1's Inside City Hall in the 7 and 11 p.m. hours on Monday evening.

At 8 a.m. Monday, ABNY Census 2020 in partnership with all five boroughwide chambers of commerce will host an information and networking event about the 2020 Census, “2020 Census and Business: Engaging New York City business leaders in the 2020 Census.”

The New York State Board of Regents will meet on Monday and Tuesday in Albany.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is in Puerto Rico Monday where he is speaking at the Public Employee’s Conference Convention.

At the City Council on Monday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Health and the Committee on Hospitals will jointly hold an oversight hearing on the city’s efforts to prevent and address HIV and Hepatitis along with related legislation. 
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts and the Committee on Parks and Recreation will jointly hold an oversight hearing on Governors Island. 
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Housing and Buildings will hold a hearing on multiple bills.

At 11 a.m. Monday in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health, the Assembly Standing Committee on Health and the Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will jointly hold a public hearing on suicide prevention supports and services.

Monday at 11 a.m., "New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer will release an audit revealing alarming new findings about the MTA’s $600 million contract with Bombardier Transit Corporation to produce 300 subway cars."

At 11:30 a.m. Monday, the Fiscal Policy Institute will host “Tax Justice NY: Moving from Austerity to Prosperity” at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. Speakers include Charles Khan, Organizing Director, Strong Economy for All; Michelle Gittelman, Revenue Working Group;  Pierce Delahunt, Patriotic Millionaires; Michelle Jackson, Deputy Executive Director, Human Services Coalition; Jasmine Gripper, Legislative Director, Alliance Quality Education; Mark Hannay, Executive Director, Metro New York Health Care for All; Paulette Soltani, Political Director, VOCAL-NY; Brenda Episcopo, President and CEO, United Way of New York State; and Dorothy Hill, Director of Policy, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy.

At noon Monday, "Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul Delivers Remarks at Opening of Renovated Woolworth Building Funded by the Downtown Revitalization Initiative" in Middletown.

At 1 p.m. Monday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will join a press conference at City Hall with the Family of Antonio Williams and others "to demand transparency and accountability regarding Williams' death." At 6:30 p.m., Williams will attend the the New York County Lawyers Association 105th Annual Dinner. And at 7 p.m., Williams will join the 'We Fight On' Virtual Town Hall with Justice League NYC to "speak about policing and criminal justice reforms."

At 1 p.m. there will be the aforementioned press conference regarding the death of Antonio Williams, ""demanding answers and accountability over the NYPD killing of Antonio Williams and announcing the filing of a FOIL request." Along with Public Advocate Williams, participants will include Antonio Williams' father, stepmother, and brother, members of Communities United for Police Reform, City Council Members Brad Lander and Antonio Reynoso, and others. "Antonio Williams was killed by NYPD officers on September 29, 2019 after reportedly being chased and tackled by plainclothes Officer Brian Mulkeen. At least five officers reportedly drew their guns and opened fire, killing both Williams and Mulkeen. Williams was reportedly simply standing on the sidewalk when plainclothes officers jumped out of cars at him that evening. The NYPD has offered no explanation for why Williams was first approached or why they escalated the encounter without reasonable suspicion of a crime. Since Williams’ death, Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD have obstructed transparency and accountability for his family. They have refused to release the names of officers involved, and failed to produce body camera footage or any information about investigations or discipline related to the incident. According to Shawn and Gladys Williams, the only updates they have received about their son’s death have come from the media."

At 1:30 p.m., "New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy will be in Albany Monday and will hold a media availability to discuss the latest developments in Cuomo’s JCOPE coverup and the public finance commission report."

Tuesday, December 10
At 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer will appear live on NY1 “Mornings on 1” with Pat Kiernan. At 3:30 p.m., Stringer will deliver remarks at "Celebration for Upcoming Implementation of Bail and Discovery Reform."

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Appeals will hold its next public hearing in Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Manhattan, the Assembly Standing Committee on Codes and the Assembly Standing Committee on Correction will jointly hold a public hearing about sealing criminal records and expansion of youthful offender status.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday in Jackson Heights, Queens, Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza "will deliver remarks at the renaming of PS 398 to the Héctor Figueroa School." Comptroller Scott Stringer will be among those in attendance.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will speak "at the 'NYC Worst Banks Award Ceremony' Press Conference. The Public Advocate will join elected officials and advocates including Public Bank NYC at a press conference to highlight the ways banks that accept billions of dollars in municipal deposits harm New Yorkers, NYC neighborhoods, and the planet." At 3 p.m., Williams will join a bail reform press conference "with a broad coalition of elected officials, faith leaders, and advocacy organizations, will discuss the upcoming implementation of bail and discovery reforms in one of several rallies happening across the state. Rallies will be held in New York City, Nassau County, Ulster County, and Albany County." At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Williams will attend "the Bronx Democrats' Holiday Party and Toy Drive."

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the City Council, a Stated Meeting will occur, prefaced by the usual pre-Stated press conference led by Speaker Corey Johnson.

The Regional Plan Association and the Pew Charitable Trusts will co-host a briefing from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday in Manhattan, “How Cities and States are paying to reduce flood risk.” Speakers include Tim Blake , Managing Director - Public Finance, Moody's Investors Service; James Lee Witt, former FEMA Administrator;  Rob Freudenberg, Vice President of Energy and Environment, Regional Plan Association; Matt Fuchs, Officer, Pew's Flood-Prepared Communities Initiative; Kate Boicourt, Director of Resilience, Waterfront Alliance; and others.

Wednesday, December 11
At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell will join Crain's New York Business "to discuss how New York state is working to protect consumers from predatory lending and fraud. She will also address her department's work to help student borrowers navigate their loans and its focus on regulation of new technologies, cryptocurrencies and cybersecurity."

At the City Council on Wednesday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Governmental Operations and the Committee on Justice Systems will jointly hold an oversight hearing on “day fines pilot program” and related legislation. 
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Environmental Protection will hold an oversight hearing on the challenges in managing the Department of Environmental Protection wastewater infrastructure. 
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Immigration and the Committee on Small Business will jointly hold an oversight hearing on city services and supports for immigrant business owners.

The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board will hold its monthly public board meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Manhattan.

This week’s Max & Murphy show will air at 5 p.m. Wednesday on WBAI radio, 99.5 FM or wbai.org, and feature discussion about how the NYPD and other law enforcement police gangs in New York City.

Thursday, December 12
At the City Council on Thursday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Health and the Committee on Hospitals will jointly hold an oversight hearing on rising health care costs.
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Housing and Building and the Committee on Aging will jointly hold an oversight hearing on senior affordable housing and related legislation.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, the State Senate Committee on Investigations and Governmental Operations, the State Senate Standing Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development, and the State Senate Standing Committee on Consumer Protection will jointly hold a public hearing at Hofstra University regarding real estate agents’ discrimination of homebuyers on Long Island. The hearing was provoked by a recently-published Newsday series.

At 11 a.m. Thursday in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development and the Assembly Subcommittee on Museums & Cultural Institutions will jointly hold a public hearing on capital funding for arts and cultural organizations. 

At 12 p.m. Thursday in Albany, the New York State Board of Elections will hold its monthly commissioners meeting.

Friday, December 13 and the weekend
At 10 a.m. Friday in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Libraries and Education Technology will hold a public hearing on funding New York State’s libraries.

At 10 a.m. Friday, Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show.

On Saturday, the state's driver's licenses for all law goes into effect.

On Saturday at 5 p.m., Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will speak at the Alliance of Asian American Labor 12th Annual Convention in Manhattan.

***
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 Ben Max & Gia Ramesh
@GothamGazette

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Driver's Licenses for All in Effect; Renewed Amazon Debate; Senate Albany Conference; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 9 Sun, 08 Dec 2019 05:00:00 +0000