Gotham Gazette https://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/1030 Wed, 26 Feb 2020 22:45:44 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) In Opioid Fight, City Expands Access to Crucial Medication-Assisted Treatment https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8777-in-opioid-fight-city-expands-access-to-crucial-medication-assisted-treatment https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8777-in-opioid-fight-city-expands-access-to-crucial-medication-assisted-treatment New York City opioid treatment

(photo: Edwin Torres/Mayor's Office)


New York City is showing modest progress in the fight to curb the explosion in drug overdoses, with the health department reporting 38 fewer deaths last year compared to 2017, after a concerted $60-million effort focused on substance abuse prevention, treatment, and education, especially with regard to opioids.

One aspect of that fight has been the expansion of access to medication-assisted treatment, which experts and activists say is a crucial element in preventing overdoses, curbing addiction, and helping those suffering from substance abuse disorders to reclaim their lives. The city has continued some advancement on that front, training thousands of more prescribers, while a state bill that could help that effort, which passed the Legislature this year, languishes unsigned by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Medication-assisted treatment involves prescribing and administering drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine, which help mitigate the symptoms of withdrawal and curb cravings.

Methadone is itself an opioid, albeit a relatively weaker one, that can help those suffering from addiction wean off stronger narcotics. Buprenorphine acts similarly and is an even more effective treatment drug since its effects level out no matter the size of the dosage. Both, however, are stringently regulated.

Methadone treatment programs are subject to oversight by numerous federal agencies, and the drug must be administered to patients on site under observation. For buprenorphine, doctors must receive waivers to prescribe the drug after undergoing an eight-hour training. In the United States, compared to other countries, the treatment remains vastly underutilized.

“Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT) is a standard of care for opioid use disorder and it is critical for treating addiction, and also is a protective factor against overdose,” said Dr. Denise Paone, Director of Research and Surveillance at the city Health Department’s Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use. “So we've invested a lot of effort into the expansion, particularly of buprenorphine, because as you know, methadone is federally regulated.”

Since the March 2017 launch of HealingNYC, the city’s multi-faceted strategy to combat the opioid crisis, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has trained 1,800 new buprenorphine prescribers, surpassing the original goal of 1,500. The aim of the program has been to increase buprenorphine prescriptions by 20,000 by 2022.

There has already been some success, with prescriptions up from 115,167 in 2017 to 126,002 in 2018.

Besides training new prescribers, the city has also expanded a Nurse Care Manager program – where registered nurses coordinate treatment for patients and with providers – to 26 primary care clinics around the city, and is funding 9 of 14 syringe service programs to provide on-site buprenorphine.

“In actual clinical practice, we are providing funding to these federally qualified health centers that serve those that are underinsured or not insured. And we provide support so that these primary care clinics can provide on-site buprenorphine,” Paone noted.

It’s hard to draw a through line from the investments in buprenorphine access to the reduction in overdose deaths, Paone said, because of the many elements of HealingNYC that work in concert. “But buprenorphine obviously plays a major role,” she said.

There are still numerous challenges as the city attempts to increase the number of doctors prescribing the life-saving drug. The first is the required physician waiver. “There is an effort across the country, supported by a lot of attorneys general, as well as health departments to work at the federal policy level to have this waiver removed,” Paone said, citing a letter sent by several attorneys general to congressional leadership, calling for eliminating the waiver. But that effort has seen little movement. 

In New York State, buprenorphine prescribers are also required to get prior authorization from insurance companies. A bill sponsored by Assemblymember Dan Quart and State Senator Pete Harckham passed the Legislature earlier this year and would do away with that requirement but it has yet to be signed by Cuomo. “The bill is under review,” said Caitlin Girouard, a Cuomo spokesperson, in an email. 

“From social stigma to regulatory barriers, people seeking treatment for substance use disorders are faced with significant obstacles,” Quart said in a statement. “While this bill won’t remove all existing roadblocks, it will cut red tape and wait times, guaranteeing New Yorkers faster access to lifesaving treatment. The opioid epidemic has devastated communities across the state and I encourage the Governor to sign my bill into law, and ensure those seeking treatment have swift access to the care they need.”

Harckham, a Democrat representing parts of Westchester and the Hudson Valley, chairs the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and is also co-chair of Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction & Overdose Prevention, which was created earlier this year and held its first hearing last month.

“We want to find out what's working, what the gaps are, what we need to do from a legislative standpoint, what we need to do from a regulatory standpoint,” he said in a phone interview. “And certainly we have to break down any barriers we can to medication-assisted treatment because evidence shows, that's what saves lives.” Harckham expects that next year, the Legislature will pursue a robust package of bills to fight the opioid crisis based off the task force’s work. 

Removing the stigma around buprenorphine and methadone also remains a priority for the city, and the Health Department has sought to fight it with a $2.8-million mass media and advertising campaign called “Living Proof” displaying real stories of individuals who have benefited from treatment.

The ads ran on local television (2,141 times), newspapers, online, in social media, and on the subway system. Besides the millions that saw the ads on the subways and ferries, the health department provided data that social media ads led to 2 million online video views and over 80,000 visits to NYC Health’s “Opioid Addiction Treatment with Buprenorphine and Methadone” web page. “It was actually quite powerful, and then we're in the process of doing an evaluation of that campaign,” Paone said. 

“Expanding access to medication treatment is really probably the most critical response right now to the opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center, which has trained several hundred buprenorphine prescribers. “But what we also know from research is only about half of the people who are trained, actually go on to prescribe it and actually treat addiction and so we need to do more than just train people,” she added.

Besides that, Cunningham said the city needs to invest more in nurse care managers and that service providers need more support for mentoring and education in addiction treatment. “I think that the issue is there's not one thing to turn this epidemic around,” she said. “But all of these approaches are based in evidence to show that these are what the barriers are and these are the kinds of supports that are needed for providers to take this on and to provide treatment.”

Jasmine Budnella, drug policy coordinator at VOCAL-NY, an activist group, was among dozens who protested outside the governor’s New York City office last month, calling on him to take more action towards fighting the overdose epidemic. She said the prior-authorization bill is an important step to increase access to buprenorphine. “For low-income New Yorkers, that was the only bill that we were able to pass this last session that we know has proven evidence will work in reducing the overdose crisis,” she said in a phone interview.

Budnella believes the city’s approach to medication-assisted treatment needs to be more holistic and expanded past the areas where overdose deaths have been highest. She noted, for instance, that overdoses are a leading cause of death in homeless shelters.

“We need to continue expansion, but not just in areas of high need,” she said. “We need to make sure that we're extending to all people.” She urged the mayor to provide more funding to the health department and to the Department of Social Services, to ensure that the city tackles the nexus of the overdose and homelessness crises, particularly by investing in supportive housing for those who require addiction-treatment services.

“We need to make sure that we have wraparound services for folks,” she said. “We also need to make sure that the criminal justice system is not the first to get employed for people who use drugs…What we really need is infrastructure where we have social workers and public health experts who are the ones employed to go help people with substance use disorder or mental health issues, so that the police don't have to police poverty.”

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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In Opioid Fight, City Expands Access to Crucial Medication-Assisted Treatment Thu, 05 Sep 2019 04:00:00 +0000
‘Nobody Should Enter the Criminal Justice System for Something Related to Mental Illness’ https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8705-new-york-criminal-justice-system-mental-illness-thrive-nyc https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8705-new-york-criminal-justice-system-mental-illness-thrive-nyc first lady chirl mcc first

Chirlane McCray on Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


A rising number of 911 calls to report emotionally disturbed persons, several fatal encounters between police officers and people with serious mental illness, and an increasing percentage of seriously mentally ill people among those detained in city jails have all raised questions about how New York City and State provide care for those suffering from the most serious mental illnesses.

These questions and concerns don’t have easy answers. The city’s public hospital system, NYC Health + Hospitals; the mayor’s mental health care roadmap, ThriveNYC; services from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; treatment within the city Department of Correction; private clinics; mental health shelters; and more combine to create a complex and stratified framework for treating those with a serious mental illness (SMI).

For some, much of what is at times called a crisis of treatment for those with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia can be traced to the trend whereby the state closed down psychiatric hospitals with many thousands of inpatient beds while requisite treatment systems were not put into place to help people who would no longer be institutionalized, many of them cycling through the criminal justice system and inappropriately receiving their best mental health care while in jail.

There is insufficient use of mandatory outpatient treatment, some critics of the city and state say, with significant recent criticism also aimed at Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray over how resources have been allocated in their signature ThriveNYC program. Meanwhile, others have focused on questioning that police officers with guns are often first responders to people experiencing a serious mental health crisis, and those critics have been successful to some extent in getting protocols changed, though they say there is clearly more to do.

Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, says he’s troubled by the gaps in treatment and looking for new answers that would require the city and state to work together.

“The problem with the current mental health system, from my point of view, is for people with serious mental illness, the people we most worry about, the people we sometimes see on the subway or sitting on the bench, that right now there is nothing in between acute hospitalization and traditional outpatient care,” he said in April during an appearance hosted by the Citizens Budget Commission (CBC), a nonprofit think tank.

During an interview after the CBC event on the What’s The [Data] Point? podcast from CBC and Gotham Gazette, Katz was asked for more on his view about how to fill that gap.

He said H+H is working with the state on fixing a system that “drops off too precipitously.” Katz said he was in discussions to create programming to increase services for those who don’t qualify or don’t want to be admitted for inpatient care at a hospital but don’t receive enough treatment or care in the current outpatient system.

“We know in New York City there is a group of people with very serious mental health and addiction problems who rotate between the acute hospital, the shelter, and the jail,” he said on the podcast. “They don’t need to be locked up but let’s provide them a positive residential program that they want to stay at because it’s better than shelter and it’s better than the jail when we know that there are people who get arrested in order to be taken care of in jail.”

Over the course of months since Katz’s April comments, Gotham Gazette reached out multiple times to New York City Health + Hospitals and the Mayor’s Office but didn’t receive any further details on Katz’s vision for the program or whether there are ongoing discussions to make it a reality. State law and the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) have near full authority over the types of mental health treatment options allowed throughout the state, and are essential to the discussion, as Katz indicated.

In a statement to Gotham Gazette, a spokesperson for the New York State Office of Mental Health said, “as New York State continues to transform its mental health system to serve more individuals in the least-restrictive setting possible, we are expanding our reach through community-based services. These treatment models allow people to stay in the communities where they are best supported.”

Serious mental illnesses are not the types of mental illnesses and mental health issues that plague a little under 50 million Americans; according to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 4.5% of American adults have a serious mental illness -- meaning roughly 239,000 New Yorkers based on population statistics.

The three most common SMIs are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression – less severe depression and anxiety are not categorized as serious mental illnesses although both the National Institute of Mental Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) agree there is some ambiguity in the cut-off line for what’s considered a “serious” mental illness. It’s also important to note that there are complications with the term “serious mental illness”; it is not a diagnosis itself, but a level of disability or a threshold for having a particularly significant and debilitating mental illness.

In asking how New York treats those estimated 239,000 New Yorkers, there are the unavoidable questions of where they can and should be treated, as Katz indicated. Back in the early 20th century, many people with SMIs were admitted into state psychiatric centers, more commonly known as “insane asylums”; however, over the past 80 years there has been a major shift in placing those with serious mentally illness into inpatient treatment.

In the 1950s, New York began deinstitutionalization – a shift from inpatient care (a patient admitted into a hospital full-time) to community-based outpatient care. According to a 2018 report by Manhattan Institute senior fellow Stephen Eide, the process of deinstitutionalization continues to this day but may have gone too far. According to the report, the city’s public hospital and health care system, NYC Health + Hospitals, is the leading provider of inpatient psychiatric care in the city with only 1,218 beds dedicated to adult inpatient psychiatric care, representing 48% of adult inpatient beds in the city. State psychiatric centers in the city account for 1,058 adult inpatient beds.

ThriveNYC, led by McCray, has come under fire on multiple fronts, including general money mismanagement and lack of clear outcome-tracking, but also for how it helps -- or doesn’t help -- those with serious mental illnesses. During a City Council budget and oversight hearing on March 26, McCray was pressed on the issue several times, including pointed questions about how much of the ThriveNYC budget is dedicated toward treatment for those with SMIs.

At one point she said, “All of Thrive is really focused on the seriously mentally ill,” but she and others who testified about the program eventually offered more clarity.

Thrive, which is called a “roadmap” and spends around $200 million per year on programming and coordination, does include services solely focused on those with serious mental illness, but its main objective is to plug gaps of already existing services run by H+H and the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), while reorienting health care to always include mental health care and extend awareness and treatment into all of the city’s communities.

“Thrive is dedicated to prevention when possible, early prevention, treating people in crisis, and making sure people are stabilized when they do reach a crisis point,” McCray said. In arguing that all of Thrive is aimed at serious mental illness, she argued that untreated lower-level mental health issues can spiral.

Thrive, in the context of treating those with SMIs, is criticized for focusing more on mental health rather than mental illness; most of its 54 initiatives are focused on combating stigma, the negative factors that can lead to mental illness, and encouraging people to spot mental health issues in others and themselves, and to seek help.

In a May op-ed in the New York Post, DJ Jaffe, the executive director of Mental Illness Policy Org, and Eide of the Manhattan Institute called for the reallocation of ThriveNYC’s entire budget to focus on those with serious mental illness. They offered specific ways in which to redirect funding into different programs, such as enhancing existing crisis intervention teams, creating an office to exclusively manage the use of Kendra’s Law in New York CIty, and promoting supportive housing for homeless people with serious mental illnesses.

“The most serious cases are the ones most likely to become homeless, arrested, incarcerated, hospitalized and violent if they go untreated,” they wrote. “Yet Thrive virtually ignores this group in favor of people with less severe illnesses.”

Susan Herman, the recently-appointed executive director of ThriveNYC, said during the March testimony, “we are filling strategic gaps and piloting innovative programs for the seriously mentally ill to be able to work with people so they can stay in community by connecting them to services, by helping them connect or reconnect to treatment. We’re helping people both before crisis and after crisis.”

For example, McCray said in an op-ed in New York Daily News that Thrive adds $30 million of funding (about 15% of its budget) to the $300 million the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene already spends directly to help people with SMIs.

“Thrive-supported programs are designed to enhance and complement these existing services, not compete with or replace them,” she wrote.

For someone who voluntarily requests care, they can go to a public hospital for informal short-term hospital care as well as traditional outpatient care. The average stay for someone hospitalized for mental illness is 11 days, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Outpatient care -- preferred by many for its community-based nature -- consists of things like meeting with a therapist or a psychiatrist and getting medication prescribed. Influential 1999 Supreme Court case Olmstead v. L.C. ruled public entities must provide community-based services to those with mental illness whenever possible.

“Lots of people have schizophrenia,” says Dr. Gary Belkin, Executive Deputy Commissioner for Health and Mental Hygiene in the city's Health Department and Chief of Policy and Strategy of ThriveNYC, in a phone interview. “The vast majority don’t end up on the street untreated and that’s because there are things that happen earlier, things that Thrive is working on – getting better care connections, having many points of contact, opportunities for family/friends to bring them mobile help."

Thrive has Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams dispatched around the city, often in mental health shelters, to treat people with serious mental illness. There are at least 50 ACT teams in New York with the capacity to serve 3,500 people at any time, according to Herman’s March 26 testimony. Thrive also created intensive mobile treatment teams that mostly go to shelters and provide treatment for homeless people. These outreach efforts mostly help people with outpatient care, but can lead to more intensive intervention, though it is very rare for judges to order people into inpatient hospitalization in New York.

Some of these efforts will now be part of ThriveNYC’s recently-announced outcome-tracking procedures, announced in late June.

The key questions, it seems, are whether Thrive’s efforts and the increased emphasis on outpatient programs on the state level -- perhaps including what Katz of H+H said he’d like to see -- can successfully fill gaps left by deinstitutionalization, while creating a more humane care system, and reduce threats posed by those with serious mental illness to themselves and others.

Deinstitutionalization in New York has been drastic. According to Eide’s report, as of November 2018, the average daily number of people in New York state adult psychiatric centers was 2,267. In 1955, there were over 93,000. Even in just the last four years, the number of state inpatient psychiatric beds -- in other words, the capacity for inpatient care -- has dropped by 19% statewide, from 2,866 in 2014 to 2,335 in 2018.

The drop in average daily patients and inpatient beds has coincided with an increase in the number of seriously mentally ill homeless people in New York and the proportion of inmates with a serious mental illness diagnosis in city jails.

According to Eide’s findings, there are more psychiatric beds in New York City mental health shelters than the number of psychiatric beds in state psychiatric centers and Health + Hospitals facilities combined.

Supportive housing, which provides housing and social services for those with serious mental illness, is also seen as a key tool. There are currently 52,000 units of supportive housing statewide, half of which are funded by the state Office of Mental Health (the other half don’t necessarily serve those with mental illness). Supportive housing, which is built and funded by both the city and state, sometimes in conjunction, is typically run by nonprofit providers who provide onsite mental health care, medication delivery systems, and more.

According to testimony given in a May City Council hearing by the Supportive Housing Network of New York, there are around 33,000 units of supportive housing in New York City. Amid calls for more units, both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have made pledges to develop more supportive housing.

In his NYC 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative announced in November 2015, de Blasio said the city would develop 15,000 additional units of supportive housing over 15 years. Two months later, Governor Cuomo announced his plan to build 20,000 units over the same 15-year timespan. These announcements came after the two were unable to come to an agreement on what have been known for decades as “New York-New York” supportive housing deals whereby the city and state work together to develop thousands of units.

The New York State Senate and Assembly Democratic majorities see a need for more programming aimed at mental health care and housing, too. Earlier this year, the two bodies unanimously passed a bill creating a temporary commission to study what is seen as chronic underfunding for these housing programs. The commission would “provide policy guidance and recommendations relating to the adequacy of funding levels and need for sufficient staffing in all supportive housing under the auspices of the Office of Mental Health.”

According to a June 25 press release from supportive housing provider Bring It Home, “[t]he bill would prompt a study of current funding and staffing levels across the state and investigate ways the state can begin to remedy its years-long failure to adequately fund mental health housing programs.” Advocates are urging Cuomo to sign the bill so the commission can issue its report in time for the next state budget season.

Another discussion that has played out over many years, at the state level especially, is over how to treat individuals who are too sick to seek help.

Per New York State Law, the criteria to involuntarily admit someone due to mental health is fairly strict – the person can’t understand the need for care or presents a substantial harm to self and/or others, among other standards.

According to a 2015 New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene report, 40% of adult New Yorkers with serious mental illness didn’t receive medical treatment in the prior year.

Courts can and do order people to outpatient care: assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) is also known in New York as Kendra’s Law. Originally passed in 1999 in New York State (the first law of its kind and emulated in many other states since), Kendra’s Law allows select people close to a mentally ill person to petition the court to mandate a treatment plan for that person. According to OMH’s website, as of Monday (July 29) there were 3,109 people under active court order via Kendra’s Law, 1,377 of them in New York City.

Jaffe of Mental Health Policy Org, a staunch supporter of Kendra’s Law, estimates around 4,000 people should be in mandated treatment under the law. Critics of Kendra’s Law typically accept the principle but say it’s overly strict, such as the need to show an instance of seriously violent behavior in the last four years. Once a petition to mandate care is successfully filed, the chances of the courts granting the petition are extremely high: 90% of Kendra’s Law petitions were granted statewide from July 29, 2018 through Sunday (July 28, 2019), according to OMH’s website.

Kendra’s Law affects a very small population but has shown signs of working: the state Office of Mental Health says for someone who went through an assisted outpatient treatment program, psychiatric hospitalization was reduced by 64% after AOT, incarceration by 72%, and homelessness was reduced by 61%. Jaffe and Eide in their op-ed call for the creation (and funding) of a Kendra’s Law Office to deal solely with helping the city expand its efforts to get more people into Kendra’s Law.

Meanwhile, ThriveNYC offers NYC Well, a mental health helpline that has the ability to dispatch mobile crisis intervention teams to someone experiencing a mental health crisis. The phone line is something that de Blasio and McCray often cite in their public remarks about Thrive and the city’s efforts to improve mental health care.

Another big piece of the current picture of care for those with serious mental illnesses is correctional health services, which have been needed more and more. Although the daily inmate and detainee population in city jails is decreasing, the percentage of those diagnosed with a serious mental illness has gone from 10.2% in city fiscal year 2014 to 14.3% in fiscal year 2018, according to the Mayor’s Management Report.

Dr. Katz  said on What’s the [DATA] Point? that “In the case of correctional health…we know in New York City there is a group of people with very serious mental health and addiction problems who rotate between the acute hospital, the shelter, and the jail.”

One goal of ThriveNYC is to limit the number of people going to jail due to serious mental illness. The city will open two health diversion centers later this year. Announced in late 2018, the diversion centers will provide somewhere for police officers to take someone who has committed a low-level, non-violent crime but they believe is exhibiting behavioral problems due to mental health. The centers will offer mental health treatment and have overnight beds but stays will be capped at five days.

Skeptics of the idea point out that there will only be two diversion centers, one in the Bronx and one in East Harlem, and each center will only serve its specific community. Plus, the centers will have a “no-refusal” policy that could edge out those with serious mental illness if the centers are at capacity. According to Herman at the March City Council hearing, Thrive plans to evaluate the success of the two programs and possibly create more centers next year.

“We want to catch [people] before entry into the criminal justice system,” said Dr. Belkin. “Nobody should enter the criminal justice system for something related to mental illness. We should be able to reach those people so that doesn’t happen, where they can be treated and managed in a health context before they get ensnared in the criminal justice system. I think everyone wants to avoid that path."

Critics argue, as alluded to by Katz and recently brought up during a Council hearing on recidivism of those with mental illness, that mental health services outside of the criminal justice system are less robust than those offered in city jails. According to Katz, “the fact that we make it necessary for some people to commit shoplifting in order to ensure they’re in a safe place, get their meds, get their food, get their house, when we could do that so much less expensively elsewhere is really a condemnation on us.”

Another option, proposed by Jaffe and Eide, is the expansion of mental health courts, which allows judges to divert those with serious mental illness and charged with crimes to treatment instead of jail. They say current mental health courts cannot offer housing to these people, which weakens its effectiveness.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is attempting to prevent those with mental illness from going to jail and to ensure they get better treatment instead. In a speech on criminal justice reform on May 16 at John Jay College, he announced the Council will create a program to house 100 people with SMI caught in the criminal justice system and emphasized the 100 beds are a start, but the program will need further investment and focus to add more beds.

Johnson also pointed out how targeting the legal system can keep people with SMI out of jail; he announced the Council will fund a program to connect social workers with defense attorneys to find alternatives to prison. He also previewed the Get Well & Get Out Act, which would require correctional services staff to keep attorneys informed of their clients’ mental health.

The bill was introduced on June 13 by Council Member Margaret Chin of Manhattan and six other Council sponsors, including Speaker Johnson. The Council quickly held a hearing on the bill that was combined with an oversight hearing on recidivism rates for those with mental illness. The bill has not yet received a committee vote.

How the city handles crisis situations including people with serious mental illness has come under increased scrutiny over the last few years. According to the NYPD and an investigation from THE CITY, calls to 911 involving EDP’s, or emotionally disturbed persons, have risen from around 97,000 in 2009 to 180,000 last year. Fourteen people who appeared to be suffering from acute mental illness have been killed by police officers in the past three years.

The extent to which the city’s roughly 37,000-member police force has been trained in crisis prevention is an ongoing issue. THE CITY estimated that only about 11,970 uniformed officers had undergone crisis prevention training at the time of its March reporting.

In April 2018, de Blasio and McCray launched the NYC Crisis Prevention and Response Task Force to create a strategy to better deal with mental health crises in the city. That report was due in January and has not been publicly released. The Task Force consists of leaders from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, ThriveNYC, and the NYPD, among others.

McCray in her Daily News op-ed said serious mental illness and EDP calls aren’t as related as they appear.

“Unfortunately, too many people think of serious mental illness as ‘crazy people in the subway,’ or 911 calls involving emotionally disturbed persons. But not everyone sleeping in the subway or on the streets has an illness,” she wrote. “And emotional disturbance describes erratic behavior at a given time — not a chronic disease.”

In an attempt to treat EDPs, Thrive created what it calls co-response teams that proactively send a police officer with a clinician to people who have shown violent tendencies or behavioral problems in the past. The forensic ACT teams, the mobile intervention teams, and the co-response teams are all a part of Thrive’s NYC Safe program.

It’s possible that the program Dr. Katz spoke about in April -- creating a residential program for the seriously mentally ill to fill in the gaps of treatment between outpatient care, inpatient care, and prison -- is what’s called “Intensive Outpatient Treatment,” or IOT, which offers a much higher intensity of services but still in the patient’s community. Patients under IOT would visit a psychiatrist more often and for longer than traditional outpatient programs.

Already existing outpatient programs must apply for a waiver to the state Office of Mental Health for permission to offer an intensive outpatient treatment program. OMH has approved waivers for 35 clinics beginning in August 2017, according to OMH’s website (they are required by state law to publicly release waiver requests and decisions).

Otherwise, the most intensive treatment with the most consistent care can be found in hospitals, prisons, or homeless shelters.

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by Truman Stephens, Gotham Gazette

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‘Nobody Should Enter the Criminal Justice System for Something Related to Mental Illness’ Mon, 29 Jul 2019 04:00:00 +0000
NYC Health Commish Highlights Death Disparities https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/6124-nyc-health-commish-highlights-death-disparities https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/6124-nyc-health-commish-highlights-death-disparities bdb bassett

Mayor de Blasio and Health Commissioner Bassett (Rob Bennett/Mayor's Office)


Crisis is part of the gig for the chief health official in the nation's largest city, and Dr. Mary Bassett has dealt with her share of emergencies in the two years she's served as commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. First there was Ebola, followed by Legionnaires', and now comes Zika—and those are just the ones the public has heard about. New York City is also seeing an outbreak of whooping cough, Bassett told a Thursday briefing at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

But as Bassett sees it, her job is as much about confronting the "enduring disparities" that characterize public health in New York City as it is about responding to sudden threats. The map of disease and death in the city reflects "patterns of marginalization," she told members of the Center for Community and Ethnic Media, "patterns that I am determined to talk about and ameliorate."

Among the more striking examples: Life expectancy in Brownsville is 11 years shorter, on average, than for residents of the financial district. "That means Brownsville has a life expectancy more along the lines of Sri Lanka, a developing country," Bassett told the panel moderated by NY1 anchor Errol Louis, the director of urban reporting at the school and joined by Vania Andre, editor-in-chief of the Haitian Times, and I.

There's much more to this story - read the rest here, from our partner City Limits.

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NYC Health Commish Highlights Death Disparities Fri, 29 Jan 2016 14:34:35 +0000
Rezoning Discussion Shifts to Food Access, At Least for One Breakfast https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/6003-rezoning-discussion-shifts-to-food-access-at-least-for-one-breakfast https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/6003-rezoning-discussion-shifts-to-food-access-at-least-for-one-breakfast red hook harvest via greencityforce

Red Hook Houses harvesting (photo via @GreenCityForce)


In the midst of city-wide controversy surrounding two new zoning proposalsconnected to Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s affordable housing plan, health and housing experts gathered to discuss how zoning could impact something else: food.

“I hope that by the end of today‘s discussion,“ said Nevin Cohen, associate professor at the CUNY School of Public Health, “we will see how spatial planning shapes local food environments and, therefore, how critical it is when we make decisions about how to change a neighborhood’s landscape.”

Part of a breakfast series put on by the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College, the event, Zoning and the City‘s Food System: Opportunities to Shape Healthier Food Environments in NYC, brought together a full room of interested parties - students, advocates, and others - at the CUNY Graduate Center. They met at a breakfast event as community boards, housing activists, preservations, elected officials, and others consider the de Blasio administration’s ambitious rezoning plans, which have received quite a bit of pushback so far.

While de Blasio’s plans for adding housing stock and density to several city neighborhoods like East New York, East Harlem, Flushing, and elsewhere have received a great deal of attention, food access is almost never part of the discussion.

Cohen introduced and moderated a conversation with three other speakers: Javier Lopez, deputy director of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Center for Developed Equity; Daniel Hernandez, deputy Commissioner for neighborhood strategies at the city’s Department of Housing and Preservation; and Shy Lauris, director of community development at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.

Zoning plays a large part in shaping food environments, the panelists explained. For all of the opaque jargon--FARs, RCM, RFPs--what zoning laws do is fairly straightforward: set limits on what a piece of land can or cannot be used for. This includes determining what function a building can fulfill (residential, commercial, manufacturing, etc.), the population density that a building can support (think low- or high-density housing), maximum building height, the amount of space various structures can occupy, and the proportional guidelines for different spatial types (i.e. the ratio of landscaped space to traffic lanes or to parking lots).

Each panelist gave an individual presentation focusing on current and possible health-oriented zoning initiatives before the discussion evolved into a more fluid, open forum also including audience members.

Lopez, of DOHMH, spoke about standardizing health requirements in the city‘s neighborhood planning process, creating a sort of health checklist for city planners to incorporate into development.

“Right now it is kind of being done in an ad hoc way,“ he said, “when you have conversations on transportation, on health, on education, all that has to be formalized…We believe that if we formalized it, other agencies could be more responsive to the public health conversations that are taking place.”

He continued saying that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene‘s brand new Community Health Profiles could serve as guidelines to future neighborhood development. The profiles include community district specific statistics on things like citizen supermarket access; resident smoking, eating, and exercise habits; air pollution; and more.

Lopez also talked with excitement about progressive zoning policies from other cities that New York could look to adopt.

In “Transform Baltimore,” for instance, the city‘s zoning overhaul of 2014, Baltimore amended its zoning code to simplify the process of beginning an urban farm and preserving community gardens. “Transform” also adopted a broader array of health-oriented zoning policies that included increasing development around transit hubs, preserving open space, and creating mixed-use housing (buildings that double as residential and commercial spaces).

The last of these measures - mixed-use housing - Hernandez pointed to in his presentation as something the city‘s proposed Zoning for Quality and Affordability text amendment (ZQA) seeks to increase. By raising the maximum building height in certain neighborhoods by five feet, the amendment allows the bottom floors of residential developments to serve as high-quality retail space. This can often lead to new food markets, reducing distances residents and families have to travel from their homes to access a range of food.

ZQA, along with its sister bill, the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing text amendment (MIH), is currently receiving stiff opposition from community boards across New York, but Hernandez thinks this opposition is misguided. Much of the hesitation among New Yorkers surrounds residential affordability and fears of gentrification and rising prices.

“HPD was developing retail buildings with really bad retail space, or bottom ground floor space,” Hernandez said. “So we worked with Design Trust for Public Space to identify how the buildings could increase in height and still be contextual within the existing historic fabric of neighborhoods. To be honest [the plan] is not being received too well, people think that the five foot increase is a way for developers to get additional [floor area ratio], but it’s actually not…[DOHMH is] working with [several city agencies] to bring different types of incentives and programs to small businesses in order to fill the retail space.”

Supermarkets will also move in, Hernandez said. He explained ZQA would enable the city to “more deliberately” pedal its FRESH (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) program, which provides zoning and financial incentives to developers and grocers when they build supermarkets in neighborhoods with a lack of healthy food options.

urban farm via nycfood[an urban farm, via @nycfood]

Shy Lauris is in charge of a development in East New York that serves as a concrete example of what Hernandez speaks about. At the Food Policy Center event, Lauris showed the audience a development located at Pitkin Avenue and Berriman Street that was just beginning construction. The building, a model of what HPD envisions for many other parts of the city, will include 60 affordable rental units, with a FRESH subsidized supermarket on the ground floor. The building will also include a public community garden with private plots for each tenant.

Lauris, however, emphasized the role of financing in the project, saying it could not have happened were it not for the increase in density that the city granted the developer. The greater number of units allowed gave Lauris and her community the revenue to build the type of building they wanted. These decisions are at the essence of the de Blasio housing plan, with its rezoning proposals at the center, which allow for greater density and development incentives in order to spur new units - both market and “affordable” - and new retail.

“In order to have food on that lot, you need to have economies of scale“ she said, “you need to finance construction and it’s very difficult to do...in order to make this work we needed more density.“

Nevin Cohen, who worked with the Design Trust for Public Space to develop favorable zoning policies for rooftop agriculture in the city in 2012, added that financing is also what‘s holding back that movement, which spurs local food sourcing.

As the event drew to a close, where exactly additional financing might come from remained unclear. Hernandez said he hoped the food-friendly-living market will grow similar to the way energy conservation has over the past decade (think solar panels).

“We have an amazing opportunity to effect the marketplace,“ he said. “In previous years when the green building and energy efficiency movement was just beginning, HPD worked closely with [the U.S. Green Building Council] as well as the Enterprise Green Communities program to identify ways to require anything that we financed to be green and energy efficient. Now these standards are a part of all pipelines. We require developers to comply with the green communities program at a minimum, but that often leads to developers competing to build the best building.”

Money does not grow on basil leaves, though, and the financial incentives that tipped developers toward supporting energy efficient practices do not exist for community gardens. Hernandez hopes that food-conscious construction paradigms like Via Verde, which won the New Housing New York (NHNY) Legacy Competition, will push the market to demand healthier construction practices, but the economic hurdles still prove daunting.

Referring to the struggle to get developers to adopt sustainable energy standards, Hernandez said, “It wasn’t until we were able to monetize the savings to the developer that they became interested. But then there was an increase in construction cost we had to manage and it wasn’t until there was more market demand from people that it began to push the construction industry to make changes.”

Pausing for a moment, he concluded, “I am not sure how to monetize health incentives.”

***
by Colin O’Connor for Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette
@colinqoconnor93

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Rezoning Discussion Shifts to Food Access, At Least for One Breakfast Sun, 22 Nov 2015 21:51:53 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 20 https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5691-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-april-20 https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5691-the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-april-20 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

As the week begins, Governor Andrew Cuomo is heading to Cuba on a trade mission, leaving Monday and returning Tuesday evening - "the first Governor-led state trade mission to Cuba since President Obama began the process to normalize diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba," the governor is quick to point out. "In addition to the Governor and members of his administration, the delegation includes Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, and business leaders representing a number of important sectors and industries in New York's economy."

Meanwhile, get ready for an intense post-budget legislative session in Albany, set to begin Tuesday and extend through mid-June. There's a lot of policy on the table as the budget wound up not including quite a bit (minimum wage, mayoral control of schools, raise the age, etc.) that had been part of the initial conversations on the spending plan. Lawmakers are due in Albany on Tuesday through Thursday this week.

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about income inequality and progressive policy to address it in Nebraska and Iowa last week (he'll be back on the road spreading his gospel this coming weekend, in Wisconsin (see below for details)). De Blasio returned to New York City on Friday and spent part of Saturday on Staten Island, helping kick off little league season and participating in a pre-K "day of action." Also on Saturday, "de Blasio attended the Office of Immigrant Affairs Stakeholders' Roundtable at City Hall this afternoon as part of the Administration's ongoing efforts to deepen coordination and collaboration with advocates across the City," according to his office. The mayor starts his week with one public event, a bill signing ceremony at 4 p.m. at City Hall, during which he'll sign into law "Intro. 421-A, in relation to increased reporting by the Human Rights Commission; Intro. 689-A, in relation to establishing a housing discrimination testing program; Intro. 690-A, in relation to establishing an employment discrimination testing program; Intro. 656, in relation to the establishment of the South Shore business improvement district; and Intro. 497-B, in relation to the interest rate and discount percentage recommendations provided by the New York City Banking Commission."

Comptroller Scott Stringer released a new audit on Sunday: "Animal Care & Control (AC&C) of New York City does not ensure the safety of drugs and vaccines it administers, fails to track them efficiently, operates an overcrowded shelter in Manhattan, and potentially unsafe facilities, according to an audit released today by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer...AC&C, a non-profit corporation, has a 5-year, $51.9 million contract with the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to provide shelter, examine, test, treat, spay, neuter and assure the humane care and disposition of animals in shelters located in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, along with drop-off centers in Queens and the Bronx." Stringer begins his week with one public event: delivering the "keynote address at the Municipal Forum of New York Luncheon" at The Union League Club, 1 p.m.

Public Advocate Letitia James also has one public event on her Monday schedule: she "co-hosts Healthy Teen Relationships Forum with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Helen Rosenthal" at MacCaulay Honors College.

It's another busy week at the City Council, see below for the day-by-day schedule. Meanwhile, behind the scenes budget negotiations continue between the Council and the mayor after the Council released its preliminary budget response last week and the mayor prepares his executive budget, due out in early May. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spent the end of the week in Phoenix, where she was sharing information about the city's new municipal identifcation program. Mark-Viverito then returned to the city to vote in her district's participatory budgeting process, which was wrapping up there and in 23 other districts around the city (on Saturday, Mayor de Blasio voted in his home Brooklyn district, represented by Council Member Brad Lander). Mark-Viverito starts her week making an announcement at Baruch College at 11 a.m. on Monday along with reps from Microsoft, CUNY, and Partnership for New York City. She'll also be in Queens with Council Members Donovan Richards and Jimmy Van Bramer touring a "Green Workforce Training Lab."

Wednesday is Earth Day. Expect action and announcements and op-eds and more related to environmental issues all week. The City is due to releases its PlaNYC update on Wednesday. We take an in-depth look at the City's relience planning here, and focus in on Staten Island's situation here. Governor Cuomo has declared it "Earth Week" in New York; and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has done the same in his borough.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, see below for our day-by-day overview.

***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
"2015 Pulitzer Prizewinners and Nominated Finalists will be announced Monday, April 20, 2015, at Columbia University in New York City. The announcement will take place at 3:00 pm eastern daylight time."

On Monday at 10 a.m. "to mark the first anniversary of the Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera, the Mexican Consulate of New York, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, and Citi will announce the expansion of the Ventanilla to other Mexican Consulates across the US. The celebration will be the first of several events taking place at the Mexican Consulate as part of Financial Education Week 2015."

At 11 a.m. at 250 Broadway, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, AARP representatives, and others will make an announcement about the CARE Act, legislation aimed at helping New York's caregivers.

Monday’s City Council schedule will include a meeting of the Committee on Technology to discuss new bills relating to the translation feature on city websites and requiring that local government websites are accessible to persons with disabilities; a meeting of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations to consider a bill on the community engagement process in the percent for art law;  a join meeting of the Committee on Women’s Issues and the Committee on Civil Service and Labor to consider a bill to "prohibit employers from preventing their employees from discussing salary information" and a bill to create an Office of Labor Standards, as well as resolutions to "grant NYC the authority to enfore State worker protection laws"; support the Wage Theft Prevention Act; support the Paid Family Leave Act; and in support of a bill to prohibit pay differential based on gender.

Monday at noon, the New York State Republican Party will host a lunch with special guest Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

On Monday afternoon in Brooklyn, "Boro Park JCC Executive Director Rabbi Yeruchim Silber and Borough President Adams will present the Belvedere Assisted Living Center with $3,500 in rental assistance to ensure that Rabbi [Mordechai] Simcha can live in a safe and dignified home. A 108-year-old Borough Park resident, with deteriorating health and a fixed income, Rabbi Simcha has struggled to cover his rent..." Simcha is a Holocaust survivor.

Monday evening at Civic Hall, Lawrence Lessig, Van Jones, Zephyr Teachout and MoveOn.org will host a talk on political corruption and why Elizabeth Warren should run for president.

The NYC Bar Association will host a panel discussion on the Child-Parent Security Act. Panelists will include State Senator Brad Hoylman, lead sponsor of the Child-Parent Security Act in the New York Senate; Carol Buell, partner at Weiss, Buell & Bell; Nina Rumbold, partner at Rumbold & Seidelman; and Nathan Schaefer, executive director at Empire State Pride Agenda.

Also Monday evening, the City's Immigrant Heritage Week will include “A discussion on the current status of executive action rollout and the programmatic and advocacy work being done at the local, state, and federal level.” Panelists will include Nisha Agarwal, commissioner at Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; Jorge Moncalvo, director at NYS Office for New Americans; and Jojo Annobil, Attorney-in-charge of the Immigration Law Unit at Legal Aid Society.

Riders Alliance is hosting an event, "How to Move a Pro-Transit Agenda in Albany," featuring Assembly Members Erik Dilan, Robert Rodriguez, and Nily Rozic.

And also on Monday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is attending Central Park Conservancy's ceremonial "First Mow" at 11 a.m. and co-hosting the aforementioned "forum on teen dating violence and promoting healthy relationships with Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Helen Rosenthal" at 6 p.m.

Tuesday
Tuesday morning, The Center for New York City Affairs will host Juvenile Justice: Successes and Failures of Close to Home: “Two years ago, New York City launched Close to Home, a groundbreaking juvenile justice reform. Its goal: Providing group home-like detention for juvenile offenders instead of sending them to scandal-plagued Upstate facilities. Is Close to Home living up to its promise? Join us for this installment of the de Blasio series: A conversation with the experts on juvenile justice reform.”

Tuesday’s City Council schedule includes a meeting of the Committee on Health to consider posting of information and warnings regarding anabolic steroids and human growth hormone in locker rooms, and technical changes to certain pet shop requirements; a meeting of the Committee on Economic Development for an oversight hearing regarding the economic impact of the Federal Export-Import Bank in New York City; a meeting of the Committee on Contracts, jointly with the Committee on Housing and Buildings, for an oversight hearing regarding the “Mayor’s Housing Plan: Contractor Employment Practices and Accountability.”

Tuesday afternoon, the state Legislature returns to Albany for the start of the post-budget legislative session.

On Tuesday afternoon, "In honor of the 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, members of the press are invited to take a complimentary tour with Borough President Melinda Katz to several prominent Queens landmarks throughout the borough on Tuesday, April 21st. The press tour van will depart the Queens Museum at 2:45 p.m. for the following landmarks (not necessarily in order): Louis Armstrong House in Corona; Kingsland Homestead in Flushing; Quaker Meeting House in Flushing; King Manor in Jamaica; and Addisleigh Park Historic District in St. Albans."

Tuesday evening, “The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York State, will be Food Bank For New York City’s special guest speaker at the 13th Annual Can Do Awards Dinner, presented by Bank of America, at Cipriani Wall Street.  Food Bank For New York City — the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs — will honor its partners in the fight against hunger — Tom Colicchio and Lori Silverbush, Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Sandra Lee-Simply Living Publishing.”

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Right to Counsel in Eviction Proceedings will hold its Manhattan Town Hall: “Did you know approximately 300,000 New Yorkers have to go to Housing Court to fight eviction every year? Did you know that while 90% of landlords have attorneys representing them about 90% of tenants do not? Join us to learn about legislation that will give New Yorkers the right to legal representation in NYC’s Housing Courts!”

Also Tuesday evening, Immigrant Heritage Week will include Tenement Talks, “a conversation about impact and legacy of the 1965 Immigration Act.”

Council Member Andy King will host another NYCHA residents “Constituent Services Night” at the Eastchester Gardens Community Center.

And on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is hosting a "Tenant Protection 101" session at Trinity Lutheran Church.

Wednesday
Wednesday is Earth Day. The de Blasio administration will release its update to PlaNYC, the city's long-term environmental, resilience-planning outline. We preview that release here.

Wednesday at 10 a.m. at City Hall, "City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) calls for passage of Res. 375, which calls on New York State to include climate change in the K-12 curriculum." He'll be joined by EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck, Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Attorney Eric Goldstein, Global Kids Executive Director Evie Hantzopoulos, Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) Program Manager Maayan Cohen, and others.

And at 2 p.m. in Manhattan: CUNY Divest Earth Day press conference, including City Council Member Steve Levin, Chris Fici of GreenFaith, the Union Theological Seminary, Professor of Finance Charles Allison, The New School, and many others.

Earlier, at 10 a.m., the state Senate Standing Committee on Banks will meet to examine “Predatory Lending Practices within the sub-prime auto loan and auto title loan industry.”

Wednesday, "NYC Votes will hold its second annual #VoteBetterNY Advocacy Day for Election Reform in Albany...NYC Votes will lead a group of nearly 100 concerned citizens urging state legislators to modernize New York's voting system. This year's #VoteBetterNY agenda includes three key reform proposals: Online voter registration; Better ballot design; Early Voting."

At 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Center for an Urban Future and NYATEP will present Making New York’s Workforce Development System More Accountable: how wage reporting data can help the state measure the success of its workforce development system. Featured panelists include Assembly Member Nily Rozic and representatives of several key stakeholders in government, education, and civic life.

The only scheduled City Council meeting for Wednesday will be a hearing of the Committee on Parks and Recreation to discuss a bill regarding the length of the season for city beaches and pools: “this bill would keep public beaches and pools under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department (DPR) open on each weekday until the day before the beginning of each school year and open throughout each weekend until September 30 of each year.”

Wednesday evening, Tina Brown Live Media in association with The New York Times will present The Sixth Annual Women in the World Summit: “The struggles and triumphs of women and girls around the globe come to life in this dynamic three-day summit. World leaders, industry icons, movie stars, and CEOs convene with artists, rebels, peacemakers and activists to tell their stories and share their plans of action. Join the women who have shattered glass ceilings everywhere! More participants to be announced.” Participants will include Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton - Clinton will speak Thursday evening.

City Council Member and congressional candidate (Democrat in NY-11) Vincent Gentile will be participating in a candidates debate on senior issues, at Ft. Hamilton Senior Center in Bay Ridge.

Also Wednesday evening, "Stories of Genocide, Lessons of Tolerance" at the Museum of Tolerance, hosted by City Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Elizabeth Crowley, Mark Levine, and others.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Digital NYC Five Borough Tour will hit Harlem. Panelists will include Clayton Banks, Co-­Founder at Silicon Harlem; Ofo Ezeugwu, CEO & President at WhoseYourLandlord.com; and Sam Sia, Co-Founder at Harlem Biospace.

Wednesday evening, Coro New York Leadership Center will celebrate at its annual gala, this year marking "30 Years of Visionary Leaders," and honoring several including City Council Member Ritchie Torres.

Also Wednesday evening, Vanguard Independent Democratic Association Presents: Young Professionals Networking Mixer "Balancing the Scales of The Criminal Justice System," with guest speaker Public Advocate Letitia James.

Wednesday night, NY Environment Report will celebrate its launch at Maxwell’s Bar & Restaurant in Manhattan. Council Members Donovan Richards and Mark Treyger will join the celebration and deliver remarks: "...they will speak briefly about the release that day of the City's progress report on PlaNYC, and other environmental issues of importance to our city.” Read our latest joint article with NY Environment Report, on the City's preparations for the next big storm(s): Assessing Resilience Planning: Is the City Preparing Smartly for the Rising Risks of Climate Change?

Thursday
Thursday’s City Council schedule will include a meeting of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises;  a meeting of the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services jointly with the Committee on Transportation and the Committee on Aging for an oversight hearing regarding “transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities in New York City” and to consider a resolution “recognizing this and every April as Autism Awareness Month in the City of New York”; a meeting of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses; a meeting of the Committee on Contracts; and a meeting of the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions.

Thursday starting at 10 a.m., it's TechDay New York hosting TechDay 2015, “the world’s largest startup event.”

Women in the World will continue its 6th annual summit, which starts Wednesday in New York City, where Hillary Rodham Clinton is set to speak Thursday evening.

There will be another candidates forum in the NY-11 congressional race on Thursday evening: "The Federal Budget and 'Front Burner' Domestic Issues" at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Brooklyn: "With only a few weeks to go until election day on May 5th, it's vital that we raise awareness about the election, the candidates and their positions on the issues." Sponsoring organizations include Communications Workers of America, Locals 1102, 1109; Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign; New York State Nurses Association; MoveOn; among others.

Starting Thursday,, the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School will host a three-day conference named Global Cities: Joining Forces Against Corruption. Among other experts, advocates, and academics, speakers will include the mayors of Mexico City and Athens; New York City Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters; and Executive Director of Citizens Union Dick Dadey. “CAPI's Global Cities conference will bring together high-level integrity officials from cities worldwide to discuss the challenges of fighting municipal corruption and share successful strategies and best practices. City delegations include: Athens, Barcelona, Chicago, Lima, Lviv, Mexico City, Nairobi, New Orleans, New York City, Perth, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Venice.”

Friday and the weekend
Friday, US Attorney Preet Bharara is scheduled to give a keynote address at the Regional Plan Association’s Annual Assembly: “At RPA's 2015 Assembly, we will be holding a series of debates with leading policy makers and innovative thinkers on some difficult policy choices facing our region. Join us on April 24 and weigh in as experts discuss issues that RPA is exploring in our work on the Fourth Regional Plan, a multiyear initiative to plot the course for the region's shared prosperity, sustainability and good governance.”

Also Friday, Fordham Law School will host Sharing Economy, Sharing City: Urban Law and the New Economy, with a keynote by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: “Trends in the sharing economy have spurred complex legal and regulatory issues that have moved to the center of urban policy debates, from Berlin to Seoul to New York City. As web-based, peer-to-peer companies challenge traditional regulatory paradigms, state and local governments are trying to respond creatively to rapidly changing digital and economic landscapes. This conference will explore the relationship between the sharing (or “peer-to-peer”) economy and economic and community development, consumption, ownership, mobility, and a shifting urban workforce. It will investigate diverse approaches to legal and regulatory issues facing city governments, entrepreneurs, workers, consumers, and residents in today’s dynamic technological and built environments.”

On Saturday morning, the Murphy Institute will host a Political Action Training.

Saturday evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver a keynote address at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Annual Founders' Day Gala 2015, at the Milwaukee Athletic Club.

***
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 Rati Mukhuradze, Marco Poggio, and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 20 Sun, 19 Apr 2015 19:59:22 +0000