Gotham Gazette Wed, 08 Jul 2020 11:57:59 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Webmaster) The Week Ahead in New York Politics, September 11 New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Tuesday is primary day! Are you ready to vote? Because New York City has closed primaries, be aware that there are restrictions on who can vote in what races. All registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary for mayor and for public advocate. Brooklyn Democrats can vote in the Brooklyn District Attorney primary, and if you're a registered Democrat with a City Council primary in your district, you can vote in that, too. There is one Republican City Council primary: in Brooklyn's 43rd Council District. This is not the full list, though. There are other party primaries.

And, one more interesting thing: voters either enrolled in the Reform Party or registered to vote but not affiliated with any party can vote in the Reform Party primary for mayor. While Sal Albanese receivd the Reform Party backing, members of the party filed a "opportunity to ballot" petition and this has opened up the primary. Both Nicole Malliotakis, the presumptive Republican nominee for mayor, and independent mayoral candidate Bo Dietl are making a last-minute push for the Reform Party line, as we reported on Friday afternoon.

Most of the 2017 city election cycle will be determined by Tuesday's primaries because New York is such a heavily Democratic city. There will be few competitive elections for November's general. See what races you can vote in and who is running through our interactive election guide, in partnership with WNYC radio and City Limits. You can also find a great deal of city election coverage from us and our partners here.  

Before primary day, New Yorkers and many others will stop on Monday to commemorate September 11. Sixteen years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, there will be annual ceremonies of remembrance to honor those who died that day and after, and the toll the attacks took, as well as the resiliency of New Yorkers and many others.

And, after primary day, there are a number of events to be aware of this week -- 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:***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday marks the 16th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.. Memorial services will be held at Ground Zero and elsewhere. The Ground Zero ceremony is first thing Monday morning. Mayor de Blasio will be among those in attendance.

On Monday morning at 11am, our Ben Max will be on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show to preview primary day elections -- 93.9FM or at

At 6:30 p.m. Monday, Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo will hold the annual memorial ceremony at the Postcards Memorial in honor of Staten Islanders who died on September 11, 2001. Mayor de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Letitia James will be among those participating.

On Monday and Tuesday, the New York State Board of Regents will hold its monthly meeting.

Tuesday is primary day in the city. New Yorkers who are eligible given their voter registration have the opportunity to vote in primary elections for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, City Council, Borough President, Manhattan and Brooklyn District Attorneys, District Leaders, Civil Court Judges, and Judicial Delegates. Use our voters guide to prepare.

Candidates for office and their supporters will be at subway stops and elsewhere throughout the day trying to win every last vote. Results will begin to come in Tuesday evening. See Gotham Gazette’s Ben Max on NY1’s evening coverage, from 9-11pm.

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Association for a Better New York will host a “Power Breakfast” with Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia at the Hilton Hotel in Midtown.

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Correction will hold a public board meeting at 125 Worth Street in Manhattan.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Hillary Clinton will kick off her book tour at the Union Square Barnes and Noble.

Mayor de Blasio’s primary night event will take place at Roulette Intermedium in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn starting at 9 p.m.

Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese will be holding a primary night event in Brooklyn at Prospect Bar and Grill. Before that event, Albanese will vote on Staten Island, near where he lives, and visit all five boroughs campaigning.

Many other candidates will be holding their primary night events throughout the city.

At the City Council on Wednesday:
--The Committee on Immigration will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “best practices for NYC agencies, courts, and law enforcement authorized to certify immigrant victims for U and T visas.”
--The Committees on Small Business, Contracts, and Economic Development will meet jointly at 1 p.m. to discuss proposed laws relating to “the reporting of information on the workforce of contractors performing construction work for the city,” “racial diversity in the workforce and leadership of city contractors,” and “the participation of minority-and women-owned business enterprises in construction projects related to properties receiving tax benefits in accordance with the industrial and commercial abatement program.”

On Wednesday on Roosevelt Island, "join representatives from Cornell Tech, Cornell University, the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, elected officials, and partners to celebrate the official opening of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island." The day will include a 10:30 a.m. "campus dedication ceremony and press conference" and a 12:20 p.m. "Cornell Tech campus tour" for press and a 2 p.m. discussion, "Sooner Than You Think at Cornell Tech, hosted by Bloomberg LIVE. The conference will bring together leaders in technology and business to share vital insights into the trends and transformations that are poised to reshape the future. Featuring conversations with IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty, Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security The Honorable Jeh Johnson, Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York Miguel Gamiño, Google Chief Information Officer Ben Fried, Two-Sigma Investments, LP Co-Chairman David Siegel, Founder and CEO of Black Girls Code Kimberly Bryant and many more."

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, #GetOrganizedBK and City Council Member Brad Lander will host “After Charlottesville, What Must We Do?” at 274 Garfield Place in Park Slope.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Civilian Complaint Review Board will hold a public board meeting at I.S. 49 on Staten Island.

At the City Council on Thursday:
--The Committee on Higher Education will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “CUNY’s efforts to reduce costs associated with rising textbook prices.”
--The Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “HPD term sheets.”
--The Committee on Education will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss a proposed law relating to “requiring the department of education to report on gay straight, or gender sexuality, alliance organizations” as well as a resolution “calling upon the New York City Department of Education to create and maintain a functional Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) in all middle and high schools in order to support and protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) and other vulnerable students.”
--The Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss “repealing the Cabaret Law.”

At 9 a.m. Thursday, the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, as part of its Urban Food Policy Forum series, will host “Litigation as a Strategy for Defending and Advancing Food Policy” at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health in Harlem, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of using litigation in this policy area and its role in the Trump era. CUNY UFPI Director Nicholas Freudenberg will moderate a panel consisting of Peter Lehner, of Earth Justice; Thomas Merrill, of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; and Margaret Brown, of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, the New York City Campaign Finance Board will hold a board meeting.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, State Senator Liz Krueger and the Lexington Democratic Club will host a forum on the potential State Constitutional Convention and upcoming November vote on the subject, at All Souls Church on the Upper East Side. The forum will consist of a panel of supporters and opponents of the convention; it will consist of convention supporters Evan Davis of Cleary Gottlieb and Bill Samuels of EffectiveNY, and convention opponents Adriene Holder of the Legal Aid Society and Jordan Marks of New Yorkers Against Corruption.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Riders Alliance will host “How Do You Solve a Problem like the Subway” at Solas Bar in the East Village. Executive Director John Raskin will moderate a panel featuring MTA board member Veronica Vanterpool; Jamison Dague, Director of Infrastructure Studies at the Citizens Budget Commission; and Dmitry Diment, a member-leader in Riders Alliance.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Mayor de Blasio will hold a town hall meeting at P.S. 811 in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, hosted by local City Council Member Chaim Deutsch. Also in attendance will be U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, State Senator Roxanne Persaud, and Assemblymember Helene Weinstein.

Friday and the weekend
At noon Friday, the New York State Board of Elections will hold a Commissioners Meeting in Albany.

Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, September 11 Sun, 10 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 7 New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Budget season heats up this week: the state budget is due by the end of the month, the legislature's one-house budgets are expected this week, as are further negotiations among Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate President John Flanagan, and New York City budget hearings continue. After holding its initial budget hearing and several issue-specific hearings last week, the City Council will continue to evaluate Mayor de Blasio's $82 billion preliminary budget. The state budget continues to loom over city proceedings, with significant worry about Gov. Cuomo's proposed cuts to city funding for Medicaid and CUNY and other measures that may hurt the city. [Read: Several Significant Questions About The Governor's Budget]

The governor has just started to meet with state legislative leaders on the budget, much less entertain talks with city officials about how to come to an agreement mitigating the costs of his proposals that the mayor and others are pushing back against.

This weekend, Cuomo made three Sunday stops on his "Drive for $15" tour, in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Cuomo received some welcome support when The New York Times editorial board wrote in support of his efforts to raise the minimum wage. The governor starts his week at a paid family leave rally - details below.

For his part, de Blasio spent the weekend marching in two St. Patrick's Day parades and making a few other public appearances. He begins his week with a Monday announcement on gender equity - see below for details.

There's more than just budget dealings happening this week, of course. For example, the de Blasio administration's proposal for rezoning East New York comes before the City Council zoning committee first thing Monday morning. Get up to speed on what's happening with the mayor's housing plans with the latest ten-minute update from our Ben Max and City Limits' Jarrett Murphy - listen here.

Also, look for events featuring public speeches by MTA chief Tom Prendergast and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie - see below for details. As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:***

The run of the week in detail:

Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.

Riders Alliance members will travel to Albany Monday to speak to legislators about better funding for subway and bus service.

At 10 a.m. Monday, Governor Cuomo will deliver remarks at a rally for paid family leave at IBEW Local 25 Union Hall in Hauppauge.

At 10:15 Monday morning at the Chelsea Recreation Center, "Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will host a press conference to make an announcement on gender equity." At 4 p.m. Monday, de Blasio will appear on Power 105.1.

“New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli will discuss his annual estimate of the bonuses paid to New York City securities industry employees during a conference call with press on Monday, March 7 at 11:00 a.m. Information on the bonuses will be released earlier that morning.”

At the City Council on Monday:

  • 9:30 a.m. meeting of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises on the East New York rezoning.
  • 10 a.m. meeting of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services to discuss requiring the Department of Correction to report on security indicators in city jails and to make changes to jail data reporting on adolescents.
  • 11 a.m. meeting of the Committee on Housing and Buildings to discuss legal changes in relation to low energy intensity building requirements and green building standards for certain capital projects.
  • 1 p.m. the Committee on Civil Rights will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.

At 11:30 a.m. Monday The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce will host Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for a “Chairman's Conversation in honor of International Women's Day." Gillibrand will speak with MCC Chair Ken Biberaj and take questions. “We will be covering a broad range of topics including family leave and hearing 2016 legislative updates.”

At 2 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks at A Better Balance 10th Anniversary Conference at NYU.

At 5:30 p.m. Monday the City Council will host a celebration to honor Greek-Americans who have dedicated themselves to serving their communities. The event will feature honorees who have helped promote Hellenic and democratic values and have been great examples of civic engagement throughout the community. City Council Member Costa Constantinides and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will lead the celebration.

Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.

At 8 a.m Tuesday, City & State magazine, in partnership with CUNY and SUNY, will host a breakfast forum focusing on the challenges and opportunities for community colleges and the New York workforce.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation will host a business development seminar titled “Learn How to do Business with the MTA,” to provide an opportunity for certified minority, women-owned, disadvantaged or small business enterprises to learn about contracting and procurement opportunities available with the MTA.

At the City Council on Tuesday

  • 10 a.m., the Committee on Standards and Ethics will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.
  • Noon, the Committee on Public Safety will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.
  • 1 p.m., the Committee on Education will meet for a preliminary budget hearing on the DOE capital plan (expense is later this month).
  • 2 p.m., the Committee on Civil Rights will meet to discuss amending the administrative code to defend human rights laws, specifically regarding sexual orientation discrimination.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and The Alliance for Quality Education  will hold a public hearing on issues facing public schools, including overcrowding and lack of resources.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host “Why New York? Our Segregated Schools Epidemic.” This discussion will be moderated by Nikole Hannah-Jones, investigative reporter for the New York Times Magazine, and include principals, teachers, and parents.

Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.

At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Association for a Better New York will host a breakfast featuring Thomas Prendergast, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Prendergast will discuss the MTA’s Capital Program and provide an update on MTA projects underway.

At the City Council on Wednesday:

  • 9:30 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet on the Council’s operating budget and “Schedule detailing the lump sum OTPS Unit of Appropriation of the Operating Budget of the Council of the City of New York.”
  • Noon, the Council will hold the first of its two full-body Stated Meetings of March.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Urban Pathways is sponsoring a discussion at The Museum of the City of New York on solutions for combatting homelessness in New York City. Participants will include Jumaane Williams, Council Member, 45th District, and Chair, Committee on Housing and Buildings; Daniel Tietz, Chief Special Services Officer of New York City’s Human Resources Administration; Lynn Lewis, Executive Director, Picture the Homeless; DeBoRah Dickerson, Spokesperson for Picture the Homeless; herself formerly homeless; Carl Siciliano, Founder, Ali Forney Center; Alana Semuels (moderator), Staff Writer at The Atlantic.

At the City Council on Thursday: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, NYU Women's HerStory Month will host "Bleeding Freely: Menstrual Equity, Activism, and the "Tampon Tax" featuring City Council Member Julissa Ferreras, activist Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, activist Kiran Gandhi, and journalist Lisa De Bode.

Friday and the weekend
At 8 a.m. Friday New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will discuss “His first full session as Assembly speaker” and “The state budget and his legislative priorities including minimum wage, paid family leave and ethics reform” at a Crain’s Business Breakfast Forum at the New York Athletic Club. The event will be moderated by Erik Engquist, Assistant Managing Editor of Crain's New York Business and Laura Nahmias, reporter for Politico New York.

At 8:30 a.m. Friday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will co-host the Brooklyn Alzheimer's Conference.

At the City Council on Friday

  • 10 a.m., the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.
  • 11 a.m., the Committee on Environmental Protection will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., City Council Member Andy King will host his third State of the 12th District Address to highlight the district’s finances, accomplishments over the past year, challenges facing the district, and future planning.

Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Leanna Carroll and Ben Max

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 7 Sun, 06 Mar 2016 05:00:00 +0000
The Week That Was in New York Politics, Feb. 29-March 4 week in review bus readers

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

Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday March 4, 2016

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Mayor de Blasio and City Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr. visit Bed-Stuy businesses, via William Alatriste;

bdb cornegy bed stuy

1. Budget Talks Begin: On Tuesday, the City Council held the first of many preliminary budget hearings. Two issues that came up time and again were concerns about cuts to city funding in Gov. Cuomo’s budget proposal, and whether the city is adequately saving for an economic downturn. As hearings proceed this month, Council committees will hear from agency commissioners, leading to the Council’s official preliminary budget response, due by March 30. [Read: City Council to Begin Public Examination of Mayor's Budget & At First Council Budget Hearing, Concerns Over City Savings and State Cuts]

2. Summons Shift: On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bratton, and Manhattan District Attorney Vance announced a policing shift under which NYPD in Manhattan will issue summonses to individuals who commit low-level offenses like public consumption of alcohol, public urination, and various subway offenses, instead of arresting them. City officials hope the change will free up resources to prosecute more serious crimes and reduce the backlog of cases in Criminal Court. De Blasio said he expects to expand the effort to all five boroughs while some wondered why the move was being taken while the City Council considers legislation in a similar vein.

3. Housing, Cuomo Criticism: During a City Council budget hearing on Thursday, city housing commissioner Vicki Been sharply criticized a proposal in Gov. Cuomo’s budget that would change how the state allocates housing bonds, calling it a “poison pill” for affordable housing. Been added that 1,200 below-market-rate units in the city were held up by Cuomo at the end of last year. Been, budget watchdogs, the real estate industry, and contractors have come out against Cuomo’s proposal, warning that it could drive away funding and create gridlock. [Listen: Max and Murphy on Housing]

4. More on Rikers: Discussions about the feasibility of closing the city’s notorious jail complex, Rikers Island, continued this week, with Comptroller Scott Stringer calling the 27 percent increase in the number of personal injury claims filed against the city for mistreatment in the city’s correctional facilities a “humanitarian crisis.” Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, meanwhile, hopes that her plan to reform the bail system in the city, which is in the process of being implemented, will make it possible to close Rikers. [Read: Key to Vision of Closing Rikers, City Council Bail Fund Moves Through State Process]

5. State Budget Woes: Several significant questions about the governor’s budget proposal remain less than a month before the plan is set to be finalized, including around how major capital projects will be paid for, how the state will fund the MTA, and whether Cuomo will keep his pledge that his plan to shift millions in costs for CUNY and Medicaid “won’t cost New York City a penny.” [Read: Several Significant Questions About The Governor's Budget]


  • 9% of all households in New York City, or nearly 280,000 units, have more than one person per room, the latest Census Bureau data reveals, indicating that crowded living arrangements are increasingly common across the city.
  • $86 million spent on lobbying in New York City last year, a new record; with lobbying receipts from one firm led by one of Mayor de Blasio’s friends and fundraisers totalling nearly $13 million alone, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • 92 New York City high schools will allow juniors to take the SAT free of charge during regular school hours, the first step in a plan to administer the test in all 438 high schools next year, the Times reports.
  • 40% of students in New York City recommended for special-education services may not be getting them, a report from the Department of Education finds.
  • 2,846 personal injury claims from city jails were filed during fiscal year 2015 - a 27% jump from the previous fiscal year, the Journal reports.
  • $13.1 million spent by the city to pay for settlements or judgments resulting from injury or deaths in city jails in fiscal year 2015 - a 66% increase from the previous fiscal year, Reuters reports.
  • 18% drop in the number of evictions in New York City from 2014 to 2015, down to 21,988, the lowest total since 2005, which the city attributes to more legal services and preventive efforts to keep New Yorkers from becoming homeless, the Times reports.
  • 180 instances of improper searches of people’s homes by the police based on an investigation conducted by the CCRB of 1,762 complaints over five years, according to a report released by the CCRB.
  • 17 affordable houses still vacant after a decade in a city-run affordable housing program, DNAinfo reports.
  • $4.8 billion over the next four years is how much Governor Cuomo's proposed budget would cost New York City, Gotham Gazette reports.


It was a good week for Assembly Member Keith Wright, whose prospects of winning the race to replace retiring Rep. Charles Rangel got a boost after state Senator Bill Perkins dropped out of the race and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie decided to back Wright in his run for Congress.

It was a bad week for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has made the need to direct those who commit low-level, nonviolent offenses to a civil court system rather than jail a priority, yet was not included in a policy shift announced by the Mayor, the NYPD, and the Manhattan District Attorney that will reduce arrests for low-level offenses.

Around this time last year
, on March 4, 2015, Mayor de Blasio announced that New York City will add two Muslim holy days to the public school calendar, becoming the country's first major metropolitan city to close public schools in observance of the two most sacred Muslim holy days.

Around this time last year, on March 2, 2015, the Department of Education lifted a ban on cellphones in New York City schools.

Around this time two years ago, on March 4, 2014, news broke that the city was expected to file a settlement of stop-and-frisk lawsuits, not long after Mayor de Blasio had announced that the city would drop its appeal of a ruling that had found NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices unconstitutional, and would agree to have a court monitor oversee reforms. Just this week, Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bratton, and Manhattan District Attorney Vance announced a new major policy shift in the way the NYPD in Manhattan will handle low-level offenses, building upon previous efforts to reduce the use of arrests for minor offenses.

Around this time 48 years ago, on March 1, 1968, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was created to oversee transportation operations in 12 counties.

Around this time 227 years ago, on March 4, 1789, after being established by the Constitution, Congress met for the first time at New York City’s Federal Hall.

Key to Vision of Closing Rikers, City Council Bail Fund Moves Through State Process, by David Howard King

City Council to Begin Public Examination of Mayor's Budget, by Meg O’Connor and Samar Khurshid

Several Significant Questions About The Governor's Budget, by David Howard King

At First Council Budget Hearing, Concerns Over City Savings and State Cuts, by Samar Khurshid and Meg O’Connor

Calls for More Transparency, Oversight in Department of Education Contracting, by Samar Khurshid

Housing Groups Defend Homelessness Report After Pushback from Cuomo Administration, by David Howard King

Supporters Launch Renewed Push to Pass Plastic Bag Bill by Earth Day, by Samar Khurshid

Ten Days in the Life of a Police Reform Advocate, by Bob Gangi (opinion)

A Budget for Immigrant New York, by Cristina Molina (opinion)

Will the Democrats' Fresh Entitlements Lift Poor Families? by Bruce Fuller (opinion)


Each week, Gotham Gazette Executive Editor Ben Max and City Limits Executive Editor Jarrett Murphy discuss the latest on housing policy and politics in New York. Listen to the latest developments in affordable housing here.

Mayor de Blasio appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Thursday, and spoke about the sharing economy, income inequality, the role of a mayor, and universal pre-k (extended interview).

Alyssa Katz from the Daily News and NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt join Alexis Grenell and Nick Powell to discuss the politics surrounding New York City’s homeless crisis on this week’s NY Slant Podcast.

Allison Sesso, executive director of the Human Services Council, Gordon Campbell from NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and Frederick Shack, executive director of Urban Pathways, appear on Inside City Hall to discuss the collapse of the social services agency FEGS and the lessons for nonprofit organizations.

Politico New York’s Sally Goldenberg takes an in-depth look at the city’s senior housing crisis.

Mayor de Blasio appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss the presidential primaries.

NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle @GothamGazette.

If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:

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

by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max

The Week That Was in New York Politics, Feb. 29-March 4 Fri, 04 Mar 2016 18:16:48 +0000
To Combat Increase in Reported Rapes, Experts Point to Prevention cumbo presser

City Coucil Member Laurie Cumbo leads a press conference (photo: William Alatriste)

Reported rapes are on the rise in New York City. Despite an overall downward trend in felony crime, 2015 saw a 6.3 percent increase in the number of rapes reported, up to 1,439 from 1,354. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and others have attributed this increase to the “Cosby effect,” meaning more women are coming forward to report rapes, including from years before, rather than more rape actually being committed.

In the early days of 2016, three reported incidents of rape - all stranger rapes - have garnered attention: two allegedly committed by for-hire vehicle drivers and the horrific alleged gang rape of an 18-year-old in a Brownsville playground. Most rapes are not widely reported in the media - most are committed by someone the victim knows.

Both the increase in rapes reported in 2015 and the Brownsville incident have made rape more central to public policy conversation.

While the city has implemented a number of measures in recent years to encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward, the question remains, what can elected and appointed officials do to help prevent these crimes from happening in the first place?

Of the 1,439 reported rapes last year, 166 were committed by strangers (up from 117 in 2014), and 14 took place in for-hire vehicles like taxis and Ubers (up from 10 in 2014). Speaking about this increase on WNYC radio last week, Bratton encouraged women going home late at night from bars or clubs by cab “to adopt the buddy system.”

That comment was met with widespread criticism, prompting a press conference outside City Hall on a frigid Monday morning, where City Council members and women’s rights advocates denounced the remark.

“It should not be the sole responsibility of a woman to guarantee her safety,” said Council Member Laurie Cumbo, chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues. Cumbo and others outside City Hall called on the NYPD to focus on preventing sexual violence and catching perpetrators, rather than telling women what they should do to avoid becoming a victim.

It’s important that in response to rape, the police department is not “encouraging women to implement buddy systems, but rather saying ‘you have a right to be safe,’” chair of the Committee on Public Safety, City Council Member Vanessa Gibson added.

Three bills have been introduced in the City Council which aim to better protect women from sexual violence:

  • Intro 762, which would require all taxicabs, hail vehicles, liveries, black cars, and luxury limousines to have a panic button installed that would allow a passenger to send a distress signal to law enforcement. There is currently no upcoming hearing scheduled on the bill, which has ten sponsors and has not been moved on since it was introduced by Cumbo in April, 2015.
  • Intro 869, which would require the NYPD to add sex offenses to its crime status report. They would be listed in total and by type of sex offense separately. The bill has eight sponsors and does not seem to have an upcoming hearing.
  • Intro 868, which would require the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications to create a plan that would allow the public to communicate digitally with emergency responders using the City's 911 system. The system would allow the public to send digital communications including text messages, videos, and photographs. The bill was discussed by the Committee on Public Safety and the Committee on Technology at a hearing Thursday morning.   

Those gathered outside City Hall on Monday demanded that these bills be passed, that the city allocate more resources to increase monitoring of high incident locations and improve access to rape crisis counselors and centers, and that the NYPD come out with a comprehensive strategy to address the rising number of sexual assaults.

A spokesperson for the NYPD informed Gotham Gazette that over the past two years, with support from the Mayor and the City Council, the NYPD has made several changes to better deal with sexual assault, including:

  • Increasing the size of NYPD special victims division, adding 30 investigators to make 240 total
  • Creating a DNA Cold Case Squad, Bronx Child Abuse Squad, Analytic Squad, and increasing the Sex Offender Management Unit by seven investigators to total 20 officers
  • Increasing specialized training for the special victims division from 5 to 10 days per year
  • Increasing efforts to encourage reporting of sexual assaults, distributing 32,000 cards and 16,000 flyers in 2015 which explained sexual violence and encouraged people to call the special victims division

Yet all of these legislative proposals or policy changes by the NYPD are designed to either stop a sexual assault from taking place once the threat of assault has already been made clear, or to help victims after they have been violated. In order to truly reduce the number of sexual assaults that take place, both advocates and the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention say ‘primary prevention’ or prevention education is the most effective method.

Primary prevention aims to stop sexual assault by focusing on potential perpetrators, rather than the victims, and can involve educating high school, middle school, or college-aged students. Prevention education raises awareness of sexual abuse and harassment, promotes positive social attitudes and a negative view of sexual violence and harassment, and promotes bystander intervention.

“We are not going to end sexual violence if we are not being preventative in our nature and engaging those who are committing the violence,” said Quentin Walcott, co-executive director of CONNECT. The organization works to end violence against women and girls by addressing “the root cause of violence” through “engaging men and boys to change the attitudes and belief systems” under which “men think that they’re entitled and privileged to treat women in a particular type of way.”

Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW-NYC, told Gotham Gazette that engaging “men and boys in the discussion of what is manhood, what are healthy relationships, and what does consent look like” through comprehensive sexual education in schools at a young age is “critically important” to reducing the number of sexual assaults that take place.

Some may take issue with teaching sexual education and primary prevention to middle or high school students, but, as Council Member Gibson pointed out in an interview, “the bottom line is our children are going to learn about sex one way or another” and, she said, it is certainly preferable that children learn about sex through trained educators.

The five individuals who are accused of gang raping an 18-year-old in Brownsville are between the ages of 14 and 17. One of the rape suspects, 15 years old, is about to be a father.

Yet educational efforts like the prevention programs “shown to prevent sexual violence perpetration,” according to the CDC Injury Center, are “not really standardized” in New York City schools, but rather are “up to the principle,” Min Um-Mandhyan, director of development and communications for the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, told Gotham Gazette.

The city does have some preventative efforts in place, but those mainly involve bystander intervention training for adults. Ossorio says the city’s district attorneys “work with nightclubs to partner with them and have an open line of communication to reduce assaults that may happen.”

A spokesperson from the Manhattan DA’s office told Gotham Gazette that its Sex Crimes Unit regularly conducts trainings to help individuals better identify and encourage reporting of sexual assault through sessions in conjunction with the New York Nightlife Association, tailored toward workers like bouncers, managers, and bartenders, and through training with representatives from local colleges and universities. DA Vance also awarded $38 million to cities across the country last year to test a backlog of rape kits.

“Providing [prevention] education in the schools for age-appropriate levels is something…the city could hopefully provide some more funding for. We know that it is important in terms of prevention.” Jennifer Wyse, a social worker at Safe Horizon’s Community Program in Brooklyn, told Gotham Gazette.

When asked whether the City Council would like to see more primary prevention in schools, Gibson responded, “Absolutely,” and added that several Council members have put forth legislation on sexual education in schools.

“We obviously need to have this conversation during the budget…we’re very supportive of any effort [to reduce sexual violence] because look at what’s happening in this case in Brownsville,” Gibson said, referring to the fact that the alleged perpetrators were teenagers. “Any way we can prevent these cases, we support.”

“New York State has really put more funding behind” primary prevention programs, Um-Mandhyan said. The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault is one of six Regional Centers for Sexual Violence Prevention in New York State that implement primary prevention and community-based strategies to decrease sexual violence. In April, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the allocation of $4 million in federal funding to the six regional centers.

“Unfortunately, New York City doesn’t really have a separate funding stream for rape crisis programs for sexual assault,” Um-Mandhyan said. “City Council is going to launch into budget season, so we’ll really be pushing for a funding stream.” Pointing to the disparity in access to rape crisis programs and resources for victims in Brooklyn and the Bronx, Um-Mandhyan said the Alliance would also like to see the city allocate more resources to underserved neighborhoods.

At Monday’s press conference, Gibson called the increased number of sexual assaults a call to action. “We are in the midst of a new budget season, so we have a very unique opportunity. We must ensure that we not only talk about it but we ‘be about it.’ We must put money where our commitment is…We must be sure that we provide the resources and programs necessary.”

When asked whether primary prevention education is something the City Council would consider implementing in New York City’s schools, Cumbo told Gotham Gazette that she hopes to pass a bill, Intro 952, at the next City Council stated meeting, which would require the Department of Education to report information regarding school compliance with state regulations governing comprehensive health education and sexual education for students in grades six through twelve.

There was another bill introduced in the City Council, however, not mentioned at Monday’s press conference, which would require the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene to develop a sexual assault prevention and response curriculum that would include training in affirmative consent for students, faculty, campus safety officers, and college administrators in New York City’s college campuses, as well as provide better information to students about available services for sexual assault victims.

The bill, Intro 517, was laid over by the Committee on Higher Education in February, 2015.

What advocates who work with sexual assault victims want to happen, Um-Mandhyan said, is “to see the city adopt sexual violence prevention education in public school curricula. It’s important to work with youth as prevention tends to work more effectively with younger people…We believe when you get to college level, it’s already too late.”

Gov. Cuomo made has made campus sexual assault a significant focus, pushing New York colleges and universities to adopt new measures related to preventing and responding to rape.

Bratton’s ‘buddy system’ comments were quick to elicit condemnation by City Council members, who called on him to come out with a comprehensive strategy from the NYPD to reduce sexual assaults.

But with the CDC and organizations that work to help victims of sexual assault pointing to primary prevention as the single most effective method to reduce the number of assaults that occur, the responsibility for coming up with that “comprehensive strategy” to prevent and reduce sexual assault, including providing funding for primary prevention programs and legislation to implement them in schools, rests with city lawmakers, not the NYPD.

by Meg O’Connor, Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette, @MegOConnor13

To Combat Increase in Reported Rapes, Experts Point to Prevention Fri, 15 Jan 2016 05:13:31 +0000
Did Bill De Blasio's Tirade Help Andrew Cuomo Get His Groove Back? Cuomo labor day parade

Gov. Cuomo at the Labor Day parade (photo: The Governor's Office via flickr)

On Thursday Governor Andrew Cuomo, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, held a rally to announce a campaign to make New York the first state in the nation with a $15-per-hour minimum wage.

"So Mr. Vice President, today I announce that I will propose to the New York state legislature not just $15 for fast-food workers, because a fast-food worker deserves $15 an hour, construction workers deserve $15 an hour, and home healthcare aides deserve $15 an hour, and taxi-cab drivers deserve $15 an hour, and every working man and woman in the State of New York deserves $15 an hour as a minimum wage - and we are not going to stop until we get it done!" Cuomo said, his voice rising.

It was a triumphant moment for the governor, and for unions and progressive groups who have worked for the last year to get Cuomo on board with a $15 hourly minimum wage. It is being called a major about-face by many watchers, including some who note that Cuomo now supports a policy his rival, Mayor Bill de Blasio, has been pushing for quite some time and that Cuomo had previously dismissed.

The move, along with other recent Cuomo plays, is in striking contrast to the Cuomo of last spring, who some confidants and legislators describe as aimless, distracted, and maybe a little bit bored.

Now, though, any such perception has dissipated, perhaps in large part thanks to de Blasio's exasperated June tirade against the governor, which came at the end of this year's legislative session. Harsh, damning words from the mayor may have been the challenge Cuomo needed in order to reinvigorate.

De Blasio pulled no punches, boldly saying Cuomo had made promises he didn't intend to keep, is vindictive, and backed policies that were harmful to New York City. "And what I believe here is the governor worked with the Senate in some cases to inhibit the work of the Assembly, to inhibit the agenda that New York City put forward," de Blasio told NY1 anchor Errol Louis in a June interview, before sitting down with City Hall reporters to reiterate his message.

Cuomo had used de Blasio as a punching bag for months before de Blasio's explosion, even apparently giving publications blind quotes attacking the mayor. But with the feud spilling out into the open, observers say Cuomo was freed in a way, even given a gift--a political opponent to war with in the open.

The mayor's declaration of war was something pundits and sources close to the Cuomo administration say the governor desperately needed. "The governor is at his best when he has someone to duel in the political arena," one Albany insider told Gotham Gazette. "It is also when he is apt to make mistakes, but he comes alive when he is going for the kill."

For some Democrats, de Blasio's tirade was a breath of fresh air - someone, they said, had finally called out the bully. Others, including members of the Cuomo administration saw it much differently. They heard it as the younger brother finally crying "Uncle!" because he had no other means of retaliation.

Sources within the Cuomo administration say they saw de Blasio's "tantrum" as an admission that he had failed at moving his agenda and was giving up any hope of future success in Albany. That appears to have left an opening for Cuomo to reassert himself on progressive issues - like minimum wage - that de Blasio has staked out.

Not very long ago, Cuomo was advocating a plan that would eventually raise the minimum wage to $11.50 in New York City and $10.50 elsewhere in the state. He appeared to scoff at the Assembly's proposal that would have raised the minimum wage across the state to $15 by the end of 2018. "God bless them — shoot for the stars," Cuomo said, dismissively, in March at a stop in Rochester. The governor has repeatedly cited the Republican-controlled state Senate as a place where such progressive proposals go to die.

If Cuomo had made a major announcement on a $15 minimum wage a year ago, it would have appeared as though he had been dragged to the position kicking and screaming by The Working Families Party and de Blasio, who brokered a deal between the two to prevent a WFP-backed primary challenge to Cuomo in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

At the time, Cuomo appeared to agree to back the mayor's proposal to allow the city to raise its minimum wage up to 30 percent higher than the state's (as well as other WFP-backed policies and a Democratic takeover of the state Senate). But this year Cuomo presented his own plan, which did not include giving the city a say over its wage, and was still short of what activists on the left were calling for.

But now, Cuomo has swooped in to champion the $15 wage, albeit on an extended phase-in timeline that would implement $15 per hour in New York City at the end of 2018 and state-wide in the middle of 2021.

Cuomo is notorious for refusing to move on proposals that he won't receive absolute credit for enacting into law. With de Blasio all but slain in Albany after a rough 2015 legislative session, Cuomo was freed to move on minimum wage and other progressive initiatives, knowing he could charge in and pick up the baton that he had knocked out of de Blasio's hands.

Meanwhile, Cuomo enjoys the benefits of being de Blasio's enemy, which boosts his standing with conservatives and moderates (and even some liberals) across the state. Cuomo's favorability ratings dropped to all-time lows this summer, but de Blasio's poll numbers are even lower.

"I'm not buying de Blasio gave him an overarching focus, because clearly the governor used the mayor for a punching bag from the very beginning of the administration, whether it be on the millionaire's tax or charter schools," said Doug Muzzio, professor of political science at Baruch College. "It certainly did exacerbate the relationship and gave Cuomo the opportunity to strike out at a perceived tormentor."

Cuomo and de Blasio have appeared to go out of their way to avoid each other at public events, though they did speak in person at a September 11th commemoration on Friday. Cuomo has either not invited the mayor to several, like his recent solidarity mission to Puerto Rico, or de Blasio has not appeared interested in attending, like for the governor's announcement of a new LaGuardia Airport.

Cuomo has appeared to jab at de Blasio when reporters ask why the two are not meeting at events, which have included several parades. He's also made efforts to strengthen relationships with sometime de Blasio antagonists like Comptroller Scott Stringer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and de Blasio ally City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Last Thursday, Cuomo was honored as "Man of the Year" by the city's largest police union, which is headed by de Blasio nemesis Patrick Lynch. "You deserve to be paid for the job you do," Cuomo told the officers, hinting at their dispute with the city over pay raises. Someone in the back of the room shouted back: "Tell de Blasio!"

Cuomo's feud with de Blasio appears to be helping insulate him from backlash he has faced from police unions for signing an executive order giving the Attorney General the ability to act as special prosecutor in cases where police kill unarmed civilians.

"De Blasio has served as a foil for the governor with some groups," said Muzzio. "This conflict certainly enhances his influence with certain interests, especially with the Republican-controlled Senate."

Cuomo's moves on progressive issues may risk some of his goodwill with Republicans, but nevertheless, the governor has shown a renewed sense of urgency. It is energy that Cuomo has also been putting into efforts not easily labeled as progressive, such as Upstate economic development.

Pundits say they feel the Cuomo of the past few months is a stark contrast to the Cuomo of this legislative session, who shied away from public and media appearances for weeks at a time.

It's fairly easy to see why Cuomo may have been off his game.

His reelection bid was complicated by rebellious progressives and unions who felt Cuomo had delivered more on conservative causes than on Democratic ones. The governor was also reeling from the backlash he faced from shuttering the Moreland Commission. His campaign strategy to ignore his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, might have been more effective if Fordham professor Zephyr Teachout hadn't joined the Democratic primary. Her campaign quickly made Cuomo appear detached from voters, and at times exposed his tendencies as a bully.

Cuomo moved from a closer-than-expected election to face the death of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and the federal indictments of then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and then-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. He appeared ready to end the legislative session early after securing a number of education reforms that were fought tooth-and-nail by teachers unions (and opposed by de Blasio). But the pressure mounted on the governor to deliver deals on rent regulations, mayoral control of New York City schools, and other big-ticket items, all while the legislature remained in turmoil thanks to their leadership crises.

Virtually all of the deals reached were less than desired as far as de Blasio was concerned, with the one-year extension of mayoral control of schools an especially bitter pill - and perhaps the final nudge over the edge.

With session over and his legislative opponents out of town, Cuomo leaped into action, issuing an executive order to create a special prosecutor for police killings. This not only ingratiated Cuomo to many on his left, but also brought one of his main rivals - and a natural de Blasio ally - AG Eric Schneiderman, closer to Cuomo's hip.

A flurry of executive activity was capped off by the finding of his fast food wage board that workers in the industry should be paid a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Cuomo was lauded by union leaders and progressive elected officials; his achievements made for evidence in the effort to disprove de Blasio's accusations that the governor was hamstringing the progressive agenda.

And, they allowed the governor to demonstrate one of his favorite points: that he gets things done regardless of political ideology.

On Thursday, de Blasio's office quickly shot out a statement praising Cuomo's decision to advocate a $15 minimum wage but laced with language highlighting that Cuomo is late to the party the mayor's been leading.

"Nothing would do more to lift New Yorkers out of poverty and move our economy forward than raising the wage...We welcome the Governor's support for a $15 minimum wage – and New York City stands ready to help make it a reality," de Blasio's statement reads. "We have been doing all we can here in the city: affordable housing, Pre-K for All, increasing and expanding the living wage, and much more. But combating income inequality requires bold action on all levels of government. I urge Albany to act quickly."

by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette

Did Bill De Blasio's Tirade Help Andrew Cuomo Get His Groove Back? Sun, 13 Sep 2015 05:00:00 +0000
Civillian Board to Prosecute All Police Misconduct Cases  
Photo provided by CCRB

The City Council, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Police Department agreed last week to let the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) prosecute all substantiated cases of police misconduct in court.

The decision is a dramatic expansion for CCRB, which has negotiated with city hall since November 2011, to hire a prosecuting attorney despite a citywide hiring freeze. Police and lawmakers hope that it will restore some needed credibility to the NYPD, which has been blasted for racially motivated stop and frisk policies, ticket fixing, aggression against protesters, surveillance against Muslim communities and lying to the media.

“Today’s agreement expands on our pilot program, empowering CCRB prosecutors, strengthening our strong monitoring and regulation of police conduct. We expect members of the NYPD to live up to their name – New York’s Finest – and I know they will continue to do so,” said Bloomberg.

But critics of the NYPD said that while this is a good step, it only addresses a small part of the problem. The new policy is an agreement between two agencies and is not enshrined in law. The Police Commissioner still has the power to stop investigations and the discipline the department metes out to cops, which critics say is nominal and insufficient.

CCRB Chair Daniel Chu praised the agreement. “This agreement is a milestone in the history of civilian police oversight in New York City. Public confidence in the disciplinary process will be strengthened by having the CCRB, an independent agency, prosecuting these cases,” he said.

NYPD attorneys handled all police misconduct cases until the 2008 launch of the Administrative Prosecuting Unit (APU) which gave a CCRB attorney the power to serve in a “second seat” capacity to prosecutors. Starting in 2010, the APU also headed the prosecution of a selection of police cases, about one in five. CCRB staff also put together pre-trial negotiations between accused officers and the aggrieved parties. The agency heard its first trial in May 2011.

The CCRB and its proponents say the board prosecutors’ independence from the police department lessens the chance that NYPD will drop substantiated cases before they head to trial. They also say that the practice improves communication between the board and the police and allows attorneys who investigate misconduct to give crucial and correct details to a judge.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn as well as council members often critical of the police such as Jumaane Williams, praised the agreement as very important step towards police accountability.

“I am certain it will also increase public confidence in the system,” said Quinn. “The public needs to know that when they file a legitimate, serious complaint it will undergo an appropriate process of review and — if substantiated — prosecution.”

Civillian Board to Prosecute All Police Misconduct Cases Wed, 04 Apr 2012 20:23:52 +0000