Gotham Gazette Thu, 02 Jul 2020 17:04:50 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Webmaster) Max & Murphy Podcast: Rep. Yvette Clarke on Why She Deserves Another Term in Congress  

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Rep. Yvette Clarke (photo: @RepYvetteClarke)

May 13, 2020 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Rep. Yvette Clarke on Why She Deserves Another Term in Congress

yvette clarke wbaiRep. Yvette Clarke survived a close challenge in 2018, where in the Democratic primary the incumbent won by 2,000 votes against challenger Adem Bunkeddeko. As Clarke pursues another two-year term in the House of Representatives this year, Bunkeddeko is challenging her again, and several other candidates have jumped into the race as well. Clarke joined the show to discuss why she believes she deserves another term, how she responds to his critics, how the COVID-19 outbreak has changed things, what she learned from 2018, and more. The primary is set for June 23, with early voting June 13-21 and all voters eligible to vote by absentee ballot.

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

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

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Max & Murphy Podcast: Rep. Yvette Clarke on Why She Deserves Another Term in Congress Wed, 13 May 2020 04:00:00 +0000
U.S. Census Bureau Announces Hundreds of 'Community Partners' in New York carlina rivera carlos press imp

New Yorkers prepare for the 2020 Census (photo: John McCarten/City Council)

The House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee has received and released the list of the U.S. Census Bureau’s community partners for the 2020 Census, including hundreds of entities in New York. The once-a-decade count of the entire country’s population, mandated by the Constitution, has already begun in Alaska and is due to start in the rest of the country on April 1, with initial mailings going out next week.

According to the Census Bureau, the list includes partner organizations that have “made voluntary commitments to conduct 2020 Census promotional outreach as part of the Community Partnership and Engagement Program and have indicated their willingness to be public.”  The Census Bureau provides more information on community partners on its website including how to get involved.

The Census, which goes a long way to determining congressional representation and federal funding for states and localities, is being taken particularly seriously this time around by New York City officials, while the state is also making significant efforts to ensure a full count. Both levels of government are making millions of dollars available to community-based organizations to help drive census participation. Some of those same organizations, and many others, are on the U.S. Census Bureau’s community partners list.

Last month, the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is chaired by New York City Rep. Carolyn Maloney, held a hearing to examine preparedness for the 2020 Census with the U.S. Census Bureau Director, Dr. Stephen Dillingham, among others. The hearing focused on the Government Accountability Office report that raised concerns about the Bureau’s preparedness.

One concern was the number of partnerships that the Census Bureau had successfully made in local communities, with the GAO report warning that the Bureau had “missed interim goals building towards its overall goal of 300,000 community partners by March 2020.”

Dillingham was pressed by many of the committee members to release a list of partners to the committee so they could aid in finding community partners in their own districts. The committee had requested a list of all the partners in all the districts on December 13, 2019, but had not received a response by the time the hearing was held on February 12, 2020. Dillingham said during the hearing that he would get the list to the committee as soon as possible. It is now public, three months after the initial request.

Partnerships are key to creating relationships in communities that can help increase participation in the Census. According to the U.S. 2020 Census website, partners are “vital to ensuring a complete and accurate count. As trusted voices in your communities, you play a key role in raising awareness that the 2020 Census is easy, safe, and important.”

The list shows over 2,500 community partners in New York City, with 611 in the Bronx; 1,444 in Brooklyn; 338 in Staten Island; 1,091 in Queens; and 1,282 in Manhattan.

The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens especially have many census tracts, a small geographic area designated by the Census Bureau to gather data, that are considered “hard to count” for the Census based on past self-response participation levels. According to the interactive Hard to Count Map developed by CUNY Graduate Center using Census Bureau data, tracts are considered hard-to-count if they had a 2010 self-response initial mail return rate of 73% or less, making them among the bottom 20% of return rates nationwide.

In the 2010 Census, New Yorkers were undercounted. Brooklyn, also known as King’s County, was the hardest to count county in New York State that census, and the Bronx was the third hardest county in the state to count, according to the Brooklyn Community Foundation and BronxTalk, respectively.

Accordingly, 80% of Brooklyn residents live in hard-to-count neighborhoods, which often consist of many immigrants, African-Americans, children under 5, and other groups often undercounted, in part because of historically low self-response rates to initial Census mailings.

Appearing on BronxTalk to discuss challenges to census participation in that borough, Dr. Lessie Branch, associate professor at the Metropolitan College of New York, said much of why the Bronx is undercounted is a lack of trust. This lack of trust is what the U.S. Census Bureau is trying to remedy through these community partnerships, and what the city and state are trying to overcome through grants to local organizations.

“This is what partnerships do, they are trusted voices in the community that can tell the community we need to participate, that it’s good for us, good for the community, and our data will be protected,” said J. Christopher Mihm, managing director, strategic issues at the GAO, during the congressional oversight hearing last month. “That’s not something that can come out of Washington, that has to come from trusted local voices. That’s the importance of local partnerships.”

A full census count is essential for states and localities to receive proper funding for social services and other programming, including affordable housing grants, food stamps, and much more.

The partners in every borough span many sectors and industries. In the Bronx, they include cultural institutions such as the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the New York Botanical Gardens, as well as many local police precincts, public and private schools, senior daycares, advocacy organizations including the Williamsbridge NAACP, and private companies including Planet Fitness.

Most of the Bronx has been designated as a “very high risk” for undercounting young children, according to CUNY’s Hard To Count Map, which is being used across the country. Partnerships can play a role in addressing these risks by utilizing organizations that target certain important at-risk demographics. For young children, who are often undercounted, the partnerships with public schools, the Bronx Children’s Museum, or Concord Head Start/Early Learn Center can play a key role, for example.

In Brooklyn, some of the partners include religious institutions such as the Redemption Church and the Sheepshead Bay Muslim Center, nonprofit organizations including the Research Foundation of CUNY, and senior centers.

Some examples of partners in Manhattan include the Kennedy Center, a number of Manhattan Community Boards, the Interfaith Center of New York, and the Family Health Center of Harlem.

Amboy Pharmacy, BP Gas Station, Cafe Milano, NYCHA, and PS 41 are examples of some of the partners on Staten Island, while Queens has partners including Little Friends Infant and Toddler Care, Liberty Tax Service, and many others.

Official partners can participate in the Census in different ways. The Census 2020 website breaks partnership opportunities down into three main categories: “make a plan,” “strategize,” and “attend an event.” The “make a plan” section provides key dates and information regarding the Census so partner organizations can plan their outreach based on when information is most crucial.

The “strategize” section provides partners with the Response Outreach Area Mapper (ROAM) application, which was developed to help locate hard-to-survey areas. From this, partners can begin outreach in their own communities, armed with more information about where they could best focus their efforts.

Finally, the “attend an event” section encourages partners to host a community event, and promotes other community events going on across the country.

The website also provides outreach materials including the Census 2020 logo and marketing materials for community members to apply to be census workers. Census 2020 does not give specific outreach ideas, but provides the resources for every community partner to do their own individualized outreach.

“The 2020 Census is underway right now in Alaska, and will start in the rest of the country in a few weeks,” members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee said in a statement announcing the release of the partners list by the Census Bureau. “The Government Accountability Office recently released a troubling report highlighting the Census Bureau’s insufficient progress in working with partners who are critical in educating the public—especially minority, immigrant, and rural communities.  We hope that sharing this list of community partners with our fellow Members of Congress will help ensure a fair, accurate, and complete count across all districts.”

by Katie Kirker, Gotham Gazette

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U.S. Census Bureau Announces Hundreds of 'Community Partners' in New York Tue, 03 Mar 2020 05:00:00 +0000
New York General Election Congressional Matchups to Watch - End of June rosen donovan

Dan Donovan (center) & Max Rose (photos via @dandonovan_ny & @MaxRose4NY)

The congressional primaries in New York on Tuesday saw a shocking defeat for a Democratic party giant in Queens while other Democratic incumbents in the city held on with close margins. And on Staten Island, a closely-watched Republican primary ended with a wider margin for the incumbent victor than expected.

[Read: Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm & Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results]

All eyes will now turn to the general election, with the full slate of candidates in focus. Nationally, Democrats are attempting to claw back a majority in the 435-seat House of Representatives by flipping key Republican seats -- they currently hold 193 seats and Republicans hold 235, and there are seven vacancies -- while Republicans are hoping to fend off a blue wave that has put them on the back foot in dozens of races across the country. New York races are expected to factor significantly into the House balance of power.

In New York, according to The Cook Political Report, there are five competitive congressional races, all held by Republicans, among the state’s 27 seats. Two are considered a toss-up -- the District 19 seat held by Rep. John Faso and the District 22 seat held by Rep. Claudia Tenney; the District 11 seat, where incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan prevailed in Tuesday’s primary, leans Republican; and District 1, held by Rep. Lee Zeldin, and District 24, held by Rep.  John Katko, per Cook’s predictions, are considered “likely Republican.”

The Donovan seat is the only congressional district held by Republicans in New York City.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is more closely focused on Districts 11 and 22, under its organized ‘Red to Blue’ effort, backing army veteran Max Rose to challenge Donovan, and state Assembly member Anthony Brindisi against Tenney.

And there are still other races where candidates are seen as more long-shots to win, but given the surprise leveled Tuesday by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley and the successes of Democrats, especially women, in other races in New York and elsewhere since Donald Trump’s election, some additional districts may be in play. For example, Liuba Grechen Shirley won her Democratic primary Tuesday and will now attempt to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Peter King on Long Island.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, a two-term Democrat running for reelection himself, has also committed the state Democratic Party’s machinery to support Democratic congressional challengers. “Our focus now must turn to winning back the House of Representatives, and the road to accomplishing that runs right through New York State,” Cuomo said, in an email blast sent out by the state party on Wednesday morning. “The only way to stop Donald Trump and his hateful agenda over the next two years is to win back the House of Representatives,” he added, appealing for volunteers to join phone banking and canvassing efforts in the next few weeks.

As New York and the country move toward November’s Election Day, congressional races are now set, while state-level primaries will happen on September 13 for all 213 seats in the state Legislature and the state-wide posts of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general. While those elections are being fought out, throughout the summer and into the fall, there will also be a good deal of attention of the state’s most contentious congressional races.

District 11
After a caustic primary battle, Rep. Dan Donovan, a former district attorney, emerged victorious over Michael Grimm, who held the seat before Donovan but resigned after pleading guilty on charges of tax fraud. Both candidates tried to ride the coattails of Republican President Donald Trump, tying their records to his own in a district that overwhelmingly voted for him in 2016 -- the district covers all of Staten Island and a small section of southern Brooklyn.

Grimm, despite his felony conviction, had a strong base of support on Staten Island but Trump endorsed Donovan a few weeks before the primary, pushing him far over the top in what became one of the most hard-fought primaries across the state. Donovan claimed victory with 63.9 percent of the vote to Grimm’s 36.1 percent.

On the Democrat side, decorated army veteran Max Rose emerged victorious with a similar vote share, pulling in 64.7 percent to beat five other Democrats for the nomination. Rose ran a well-funded campaign with support from the DCCC, raising a total of $1.6 million through June 6, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Rose was formerly an executive at a nonprofit health care organization and worked as director of public engagement and special assistant under late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. He has received endorsements from several local and state-level elected Democrats as well as prominent national Democrats -- including U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Crowley. He was also backed by the local Brooklyn City Council Member, Justin Brannan. The Working Families Party and the Women’s Equality Party endorsed him, as did several unions and political action groups.   

In a brief phone interview Wednesday, Rose said he will stay the course on his approach to the campaign. “The strategy does not change,” he said of moving on to the general election. Rose said his opponent “will do and say anything” to get reelected, including attempting to rewrite his record as he moves closer to the president. “So we’re gonna win the old-fashioned way. We’re gonna take it day-by-day, door-by-door, and Dan Donovan doesn’t stand a chance,” he said.

Though the district is split between two boroughs, Rose said his pitch wouldn’t be determined by the community where he campaigns, but rather by the bread-and-butter issues that residents care about. “[W]hat matters is what is troubling voters each and every day,” he said, pointing to crumbling infrastructure, interminable commutes, an increasing cost-of-living and the hundreds of opioid overdoses in Staten Island.

“We have got to earn voters’ trust first and then convince them that it does not have to be this way under any circumstances,” he said.

“People are disgusted across the board,” he continued. “We don’t have a South Brooklyn strategy, a Tottenville strategy, a St. George Strategy. That’s what’s wrong with politics, is that politicians try to slice and dice the electorate. They use poll-testing and based off some high-level analytics they say one thing to the community here and…say something in another community.”

For his part, Donovan used part of his victory speech Tuesday night to stress the importance of holding onto the GOP’s lone New York City congressional seat, and he connected the race to the larger battle for the House, warning his supporters that Democrats want to impeach Trump if they win control of the chamber.

District 19
Republican John Faso currently holds the District 19 seat in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills but is widely seen as a vulnerable incumbent in a toss-up seat. A former state Assembly member, Faso won the seat in 2016 after the retirement of Republican Rep. Chris Gibson. Like Donovan, Faso voted against the recent tax cuts passed by Congress and signed by Trump, and has also criticized the president’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated thousands of  migrant children from their parents. He ran unopposed in the primary and FEC filings show he has about $1.1 million in his campaign coffers.

Faso’s Democratic opponent in the general is Harvard Law graduate and Rhodes scholar Antonio Delgado, who won in a crowded primary that saw millions in campaign money coming in for all the candidates. Delgado was endorsed by Citizen Action of New York, a progressive, left-leaning organization that is now one of the few groups at the core of the Working Families Party. Delgado secured about 22 percent of the vote, which was enough to place him first over six other Democrats. He outraised all his primary opponents and has about $759,000 left for the general election.  

District 1
Last night, Perry Gershon, a former businessman who’s framed his race as one against Trump, won the Democratic Party’s nomination to run in this eastern Long Island district. The Cook Political Report rates NY-01 as “Likely Republican,” and it went twice for Barack Obama before supporting Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Gershon will challenge two-term Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin, who won re-election in 2016 by 16 points over his Democratic opponent. As of June 6, Zeldin maintains over a 3-1 fundraising lead over Gershon.

District 2
First-time candidate Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley will challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Peter King, who has been in office since 1992, in this Long Island district that also voted for Trump after supporting Obama twice. King won his most recent re-election with 62.5% of the vote, defeating Democrat DuWayne Gregory, who also lost to Grechen Shirley in Tuesday’s primary election. The day after her primary victory, Grechen Shirley challenged King, who recently said that town halls “diminish democracy,” to a series of five public debates. The incumbent, as of the beginning of the month, has over $3 million on hand, while Grechen Shirley has slightly less than $150,000 left over after her primary campaign.

District 3
Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi won his seat in this district covering Long Island’s North Shore and part of Queens by a six-percent margin in 2016. NY-3 is narrowly Democratic, and it voted for Clinton in 2016 by the same margin as Suozzi. Republican challenger Dan DeBono ran unopposed in the Republican primary but, going into the general election, has less than one-tenth of the cash on hand as the incumbent.  

District 22
First-term Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney narrowly won this large, rural, and majority-white central New York district in 2016. Democratic State Assembly Member Anthony Brindisi, who faced no primary challenger, will challenge Tenney in the general election. Tenney is a hardline conservative endorsed by the Tea Party and the National Rifle Association, and the district went for Donald Trump by 16 percent in 2016.

Brindisi’s fundraising has, at times, outpaced Tenney’s, and, as of June 6, the challenger maintains a $400,000 cash lead over Tenney. An April poll conducted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported that 50% of voters in the district would favor Brindisi, who has been attempting to appeal to the district’s moderate Republicans, in the general election, compared to 44% supporting Tenney.

District 24
In this central New York district that voted for Trump once and Obama twice, Democratic law professor Dana Balter will face off against incumbent Republican Rep. John Katko. Katko styles himself a moderate Republican, claiming to have written in Nikki Haley’s name for president in 2016, though he has voted in line with the president approximately 90 percent of the time. Running for a third term in the House of Representatives, Katko won both his previous races by margins of about twenty percent. He maintains a 13-1 fundraising lead over Balter, who advocates for Medicare-for-All, a carbon tax, and elimination of cash bail.

by Samar Khurshid and Daniel Yadin

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

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New York General Election Congressional Matchups to Watch - End of June Wed, 27 Jun 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm & Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results ocasio-cortez campaign buttons

Ocasio-Cortez campaign buttons (image via @Ocasio2018)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old self-identified democratic socialist, unseated 10-term Congressional representative and Queens Democratic Party leader Joe Crowley in a dramatic upset quickly having ripple effects both locally and nationally. And she won handily, by about 4,000 votes and a 57.5 to 42.5 percent margin.

Crowley entered the House in 1999 and maintained a largely center-left voting record; he was seen as a strong contender to become the next Democratic Speaker of the House, after Nancy Pelosi. Crowley is also the chair of the Queens Democratic Party, making him one of the most powerful kingmakers in New York City politics. Ocasio-Cortez, a Latina from the Bronx, ran an aggressive, organized, energetic campaign to Crowley’s left, accusing the incumbent of acquiescing to real estate and financial interests rather than adequately representing constituents of the district. She has professed support for Medicare for All (which Crowley also supported during the campaign), a federal jobs guarantee, tuition-free public college, reinstating Glass-Steagall, and abolishing ICE.

She further distinguished herself from Crowley by refusing money from corporate PACs; Crowley, a prolific fundraiser for the party, has raised millions of dollars over the course of his career from corporations. Crowley significantly outraised and outspent Ocasio-Cortez, but she made up for it with a significant social media presence, strong ground game, and glowing profiles in national publications. Crowley raised more eyebrows when he failed to show up for a debate with Ocasio-Cortez, instead sending former City Council Member Annabel Palma in his place, which earned him a rebuke from The New York Times editorial board.

Ocasio-Cortez has said that her campaign is part of a movement, emblematic of a far-left wave that is seeking to take over the Democratic primary in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, and with a chance to flip the House at stake this fall. She is all but certain to win the general election, something Crowley noted in a gracious concession speech wherein he also said he’d be supporting Ocasio-Cortez moving forward.

The challenger’s win appeared to give a shot in the arm to other progressives hoping to unseat incumbent Democrats this year, namely gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had exchanged endorsements with Ocasio-Cortez on Monday and attended what became her victory party Tuesday night. Also apparently boosted by the result are the challengers to the former members of the Independent Democratic Conference of the State Senate. Those primaries will all be held September 13.

Crowley was among a handful of long-time Democratic incumbents facing spirited primary challenges on Tuesday. The others appeared to hang on, with Rep. Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn leading Adem Bunkedekko by a 1,000-vote margin with 99 percent of precincts reporting at about midnight. Bunkedekko had earned the endorsement of the Times editorial board in his insurgent campaign, but it did not appear to do quite enough to get him over the hump against Clarke.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Eliot Engel also fended off primary challengers, by wider margins.

Other than the Ocasio-Cortez victory, the other top storyline of the night was Rep. Dan Donovan fending off a primary challenge from his predecessor, Michael Grimm, that looked to be going Grimm's way before President Donald Trump endorsed Donovan. Donovan wound up winning by more than 20 percentage points, though.

On the Democratic side in New York’s 11th Congressional District, Max Rose won a crowded primary by a wide margin and will take on Donovan in the general election, attempting to swing the lone New York City House seat in GOP hands.

In other notable congressional primary results around the city and state (many incumbents were unchallenged in the primary, some faced only nominal competition):

Perry Gershon won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in Congressional District 1.

Liuba Grechen Shirley won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. Peter King in Congressional District 2.

Antonio Delgado won a crowded Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. John Faso in Congressional District 19.

Tedra Cobb won a crowded Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik in Congressional District 21.

Dana Balter won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Rep. John Katko in Congressional District 24.

Assemblymember Joseph Morelle won the Democratic primary to earn the chance to face incumbent Republican Jim Maxwell in Congressional District 25, a seat vacated when Rep. Louise Slaughter passed away earlier this year.

These results now largely set the stage for the general elections for Congress in New York, with all 27 House seas on the ballot and one U.S. Senate seat -- where Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is facing Republican challenger Chele Farley.

State-level primaries, including for all the seats in the state Legislature and the four state-wide positions of governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general will be September 13.

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

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Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm & Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results Tue, 26 Jun 2018 04:00:00 +0000