Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Ritchie Torres

Ritchie Torres

  • drive in rally

    Joe Biden (photo: Adam Schultz/Biden for President)


    New York City's long-awaited election results were finally certified Tuesday, four weeks after polls closed and just past the state's statutory deadline, making the five boroughs one of the last jurisdictions in the country to finalize the 2020 count.

    The results show that, in a year with significantly more ballots cast and massive changes in party alignments, the Democratic Party made barely any gains in presidential turnout, while the smaller, more progressive Working Families Party made huge strides as it

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    Brooklynites celebrate Biden's win, Trump's loss (photo: Ethan Geringer-Sameth/Gotham Gazette)


    It was a great day for the Doppler effect Saturday in Brooklyn as a near constant stream of car horns trumpeted elation after it became clear Joe Biden had won Pennsylvania and clinched the 2020 presidential election. Throngs of New Yorkers took to the streets, plazas, and parks to breathe a collective, mostly masked, sigh of relief.

    In New York, that sigh took the form of spontaneous dancing on sidewalks and in streets, clanging pots and pans, and uncorking

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    Council Member Ritchie Torres (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    With City Council Member Ritchie Torres declaring victory in the Bronx’s 15th Congressional District Democratic primary and all but assured to advance to Congress at the start of next year, a special election to replace Torres in the City Council’s own District 15 looks likely for sometime in February or March of 2021. The race in the heavily-Democratic Council district is already shaping up to be hotly-contested, with community leaders, the son of a state senator, and at least one member

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    City Council members at a Pride march (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    The City Council’s LGBT Caucus could shrink after the 2021 elections, with all five current caucus members -- including Council Speaker Corey Johnson -- prevented by term limits from running for reelection next year, when all of city government will be on the ballot. However, there are more than a dozen openly LGBTQ candidates running throughout the city to replenish and perhaps grow the ranks of LGBTQ representation in city government, encouraged by advocates and current Council members who ...

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    Ritchie Torres (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    As this month’s primary election results seem to be proving, the winds of change are blowing and are shifting the direction of Latino politics in New York City. Has a new era of leadership in Latino political representation arrived?

    In the Bronx, Ritchie Torres seems to be ahead with a comfortable margin, defeating Michael Blake, long-time politico Ruben Diaz, Sr., and many others in the 15th Congressional District. In these pages ...

  • Ritchie Torres Ruben Diaz Sr congress

    Ritchie Torres looks at Ruben Díaz Sr. (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    This story, and the series it is a part of, has been supported by the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.

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    New York City has had very limited success in the voter turnout department for congressional elections in recent years. For the 2018

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  • bx debate 514

    left to right: (top) Michael Blake, Chivona Newsome, Frangell Basora, Samelys Lopez
    (bottom): Melissa Mark-Viverito, Tomas Ramos, Ydanis Rodriguez, Ritchie Torres


    On Thursday, May 14, eight Democratic candidates vying to replace retiring Bronx Congressional Rep. José E. Serrano met for an online debate hosted by Gotham Gazette, City Limits, The Point CDC, and other partners.

    The debate, watched by hundreds on Zoom and Facebook Live, with a Spanish translation phone line, can be viewed via the embedded video below.

    Participating candidates were

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  • Michael Blake, Renee Chivona, Ruben Diaz Sr., Samelys Lopez, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Tomas Ramos, Ydanis Rodriguez, Ritchie Torres

    left to right: (top) Michael Blake, Chivona Newsome, Ruben Diaz Sr., Samelys Lopez
    (bottom): Melissa Mark-Viverito, Tomas Ramos, Ydanis Rodriguez, Ritchie Torres


    With longtime Representative José E. Serrano retiring from Congress after 30 years due to health reasons, his seat in New York's 15th Congressional District is effectively open and a crowded field has formed in the Democratic primary, set to be decided in June. Given it is one of the most

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    Restaurants are struggling to survive during the lockdown (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    As New York City’s mom-and-pop restaurants struggle to survive in lockdown conditions owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the New York City Council appears poised to help them cut costs by passing a bill to cap fees charged by third-party delivery services, which have proliferated in recent years via phone apps.

    Small restaurants that cannot afford delivery workers or have recognized the popularity of the apps rely on the third-party services like Grubhub, Seamless (which

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  • city council hearing

    Mayor de Blasio visits health care workers (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    Though the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged New York City, causing more than 17,000 deaths and untold devastation on the lives of residents, the impact has been worse for communities of color where existing disparities in economic status and access to health care have only been exacerbated. On Thursday, the New York City Council will hold a remote oversight hearing to examine those disparities, their causes, and the steps that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is taking to

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    Council Member Ritchie Torres (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The New York City Department of Investigation, a watchdog agency that monitors corruption and more broadly evaluates the functioning of city agencies, will launch a database next month to track each and every reform recommendation it makes, going back to 2014 when Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, and how agencies are complying with them.

    Every year, DOI issues hundreds, if not thousands, of Policy and Procedure Recommendations (PPRs) to city agencies to help them eliminate inefficiencies and

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  • city oversight hearing

    (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The Department of Investigation, an independent city agency that monitors and investigates government corruption, waste, and mismanagement, has yet to complete thousands of background checks on workers currently employed in city government. At a hearing of the City Council’s Committee on Oversight and Investigations on Monday, DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett sought to explain why the agency had fallen behind and assured Council members that the problem would not carry on into the future.

    As of Friday,

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    DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The Department of Investigation, a watchdog agency tasked with rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse in city government, issues hundreds of recommendations each year, urging other city agencies to reform their procedures and enhance the services they provide. It’s not always apparent to the general public, or even elected officials, whether agencies comply with those suggestions, which are typically based on extensive investigations.

    But the department has now promised a new

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  • maydbd district15

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Earlier this week, the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG) released its second and final set of recommendations to integrate city schools, a significant development in the current chapter of the city’s response to deep racial and economic segregation in its school system, which is the largest in the country and home to 1.1 million students.

    This chapter began in 2014, 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education and Bill de Blasio’s first year as Mayor, when ...

  • council holds oversight

    (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    The New York City Council regularly passes bills mandating that city agencies create reports on their work, ostensibly as part of the Council’s oversight responsibilities. From city jail populations to hate crimes statistics to use of force by police officers, the Council has passed bills requiring a report be delivered to it.

    The Council passes so many reporting bills that last year, it passed ...

  • taxi medallion drivers rally city hall

    Council Members Levine & Rivera & drivers rally at City Hall (photo: Jeff Reed)


    City Council Speaker Corey Johnson asked what sounded like a simple question: should the Taxi & Limousine Commission apologize for its role in the taxi medallion debt crisis, in which thousands of taxi owner-drivers have been trapped in predatory loans unchecked by city and state watchdogs?

    Jeffrey Roth, nominated by Mayor Bill de Blasio to lead the TLC, failed to give a direct “yes” or “no.” Johnson asked

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    Council Member Ritchie Torres (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)


    Bronx City Council Member Ritchie Torres is touting $3 million in city funding he secured for a residential complex that falls outside the Council district he represents, but within the Congressional district where he’s seeking votes.

    The money will go to Concourse Village, Inc., a nearly 1,900-unit housing cooperative located in the south Bronx, over a mile away from the border of Torres’ district. The second-term Democratic Council member is running for Congress in the primary that will

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    (photo Credit: Edward Reed/City Council)


    Amid a new flurry of attention to challenges faced by taxi drivers in New York City, the City Council will hold an oversight hearing Monday on the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission’s “role in the taxi medallion crisis.”

    As a New York Times two-...

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     (photo: @RitchieTorres)


    On the steps of City Hall Wednesday afternoon, a coalition of LGBTQ rights advocates and current and former City Council members announced the launch of an initiative to elect queer candidates to the Council in 2021, when 35 seats will be open because of term limits.

    There are currently five members of the 51-member City Council who identify as LGBT, all of whom are a part of the body’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus, and all of whom are not elligible for reelection to the Council: Speaker Corey Johnson and

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  • rubendiazjr richie torres cm

    Rep. Serrano, BP Diaz Jr., CM Torres (l-r) (photo: @rubendiazjr)


    It’s time for a rumble in the Bronx. After 29 years in Congress and 44 years in elected office, Congressional Rep. José Serrano has decided to retire from office. Together with the likes of Herman Badillo, José Rivera, Robert Garcia, Gerena Valentin, and Ramon Velez in the Bronx, Serrano has been a pioneering figure within the Latino/Puerto Rican political landscape in New York City.

    Serrano fought at the frontlines for Latino political representation at a time when

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  • Patchett EDC hearing

    EDC President James Patchett (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan to create 100,000 “good-paying” jobs, with annual salaries of $50,000 or more, within 10 years, giving New Yorkers a pathway to the middle class. On Monday, City Council members held an oversight hearing on that plan, attempting to more fully gauge how the de Blasio administration is doing on its promise.

    Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres, chair of the Council’s Committee on Oversight and Investigation, co-led a

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    Council Member Ritchie Torres (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    The polarizing issue of local retailers going cashless has gotten the attention of New York City Council members, and on Thursday a Council committee will hear testimony on the topic and consider competing legislative proposals.

    The Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing, chaired by Council Member Rafael Espinal, a Brooklyn Democrat, will hear the bills for the first time. One, ...

  • citycouncil jcommhearing

    BOE ED Michael Ryan (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    Embattled City Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan testified before the City Council's Committees on Oversight and Government Operations on Tuesday, explaining that a perforated two-page ballot, never before used anywhere in the United States, was primarily to blame for the issues at polling sites across the city on Election Day.

    In a combative hearing initially presided over by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Ryan apologized, after being asked to do so, for the

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    (Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The Right to Know Act, a significant piece of police reform legislation passed by the City Council last December, is set to go into effect Friday and advocates who hoped it would transform street interactions between New Yorkers and police officers are worried that the NYPD may not fully comply with the new law.

    The Right to Know Act comprises two laws with requirements for how officers conduct themselves in street stops. The first, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat, mandates that

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  • superstorm sandy aftermath

    (photo via NYCHA)


    The myriad issues plaguing the New York City Housing Authority came to the fore at a town hall on Wednesday night, with NYCHA residents excoriating public officials and officials scrambling to respond.

    The town hall, hosted by BRIC TV at its downtown Brooklyn studio, featured an audience mainly consisting of NYCHA residents and a panel of City Council Members Alicka Ampry-Samuel and Ritchie Torres, NYCHA tenant leader Lisa Kenner, New York Daily News reporter Greg Smith, and NYCHA historian Nicholas Dagen Bloom, along with

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