Gotham Gazette

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State Legislature

State Legislature

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    New. Yorkers seeking help (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    As a new report indicates unemployment in New York City may be as high as 33%, the state’s labor commissioner testified at a Thursday legislative hearing that since early March, the New York Department of Labor (DOL) has paid almost $40 billion in unemployment benefits to more than 3.3 million New Yorkers, compared to $2.1 billion in all of 2019.

    The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and its fallout on the state’s workforce was the subject of an oversight hearing held by both houses of the State Legislature

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    The 5 NYC-DSA-backed candidates for State Legislature, including guests Brisport (center) & Salazar (right)


    August 12, 2020 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Democratic Socialists Ascendant, with Senator Julia Salazar & Jabari Brisport

    State Senator Julia Salazar & likely State Senator Jabari Brisport, both Brooklyn Democrats backed by the New York City-Democratic Socialists of America, joined the show to discuss their ideas for helping New York recover from the many coronavirus-related crises, whether the

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  • Myrie Senate

    State Senator Myrie in the Senate chamber (photo: State Senate)


    After June saw drastic shifts in how voting in New York is conducted, elections administrators, state legislators, and watchdogs have a long list of changes they want to see enacted before the general election this fall. But above all they want clarity from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

    Many of the key players in New York City and State elections testified Tuesday at an oversight hearing held by both houses of the Democrat-controlled Legislature examining the June primary, its successes and

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    Inspecting voting equipment (photo: Senator Michael Gianaris)


    The June 2020 primaries in New York were an unusually thick morass of bureaucratic challenges as the city and state election systems shifted to a mostly-mail-in format amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

    In New York City more than 80,000 mail-in ballots were disqualified on technical grounds -- a full fifth of the 400,000-plus ballots cast that way and a tenth of the total. Tens of thousands of ballots were either sent out late by the New York City Board of Elections or never delivered to voters who

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  • 2 very pathetic

    Charles, left, & Inez Barron, right, at a ceremony with the Mayor & others (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    Anything short of a revolution won’t satisfy Charles and Inez Barron, the married Brooklynites who hold seats in the State Assembly and City Council, respectively, and the police reforms and city budget passed in the wake of recent widespread Black Lives Matter protests serve merely as a distraction to their radical idea of Black-led politics. 

    Assemblymember Charles Barron and City Council Member Inez Barron, both Democrats, have a

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  • voting New York City booths

    Voters cast many absentee ballots (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Over a month after the June primary, the New York State Board of Elections has certified the results, which show a relatively large voter turnout aided in part by the pandemic-induced expansion of absentee balloting. Almost all of the primaries in New York City were among Democrats, including a number of hotly-contested races for the House of Representatives, both houses of the State Legislature, Queens Borough President, and more.

    The elections saw several

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  • 1 how unfold

    Emily Gallagher with campaign supporters (photo: @em4assembly)


    Community activist Emily Gallagher ran a successful insurgent Democratic primary campaign like few others: one with no endorsements from elected officials, no support from ascendent lefitist groups the Working Families Party or New York City branch of the Democratic Socialists of America, and relatively little money compared to her opponent, a 47-year incumbent State Assembly member who had not even faced a primary challenge for a decade.

    Gallagher, who has lived in North Brooklyn’s Assembly

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    Phara Souffrant Forrest (photo: @phara4assembly)


    Leftist organizations like the Working Families Party and New York City branch of the Democratic Socialists of America are piling up wins in the June primaries, with absentee ballot counting near an end and a wide array of candidates they supported — many of whom are challengers to incumbents — on the verge of winning seats in Congress and the New York State Legislature.

    The wins shatter preconceived notions that incumbents are heavily favored to win, conventional wisdom that was deeply

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  • Eric Garner police reform NYPD

    Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, at a recent press conference (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    New York, and the nation, was teetering on the edge when it was suddenly and violently pushed over it on May 25, as George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota by police officer Derek Chauvin. It was an incident as shocking as it was familiar, an unarmed Black man dying at the hands of a police officer with the episode caught on video and broadcast to millions of people.

    “I can’t breathe,” Floyd cried out, as Chauvin knelt on his

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    An NYPD command center (photo: Edward Reed/Mayor's Office)


    In the four months since the NYPD first published protocols limiting its use of facial recognition software, the coronavirus-caused state of emergency and recent civil unrest over police brutality made the considerable leeway in the policy all but total. Absent any formal legal framework at the city, state or federal level, the internal, non-binding departmental protocols are the only public policy governing New York's lawless frontier of biometric surveillance.

    The police department has insisted it

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  • must address jails

    A rally to end solitary confinement (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    On April 14, 60-year-old Leonard Carter died of COVID-19 while incarcerated at Queensboro Correctional Facility. He had already been granted parole and, after a quarter century behind bars, was just weeks from his release date. He was the brother of one of us writing to demand change here

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  • Cuomo budget presentation bowl guests

    Gov. Cuomo presents a budget plan (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)


    The job of state legislators is to craft laws that protect New Yorkers and advance equal opportunity and justice. A significant part of that job is shaping our state budget, which funds our schools, our health care, our transportation systems, and a long list of vital other public services. During a global pandemic, this already crucial responsibility has reached a new level of importance. But, over the years, in the strange world of Albany, the role and

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  • rosenthal absentee ballot mailbox

    Voting absentee (photo: @HelenRosenthal)


    A law passed by the New York City Council in 2016 could have helped prevent some of the many problems plaguing the absentee ballot process from the June 2020 primary elections. But that law was never implemented by the New York City Board of Elections, a quasi-state agency that routinely refuses to abide by local mandates.

    The June primaries saw a record number of absentee ballots cast by voters, facilitated by an executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo that mandated that local boards of

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  • Senator Andrew Gounardes Brooklyn Albany presser

    State Senator Andrew Gounardes in Albany (photo: @sen_gounardes)


    Pro-NYPD and Black Lives Matter protesters clashed, sometimes violently, in Southern Brooklyn last weekend, a conflict emblematic of the changing and complicated politics in traditionally moderate to conservative neighborhoods that have been home to leftward political movement, partially due to an influx of new residents.

    One marker of the changes was the 2018 election of Democrat Andrew Gounardes in State Senate District 22, where he defeated long-time

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    Voting during a pandemic (photo: @NYCVotes)


    Ahead of a special state legislative session set for next week, a coalition of election reform advocates is backing ten bills that would change or codify elements of the now widely-used absentee voting process before the fall general election.

    The agenda, released Thursday by the Let NY Vote coalition, comes amid party primary elections where the voting is over but the counting

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  • 5 progressive assembly

    The State Assembly (photo: @NYSA_Majority)


    For some time, a lack of Democratic control in the New York State Senate prevented progressive legislation from becoming law. But even after the chamber flipped from red to blue through the 2018 elections and a long list of Democratic priorities were acted on, some bills that once passed the State Assembly when Republicans held the Senate are now having trouble reaching that chamber’s floor, leading to frustration that multiple insurgent campaigns capitalized on in this year’s primary

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    Voting has changed dramatically in New York (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    As hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots are being counted more than two weeks after the June 23 primary elections, state lawmakers are pushing a bill that would allow absentee voters to track their ballots and would require election administrators to provide an individual explanation when a ballot is disqualified.

    The latest effort to pass the legislation, which was first introduced in 2013, comes amid an unprecedented increase in absentee voting due to

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  • New York State government capitol building Albany legislators

    The State Capitol Building (photo: Governor's Office)


    The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people at the hands of police sparked righteous calls for change across New York State and led to meaningful action in Albany. We were proud to vote for police reforms that promote more transparency, accountability, and justice for those we represent. These were important steps, but they fall short of addressing the harm that happens to our constituents behind bars.

    For years, we’ve spoken with

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  • 6 jabari brisport eyes

    Jabari Brisport marching (photo: @JabariBrisport)


    This year’s Democratic primary for Brooklyn’s 25th State Senate District mostly flew under the radar, but was one of the most interesting races in the city, with an energetic activist and teacher, Jabari Brisport, backed by the Working Families and Democratic Socialist of America-New York City, taking on Assemblymember Tremaine Wright, whose district overlaps with part of the Senate district and who had the backing of the retiring senator, Velmanette Montgomery, among many others in the political

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  • new york city summer night pink clouds

    Summer heat has arrived (photo: governor's office)


    The sudden spread of COVID-19 caught governments around the world off-guard, setting off one of the deadliest public health crises in generations. We are learning many lessons from this pandemic, including the importance of preparing for emergencies early and taking decisive action when they strike, especially in New York State, the epicenter of the crisis, where there are over 380,000 confirmed cases and more than 24,000 deaths.

    With summer officially beginning on June 20, another

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    Assemblymember Jeff Aubry (photo: State Assembly )


    This story was first published by the Queens Daily Eagle 

    Eleven years have passed since Queens Assemblymember Jeff Aubry led the successful effort to repeal the state’s Rockefeller drug laws and address the brutal impact of the War on Drugs on communities of color. Since

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  • Cathy Nolan Assembly

    Assemblymember Cathy Nolan at the Amazon 'HQ2' announcement (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    Long-time Queens Assemblymember Catherine Nolan faces two challengers in this month’s Democratic primary in her first reelection campaign since coming out in support of the controversial deal that would have brought a massive Amazon campus to Long Island City.

    Nolan has represented the 37th Assembly District, which includes Long Island City and parts of Astoria, Sunnyside, Maspeth, and Ridgewood, since 1985. The district is 39% white, 36%

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    Yuh-Line Niou, left, and Grace Lee during their debate


    Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and her Democratic primary challenger, Grace Lee, met for a debate on Monday, June 15, hosted by Manhattan Neighborhood Network and moderated by Gotham Gazette's Ben Max. The primary for this Lower Manhattan State Assembly seat is happening this month, with early voting ongoing through June 21; primary day on June 23; and all eligible voters allowed to vote by absentee ballot. Watch the debate:

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  • grace lee yuh line niou

    Challenger Grace Lee, left, and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou


    An intense Democratic primary is unfolding in Lower Manhattan, where incumbent Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, a staunch progressive, is facing a challenge from business owner and activist Grace Lee, who is partially self-funding her campaign.

    While the two candidates don’t appear to disagree on much politically, the race looks like a test of whether a well-financed challenger seizing on hyper-local issues can motivate enough voters to overcome a broadly popular incumbent. Meanwhile, the

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  • Assembly candidates 

    The two Democratic candidates in Brooklyn's 56th Assembly District


    With incumbent Assemblymember Tremaine Wright of Brooklyn seeking a promotion to the State Senate, the 56th Assembly District is an “open” seat for the 2020 election. The two candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in this month’s primary, Justin Cohen and Stefani Zinerman, represent differing policy approaches, campaign styles, and backgrounds. As no other candidates have filed to run in the deep blue district, the winner of the Democratic primary will be unopposed in the general election and

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