photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York
Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday July 31
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: rendering of the next LaGaurdia Airport, via the Governor's Office on flickr
TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:
1. New LaGuardia: Governor Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden announced that LaGuardia Airport will be overhauled by 2021, with an estimated first-phase cost of about $4 billion. Experts say the project could take more than 10 years to build and cost about $8 billion.
2. MTA Budget Battle: MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast sent an open letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, pushing for the city to add $3.2 billion over five years to the capital budget for MTA funding. Governor Cuomo has said he’s agreed to add more than $8 billion to the state budget plan towarding closing the MTA budget gap, and the governor has repeatedly pointed out that the city benefits the most from MTA services; while a spokesperson for the mayor said that “New York City, through taxes, tolls and fares already contributes over 70 percent of the MTA’s operating budget.”
3. JCOPE Controversy: Four of the 14 commissioners from the Joint Committee on Public Ethics wrote an open letter on the questionable hiring of “special counsel,” a position excluded from the original JCOPE staffing plan, but created previously and now being again filled, this time with Kevin Gagan, who will be chief of staff and counsel, by the outgoing executive director, Letizia Tagliafierro, at the behest of the governor, whom she is leaving to work for. Gagan has worked with the governor in multiple positions previously, part of a lengthy public sector resume, and the commissioners are calling this an example of “incessant interference.”
4. City Mental Health Plans: First Lady Chirlane McCray, Chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, announced a $30 million public-private partnership to support the new Connections to Care program, which will “integrate mental health services into programs already serving low-income communities.” It will be part of a larger mental health roadmap McCray is preparing, which will be unveiled in September.
5. Flanagan Names DeFrancisco Senate #2: New Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Republican from Long Island, named Syracuse Sen. John DeFrancisco (who had a friendly battle with Flanagan for the top post when indicted Sen. Dean Skelos stepped down) as Deputy Majority Leader - a seat also vacated due to corruption, this one when former Sen. Tom Libous was convicted on charges of lying to the FBI.
THIS WEEK’S NUMBERS:
400,000 New Yorkers now have an IDNYC six months after the program began, Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced.
31 cases of Legionnaires disease have been diagnosed in the South Bronx since July 10 through July 29. New York City health officials are tracking the unusual increase, but say that there is no cause to panic.
THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:
It was a good week for Governor Cuomo, who not only unveiled plans for a new La Guardia Airport, but was lauded by Vice President Joe Biden in multiple appearances Monday - Biden called Cuomo, “about the best governor in the United States.”
It was a bad week for New York Canna, Inc, the sixth-placing company in the competition for medical marijuana licences in New York. Five winners were announced Friday by the State Department of Health and will be allowed to dispense medicinal marijuana. Canna just barely missed out - the scoring revealed it was just .15 points behind the fifth-place company.
Last year, on July 28, 2014, Governor Cuomo called the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption (created by Governor Cuomo in July 2013 and shuttered less than a year later) a “phenomenal success,” following a report into the relationship between the governor’s office and Moreland amid reports that Cuomo was being investigated by United States Attorney Preet Bharara for interfering with the commission’s work.
29 years ago, on July 30, 1986, Mayor Ed Koch, city, state and federal law enforcement held a press conference at City Hall and called for “more state judges, more Federal judges, more prosecutors, more courtroom space and the deportation of all illegal aliens convicted of narcotics offenses.”
GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
Despite Unprecedented Scandal, Calls for Special Ethics Session Fall on Deaf Ears, by David Howard King
Queens Library Scandal Spurs Nonprofit Oversight Bill, by Catie Edmondson
Many Voting Opportunities for New Yorkers in 2015 and 2016, by Zehra Rehman
City's Veterans Community Meets to Assess Policy, Build Cohesion, by Catie Edmondson
MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:
- WNYC’s The Takeaway tackles the economic effects of raising the minimum wage after a New York State Wage Board unanimously finalized their recommendation to gradually raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 per hour.
- City Comptroller Scott Stringer released his office's analysis of the city's new fiscal year 2016 adopted budget.
- Capital New York goes inside a meeting of New York City schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and a Bronx superintendent.
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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 Erika Wang and Ben Max
Note: this article has been updated with more detail about the JCOPE storyline, noting that the counsel position had been filled previously and adding other information.