Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

 

City Council

City Council

  • costas consta attends

    Council Member Costa Constantinides, the author (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    Nothing in New York City’s or our country’s history says we’re good at running jails. 

    For hundreds of years, we have cast detainees away to far-flung islands. Out of sight, out of mind. Mostly black and brown men. Overwhelmingly, without having even been convicted of a crime. 

    So, the recent skepticism to build a jail in the heart of my beloved Queens is justifiable. After countless meetings with criminal justice advocates, many among them previously jailed

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  • mmv red cross

    Melissa Mark-Viverito, the author (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    For decades, Rikers Island has served as a clear illustration of our nation’s willingness to turn a blind eye in the face of injustice. Home to decades of violence, corruption, and cruelty, the continued operation of Rikers Island jails has been a striking reminder that our justice system is anything but just. 

    Activists, grassroots organizers, impacted individuals, elected officials, and many other New Yorkers have been demanding the closure of Rikers jails for decades,

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  • Rikers jails de Blasio

    On Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    The narrow bridge to Rikers Island still puts a knot in my stomach. In the late 1980s, I spent two years behind bars in one of the eight active jails on Rikers. Back then, crossing that bridge meant disappearing from society and entering a world defined by violence and inhumanity.

    Little has changed. These days, I visit Rikers regularly as vice chair of the Board of Correction, the independent oversight body for New York City jails, and as executive vice president of the Fortune Society, an

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  • New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    The big news this week is likely to be the details of the final deal to secure City Council passage of the plan to build four new jails, one in each borough other than Staten Island, to replace the Rikers Island jail complex, which is slated to fully close by 2026. The plan passed the City Planning Commission in early September and is slated this week for a vote in the City Council land use committee, then the full

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  • alb cah fox op ed

    (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    Sometimes City Hall politics can be surreal; too much spin can give you a case of political vertigo. But this week was remarkable even by the standards of the de Blasio administration, with talking points that felt like messages from a parallel universe. Time and again, we heard lofty statements about a city committed to protecting its residents’ privacy, a city sadly bearing no resemblance to our own.

    It started when the national facial recognition debate came to the City Council chambers. Months

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  • city council co jo keynote address

    Speaker Johnson (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is advancing his legislation to create a master plan for city streets, promising Thursday that the Council will vote on the bill this month.

    Johnson, a Democrat from Manhattan, first proposed the idea of creating a five-year plan for the city’s

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  • De Blasio close Rikers

    De Blasio, Johnson, Ayala & others at Rikers announcement (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The plan to close the Rikers Island jails and replace them with four borough-based facilities has sped through the city’s land use process and is awaiting approval from the New York City Council, prompting both support and rebukes from criminal justice reform activists and those who prefer to keep most city detainees on the island. If it passes at the scheduled October 17 vote, full implementation of the plan will fall in the hands of a future mayor, perhaps two,

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  • cm mar chin

    (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    “To be clear is to be kind, to be unclear is to be unkind.” – Brené Brown

    On August 2, 2018, I attended a meeting at Chung Pak, the affordable senior housing complex on Baxter Street, where the city presented its plans to build a huge new jail in Chinatown. I and other highly-vetted attendees watched a slideshow of what 80 Centre Street would become after it is converted from the county courthouse and district attorney’s office to a 50-story jail with coffee shops and retail trinket stores on the ground floor.

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  • bdb rec business

    Mayor de Blasio & Council Member Cornegy stop at a small business (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    New York City’s small businesses need more employees but struggle with hiring, and lack the time and resources they need to find and train talent. Their operational costs continue to be a challenge, including the cost of rent, insurance, and utilities. They need more financial support for growth and more assistance to comply with government rules and regulations.

    Those are just a few of the findings of a limited and first-of-its-kind survey conducted by

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  • New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    As the week begins New York City is reeling from two tragic weekend events: attacks on apparently homeless men in Manhattan by an alleged suspect, also apparently homeless, who killed four and cricially injured a fifth person; and the killing of a 10-year-old Brooklyn boy riding his bike by an apparently unlicensed driver of an SUV. Many government officials, advocates, and others are expressing their remorse while

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  • union sq counts

    (photo: @NYCImmigrants)


    New York City is moving full steam ahead with its effort to ensure that the 2020 Census counts each and every resident of the five boroughs, with millions of dollars in funding and a four-pillar strategy for outreach to hard-to-count communities. But New York State’s effort seems to have stalled and there is little indication that state authorities are moving with urgency despite the many billions of dollars in federal funding and congressional representation at stake.

    In the 2010 Census, New York City residents’ self-response rate to the

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  • mbdb cmmv idboroughs

    (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    It’s hard to think that winning your legislative campaign can cause a problem, but when you combine progressive victories with the territorialism of New York politics, you can get disturbing results.

    Case in point, this past legislative session was a triumph for the immigrant rights movement across New York State. We enacted the Dream Act, securing in-state tuition for undocumented New Yorkers. We

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  • New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    As is often the case this time of year, it is a somewhat quieter Rosh Hashanah week in the city, but there are a number of events to be aware of and several overarching issues to watch.

    Those include the continued response to the killing of NYPD Officer Brian Mulkeen, who was killed during an attempted arrest and altercation late Saturday night in the Bronx. Details of the incident are still

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  • mmv attends brides

    (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    Domestic violence continues to be a leading cause of homelessness in New York City and ahead of Domestic Violence Awareness month, the New York City Council sought to examine how Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has provided services to survivors of domestic violence who rely on the city’s shelter system. 

    Under state law, counties are required to provide shelter and services to domestic violence survivors. In New York City, that responsibility falls to the Human Resources Administration (HRA), which administers

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  • sep mon rotunda

    De Blasio, Council members, AARP members & others rally (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Just days after he ended his presidential campaign that was focused on issues affecting working people, Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied with AARP volunteers and City Council Members at City Hall on Monday to push for a proposal that could help millions of New York workers save for their futures.

    The Retirement Security for All proposal, which de Blasio first raised three years ago and then again in his State of the City speech this year, would establish a retirement

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  • voter student reg

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    In a process likely to last years, the New York Board of Regents is considering changing high school graduation requirements, which may include revising or creating a substitute for the Regents exams. To graduate, most students must currently pass five Regents exams. But while the education policy-setting board recently announced its exploratory plans, another path to a New York high school diploma already exists: a set of performance-based tasks that test students on an array of skills meant to be more in line with college- and

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  • New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    Mayor Bill de Blasio started his post-presidential campaign mayoralty on Friday, and continues it this week, which could set the tone for how he will approach his final two years, three months, and several days. The mayor jumped into several local public appearances on Friday and Saturday, before having no public events on his Sunday schedule. A potentially consequential legislative push by de Blasio ...

  • corey johnson delivers

    Speaker Johnson at food policy speech (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The City Council is set to consider a number of bills related to food policy at a hearing Wednesday, including a proposal to codify an Office of Food Policy, a month after Council Speaker Corey Johnson unveiled an expansive food equity plan with the creation of the office at its center.

    The Council’s Committees on General Welfare, Economic Development, and Education will meet at City

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  • mayor bdb public

    (photo: Edward Reed/Mayor's office)


    While city officials and elections administrators clash over what changes the Board of Elections should make to improve operations and the voting experience, one widely-supported option the city could pursue sits on the back-burner.

    A municipal poll workers program would allow the Board of Elections to hire Election Day poll workers from a pool of city employees, significantly reducing the hiring and training burdens for administrators and helping to ensure poll sites are more effectively

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  • New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    Mayor Bill de Blasio begins the week in South Carolina, where he has been campaigning for president over the past few days. De Blasio is set to return to the city Monday evening. De Blasio missed another annual event he has traditionally attended when on Sunday the African American Day Parade took place without him; he's previously missed the Puerto Rican and Dominican Day Parades while campaigning for the Democratic

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  • mayor bdb pieces

    (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    Many New Yorkers are expressing frustration at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s lack of attention to his job as he travels around the country campaigning for president. But his laid-back attitude toward the mayoralty manifested itself long before he announced his presidential candidacy.

    One particularly illustrative and significant aspect of the job that he has neglected is his role in the legislative process. 

    First, a quick refresher on how, pursuant to the City Charter, a bill becomes a law in New York City: 

    -If

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  • mayor bdb voting

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    This is part two of a two-part series. Read part one: New York's Election Administration Accountability Vacuum: ‘Bad Choices at Every Step'

    New York City’s Board of Elections, the maligned ten-member commission responsible for overseeing the administration of voting in the five boroughs, has been the subject of criticism for decades owing to inefficiency and

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  • New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    This week will see the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. There will be rememberances throughout the city, state, country, and world.

    Also this week: Mayor Bill de Blasio begins the week on a presidential campaign trip to Puerto Rico, where he went after a stop in New Hampshire this weekend. The mayor will not be on the Democratic stage Thursday evening for the third primary debate

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  • 15847120715 332a005108 z

    (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    The Trump administration’s changes to the “public charge” policy are so ambiguous and poorly communicated as to leave little doubt about whether the resulting fear rippling through immigrant communities nationwide was baked into this bigoted scheme.

    Here in New York City, we refuse to follow the White House down this dark path. We are the home of Ellis Island, a town built with immigrant hands and made great by the diversity we celebrate. We will fight the imminent public charge policy changes with

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  • retirement saving event

    Feb. 2016 (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office)


    In his State of the City speech in January, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised that the city would create a system of retirement security for millions of New Yorkers who work in the private sector and may not have access to employer-provided savings plans. It was a revival of an effort the mayor had first pushed in 2016 but that bumped up against the change in presidential

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