Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

City Council Stated Meeting - December 15, 2004

Every two weeks the New York City Council meets for its Stated Meeting to introduce and pass legislation. As a regular feature, Searchlight covers these meetings and posts a summary of the bills passed.

Quote of the Day:
"Some of the industrial jobs we have had in the past we just don't have anymore. But film production is a 21st century manufacturing industry, in which New York City is perfectly positioned to grow and grow very rapidly." - Brooklyn Councilmember David Yassky.

Meeting Summary:
Responding to concerns that New York City needs to do more to make itself attractive to filmmakers, the City Council voted to give a 5 percent tax credit (Intro 454-A) to film and television companies who film in New York City.

The film industry will recoup up to $12.5 million in city taxes, while also getting a state tax credit of 10 percent credit worth up to $25 million. NBC is expected to announce a new pilot that will be filmed in New York City instead of Toronto, thanks to the financial benefits the network will gain as a result of the film tax credit. Both credits are set to expire in 2008.

Supporters said that the measure will generate billions of dollars for the city's economy and create thousands of jobs. But several council members who voted for the bill still voiced concern that it might not benefit New Yorkers who need the jobs most.

"Clearly we are concerned that this is an industry that has a long history of discrimination," said Councilmember Bill Perkins. "Very often this council has passed legislation was ostensibly supposed to provide jobs for the city, was ostensibly supposed to create jobs for people of color, and in fact it doesn't actually happen."

Perkins said that there must be a continued effort to make sure that new jobs benefit a diverse swath of the population.

The bill passed 48 to 1. Staten Island Councilmember Mike McMahon, cast the sole "no" vote.

"There are many industries that can make the same case for getting special privileges," said McMahon, adding that government often regrets giving particular industries such credits.

The council also overrode mayoral vetoes on three bills concerning campaign finance reform. The legislation will aid opponents of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spent $74 million of his own money in 2001. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller is considered a possible candidate in next year's mayoral race.

One bill (Intro 124-A) increases the maximum amount of public matching funds to $6 for every $1 a candidate raises. It passed 43 to 6, with Councilmembers Tony Avella, Simcha Felder, Dennis Gallagher, Andrew Lanza, Madeline Provezano, and James Oddo voting against it.

The other two bills (Intro 371-A and Intro 466-A) concern disclosure on money raised for campaigns. The legislation will require self-financed candidates who choose not to be part of the voluntary public financing system to abide by the same limits on contributions and spending as those who join the program. Candidates who are not part of the program would also have to comply with disclosure requirements.

Intro 371 passed by a margin of 44 to 5, with Avella, Felder, Lanza, Lopez and Provezano voting "no"; Intro 466 passed by a margin of 45 to 4 with Avella, Felder, Lopez, and Provezano Lopez voting "no".

The council also passed a bill (Intro 114-A) doubling the fines for landlords who don't provide heat and hot water for their tenants from $250 a day to $500 a day. Landlords who have already been fined in a calendar year will be fined $1000 a day for violations in the same building. The bill passed 49 to 0.  

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