New York City Hall
What to watch for this week in New York politics:
The week starts with many eyes on Preet Bharara, who was fired Saturday from his position as United State Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bharara refused to resign when asked to along with the country's 45 other U.S. attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama, as is common practice when a new federal administration omes into power. Bharara's lone refusal, though, came under special circumstances: in November, then President-elect Donald Trump had met with Bharara and asked if he would stay on -- Bharara told reporters in the Trump Tower lobby that he intended to do so. But, that had appeared at the time to be part of Trump's new relationship with Senator Charles Schumer, whom Bharara once worked for, and that Trump-Schumer relationship has since soured. There are also a multitude of other possible reasons that Trump allowed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to let Bharara go, including cases Bharara has worked on in the past.
Bharara's office is in the midst of an investigation into Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration. The top prosecutor's departure does not necessarily mean one thing or another for the case, which has been going on for almost a year. Meanwhile, prosecutors who had been working under Bharara are also preparing for trial in the cases relating to indictments of aides, associates, and donors to Governor Andrew Cuomo -- those charges, stemming from bid-rigging and other alleged crimes, related to the governor's economic development programming. Those trials will also proceed, but without Bharara at the top of the prosecutorial food chain.
On Twitter Sunday, Bharara took a swipe at Cuomo, writing, "By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like." He was referring, of course, to the short-lived commission to investigate public corruption that Cuomo formed to much fanfare, then disbanded as part of a political compromise when it had been looking at behavior involving his donors, among many other things. Bharara's office picked up the investigations Moreland had started, and some material helped in its prosecutions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, but Bharara wound up publicly clearing Cuomo of any federal crimes.
So, we'll see what's next for Bharara and for the office he leaves behind.
Meanwhile, there's a lot more happening this week in New York politics, including a variety of City Council budget hearings, special events, and more -- keep in mind, though, that the city is expected to be hit by a blizzard of sorts on Tuesday, which could lead to many cancellations and postponements.
In Albany, the one-house budgets are due this week from the Assembly and Senate. These budgets will kick negotiations among the two majorities, Gov. Cuomo, and IDC Leader Jeff Klein into higher gear. A state budget is due by April 1.
There are many events this week to be aware of - see our day-by-day rundown below.
***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
The run of the week in detail:
Mayor de Blasio has three public events on his schedule Monday: at 10:30 a.m. in Times Square, de Blasio "will unveil a new Ladders for Leaders advertising campaign; at noon in the Bronx, "Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Police Commissioner James O’Neill and Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett will host a press conference to announce the Administration’s new plan to combat the opioid epidemic;" and in the 7 and 10 p.m. hours, the mayor will make his weekly appearance on NY1's Road to City Hall.
At 7 p.m. Monday Governor Cuomo will speak at "Raise the Age Evening of Action" at Central Synagogue in Manhattan.
At the City Council on Monday, there will be preliminary budget hearings held by the Committee on Governmental Operations; Committee on Aging; and Committee on Public Housing, with the following tenative schedule for different departmental appearances before the different Council committees (see schedule for locations):
- The Department for the Aging at 10 a.m.
- The Department of Citywide Administrative Services at 10 a.m.
- The Law Department at 11 a.m.
- The Office of Administrative Trials & Hearings at 1 p.m.
- The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) at 1 p.m.
- The Financial Information Services Agency/Office of Payroll Administration at 1:45 p.m.
- The Tax Commission at 2:30 p.m.
- The Department of Records and Information Services at 3 p.m.
- The Board of Standards and Appeals at 3:30 p.m.
- Community Boards at 4 p.m.
The New York State Legislature will be in session on Monday in Albany.
At the State Senate on Monday: The Senate Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Capital Investment will meet at 9 a.m. in Albany to “examine the project delivery method known as design-build and examine executive budget proposals related to design-build.”
Starting at 9 a.m Monday, the New York State Board of Regents will hold its monthly meeting, which will continue on Tuesday, at SUNY Albany.
At 9 a.m. Monday, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Council Members Margaret Chin and Antonio Reynoso, Section 8 tenants, and housing advocates will hold a rally on the steps of City Hall to rally support for Velazquez’s “Landlord Accountability Act.”
On Monday morning, Paul Massey will formally launch his mayoral campaign in Flushing, Queens. He'll tour Kissena Farms Kosher Supermarket, then hold a media availability. Massey has held one City Hall press conference and appeared at a variety of public events, including a few candidate forums. [From Gotham Gazette, read: Focused on De Blasio, Massey Makes City Hall Campaign Debut]
At 10:30 a.m. Monday hear Gotham Gazette's Ben Max on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show, where he'll join the host and NY1's Grace Rauh to discuss Mayor de Blasio's budget and comments de Blasio made Friday about how he approaches the budget, budget negotiations with the City Council, New Yorkers reading budget documents, and more. Stream at WNYC.org or listen at 93.9FM.
On Monday at 11 a.m. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will speak on a panel at the Just Food Conference at Teachers College.
On Monday, the NYCLU will hold a Day of Action asking the New York State Legislature to pass legislation to protect civil rights and liberties. At noon, there will be a rally in Albany featuring NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman; Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner; Erika Christensen, “a woman affected by New York’s outdated abortion law;” National Institute for Reproductive Rights president Andrea Miller; Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts! CEO Robin Chappelle Golston; New York State Defenders Association Executive Defenders Association executive director Jonathan Gradess; and others.
On Monday at noon at A’Dar Lounge in Manhattan, the city Department of Small Business Services and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito "will announce nearly $9 million in neighborhood revitalization grants" for community-based organizations across the city "to strengthen commercial corridors." Along with SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop and Mark-Viverito, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, program grantee David Nocenti of Union Settlement, and others will participate.
At noon Monday, a rally will be held at Governor Cuomo’s New York City office to demand that the governor address the homelessness crisis, adopt new progressive taxation policies, and commit to resisting the policies coming from Washington. Activists led by Vocal-NY and including representatives of a variety of groups plan to commit civil disobedience by blocking traffic on Third Avenue.
At noon Monday, the City Council Progressive Caucus and Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus will hold a rally at City Hall to protest the Trump administration’s budget cuts to NYCHA. City Council Member Ritchie Torres, chair of the Council’s public housing committee, “will announce an update in the amount of money NYCHA is expecting to lose this year.” Council members will also be joined by Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Comptroller Scott Stringer, “dozens of public housing residents, housing and advocacy organizations including Legal Aid Society, CAAAV, Community Voices Heard, Grand St. Settlement, FPWA, Enterprise, and more.” The rally will preface the aforementioned City Council budget hearing on public housing.
At 6 p.m. Monday, a public meeting will be held regarding the merger of Frederick Douglass Academy IV Secondary School and the Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance, both Renewal schools.
On Monday at 6:30 p.m., schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will deliver "brief remarks at the Third Annual Shubert High School Festival" at The Music Box Theatre in Manhattan.
At 7 p.m. on Monday, the Urban Justice Center will host “Defending Our Sanctuary City,” a panel discussion featuring City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; Ravi Ragbir, organizer at New Sanctuary Coalition and an immigrant rights activist; Lourdes Rosado, Civil Rights Bureau Chief in the office of the New York State Attorney General; and Alisha Williams, Senior Staff Attorney at the Peter Cicchino Youth Project at UJC.
NOTE: all of the events listed for Tuesday are subject to cancellation given the expected snowstorm.*** This post may not reflect cancellations.***
At the City Council on Tuesday:
- The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 10 a.m.
- The Committee on Land Use will meet at 10:30 a.m.
- The Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Disability Services will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss local laws regarding drug strategy and induction loops for certain city-financed capital projects
Also at the City Council on Tuesday, there will be preliminary budget hearings held by the Committee on Public Safety and the Committee on Technology with the following tenative schedule:
- The Police Department at 10 a.m.
- District Attorneys/Special Narcotics Prosecutor at 12 p.m.
- The Department of Information, Technology, & Telecommunications at 1 p.m.
- The Civilian Complaint Review Board at 2 p.m.
- The Criminal Justice Coordinator at 3 p.m.
The New York State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.
At 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, the Center for New York City Law will host “Building Mega-Projects: Lessons from the Second Avenue Subway,” with Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction Company.
On Tuesday there will be a half-day conference, "Options for Community-friendly Real Estate Development for Faith-based Organizations" at Deutsche Bank, 60 Wall Street, is being sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer "for faith-based organizations facing these challenges. We’ll discuss all aspects of community-sensitive planning and development, including strategies for community engagement, alternative development models, and policy considerations on structural preservation as well as affordable housing development and preservation."
At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Correction will hold a public meeting at 125 Worth St in Manhattan.
At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the New York City Industrial Development Agency will hold a Board of Directors meeting.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will host the first of two public hearings of their “Gifted and Talented Task Force,” focusing on “gifted and talented education in New York City public schools, as well as the admissions process for the city’s specialized schools,” at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, John Jay College of Criminal Justice will host a community information forum regarding the upcoming referendum on whether to call a state constitutional convention. Panelists and moderators will include Michael Benjamin of the New York Post; Brigid Bergin of WNYC; Josh Robin of NY1; Dick Dadey of Citizen Union; and Evan Davis, the former president of the New York City Bar Association and current senior counsel at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Public Advocate Letitia James will hold a "Talk to Tish" town hall for residents of the South Bronx at the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education.
At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, City Council Member Laurie Cumbo will continue her “Community Exchange Series.” Cumbo will discuss “Status Update on the Bedford Union Armory Part 2” at Medgar Evers College.
***Reminder: all of the events listed for Tuesday are subject to cancellation given the expected snowstorm.*** This post may not reflect cancellations.*** This is true for all events listed here.
At the City Council on Wednesday:
- At 9:45 a.m., "the Committee on Housing and Buildings will hold a hearing on criminal and civil penalties for the performance of unlicensed electrical work."
- The Committee on Immigration will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “the impact of new immigration enforcement tactics on access to justice and services.” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will deliver opening remarks.
- The Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss a proposed resolution calling upon President Trump to “fully fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and not to eliminate or diminish any of these agencies in any form.” Postponed
- The Committee on Transportation will hold a hearing on multiple items at 10 a.m.
- The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will hold a zoning hearing on the Bushido restaurant in Brooklyn at 11:15 a.m.
- The Committee on Land Use will hold a hearing on multiple items at 11:30 a.m.
- The Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services will hold a hearing on multiple items at noon.
- The Committee on Environmental Protection will hold a hearing on flood mitigation in southeast Queens at 2 p.m.
The City Council on Wednesday will also hold a preliminary budget hearing of the Committee on Housing and Buildings with The Department of Housing Preservation and Development at 10 a.m. and The Department of Buildings at 12 p.m.
The New York State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.
At 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Association for a Better New York will host a “Panel on Proposed Federal Policies & The Impact on the New York City Budget,” featuring Maria Doulis, Vice President of the Citizens Budget Commission; Dean Fuleihan, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget; Robert F. Mujica Jr., Director of the New York State Division of the Budget; and Preston Niblack, the deputy comptroller of New York City. Public Advocate Letitia James is among those who will attend the event.
At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Manhattan Institute will host “Student Discipline and Disorder,” discussing the potential ramifications of the “discipline reform” movement sweeping across American school districts, aiming to curb the disproportionate rates of suspension for black and Latino students. The event will feature opening remarks from Howard Husock, vice president of research and publications at MI, followed by a presentation by MI Senior Fellow Max Eden, and finally a panel featuring Eden, Office of Safety and Youth Development CEO Lois Herrera, Local 237 Director of Law Enforcement Derek Jackson, and Senior Policy Fellow at the Center of the American Experiment Katherine Kersten; the panel will be moderated by Husock. (Event has been postponed due to the snow storm.)
At noon Wednesday, there will be a "Faith Over Fear" press conference outside City Hall. Public Advocate Letitia James is among those participating.
At 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, "Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman will announce a massive organized crime ring take down."
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, a public meeting will be held regarding the closure of the Monroe Academy for Visual Arts & Design, a Renewal school.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the New York City Bar Association will host “Yes or No in November: Discussing a Constitutional Convention for New York,” about the upcoming referendum regarding whether New York State should convene a constitutional convention to examine its provisions regarding government ethics and citizen protections. The event will connect to the one from the night before, and will feature Barbara Bartoletti, of the League of Women Voters of New York State; Michael Cardozo, of Proskauer Rose LLP; Dick Dadey, of Citizens Union; Evan Davis, of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP; Hank Greenberg, of Greenberg Traurig LLP; Helen Hershkoff, of NYU School of Law; Adriene Holder, of the Civil Practice Legal Aid Society of NYC; Roberta Kaplan, of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison LLP; and Jerry Kremer, of Empire Government Strategies.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the City Council is hosting its annual "Women's Herstory Month Celebration," led by the Council's Women's Caucus, which is currently chaired by Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Helen Rosenthal. Speaker Mark-Viverito will deliver remarks; and the event will honor eleven "women in the labor movement for their invaluable contributions to workers' rights and the strengthening of New York City's economy."
At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the city Parks Department will host a scoping meeting to discuss potential improvement to Lost Battalion Hall Park in Queens.
Mayor de Blasio is scheduled to hold a town hall meeting on Wednesday night in Manhattan, hosted by City Council Member Corey Johnson, at Lab High School. A number of other local elected officials are co-hosts, though as is customary, the local Council member, Johnson, will emcee. Public Advocate Letitia James will attend and may deliver brief remarks.
At the City Council on Thursday:
- The Committee on Finance will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss a resolution “approving the new designation of certain budget organizations to receive funding in the expense budget.”
- The full New York City Council will meet at 1:30 p.m. Thursday for a Stated Meeting. As usual, it will be prefaced by a press conference led by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other Council members.
The Committee on Environmental Protection will meet at 2 p.m. to discuss flood mitigation in Southeast Queens.
At 9 a.m. Thursday, the Center for New York City Affairs will host “College Affordability: Will New York Lead the Way,” a discussion with community leaders regarding Governor Cuomo’s free college proposal at the New School’s Theresa Lang Student Center. Following opening remarks by New School President David van Zandt, author Sara Goldrick-Rab will join a discussion with Kimberly Cline, President of Long Island University; Mike Fabricant, first vice president, Professional Staff Congress, City University of New York; James Skoufis, an Assemblyman representing Orange and Rockland Counties; and Kevin Stump, the northeast director of Young Invincibles. [From Gotham Gazette, read: Assembly Members Propose Changes to Cuomo’s Free-Tuition Plan]
At 3 p.m. Thursday, the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at CUNY Journalism School will hold a panel discussing the city’s commitment to keep New York affordable and welcoming, as well as the “Start by Asking” joint campaign by the Robin Hood Foundation and the city. The panel will feature Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; Steve Banks, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services; Lorelei Salas, Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs; Regina Schwartz, the mayor’s Public Engagement Unit Director; and Steven Lee, the managing director of income security at the Robin Hood Foundation. Event postponed.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, a public meeting will be held regarding the closure of the Leadership Institute, a Renewal school.
At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Brooklyn Historical Society will host “The Legacy of Jane Jacobs,” whose book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” “sent shockwaves through the architecture and planning worlds.” The New York Times’ Ginia Bellafante will speak with documentary filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer, co-founder of Friends of the High Line Robert Hammond, and Dr. Samuel Zipp, Associate Professor of American and Urban Studies at Brown University and co-editor of “Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs.”
Friday and the weekend
Friday is the annual Student Voter Registration Day in New York City.
At 7 p.m. Friday, Delta Sigma Theta’s Queens Alumnae Chapter will host “Women in Politics II, Beyond the Voting Booth: Harnessing our Collective Power” at Queens Borough Hall. Tunisha Walker, Senior Vice President of Capalino + Company, will moderate a panel featuring Bertha Lewis, founder and president of the Black Institute; Tara Martin, political director of the NYS Nurses Association; and Afua Atta Mensah, executive director of Community Voices Heard.
On Friday evening at 7 p.m., City Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane D. Williams will "commemorate Women's Herstory Month by honoring seven extraordinary women from New York City who are blazing the trail in advocacy and public service." Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs will deliver keynote remarks.
At 11:30 a.m. Sunday, the Riders’ Alliance will hold “Fare Hike Rally and Action: NYers Demand #FairFares” at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. [From Gotham Gazette, read: Saying City 'Can't Afford' 'Fair Fares,' De Blasio Points to State]
by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max