Gotham Gazette

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Public Advocate Election, Busy Legislatures & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, Feb. 25

New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

The Public Advocate special election is Tuesday!

The election is open to all registered voters across the city. Very low turnout is expected. Make a plan and be ready to vote!
-Find all of Gotham Gazette's coverage of the election here.
-Watch one/some/all of the 15-minute interviews our Ben Max did with 14 of the candidates.
-Use the City Limits voter guide.
-Check your polling place.

The Public Advocate is one of just three citywide elected positions and while its annual budget is relatively small at about $3.5 million, it comes with a lot of responsibility and opportunity. The last two public advocates are now New York City mayor and New York State attorney general.

Speaking of former Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, the mayor was in Iowa this weekend, stoking talk of a possible run for president, of which he has repeatedly said he’s “not ruling it out.” De Blasio sought to promote his brand of progressive politics and outlining how he believes Democrats can better appeal to voters, intermittently criticizing the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign for not speaking enough to the needs of “working people.”

We’ll see what this week brings in terms of how de Blasio talks about 2020.

We’re also watching for the next steps in the fallout over the Amazon-to-Queens deal collapsing and how it has led to fighting between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Senate Democrats. Though is spokespeople had already done so in various formats, Cuomo took to the radio airwaves on Friday and launched a blistering attack against Senate Democrats for allowing one of their own, Senator Michael Gianaris, to throw up such a significant roadblock to the deal that the company changed its mind. The two sides have been publicly arguing since the deal fell apart, with Cuomo saying the Senate Democrats committed a grave error in governmental judgement, letting down the entire state, and Senate Democrats saying that the governor should not have orchestrated a secretive, flawed deal.

After its usual mid-February week off, the City Council and State Legislature are back in session this week; the Council has very busy week of hearings. As for the state, the clock is ticking for a new budget, which is due by April 1.

There's a lot on the calendar already for this week - 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?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.***

The run of the week in detail:

At 9 a.m. Monday, “The day before the Public Advocate special election, Let NY Vote advocates, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and others will rally against the NYC Board of Elections' (NYCBOE) recent lawsuit preventing city interpreters from being inside polling locations. The City will be providing expanded interpretation services at poll sites with the largest numbers of Limited English proficient voters for the special election on Tuesday. The NYCBOE sued the City on Friday to prevent the interpreters from entering poll site locations, once again standing in the way of making voting easier for New Yorkers. The hearing on the lawsuit will take place after the rally at 9:30am at Kings County Supreme Court.”

At the City Council on Monday:
--The Committee on Environmental Protection will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “sustainability and resilience of New York City wastewater treatment plants,” as well as to discuss two proposed laws requiring solidly enclosed containers for the transport of sewage sludge and requiring an “air quality monitoring program” for wastewater treatment plants.
--The Committees on Women, Cultural Affairs, and Parks & Recreation will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “improving the gender and cultural diversity of monuments located in city parks,” as well as to discuss the creation of a task force to study the city’s statues, monuments, and public art installations, and to discuss a proposed law requiring 50 percent of newly erected monuments, statues, and public art depict women.
--The Committees on Public Safety and Justice System will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “family separation in criminal cases,” as well as to discuss proposed laws creating a task force to study and make recommendations regarding the “obstacles faced by children of incarcerated children” and to require the NYPD to implement “child sensitive arrest policies.”
--The Committee on Health will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss several proposed laws relating to sugar, including requiring signage at restaurants on the dangers of sugar, require beverages served with children’s meals to not contain added sugar, requiring sugar content be displayed on menus, and requiring the health department to report on the incidence of diabetes and how to reduce it.
--The Committee on Hospitals will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “access to specialty care at NYC’s Health + Hospitals.”
--The Committee on Education will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “DOE’s provision of special education services,” as well as to discuss proposed laws requiring DOE to provide data on school-level IEP compliance rates, report on its provision of special education services, tuition-payment requests for special ed, and preschool special ed, and to discuss a resolution for DOE to establish a “czar position” to ensure compliance with IEPs.
--The Committee on Governmental Operations will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “community board operations and needs,” as well as to discuss a proposed law requiring “notification of expiration of variances and special permits granted by the board of standards and appeals.”

At 8:30 a.m. Monday, the New York City Bar Association will host “New York State Environmental Year in Review,” discussing “the past year’s most significant developments in New York State and New York City environmental law.” Amy Turner of the NYC Climate Action Alliance will moderate a panel consisting of Adriana Espinoza, New York City program director for NYLCV; Patrick Foster, regional attorney for region 2 for the state Department of Environmental Conservation; attorney Scott Fein; Columbia law professor Michael Gerrard; and St. John’s Law professor Philip Weinberg.

At 11 a.m. Monday, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance will rally at the Broadway Junction station to bring attention to the transit crisis as a racial and economic justice issue, and call on Albany to pass congestion pricing. Elected officials in attendance will include State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymembers Felix Ortiz, Robert Rodriguez, and Michael Blake, who is a candidate for public advocate. Also in attendance will be public advocate candidates Melissa Mark-Viverito and Dawn Smalls.

At 3 p.m. Monday, City Council Members Margaret Chin and Mark Levine, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Assemblymember Deborah Glick will rally at the City Hall steps in support of Chin’s and Levine’s resolution calling for the implementation of a pied-a-terre tax in New York City, which would need to be passed at the state level and has the support of a variety of other elected officials.

On Monday at 3 p.m. in Washington, D.C., U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, along with “9/11 first responders, survivors, and their families will join with Jon Stewart” and several other elected officials from New York and elsewhere “to introduce the bipartisan Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act and call for its swift passage. The bipartisan legislation would ensure that all 9/11 first responders and survivors who have been injured by the toxins at Ground Zero and have certified 9/11 illnesses would receive their full compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) now and into the future as more become ill with 9/11 cancers. The bill would also close the funding gap recently announced by the VCF Special Master.”

At 6 p.m. Monday, the 2019 Charter Revision Commission will meet in the City Council Chambers at City Hall for an “issues forum” discussing instant runoff voting and other electoral reforms, the redistricting process, the structure of the Campaign Finance Board, and “alternative campaign finance mechanisms.” (This hearing was originally scheduled for Wednesday, February 20, but was rescheduled due to inclement weather.)

At 6:30 p.m. Monday, State Senators Alessandra Biaggi, Andrew Gounardes, Jessica Ramos, and Julia Salazar will join the Tri-State Transportation Campaign at its February happy hour at the Black Door in Chelsea, discussing congestion pricing.

Mayor de Blasio will appear Monday evening on NY1's Inside City Hall with Errol Louis in the 7 and 11 p.m. hours.

The special election for Public Advocate will be held on Tuesday. Polls will open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics will hold a meeting in Albany.

At the City Council on Tuesday:
--The Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss proposed laws allowing DOB to issue stop work orders along with “notices to revoke work permits,” allowing HPD “discretion” in choosing whether to work with a community land trust, and allowing individuals to sign up for email updates for whenever construction status changes on specific projects.
--The Committee on Criminal Justice will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “Department of Correction programming,” as well as to discuss proposed laws requiring DOC to conduct an annual survey of inmates at city jails regarding quality of life and treatment by corrections officers and requiring DOC to maintain libraries for inmates in city jails.
--The Committee on Land Use will meet at 11 a.m.
--The Committees on Mental Health and Veterans will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “veteran suicide and mental health.”
--The Committee on Fire and Emergency Management will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “protecting EMS workers from job related violence.”

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg will moderate a debate on whether to implement congestion pricing to address issues with transit, hosted by the Century Foundation and NYU Wagner at the Puck Building on Houston St. Manhattan Institute senior fellow Nicole Gelinas will argue in favor of congestion pricing, and former Assemblymember Richard Brodsky will argue against.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, the MTA will hold a board meeting.

Starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Vocal-NY will hold a lobbying day in Albany to call on state legislators to end mass incarceration.

On Wednesday at noon at the state Capitol, the FREEnewyork Campaign will rally and meet with legislators “to demand the speedy passage of urgent reforms to the criminal legal system” including “three separate bills – S1716 (Open Discovery), S2101 (End Money Bail), S1738 (Speedy Trial).” Members of the coalition include “Citizen Action New York, JustLeadershipUSA, New York Communities for Change, New York Civil Liberties Union, Legal Aid Society, VOCAL-NY, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, Religious leaders and more.”

At the City Council on Wednesday:
--The Committees on Justice System, Civil and Human Rights, Consumer Affairs, and Public Safety will meet jointly at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding the potential for marijuana legalization in New York, specifically on “equity and justice.” The committees will discuss proposed laws banning the Department of Probation from conducting drug tests for marijuana and ban employers from requiring employees to submit to tests for THC as a condition of employment. The committees will also discuss several resolutions, including ones calling for legalization of marijuana at the state and federal levels, calling for the expungement of all misdemeanor marijuana offenses, calling for the reinvestment of revenues from marijuana in communities most impacted by the war on drugs, calling for those with marijuana convictions to be prioritized in both the issuance of licenses for selling and in hiring in the marijuana industry, and encouraging small business growth in the industry, among others.
--The Committee on Aging will meet at 10 a.m. for an oversight hearing regarding “senior center model food budgets.”
--The Committee on Sanitation will meet at noon to discuss proposed laws requiring the Business Integrity Commission establish standards for union registration in the private carting industry, require the BIC to post workers’ rights information on its website, require private carters to provide workers’ rights information to employees, and for the BIC to hand over labor and wage violation cases to state or federal authorities.
--The Committee on Mental Health will meet at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding a three-year update on ThriveNYC.

This week's Max & Murphy on WBAI radio will air at 5 p.m. Wednesday and will break down the results of the Public Advocate special election and more. Listen at 99.5FM or

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Panel for Educational Policy will hold a public meeting at MS 131 in Chinatown.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, BRIC TV will host a “#BHeard Town Hall” on economic inequality in New York City. Panelists will include Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson, Student Debt Crisis Executive Director Natalia Abrams, NYU sociology professor Guillermina Jasso, former SEIU Chair Toni Lewis, Washington Post journalist Helaine Olen, and Fiscal Policy Institute chief economist Jonas Shaende.

The New York State Legislature will be in session on Thursday in Albany.

The City Council will hold a stated meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Speaker Corey Johnson will host the usual pre-Stated press conference at 12:30 p.m.

Also at the City Council on Thursday: the Committee on Finance will meet at 9:30 a.m.

At 11:30 a.m. Thursday, City & State will hold a reception for its “NYC Power 100,” its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the city. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will deliver keynote remarks.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, Citizens Budget Commission will hold its 87th annual awards dinner at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side. Awards will be presented to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, investor Stanley Shuman, and the City of New York for its Vision Zero initiative, and there will also be a special tribute to recently retired CBC President Carol Kellermann.

Friday and the weekend
Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show on Friday at 10 a.m.

At 3 p.m. Friday, the Senate Standing Committees on Transportation and Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions will meet jointly at the Nassau County Legislative Building in Mineola for a public oversight hearing regarding the LIRR.

Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max

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