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Cuomo’s 2020 Agenda; Mayoral Control Hearing; De Blasio NYCHA Town Hall; MTA Budget Vote; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, December 16


New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Governor Andrew Cuomo launched his 2020 agenda, under the “Making Progress Happen” banner, on Sunday an initial legislative proposal that he will formally include in his January State of the State speech and policy book. Cuomo’s first plan builds on his lengthy gun control record with a proposal to prevent individuals from obtaining a New York State gun license if they have committed a crime in another state that is similar to a crime that would disqualify them from owning a gun in New York. The law would apply to “serious” misdemeanor offenses, according to a press release from the governor’s office, that appear to fit the current grey area, or loophole in a sense.

These “serious misdemeanors...include certain domestic violence misdemeanors, forcible touching and other misdemeanor sex offenses, and unlicensed possession of a firearm,” according to Cuomo’s office.

As he does each year leading up to his State of the State speech (this year scheduled for January 8 in Albany) Cuomo is certain to continue to reveal headline pieces of his agenda as this week unfolds. Cuomo's office released two additional planks of his agenda on Monday. He’s due to give a speech in Manhattan on Tuesday that is likely to include at least one new proposal. (This event was postponed on Monday.)

It’s also an important week for Cuomo’s 2019 agenda: the “green light” law that allows undocumented immigrants to access New York driver’s licenses is set to be implemented beginning Monday morning, though there could be tests to the law from some county clerks and others who oppose it (however a lawsuit was recently thrown out). Make the Road New York, legislators like sponsor Jessica Ramos, a Democratic senator from Queens, and others who pushed the bill have been getting word out and organizing individuals to apply for driver’s licenses this week. Cuomo and his aides appeared to waiver some on support for the licenses bill toward the end of last session, but the governor signed it into law while expressing concerns and trying to shift the burden of responsibility to Attorney General Letitia James.

Cuomo also took great interest in the MTA this year and the MTA Board, which he effectively controls, will vote this week on the authority’s 2020 operating budget. Most of the controversy around that budget has related to its planned inclusion, at the governor’s direction, of funding to pay for a significant increase in MTA police officers, which Cuomo has said are needed to combat fare evasion, homelessness, and attacks on transit workers.

And speaking of Cuomo’s agenda and where 2019 meets 2020: many are watching to see if there’s any indication that the state Legislature will take action regarding the outcome of the campaign finance commission that recently completed its work, with binding recommendations that will become law unless the Legislature and Cuomo act by December 22. There is little indication that legislative action is afoot to change the new campaign finance system and party ballot access requirements that the commission put forth, but a number of advocates and legislators are calling for changes.

Meanwhile, the state Legislature begins the week examining mayoral control of New York City schools during a Monday hearing in Manhattan. Mayor Bill de Blasio is not expected to testify himself, but schools Chancellor Richard Carranza is -- it is the first such hearing since mayoral control was extended with new, fairly modest changes to school governance processes.

De Blasio will be presiding over a ceremony related to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to start the week (see details below). On Tuesday, the mayor is expected at a ribbon-cutting for an affordable housing complex in Brooklyn and on Thursday de Blasio is set to host a NYCHA-related town hall on the west side of Manhattan.

De Blasio spent part of Sunday speaking at a Brooklyn church, where he pushed his plan to require 10 days of paid personal time per year for most employees. The City Council has been slow to get behind the plan as currently designed, with Council Speaker Corey Johnson saying he supports the goal, but wants to work out the details, with special concern for the smaller small businesses in the city. The bill’s lead sponsor is Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who introduced the bill several years ago when he was a Council member.

There was a vigil Sunday evening for Barnard College student Tessa Majors, who was murdered last week, and this week is expected to see continued attention on the safety of the Morningside Park area as well as the investigation into the murder.

And this week is likely to see continued discussion how the city, and its neighbors, are working to both prevent hate crimes and punish those who commit them.

Also this week, there will be a great deal of attention on national politics as the House of Representatives is expected to on Wednesday vote on the two articles of impeachment passed out of committee and on Thursday evening there is the latest Democratic presidential primary debate.

There’s a lot more on the docket this week, which promises to a see a major flurry of activity leading up to two holiday weeks and the end of the year -- 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:

Monday, December 19
The MTA Board’s monthly committee meetings will take place on Monday.

At 7:15 a.m. Monday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will appear on PIX-11 morning news; at 8:20 a.m., Williams will appear on NY1's Mornings on 1. At 10 a.m. Monday in Foley Square, “Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams will launch a Worst Landlords citywide tour, accompanied by elected officials and tenant advocacy organizations, to visit properties run by some of the worst landlords in NYC. The tour kicks off with a rally with elected officials and tenants to release the Worst Landlords Watchlist for 2019, and will continue to four buildings across the city.” After the rally in Foley Square, Williams will visit sites in the four boroughs other than Staten Island, including a NYCHA visit at Lincoln Houses in Harlem.

At 10:15 a.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will host a roundtable with Fort Greene community stakeholders at The Mark Morris Dance Studio. At 11:35 a.m., Stringer will visit Griot Circle in Brooklyn. At noon, Stringer will visit Fort Greene Council’s Grace Agard Harewood Neighborhood Senior Center.

At 10:30 a.m. Monday at Beacon Theatre, “Mayor de Blasio will issue awards of a high civic honor to the individuals whose advocacy led to the permanence of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.”

At 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, de Blasio will "hold a public hearing for and sign Intro 1362-A, which bans the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes and flavored e-liquids in New York City...In the evening, the Mayor will appear live on NY1’s Inside City Hall with Errol Louis."

At 11:30 a.m. Monday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will speaks at the NAACP education initiative pilot with Council Member I. Daneek Miller and Hazel Dukes, President of the New York State Conference of the NAACP, at P.S./I.S. 116 William Hughley in Queens. At 1:30 p.m., Johnson will speak at a funding announcement for MRI Equipment with Council Member Diana Ayala at Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan. At 7:30 p.m., Johnson will participate in WNYC's lead panel: The Real Story of Lead Poisoning, at The Greene Space in Manhattan.

On Monday at noon at City Hall, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the transportation committee, other Council members, and advocates including Transportation Alternatives will hold a rally “to call on the City of New York to increase protections for cyclists and pedestrians” and “address the bills scheduled for the Transportation Committee hearing at 1:00pm in the Council's Chambers. Among them are the 'Bike and Pedestrian Mayor' bills, introduced by Council Members Rodriguez and Rivera as well as the 'School bus Stop-Arm-Camera' bill introduced by Council Member Kallos. Other bills include, Council Members Landers's legislation related to safety training for street permits and the prohibition of on-call scheduling for utility safety workers that also would provide advance notice of work schedules.”

At the City Council on Monday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Contracts and the Committee on General Welfare will jointly hold an oversight hearing on DHS Homeless Service Provider Contracts.
--At 11 a.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will hold hearing on multiple bills
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Transportation will hold hearing on multiple bills.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing will hold hearing on multiple bills.

At the State Legislature on Monday:
--At 11 a.m. Monday in Manhattan, the Assembly education committee will hold an oversight hearing on mayoral control of New York City schools.
--At 11 a.m. Monday, the Assembly social services committee will hold a public hearing on the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI) at the Erie County Legislature in Buffalo. 
--At 11:30 a.m. Monday in Manhattan, the State Senate Committee on Higher Education will hold a public hearing on funding for public colleges.

At 3 p.m. Monday, “Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer is hosting a meeting of her Manhattan Complete Count Committee to hear from U.S. Census Bureau Regional Director Jeff T. Behler and continue preparations for the 2020 Census. The meeting will serve as an opportunity to coordinate Census activities for the new year and hear about the work being done by partners of the Make Manhattan Count initiative, including 10 grant recipients. Mr. Behler will provide a brief overview of 2020 operations and identify existing Census resources, toolkits, and personnel to facilitate partnerships, support events, and assist with messaging.”

At 5:30 p.m. Monday, the New York City Board of Correction will hold its next public meeting, in Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m. Monday at CUNY Graduate Center, there will be an event focused on New York’s “progressive future” featuring State Senator Brad Hoylman and Attorney General Letitia James, with audience Q-and-A moderated by Micah Lasher. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is among the co-hosts and will also give remarks. Several other Manhattan elected officials and Comptroller Scott Stringer are among the co-hosts.

Tuesday, December 17
The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute will host an urban food policy forum titled “SNAP: 50 Years after the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health,” to commemorate the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health which paved the way for the first major expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.) Speakers will include Alfredo Morabia, Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Public Health; Marion Nestle of NYU and Cornell; Nevin Cohen of CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute; Nick Freudenberg of CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute; and others. The panel will be moderated by Janet Poppendieck, of CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and Hunter College.

At the City Council on Tuesday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations will hold an oversight hearing on percent for art and public art in NY.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Women and Gender Equality and the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will jointly hold an oversight hearing on the status of implementation of the city’s pay equity law and related legislation.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday in Manhattan, the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals will hold its next public hearing.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Albany, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) will hold its next meeting.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, there will be a ribbon-cutting celebration for “New York State’s first LGBT-friendly affordable housing complex,” a NYCHA NextGen building in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Residents of the complex, Mayor de Blasio, City Council Member Laurie Cumbo, other city and state government officials, and the developers of the project — BFC Partners and SAGE — will gather to celebrate the opening.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday in Manhattan, the Assembly Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse will hold a hearing on substance use disorder services and barriers to accessing those services.

At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Governor Cuomo will deliver remarks at an event hosted by the Association for a Better New York at The Ziegfeld Ballroom in Manhattan. (This event has been postponed to January.)

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Board of Elections in the City of New York will hold its monthly commissioner meeting.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Chalkbeat New York, the non-profit organization, will host a conversation with podcast creators Mark Winston and Griffith and Max Freeman of School Colors, for a discussion at the Brooklyn Public Library with special guest, MeQuan McLean from the Community Education Council 16.  

Wednesday, December 18
The Association for a Better New York will host a presentation and panel to discuss “Geography of Jobs,” a new report from the Department of City Planning from 8-9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Baruch College. Panelists will include Carolyn Grossman Meagher, Director of Regional Planning at the New York City Department of City Planning; Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director, Center for an Urban Future; Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive; Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx Borough President; Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, NYU Wagner and Faculty Director, NYU Furman Center ; Jose Ortiz, Jr., Executive Director, New York City Employment and Training Coalition; Seth Pinsky, Executive Vice President, RXR Realty.

The MTA Board will meet on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

At the City Council on Wednesday:
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Transportation, the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction and the Committee on Aging will jointly hold an oversight hearing on Access-A-Ride.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Women and Gender Equity and the Committee on Higher Education  will jointly hold an off-site oversight hearing on CUNY child care centers at the Shepard Hall Building at the City College of New York. 
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Public Safety will hold a hearing on creating a comprehensive reporting and oversight of NYPD surveillance technologies.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Racing and Wagering and the Assembly Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse will jointly hold a public hearing on problem gambling. 

At 1 p.m. Wednesday in Albany, the New York State Energy Planning Board will meet.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday on WBAI radio, this week's Max & Murphy show will air (listen at 99.5FM or wbai.org), and will include discussion of the NYPD's controversial gang database.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the New York City Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy will hold its next public meeting at Prospect Heights High School in Brooklyn.

Thursday, December 19
At the City Council on Thursday:
--At 10:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions will meet.
--At 10:45 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will hold a hearing.
--At 1:30 p.m., a City Council Stated Meeting will take place, prefaced as usual by a press conference led by Speaker Corey Johnson. This will be the final Stated Meeting, where new bills are introduced and bills passed by committee voted on by the full Council, of 2019.

At 10 a.m. Thursday in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Agriculture will hold a public hearing on the “oversight of the SFY 2019-20 State Budget for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.”

Mayor de Blasio will hold a NYCHA-focused town hall on Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Bayard Rustin Educational Complex.

Friday, December 20
At 10 a.m. Friday, Borough President Melinda Katz and NYC Parks will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elmhurst Park. Attendees will include Mitchell  J. Silver, FAICP, Commissioner, NYC Parks; John Rowan, National President, Vietnam Veterans of America; Manuel Edenhofer, President, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32; and Michael O’Kane, Former President, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32.

At 10 a.m. Friday, Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show.

Note: there will be no Week Ahead in New York Politics from Gotham Gazette for the next two weeks. We'll be back for the week of January 6, posting our next Week Ahead the evening of Sunday, January 5.

***
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 Max
@GothamGazette



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