New York City Hall
What to watch for this week in New York politics:
The week begins with a holiday and Mayor Bill de Blasio flying back from Nevada, where he was campaigning on behalf of Bernie Sanders for president after endorsing the Vermont senator. After a tortured 2016 process that led to a humiliating endorsement of Hillary Clinton in that year’s Democratic primary over Sanders, de Blasio attempted his own run for president this time around, quickly bowing out of the race after entering it late, and is now behind Sanders after the senator’s strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, and just ahead of the Nevada caucuses this coming weekend.
One way in which de Blasio appears ready to be a forceful Sanders validator is as a critic of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently cannonballed into the Democratic presidential primary, seemingly in part because of his dislike for Sanders’ agenda. De Blasio is already taking Bloombeg to task on the campaign trail over stop-and-frisk, the policing tactic that exploded under Bloomberg until a judge ruled the NYPD was unconstitutionally using it to stop hundreds of thousands of mostly young men of color. It became a major focus of de Blasio's succesful 2013 campaign for mayor. Along with de Blasio, other New Yorkers continue paying attention to and participating in the presidential campaign (Queens State Senator Jessica Ramos was also in Nevada campaigning for Sanders this weekend, for example), and now especially given Bloomberg’s presence and renewed scrutiny of his record, as well as a number of New York supporters who have emerged for the former mayor, including, for example, Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks.
There is a Democratic primary debate on Wednesday night from Nevada before Saturday’s caucuses. On Tuesday a new poll showing him rising to second nationally behind Sanders meant that Bloomberg will be on the debate stage. (A week after Nevada’s caucuses, South Carolina will hold its February 29 primary, followed quickly by a variety of contests on March 3, known as Super Tuesday. Bloomberg won't be on the Nevada or South Carolina ballots because of his late entry into the race, but then he'll start appearing on Super Tuesday.)
As de Blasio returns to the city the major issue hanging over local politics continues to be the state budget picture and how Governor Andrew Cuomo is dealing with reining in runaway Medicaid spending. In some ways it will be a typically quiet mid-February week, however, given that schools are on break and that means coinciding breaks for both the City Council and the State Legislature, at least from most formal hearings. The Legislature just wrapped up several weeks of hearings on Cuomo’s budget proposal.
Speaking of which, 30-day amendments to that Cuomo budget plan are due. Cuomo has recently blown through other budget-related deadlines, and given that his Medicaid Redesign Team has just begun its work, it’s unclear what changes he may be able to offer in an updated budget plan, though he could account for the latest tax receipt info and other feedback.
The other dominant issue of the last several months is the ongoing debate over whether last year’s state bail reforms that fully went into effect on January 1 of this year need to be adjusted. This week will likely see continued discussion on that front, especially after last week included Senate Democrats floating a plan to change the bail law to fully eliminate cash bail but add judicial discretion around assessing suspects’ dangerousness, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, among others, denouncing the idea of changing the law so briefly into its implementation. Over the weekend, New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay published a column calling on lawmakers to stand firm on the bail changes until much more data is available, while encouraging members of law enforcement and others who have been critical of the new system to engage more on its merits instead of anecdotes and fear-mongering, and to collaborate on seeking better treatment for individuals suffering from mental illness.
Meanwhile, there are a variety of events happening in New York 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:
Monday, February 17
Monday is the celebration of Washington’s Birthday (aka Presidents Day).
Mayor de Blasio continues to campaign for Bernie Sanders for President on Monday in Nevada, before heading back to the city Monday evening. He will appear in his usual Monday evening segment on NY1’s Inside City Hall in the 7 and 11 p.m. hours.
At 8:45 a.m. Monday in Manhattan, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will attend the Association of Towns of The State of New York’s 2020 Annual Meeting and Training School.
At 11 a.m. Monday, “Local elected officials and representatives from the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development (cfesdnyc.com) and the Municipal Arts Society will hail the victory over the developer of 200 Amsterdam, which cobbled together multiple zoning lots to achieve extra height for their building.” Participants include Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and several other Manhattan officials.
Tuesday, February 18
At 8 a.m. Tuesday, "Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul Delivers Remarks at Association of Towns Annual Meeting" in Manhattan. At 1 p.m., "Hochul Announces Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative Project Funding in the Bronx."
At 10 a.m. Tuesday at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens, elected officials and advocates will rally “to protect bail reform.” Participants will include City Council Member Danny Dromm, VOCAL-NY, and others.
At 10 a.m. Tuesday in White Plains, members of the Westchester State Senate Delegation will hold a New York State Budget Forum for community members, advocates, and other interested parties to share their opinions on the proposed 2020-2021 NYS budget. State Senators Jamaal T. Bailey, Alessandra Biaggi, David Carlucci, Peter Harckham, Shelley B. Mayer, and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins will be present.
At 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will appear on Fox 5's Good Day New York. At 10:30 a.m., Johnson will appear on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show.
At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice will host a discussion with Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who will discuss his “advocacy for immigration protections, quality health care, access to higher education,” and more. Professor John D. Gutierrez of the Department of Latin American and Latinx Studies will moderate.
At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio "will appear live on MSNBC’s MTP Daily with Chuck Todd." At 9 p.m., "the Mayor will appear on PBS Frontline’s “Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos.”"
At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will hold a "bail reform community information session" in Harlem. "The Public Advocate will hold a community discussion of the recently enacted bail reform laws, answering the questions and concerns of New Yorkers with a panel of experts and advocacy organizations."
On Tuesday evening, City and State NY will hold its 2020 Education Power 100 reception, which will include “keynote remarks by Betty Rosa, Chancellor, New York State Department of Education and State Senator John Liu, Chairman of the New York City Education Committee.”
Wednesday, February 19
At 8 a.m. Wednesday, Crain’s New York Business will host a breakfast with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, where he will “discuss his proposal for mandatory paid vacation, the climate for real estate and major rezonings around the city, and his role as an activist-elected official.” After Williams delivers remarks, Crain’s’ Will Bredderman and Anna Sanders of the Daily News will ask the public advocate questions.
At 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Urban Land Institute of New York will hold a panel on the future of New York City’s airports. Panelists will “give an update on [Port Authority’s] megaprojects and delve into the history of them, how the deals came together, and their impacts on real estate in New York.” Keynote presentation will be given by Derek Utter, Chief Development Officer of The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. A panel discussion will include Gerrard P. Bushell, Executive Chair of JFK New Terminal One Development Project; Christina Callahan, Deputy General Manager of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey; and Thomas J. Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce; and professor Francisco X. Pineda of Columbia University will moderate.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing in Manhattan, dealing with matters including on the rezoning proposal for Industry City in Brooklyn.
At 5 p.m. Wednesday, this week’s Max & Murphy show will air on WBAI radio, 99.5 FM and wbai.org, and will include a discussion of Michael Bloomberg’s record as mayor of New York City and his 2020 presidential campaign.
At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Office of Council Member Helen Rosenthal and the New York City Department of Buildings will host a town hall at B’Nai Jeshurun on the Upper West Side. District 6 residents will be able to “hear from newly appointed DOB Commissioner Melanie La Rocca about the direction and priorities of the agency going forward,” and can “ask questions directly of the Commissioner, and meet one-on-one with DOB staff to address local building issues.”
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Century Foundation’s Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative will host “The Urgency of Action on Child Poverty,” at Henry Street Settlement in Manhattan. Speakers will “examine the devastating consequences of growing up poor and investigate which bold and targeted actions will make the most difference in ameliorating these devastating effects...[including] the ineffectual remnants of our social welfare system, entrenched racism, and an unmotivated government.”
Thursday, February 20
At 9 a.m. Thursday, City and State NY will hold its 2020 Diversity Summit, which “will offer industry executives, public sector leaders and academics a full-day conference dedicated to fostering business partnerships between the state and local government, prime contractors and minority and women-owned businesses (MWBEs).” Speakers include Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson; Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Lisette Camilo; Director of the Mayor’s Office of MWBEs Jonnel Doris; City Council Members Robert Cornegy and Ben Kallos; MTA Chief Diversity Officer Michael J. Garner, and others.
At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, the directors of Empire State Development will meet.
At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will host a State of the Borough reception and give his 2020 State of the Borough Speech, at Veterans’ Memorial Hall in the Bronx.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Civic Hall and the Minority Cannabis Business Association will hold a panel titled “Reparations Now: Black America and the War on Drugs.” The panel will address the potential benefits New York could stand to gain from legalizing recreational marijuana, as well as reckoning with the war on drugs’ legacy on black communities and what the state owes families torn apart by mass incarceration. Speakers include Lorenzo Jones, Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice; Lawrence Grandpre, Director of Research for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle; and Imani Dawson, Executive Director at the Cannabis Education Advocacy Symposium and Expo.
Friday, February 21 & the weekend
At 10 a.m. Friday in Albany, the Senate Standing Committee on Civil Service and Pensions will hold a public hearing “to explore the idea of establishing a ‘civil service pipeline’ statewide in which graduating students are trained for and recruited directly into public sector jobs.”
Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show at 10 a.m. Friday.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, IGNITE and New American Leaders will host “Boss Ladies New York: Training the Next Generation of Campaign Leaders,” a half-day training seminar for aspiring campaign managers. Participants will “ earn how campaigns work at different levels of government, the role of a campaign manager, and how to run a successful campaign.” Speakers include Crystal Ann Berger, chief of staff to Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker; Felicia Singh, candidate for New York City Council District 32; and Ny Whitaker, political strategist and community leader. Amanda Faris, candidate for New York City Council District 6, will serve as a trainer at the seminar.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, the New York City Parks Department will hold an event for Black History Month titled “African American History of Staten Island” at Tappen Park. Urban park rangers “will provide historical information on points of interest that are focal points of the African-American story on Staten Island.”
At 11 a.m. Saturday, the New York City Parks Department will hold an event for Black History Month titled “Brooklyn and the Underground Railroad.” Urban park rangers will take visitors on a walking tour through Brooklyn Bridge Park while explaining the borough’s role in providing slaves with an escape from slavery.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, Brooklyn State Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie will present his first State of the District Address with an introduction Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. Myrie, a Democrat representing Crown Heights and parts of Park Slope and Sunset Park, invites the community to “hear about the progress we’ve made so far and our agenda for the work ahead.”
by Ben Max & Claire Del Sorbo