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Busy City Council & State Legislature; MTA Board Meeting; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, February 24


New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

After his win in Nevada over the weekend, many eyes in the New York political world and beyond are on a surging Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and questions around whether his nomination is becoming all-but-certain. Another Democratic primary debate is set for Tuesday night in South Carolina, just ahead of that state’s primary on Saturday. Michael Bloomberg will surely be looking for a stronger performance than he had in Nevada this past week, even though he still won’t be on the ballot yet. Bloomberg starts to appear on ballots for Super Tuesday, which is the series of states that will vote on March 3, results that will give a much more clear picture of whether Sanders is really cruising or if the contest will be more competitive.

Not only is Bloomberg hoping to slow Sanders down, but Joe Biden is hoping for a win in South Carolina to reenergize his campaign and Elizabeth Warren is hoping that South Carolina then Super Tuesday give her the boost her Nevada debate performance may have portended, especially considering her jolt in fundraising and polling since she had that big night attacking Bloomberg and other rivals, though she mostly stayed away from Sanders.

Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar likely know that how they fare in South Carolina, the first state to vote that has a sizeable black population, will be heavily scrutinized and that if they continue on to Super Tuesday they will need to show real results, which is of course true for all the candidates, though Sanders’ strength at this point means he has some room for faltering. Another wrinkle as the race moves to South Carolina: Tom Steyer will return to the debate stage Tuesday night and he's polling fairly well in the state, where he's spent a lot of money and time. Steyer finished fairly well in Nevada and his ability to pull votes in South Carolina could continue to impact the race.

It remains to be seen whether Mayor Bill de Blasio will be of use to Sanders in South Carolina or on national TV leading up to the primary -- it was a state de Blasio spent significant time in during his short-lived presidential campaign last year. De Blasio made waves this weekend by tweeting some especially pointed attacks on Buttigieg after Buttigieg criticized Sanders during his remarks on the Nevada results and path ahead.

Meanwhile, it promises to be a very busy last week of February in New York politics and government. The City Council has many committee hearings and a Stated Meeting where new bills are introduced and bills that have passed committee are voted through by the full Council.

After its usual mid-February break the State Legislature is back in Albany for four session days. There’s just over a month until a new state budget is due.

There are also a wide variety of interesting and important other hearings, panel discussions, and other such events this week -- see our day-by-day rundown below.

And there will be significant attention this week on the fact that the Trump administration’s new “public charge” rules go into effect and that New York’s new plastic bag ‘ban’ (of sorts) goes into effect on Sunday, March 1.

***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, February 24
Mayor de Blasio will make his weekly appearance on NY1's Inside City Hall in the 7 and 11 p.m. hours Monday.

Governor Cuomo will make an announcement at 12:45 p.m. from the state Capitol in Albany.

The State Legislature is in session Monday afternoon in Albany.

At 10 a.m. Monday, "Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul Announces Upstate Workforce Development Initiative Awards Funding" at Foodlink in Rochester. At 1 p.m. Hochul will make another such announcement at Time Release Sciences in Buffalo.

At 8:30 a.m., the New York City Bar Association will host the New York State Environmental Year in Review, evaluating the most significant developments New York State and New York City environmental law. Speakers will cover “New York State's Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act and New York City's Climate Mobilization Act and Local Law 97,” as well as “New York State environmental regulatory and litigation updates.” Speakers include Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice at the Mayor's Office of Climate Policy Adriana Espinoza, among several other experts.

At 9 a.m. Monday, Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson will be “joined by tenants, advocates, lawyers, and the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition (RTCNYC) at a rally on the steps of City Hall to support two bills that would expand the overwhelming successful Right to Counsel law passed in 2017.”

At the City Council Monday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Oversight and Investigations will hold an oversight hearing on the Department of Investigation’s backlog of background investigations.
--At 10 a.m., the Committees on Justice System and Housing and Buildings will meet jointly to hear two bills sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine on the “Implementation and Expansion of Right to Counsel in Housing Court.” The first bill would “require the Office of the Civil Justice Coordinator to expand the scope of right to counsel for all tenants making under 400% of the federal poverty guidelines, including any proceeding where ejection, eviction or terminance of residency may result.” The second bill would “require the office of the civil justice coordinator to collaborate with community groups in engaging and educating tenants of their rights in housing court, and then report on their efforts.”
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Hospitals will hold an oversight hearing on the “safety of New York City Emergency Departments.”
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Emergency and Fire Management will hear a bill sponsored by committee chair Joe Borelli that would “require the Fire Department to implement a pilot program for the use of electric scooters by personnel delivering emergency medical services.”
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Cultural Affairs will hold an oversight hearing on "Creating a NYC museum of African American history."
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction will hear bills sponsored by Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Ritchie Torres. The Cumbo bill would authorize “the creation of a mental health coordinator in each city agency to assist and perform outreach to city employees with mental health need.” The Torres bill would require “the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to develop a list of all free behavioral health services and share the information with any City agency that provides direct services to young adults, families, and children. DOHMH would also be required to train the identified agencies on appropriate dissemination of the information and ensure that the developed list would be available on the appropriate agencies’ websites.”

On Monday beginning at 8:30 a.m., the MTA Board will hold its monthly committee meetings.

On Monday at 11 a.m., “the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) will host a media roundtable with New York City and State officials, advocacy organizations, and local immigration legal experts to discuss and answer questions about the public charge rule. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it will begin implementing its public charge rule on February 24, 2020, except in Illinois where it is still blocked. This follows a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on January 27, 2020, which permitted the rule to go into effect while lawsuits continue. While the public charge rule may prevent some immigrants from getting lawful permanent resident status (green card) or a visa if they use certain public benefits or are deemed likely to use them in the future, legal experts will explain that many immigrants are NOT impacted by the public charge rule. Public charge does NOT apply to all immigrants, and it is NOT a factor if you are applying for citizenship. Additionally, the public charge rule does NOT change eligibility requirements for public benefits or access to health care services. The City’s new NYC Care program and many types of health coverage are NOT considered in the public charge rule. City and State officials, along with advocacy organizations, will discuss what is being done to provide free legal services for immigrant families so they may seek legal help if they have concerns about public charge. New Yorkers who have questions about immigration and public benefits can get help making the best decisions for themselves and their families by calling the free, confidential ActionNYC hotline at 1-800-354-0365 and saying “public charge.””

At 3 p.m. Monday in Albany, "On behalf of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., NYGOP Chairman Nick Langworthy will deliver the necessary paperwork to appear on the New York ballot this November."

At 6:30 p.m. Monday in Brooklyn, “U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) will deliver his annual State of the District address. He will discuss the Democratic agenda for America, which includes lowering healthcare costs and fighting for more affordable housing,” at Long Island University.

Tuesday, February 25
The State Legislature is in session Tuesday in Albany.

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Workers Circle will host New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams as part of its ongoing “Breakfast with Champions” series, where he will “talk about his work addressing immigrant and worker rights, federal actions that impact New York City, and other key issues.”

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the Regional Plan Association will “release its second report with ‘Make the Road New York’ on equitable adaptation in Central Queens.” Guests can “join RPA staff for a discussion around the key recommendations and findings of the report as well as the next steps.”

At the City Council Tuesday:
--At 9:45 a.m., the Committee on Women and Gender Equity will meet on a bill related to "Reporting on efforts to prevent and address sex- and gender-based discrimination and harassment."
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet on a bill sponsored by Council Member Mark Treyger on “individualized responses to hate crimes” from the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes.
--At 10 a.m., the Committees on Small Businesses and on Technology will hold a joint oversight hearing on “cybersecurity for small businesses.”
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Transportation will hold an oversight hearing on “the future of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.”
--At 10:30 a.m., the Committee on Environmental Protection will hear bills sponsored by Council Members Donovan Richards and Costa Constantinides. The Richards bill “mandates that preliminary budget accounting and executive budget accounting include an accounting of the carbon emissions, carbon offsets, carbon mitigation and net carbon impact that would be generated by each unit of appropriation in the preliminary budget, by each agency, and by the entire city government and include, where appropriate, the changes from the adopted budget for previous year to the carbon emissions, carbon offsets, carbon mitigation and net carbon impact that would be generated by each unit of appropriation in the preliminary budget, by each agency, and by the entire city government with an explanation of the cause of such changes.” The Constantinides bill requires “that the office of long-term planning and sustainability, or such other agency or office as the mayor shall designate, develop for each city agency and each affiliated governmental organization a climate emission plan projection designed to assure that each city agency and each affiliated governmental organization remains below the upper level of greenhouse gas emissions needed to achieve the city’s previously identified climate reduction goals.”
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Elections will meet to consider Mayor de Blasio’s two appointments to the Conflicts of Interest Board, Wayne Hawley and Nisha Agarwal.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Economic Development will hold an oversight hearing on “borough-by-borough projects” being led by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, including “Jamaica NOW, Bronx Point, Manhattan Life Sciences Campus, Bedford Union Armory & Stapleton Waterfront.”

At 10 a.m. Tuesday in Albany, the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources will hold a public hearing “to examine the effectiveness of current flooding emergency and mitigation efforts, and to discuss the need for future assistance due to the increase in extreme weather events.”

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

At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Speaker Corey Johnson and the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus of the New York City Council will host the annual Black History Month celebration in the Council Chambers of City Hall.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday in Lockport, the New York Civil Liberties Union will hold a town hall “to discuss the impact that [facial] surveillance technology has on students in the Lockport City School District.” The event is part of a series of town halls taking place across New York State.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will hold a public meeting on climate and transportation. The department will “provide an update on the Transportation and Climate Initiative Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to implement a regional cap and invest program to transition to a more sustainable, resilient, low carbon transportation sector.”

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Transportation will hold a public workshop in Astoria to discuss the progress of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector project. This workshop will “will provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about and discuss the BQX planning work that’s been done to date, and the process moving forward.”

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Museum of the City of New York will host a talk titled “Puerto Rican Activism: New York, San Juan and Beyond.” The event will focus on the Young Lords Party’s influence on Puerto Rican activism, both on the island and in the diasporic communities of New York City. Speakers include Johanna Fernández, author of the forthcoming book, Young Lords: A Radical History; researcher Pablo Benson-Silva; filmmaker, writer, and scholar Frances Negrón-Muntaner; and Monxo López, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York.

Wednesday, February 26
The State Legislature is in session Wednesday in Albany.

At 8:15 a.m. Wednesday in Albany, State Senate Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins will join Times Union editor Casey Seiler at the Hearst Media Center “to discuss the state budget negotiation and what comes after - including the fight to maintain or even expand the Democratic majority in November.”

The MTA Board will hold its monthly Board meeting on Wednesday.

At the City Council Wednesday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Higher Education will hold an oversight hearing on the “research foundation of CUNY.”
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on General Welfare will hear four bills sponsored by committee chair Stephen Levin, including two related to the pets of those who enter city homeless shelters, one that would require DHS to “provide case management services to everyone assessed by either DHS or by an organization that contracts with the City, who is reasonably believed to be living on the street”; and one that “would set 30 days as the maximum time that the DSS/Human Resources Administration may require a street homeless applicant to have received case management services to be eligible for certain rental assistance programs.”
--At 10 a.m., the Subcommittee on Zonings and Franchises will meet to consider several land use applications.
--At 11 a.m., the Committee on Health will vote on two resolutions sponsored by Council Members Daniel Dromm and I. Daneek Miller that relate to sickle cell disease.
--At 11:30 a.m., the Committee on Housing and Builds will meet on a bill sponsored by Council Member Robert Cornegy related to construction and the energy code.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Parks and Recreation will hold an oversight hearing to “examine the Parks Department’s Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) Program.”
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Education will hold an oversight hearing to gauge the “experience of New Yorkers enrolled in adult education and adult literacy programs.” The Committee will also hear a resolution sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm that would “establish Diwali as an official holiday for NYC public school students.”
--At 1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions will meet to consider several land use applications.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, this week’s Max & Murphy show will air live on WBAI radio, 99.5FM and wbai.org, and feature a live panel event discussion about the Democratic presidential primary including supporters of several major candidates. The live event begins at 4:30 p.m. at Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn -- details and RSVP here.

At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the New York State Board of Regents will continue to hold a series of regional meetings “to review the State’s high school graduation measures and reaffirm what it means to obtain a diploma in New York State.” This time at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn and hosted by Regent Kathleen Cashin.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the city’s Panel for Educational Policy will hold a general meeting at MS131 in Manhattan. Agenda topics include proposals for “significant changes in school utilization” and “proposed amendments to Chancellor Richard Carranza’s Regulation D-150.”

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will host “Black History’s Next Chapter: Impacting Our Communities.” Asha Boston, founder of media literacy nonprofit The Dinner Table, will serve as the keynote speaker.

Thursday, February 27
The State Legislature is in session Thursday in Albany.

The New York State Board of Regents will continue to hold a series of regional meetings “to review the State’s high school graduation measures and reaffirm what it means to obtain a diploma in New York State.” Four meetings are taking place Thursday, including two in Brooklyn, one in Buffalo, and one in Syracuse.

At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute will hold a forum titled “Food Equity Research in New York: Fresh Perspectives.” Discussion topics “include the food justice movement in New York, racial disparities in the urban food system, the role and limitations of government-sponsored nutrition assistance programs in addressing hunger, and labor in the city’s food economy.”

At the City Council Thursday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Oversight and Investigations will hear a bill sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres to require the “Department of Investigations and the special commissioner of investigation to create web applications to track agency cooperation and compliance with investigations and recommendations.”
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will hear bills sponsored by Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Daniel Dromm that would, respectively,l “create a position of a not-for-profit ombudsperson within the Department of Finance (DOF)” and create several “exemptions from the sale of tax liens” and “[approve] the new designation and changes in the designation of certain organizations to receive funding in the Expense Budget.”
--At 1:30 p.m., there will be a City Council Stated Meeting to pass and introduce legislation. Speaker Corey Johnson will host the usual pre-Stated press conference at 12:30 p.m.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, the Association for a Better New York will hold a Census 101 panel discussion at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, the Association for a Better New York will hold an installment of their “What’s on Tap?” series with New York City Council Member and Chair of the Land Use Committee Rafael Salamanca Jr. at the Ainsworth in the Financial District. Salamanca will “discuss his path to office, experiences in government, and vision for New York City” and take questions from the audience.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Queens Council Members Donovan Richards, Adrienne Adams, I. Daneek Miller, and Rory Lancman will hold a Public Safety Town Hall with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. Commissioner Shea will address comments and concerns about public safety from members of the community.

Friday, February 28 & the weekend (It's a Leap Year!)
At the City Council Friday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Education will hold an oversight hearing on class size reduction.
--At 10 a.m., the Committees on Hospitals and Immigration will meet jointly to hear a resolution sponsored by Council Member Carlos Menchaca on “combating Deceptive Immigration Enforcement Practices Act of 2019.”

At 10 a.m. Friday, the Senate Standing Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development and the Senate Standing Committee on Social Services will hold a joint public hearing “to examine issues related to homelessness, housing insecurity and affordable housing, and identify potential legislative remedies.”

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

At 6 p.m. Friday, City Council Member Farah N. Louis will host “Unapologetically Black,” a gathering to celebrate the conclusion of Black History Month.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Manhattan delegation of State Senate Democrats will hold a State Budget Forum at the New York Academy of Medicine. Residents are invited to share their opinions on budget priorities with their legislators before the 2020-2021 budget passes on April 1st. State Senators Liz Krueger, Brad Hoylman, Robert Jackson, Brian Kavanagh, and Jose Serrano will be in attendance.

The state’s ban on many types of carryout plastic bags goes into effect on Sunday, March 1.

***
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 & Claire Del Sorbo
@GothamGazette



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