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Containing Coronavirus; City Council Budget Hearings Begin; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 2


New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

The week begins with news that New York has its first positive case of the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, with a Manhattan resident infected, reportedly from a trip to Iran.

Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the following statement on Sunday evening:
"This evening we learned of the first positive case of novel coronavirus — or COVID-19 — in New York State. The patient, a woman in her late thirties, contracted the virus while traveling abroad in Iran, and is currently isolated in her home. The patient has respiratory symptoms, but is not in serious condition and has been in a controlled situation since arriving to New York. The positive test was confirmed by New York's Wadsworth Lab in Albany, underscoring the importance of the ability for our state to ensure efficient and rapid turnaround, and is exactly why I advocated for the approval from Vice President Pence that New York was granted just yesterday.

There is no cause for surprise -- this was expected. As I said from the beginning, it was a matter of when, not if there would be a positive case of novel coronavirus in New York. Last week I called for the Legislature to pass a $40 million emergency management authorization to confront this evolving situation -- I look forward to its swift passage. There is no reason for undue anxiety -- the general risk remains low in New York. We are diligently managing this situation and will continue to provide information as it becomes available."

Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold a rare joint press conference on Monday morning from Cuomo's Manhattan office.

It will be another busy week in New York City and State politics, but the presidential campaign will also continue to hang over everything, with Democratic candidates continuing to drop out after the results in South Carolina, where Joe Biden won a convincing victory on Saturday, and ahead of “Super Tuesday,” where 14 states including California and Texas will vote for the nominee. Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg both announced the ends of their campaigns over the weekend.

While Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden appear to have all the momentum at this juncture, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Mike Bloomberg are hoping to make key headway on Tuesday. (Tulsi Gabbard also remains in the Democratic primary field.)

On Monday and Tuesday, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will be in North Carolina campaigning for Sanders.

Closer to home, the week begins with the continued implementation of the state's plastic bag 'ban,' renewed attention on street safety after several recent pedestrian deaths, including two children in Brooklyn, ongoing discussion over changing the bail reform laws passed last year, and much more. Tuesday will mark just three weeks until the March 24 special elections for Queens Borough President and City Council District 37.

The City Council begins its examination of Mayor de Blasio’s $95.3 billion preliminary budget hearing on Monday, and throughout the week with committee hearings to follow the initial broad overview by the Council finance committee, Speaker Corey Johnson, de Blasio budget officials, and others that will take place Monday. Read our preview here.

The city’s property tax reform commission is holding its first public hearing since releasing its preliminary report of recommendations earlier this year -- see details below.

It’s also Civics Week and Open Data Week in New York City.

The State Legislature will be in session on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, with less than a month to go before a new state budget is due (April 1), and discussions over changes to bail reform continuing, among many other issues, both fiscal and policy, on the table.

And there’s a lot more going on -- 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, March 2
At 9:45 a.m. Monday, "Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo will hold a media availability on the first confirmed case of coronavirus in New York State...After, the Mayor will convene a second Coronavirus preparedness tabletop exercise with Deputy Mayors, Commissioners and leadership from across the Administration...In the evening, the Mayor will appear live on NY1's Inside City Hall with Errol Louis."

On Monday and Tuesday in Albany, the New York State Board of Regents will hold its monthly meetings.

The State Legislature will be in session on Monday in Albany.

At 8:30 a.m. Monday at William Cullen Bryant High School in Queens, “Chancellor Carranza will join Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson and the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU) Director Omar Khan at a Student Voter Registration Drive to kick off Civics Week.”  At 6:30 p.m., Carranza “will attend a town hall meeting of District 24’s Community Education Council” in Queens.

At 10 a.m. Monday, the City Council’s Committee on Finance and Subcommittee on the Capital Budget will hold the initial Council hearing on Mayor de Blasio’s $95.3 billion preliminary budget plan. Council Speaker Corey Johnson will deliver opening remarks and likely ask questions of de Blasio budget officials. After de Blasio reps led by Budget Director Melanie Hartzog, City Comptroller Scott Stringer will testify before the Council, followed by the city’s Independent Budget Office, then members of the public. [Read: What to Expect When the City Council Begins Examining De Blasio’s $95.3B Budget Plan]

At 10:30 a.m. Monday in Manhattan, “immediately before the final public comment forum with the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) takes place, a group including over 120 health advocacy organizations will announce demands for changes to the MRT’s process. These organizations across the healthcare industry joined forces in a matter of days due to Governor Cuomo’s attempt to force $4 billion in cuts to the State’s Medicaid budget - $2.5 billion through the MRT and $1.5 billion through the counties.”

At 11 a.m. Monday in Binghamton, “New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy, joined by Senator Fred Akshar, Broome GOP Chairman Bijoy Datta and Binghamton residents, will call for a repeal of the state’s dangerous new bail and discovery laws at a press conference.”

At noon Monday at City Hall, “feminist leader Gloria Steinem and Council Member Helen Rosenthal will join sexual assault survivors and anti-rape advocates at City Hall to demand that Mayor de Blasio order NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea to remedy the understaffing, undertraining, and underprioritizing of the NYPD’s Special Victims Division.”

At noon Monday, "Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul Makes an Announcement at Women's History Month Press Conference" at the Capitol in Albany. At 3:15 p.m., "Hochul Reads to Students as Part of Read Across America Day" at the Boys & Girls Club of Albany. And at 5:30 p.m., "Hochul Attends the NYS Farm Bureau Taste of New York Reception" at the Empire State Convention Center in Albany.

At 12 p.m. Monday, workers of various industries will rally outside Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan office to demand that he support the Securing Wages Earned Against Theft (SWEAT) bill that the state Legislature passed last year.

At 3 p.m. Monday in New York City, "New York State's Energy Planning Board will hold a public hearing on updating State Energy Plan targets to reflect New York’s nation-leading Climate commitments."

At 6 p.m. Monday in Albany, Eleanor’s Legacy will hold “Who Run the World? NYWomxn” at the Cornerstone at the Plaza to celebrate “New York womxn throughout history who led the way, and those who carry on the legacy of change.”

At 6 p.m. Monday, research companies DataKind and AidData will hold a showcase titled “Using Open Data to Empower Mission-Driven Organizations” at Civic Hall in Manhattan as part of New York City’s Open Data Week.

At 7 p.m. Monday, the Museum of the City of New York will host a discussion titled “Do Monuments Matter? Reimagining Their Role in a Changing World”. The event aims to “reframe the ‘monument’ in contemporary society and explore the role communities play in decision-making about past and future sites.” Speakers include sculptor Vinnie Bagwell, MIT Professor Mark Jarzombek, and executive director of The Chinati Foundation Jenny Moore. The event will be moderated by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation Professor Erica Avrami.

Tuesday, March 3
Tuesday is “Super Tuesday” in the presidential primary, where 14 states will vote for the Democratic nominee amid a winnowing field.

The Board of Regents’ monthly meetings will continue Tuesday in Albany.

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

At 10 a.m. Tuesday in Albany, the Senate Standing Committee on Elections will hold a public hearing “to solicit views of interested parties in the New York Voting Rights Act.”

At the City Council Tuesday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Higher Education will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Fire and Emergency Management will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 11 a.m., the Committee on Land Use will meet to consider several land use applications in all five boroughs.
--At 1 p.m. the Committees on Technology and Land Use will hold a joint preliminary budget hearing.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday in Albany, "pursuant to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation hereby give notice of the first meeting of the Climate Action Council at New York State Department of Environmental Conservation."

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the GovLab and Reaktor will jointly host an event titled “Defining the Questions That Matter...and Could Be Answered with Open Data” as part of Open Data Week. Inspired by “The 100 Questions” global initiative, the event will begin with “a panel of leaders from different sectors reflecting on the need for more question-driven open data delivery.” Afterwards, participants will “collectively ideate and co-design a question-sourcing effort that can benefit all New Yorkers: The 100 Questions NYC.” Panelists include Citisense CEO Starling Childs; Cuebiq program director Brennan Lake; Reboot co-founder and executive director Panthea Lee; and Adrienne Schmoeker, New York City Mayor's Office of Data Analytics. The panel will be moderated by the GovLab’s Co-Founder and Chief Research and Development Officer Stefaan Verhulst.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, a public workshop on the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar will be held by the New York City Economic Development Corporation in Williamsburg.

Wednesday, March 4
The State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli willl speak at the New York City Workforce Funders quarterly meeting. The meeting will bring together “leading workforce development and disability inclusion organizations to highlight promising partnerships that advance economic equality for New Yorkers with disabilities.”

At the City Council Wednesday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Environmental Protection will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Public Safety will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 1 p.m., the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will hold a preliminary budget hearing.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the New York Urban Land Institute’s Young Leaders Group will present a panel titled "Checking in on New York’s Growing Life Sciences Scene." Attendees will learn about “the investments that have been made in life sciences infrastructure & lab space across New York City” and “hear how industry heavyweights and successful start-ups are working to grow New York’s emerging life sciences industry.”

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the New York City Bar Association will present a panel titled "Incarceration and Detention: Examining the Mass Incarceration and Detention Privatization Movement and Implications for the Public's Health."

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, TransitCenter will hold a discussion titled “What Can Bus Operators Teach Us?” with transit workers and union leaders. Attendees will learn about the unique challenges of being a bus operator and what transit agencies can do to improve job quality in the midst of a nationwide transit operator shortage. Panelists include Dawn Distler, Executive Director at Akron Metro RTA; Keisha Farrell, Inreach Coordinator at Maryland Transit Administration; J.P. Patafio, Vice President at Transit Workers Union Local 100; and Nathan Vass, author of The Lines that Make Us and bus operator at King County Metro. The discussion will be moderated by Chris Van Eyken, Senior Program Associate at TransitCenter.

Thursday, March 5
At the City Council Thursday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Housing and Buildings will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 2 p.m., the Committee on Veterans will hold a preliminary budget hearing.

At 4 p.m. Thursday, the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York will host a workshop titled “Mapping Community Needs and Resources in New York City” as part of Open Data Week. The workshop will address topics such as “what types of institutions are needed for communities to thrive” how New Yorkers can “develop an asset-based approach to addressing specific community needs.”

At 4 p.m. Thursday, the Sustainability in the Urban Environment graduate program at the City College of New York will hold a seminar titled “Sustainability Uses of NYC Data” as part of Open Data Week. Participants can learn “from City Agency representatives about how NYC Open Data is collected, shared, and mobilized toward sustainability goals in New York. A panel of representatives from the Citywide Open Data, the Parks Department, and the Department of Environmental Protection will cover how to use Open Data, how they collect data, what is available, and how they use it toward implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies around the City.”

“The New York City Advisory Commission on Property Tax Reform announced that the first hearing following the release of its Preliminary Report will take place on Thursday, March 12 at 6:30 PM at the Petrides School Auditorium (C-Building) at 715 Ocean Terrace on Staten Island.”

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Brooklyn Law School will hold an Open Data Legal Forum as part of Open Data Week. The forum will first introduce “open legal data and review exciting efforts to open data in law and policy contexts.”

Friday, March 6 & the weekend
At the City Council Friday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Aging will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 12 p.m., the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 2 p.m., the Committee on Small Businesses will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 3:30 p.m., the Committee on Immigration will hold a preliminary budget hearing.

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

At 10 a.m. Friday, Congressman Gregory Meeks will lead a Congressional Field Hearing on “modern-day redlining: the burden of underbanked and excluded communities in New York” at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center. Topics of discussion include “large banking deserts in low-and moderate-income communities and communities of color, the Community Reinvestment Act, redlining and the Newsday report on Long Island.”

At 9 a.m. Saturday, BetaNYC and the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics will close out Open Data Week with the annual NYC School of Data Conference.

At 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Albany, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli will host the SOMOS 2020 Chairwoman’s Reception at the Times Union Center.

***
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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