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Containing Coronavirus; Council Speaker's State of the City; City Budget Hearings; Early Voting for Queens BP; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 9

New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

The week begins with continued focus on the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in New York, with more cases confirmed in the city and state, and new guidance from government leaders as they try to contain the virus’ spread without taking drastic measures. On Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency, allowing the state to suspend certain rules around procurement, personnel, and facilities, while also unlocking new powers given to the governor by recent legislation whereby the Legislature also approved a $40 million emergency appropriation to fight the virus.

On Sunday afternoon, Cuomo announced 16 additional cases since his last update, bringing the statewide total to 105 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 82 are in Westchester, 12 in New York City, and 6 on Long Island. Cuomo also called on the federal government to expedite “approval of private labs and automated and manual testing to expand New York State's testing capacity. He also encouraged New Yorkers to work from home, telecommute and avoid densely populated spaces whenever possible to help contain the spread of the virus.”

Cuomo was able to announce some results from his advocacy on Sunday evening: "After days of advocating the FDA and the federal government to expand testing capacity for the novel coronavirus in New York State and working with Northwell and Wadsworth to expedite the process, we just received word that Northwell Laboratories has been authorized to test under Wadsworth's emergency use authorization. Manual testing of 75 to 80 samples per day will begin at Northwell immediately, but we still need automated testing approved so we can perform thousands per day. While this approval is a good first step, the FDA must increase the testing capacity for the State and private labs, because the more tests we run, the more positive people we will find and the better we can control and contain the virus. It's one thing for the federal government not to have the testing capacity in place themselves - that was bad enough - but there's no excuse for them not to be authorizing existing labs to do the work."

Mayor de Blasio gave similar new guidance on Sunday, while announcing that the city’s total confirmed number of cases is now 13, though the city and state appear to be slightly different in their accounting of at least one patient who is from Westchester but being treated in the city.

“As we continue to see community transmission between people who have no direct connection to travel to one of the affected countries, we are asking New Yorkers to adjust their routines to stem the spread of the virus where they can," de Blasio said in a statement. “I cannot reiterate enough that if you feel sick, stay home; we need every New Yorker to do their part to keep their neighbors safe.”

Along with working from home/telecommuting and avoiding large gatherings when possible, de Blasio asked New Yorkers to stop shaking hands, try to avoid packed subway cars, use alternate modes of transportation, and alter their work schedules to reduce rush hour density.

“The City has ordered local government workers to cancel all non-essential international travel, effective immediately,” the administration announced, and for the most vulnerable people, said: “The City is advising those with chronic lung disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or a weakened immune system to avoid unnecessary events and gatherings. If you have family or friends who have one of these conditions, do not visit them if you feel sick.”

The city is adding nurses to school buildings and working to ensure every school has enough supplies for cleaning, proper personal hygiene, and other measures. And the city is starting to offer zero-interest loans to small businesses (under 100 employees) that have seen a 25% or more drop in revenue as the coronavirus has spread.

New Yorkers can call 311 for more information and/or text COVID to 692-692 for regular text message updates.

Meanwhile, the city and state are attempting to continue with most business as usual. A variety of government (and non-government) events appear to be continuing on as scheduled, including City Council hearings on de Blasio’s preliminary budget plan and two days of legislative session in Albany, where a state budget is due by April 1. And, the early voting period is set to begin this coming Saturday in the special election for Queens Borough President, which has an election day of March 24, while the 2020 Census officially begins on Thursday. Council Speaker Corey Johnson is set to give his 2020 State of the City address on Thursday at noon.

See our day-by-day rundown of events below. But, please watch for event cancellations given new COVID-19 guidances and any other precautions that institutions may take -- try to confirm any political events, including those listed below, before you head to them.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events 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?
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 9
On Monday Mayor de Blasio will appear on NY1’s Mornings on 1 at 7 a.m., then on CNN Newsroom at 9:45 a.m.. He'll hold a media availability on COVID-19 at 1:30 p.m. from the city's emergency management office in Brooklyn. And in the 7 and 11 p.m. hours, he'll appear on NY1’s Inside City Hall with Errol Louis.

Governor Cuomo will make an announcement at 11 a.m. from Albany.

Preliminary budget hearings continue at the City Council Monday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Transportation will hold a hearing, along with the Subcommittee on Capital Budget, hearing from representatives of the MTA and the city Department of Transportation.
--At 2 p.m., the Committee on Hospitals will hear from representatives of the city’s public hospital system, New York City Health + Hospitals.

At 2:30 p.m. Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will hold a “press conference with elected leaders and clergy members to coordinate borough-wide response to COVID-19,” at Brooklyn Borough Hall. At 5:30 p.m. Adams will appear on News12 BK’s “Ask the BP.”

At 4 p.m. Monday, the New York State Board of Regents, led by Regent Elizabeth S. Hakanson, will hold the latest in its series of public sessions to review New York State graduation requirements, at the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES in New Hartford.

At 6:30 p.m., the Brooklyn Historical Society will hold a panel titled “When Pregnancy is a Death Sentence: Race and Reproductive Healthcare.” The panel will address the high maternal mortality rates among black women and racial inequality in maternal healthcare. Panelists include Ancient Song Doula Services founder Chanel Porchia-Albert, historian Deirdre Cooper Owens, and Assistant Commissioner of NYC’s Health Department Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health Deborah Kaplan. The panel will be moderated by Dana Davis, author of Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth.

Tuesday March 10
The State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Center for an Urban Future will hold a policy forum titled “Boosting Low Income Entrepreneurs in Manhattan.” The forum will “explore the opportunity to increase the number of low-income entrepreneurs and examine how to ensure that more of the New Yorkers from low-income backgrounds who do turn to entrepreneurship have the tools and resources to succeed.” Speakers include Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Ms. Mac’s West Indian Food founder Sarah Adams, Highlo Barber founder Angela Elizalde, and more.

At 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, the Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center will hold a seminar titled “The Impact of Food on Academic Behavior, Attendance, Performance and Attrition” in the college’s auditorium. Speakers include Professor Cara Cuite of the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University; Professor Andrea Deierlein of the School of Global Public Health at New York University; Professor Christina Fernandez of the Department of Pediatrics at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center; Principal Kevin Froner of Manhattan Hunter Science High School; and Dr. Amy Schwartz, a pediatric neuropsychologist. The seminar will be moderated by Dr. Charles Platkin.

Regent Judith Chin will hold two public sessions on the Board of Regents’ review of New York State graduation requirements in Queens on Tuesday. The first session is at 9 a.m. at the Helen Marshall Cultural Center in the Queens Borough Hall Atrium. The second session is at 5:30 p.m. at York College.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the New York City Board of Corrections will hold its monthly public meeting.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Association for a Better New York will hold a policy brief on OMNY, the MTA's new fare payment system, with Sana Arshad, Program Manager, Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. Ms. Arshad will “discuss the ins and outs of the system and the role of technology in NYC transit.”

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Queens, the New York City Economic Development Corporation will host another in a series of public workshops to discuss the progress of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar. The public workshops “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, City & State NY will hold the 2020 Law Power 100 Reception at the Ainsworth in Chelsea. City & State will “highlight New York’s 100 most influential lawyers with the Law Power 100 list, identifying and ranking New York’s legal leaders based on their achievements, track record and sway in political and policy matters.” Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz and NYC Corporation Counsel James E. Johnson will serve as guest speakers.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and The School of Media Studies at The New School will co-facilitate a panel on “The Future of Local News.” Speakers include David Cruz, Editor-in-Chief, Norwood News; Alyssa Katz, Deputy Editor, The City; Steve Waldman, President & Co-Founder, Report for America; and Liena Zagare, Publisher & Editor, BKLYNER. NY1 Anchor Pat Kiernan will moderate.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Vera Institute of Justice will jointly hold a discussion titled “Girls Behind Bars: A Historic Wrong and the Fight to End It.” The discussion will address the intersections of racial and gender discrimination against young women in the juvenile court system. Speakers include Vera project director Lindsay Rosenthal; National Black Women’s Justice director Dr. Sydney McKinney; associate professor of applied psychology at New York University Dr. Shabnam Javdani; associate professor of history and Africana studies at the University of Delaware Dr. Cheryl D. Hicks; and social justice activist Cali JordanGotay. WNYC investigative reporter Cindy Rodriguez will moderate the discussion.

Wednesday March 11
The State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.

At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Regional Plan Association will facilitate a discussion titled “Remedies to Address Combined Sewer Overflows and Stormwater Pollution in NYC Waterways.” Speakers will “broadly discuss different parts of the city’s water system infrastructure, [with] particular emphasis on stormwater infrastructure and sustainable practices for water quality management, including efforts promoting the use of green infrastructure.” Speakers include Shino Tanikawa, New York City Soil and Water Conservation District; Julie Welch, SWIM Coalition NYC; and Mike Dulong, Riverkeeper.

On Wednesday on Staten Island, Regent Christine Cea will host two public sessions in the ongoing series by the Board of Regents on New York State high school graduation requirements. The first session will take place at 9 a.m. and the second session will take place at 5:30 p.m.

At the City Council Wednesday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Economic Development will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 10 a.m., the Subcommittee on Zonings and Franchises will meet.
--At 1 p.m., the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions will meet.

At 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Queens Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual St. Patrick's Day Luncheon Celebration. Special Guests and honorees include NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and Dan "Dee" Tubridy of the Bungalow Bar.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, this week’s Max & Murphy show will air on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or, and feature a discussion of the Queens Borough President special election, just ahead of early voting set to begin on Saturday and the official election day of March 24.

At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Rochester, Regent Wade Norwood will host a public review of New York State high school graduation requirements.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Waterfront Alliance, in partnership with the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP), will hold an interactive public workshop on the future of the Brooklyn waterfront, hosted at Brooklyn Borough Hall. The meeting will be “the first in a series of borough-specific workshops, which are a key opportunity for the public to learn about and engage in key waterfront issues, promote equity and environmental justice, and to actively inform the next NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan.”

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Civil Complaint Review Board will hold a public meeting at the town hall of Bronx Community Board 12.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, New York State Attorney General Letitia James will hold a Community Conversation in Jamaica with Queens Council Members Adrienne E. Adams, I. Daneek Miller, and Donovan Richards. Participants will first hear “a discussion on local topics that matter most to [them], followed by a Q&A.”

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Transportation Alternatives, Riders Alliance, and the Queens transportation advocacy community will hold a Transit Forum for the Queens Borough President candidates. Candidates will have an opportunity to “share where they stand on a range of transportation issues important to you, including how to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, how their office will work to improve transit through the borough, and other hot transportation topics.” The event will be co-moderated by Christine Chung, Queens Reporter for The City; and Joby Jacob, Ph.D,  assistant professor at LaGuardia Community College.

Thursday March 12
At 8:30 a.m. Thursday, the Manhattan Institute will host “Public Safety in an Era of Criminal Justice Reform.” “Manhattan Institute senior fellow Jason Riley will join Harvard University’s Roland Fryer to discuss the diverse set of concerns driving America’s debate on criminal justice, followed by a discussion with police chiefs and leading academics on the front lines of these reforms.”

At noon Thursday, "New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will deliver his second annual State of the City address at CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) in Lower Manhattan."

At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer will hold a Women’s History Month Celebration at the American Museum of Natural History. The event will honor three women: Radical Health founder and CEO Ivelyse Andino; Alliance of Families for Justice director Soffiyah Elijah; and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, the Association for a Better New York will hold “Get Out the Count: A Benefit to Support ABNY's Census 2020 Initiatives” at Katz’s Delicatessen. ABNY will honor three individuals “for their work to ensure the most accurate count”: New York State Attorney General Letitia James, president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Dr. Steve J. Corwin, and president of the United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew. This event has been postponed.

Friday March 13 & the Weekend
Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC at 10 a.m. Friday.

At the City Council Friday:
--At 10 a.m., the Committee on Parks and Recreation will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 10:30 a.m., the Committee on Immigration will hold a preliminary budget hearing.
--At 1:00 p.m., the Committee on Public Housing will hold a preliminary budget hearing.

At 12:30 p.m. Friday, the Museum of the City of New York will host “College Basketball and NYC: The Remarkable Journey.” The event will be “an afternoon of lively conversations moderated by sportscaster Dave Popkin about Madison Square Garden, aka “The Mecca” of college basketball; the BIG EAST Tournament as the nation’s longest-running postseason college basketball tournament at the same venue; and some of the many great players and coaches that have played at both the conference and at MSG.” This is the opening program for City/Game: Basketball in New York.

Beginning Saturday, March 14 (through Sunday, March 22) select sites in Queens will offer early voting for the Special Election for Borough President, which will also take place the election day of Tuesday, March 24.

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

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