New York City Hall
What to watch for this week in New York politics:
The week begins with Mayor Bill de Blasio again returning from a trip to an early presidential primary state as he continues to tease a potential run for president. He’s not a candidate at this time but he’s not ruling it out, he regularly says. This weekend he was in New Hampshire, after a trip to South Carolina last weekend, and Iowa before that. De Blasio has also repeatedly said he will decide on whether to enter the Democratic primary fray sooner rather than later, which would, one assumes, mean fairly soon.
Meanwhile, the City Council will continue this week to examine the mayor’s $92.2 billion preliminary budget, with another series of committee hearings.
More pressingly, Monday marks just two weeks until a state budget is due on April 1. The Legislature will be in session in Albany three days this week, with public and private budget negotiations expected among representatives of Governor Cuomo, the Senate majority, and the Assembly majority. It’s unclear when Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie may meet themselves.
Key issues on the table include exactly how much to spend and on what, which revenue-raising policies to keep/add/end/enhance (like a new pied-á-terre tax), and specific issues like marijuana legalization, congestion pricing and MTA reform, criminal justice reform, environmental and energy policy, campaign finance and ethics reforms. Cuomo has said he won’t approve of a budget that doesn’t include criminal justice reforms (to bail, speedy trial, and discovery) and a permanent 2% cap on annual property tax increases everywhere outside New York City, which has been exempt to the current cap, which expires in 2020. The Senate has approved of the cap, the Assembly has not, but Heastie has not explicitly said the Assembly is against doing it — it appears it may be more of a bargaining item at this point. Cuomo, who continues to criticize Senate Democrats for the loss of the Amazon deal, has said that he and the legislative majorities are further apart on marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform than legislators have indicated.
Also to watch are the extension of mayoral control of New York City schools, which isn’t due to expire until June, but could be done in the budget, perhaps with tweaks to the system to empower local communities and parents, and the cap on charter schools — all of the slots allowed in New York City under the current cap have now been filled — among additional issues that are at times flying under the radar. As usual, state school aid to localities is a key topic of negotiation, as well as health care funding, namely through Medicaid, again from the state to localities.
We’re also watching this week as the 2019 Charter Revision Commission continues to do its work, hearing from experts on various focus areas and considering proposals to change the city charter. Whatever the commission decides is worthy of possible change to the charter, the city’s foundational legal document, will go before voters in November.
There are a variety of events to be aware of this week – see our day-by-day rundown below.
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The run of the week in detail:
The New York State Legislature will be in session on Monday in Albany.
There will be a preliminary budget hearing Monday at the City Council on health at 10 a.m., regarding the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Medical Examiner.
Also at the City Council on Monday:
–The Committee on Small Business will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss several proposed laws, including laws requiring SBS to perform an assessment of the “state of storefront businesses” in the city every five years, requiring developments receiving city financial assistance to provide affordable retail space, providing legal services to small business owners facing eviction, and requiring property owners to register vacant storefronts with the city.
–The Committees on Oversight & Investigations and Economic Development will meet jointly at 1 p.m. for an oversight hearing regarding the New York Works jobs plan.
–The Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions will meet at 1 p.m.
At noon Monday, the Association for a Better New York will host MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber for a lunch discussion on “rebuilding and expanding New York’s transit system to make it faster, better, and more affordable.” The event will take place at CBRE’s Midtown offices at 200 Park Avenue.
At 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, the 2019 Charter Revision Commission will hold its fifth “issues forum” featuring experts on the specific focus topic at hand and potential charter revisions. This forum will focus on the city’s governance and elections, with topics to include the role of the Public Advocate and the “appointment and removal powers of city officials.”
At 6:30 p.m. Monday, U.S. Rep. Max Rose will hold a town hall meeting at St. Philips Baptist Church in Port Richmond, Staten Island.
The New York State Legislature will be in session on Tuesday in Albany.
At noon Tuesday, the New York State Board of Elections will hold a commissioners’ meeting in Albany.
The following City Council committees will hold preliminary budget hearings on Tuesday:
–Public Safety at 10 a.m., regarding the NYPD and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
–Justice System and Public Safety jointly at 2:30 p.m., regarding district attorneys, the special narcotics prosecutor, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the Office of Civil Justice, and legal aid.
Also at the City Council on Tuesday:
–The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will meet at 9:30 a.m.
–The Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses will meet at noon.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the MTA will host the third of four open houses for community members regarding the “revised” L-train rehab project. This open house will take place at the Grand Street Campus High School in Williamsburg.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Association for a Better New York will host City Planning Commission Chair Marisa Lago at a happy hour at the Beekman Pub in the Financial District. Lago “will discuss her career path, experience as the City Planning Commissioner Chair, and vision for New York City.”
The New York State Legislature will be in session on Wednesday in Albany.
The following City Council committees will hold preliminary budget hearings on Wednesday:
–Education at 10 a.m., regarding the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority.
–Immigration at 2 p.m., regarding the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the state’s Census commission will hold the third of six public hearings to discuss the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census and the myriad related issues. The hearing will take place at SUNY Sullivan in Loch Sheldrake, Sullivan County.
At 9 a.m. Thursday, City & State will host its 2019 “Diversity Summit” at National Geographic Encounter in Midtown. Leaders in government, business, and academia will discuss diversity within civic spaces. Keynote remarks will be delivered by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez. Other speakers include State Senator James Sanders; City Council Members Robert Cornegy, Helen Rosenthal, and Rafael Salamanca; Lourdes Zapata, Chief Diversity Officer in the Governor’s office; Jonnel Doris, Director of the Mayor’s Office of MWBE; Victor Calise, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities; Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services; Michael Garner, Chief Diversity Officer for the MTA; Lorraine Grillo, President of the School Construction Authority; and others.
At 9 a.m. Thursday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer will host an “Irish Heritage Breakfast” at his offices in the Manhattan Municipal Building.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, the 2019 Charter Revision Commission will hold its sixth “issues forum” at City Hall to discuss potential charter revisions. This forum will focus on the city’s land use process.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will hold a public hearing at the Cooper Union to hear from Manhattan residents on the issue of congestion pricing.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Assemblymember Latrice Walker, State Senator Zellnor Myrie, and the Let NY Vote coalition will host “The New York Voting Rights Agenda: The Challenges Ahead” at Brooklyn Law School. The speakers will discuss the reforms recently passed by the state and other reforms that have yet to pass, including automatic registration, codifying the restoration of voting rights to felons into state law, and reenacting the protections afforded by the Voting Rights Act.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez will hold a community town hall meeting at the Manny Cantor Center on the Lower East Side.
Friday and the weekend
Mayor de Blasio may make his weekly appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show Friday morning at 10 a.m.
The following City Council committees will hold preliminary budget hearings on Friday:
–Housing and Buildings at 10 a.m., regarding the Department of Buildings.
–Housing & Buildings and Capital Budget jointly at 11 a.m., regarding the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
–Public Housing and Capital Budget jointly at 2 p.m., regarding NYCHA.
At 1 p.m. Friday, the Senate Standing Committees on Corporations and Transportation and the Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation will meet jointly at Onondaga Community College for a public hearing regarding the effectiveness of the state’s transit network in Syracuse.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, U.S. Rep. Max Rose will hold a town hall meeting at Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
by Ben Brachfeld and Ben Max