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Citizens Union

Gotham Votes 2013

Ex-Quinn Aide Takes On Incumbent In 38th Council Race


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BROOKLYN — While South Brooklyn remained unreachable for many government and utility services in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, community groups in the 38th City Council District looked to themselves for answers.

But unlike some hard-hit areas, this wasn't the first time residents in the district – which includes parts of Bay Ridge Towers, Borough Park, Gowanus, Greenwood Heights, Red Hook, South Slope, Sunset Park, and Windsor Terrace – had seen a need for self-reliance. From transportation to community centers, from housing and education to crime, community groups in the area say the services available in the district are not equal to what is provided elsewhere.

“In a community of predominantly low-income people of color, there's always a lack of resources,” said Murad Awawdeh, an organizer with the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park, in a recent interview. He cited specific reductions in service such as the cancelling of the B37 bus in 2010 that was finally restored this May after a citizen-led effort to put pressure on elected officials.

It is this deficit of services in the district where Carlos Menchaca sees an opening to unseat incumbent Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez, 64, in the Democratic primary on Sept. 10.

Read more: Ex-Quinn Aide Takes On Incumbent In 38th Council Race

Latest De Blasio Endorser Voted Against Stop-And-Frisk Bills


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Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, hailed in some corners as the leading progressive candidate in the race, has landed an endorsement from an unexpected ally in the City Council.

Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile, who represents parts of southern Brooklyn like Bay Ridge that tend to vote more conservatively, announced his support for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio earlier today, calling De Blasio the outer-borough candidate that Brooklyn needs.

"Bill de Blasio understands what residents in southern Brooklyn need: strong neighborhood schools, safe streets, and local community health centers," Gentile said via a campaign statement today.

But while Gentile may be happy to endorse De Blasio, the two men disagree on one major policy front: policing. The councilman’s endorsement comes days before the City Council votes to override mayoral vetoes of bills to create an inspector general for the New York Police Department and strengthen the city's ban on racial profiling.

Read more: Latest De Blasio Endorser Voted Against Stop-And-Frisk Bills

Nation’s Largest Public-Access TV Network Launches Election Resource


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The largest public-access cable television network says it is working to give voters a “3D view” of this year’s elections in Manhattan.

Manhattan Neighborhood Network announced a new multi-platform guide to the election called Race2Represent. Candidates provided video statements for the project and the channel will be hosting debates for each of the races in collaboration with the League of Women Voters of the City of New York.

Read more: Nation’s Largest Public-Access TV Network Launches Election Resource

Event Of The Day: Co-op City Mayoral Forum


Many of the candidates for mayor have agreed to attend a forum tonight to discuss their vision for Co-op City, a development in the Bronx that houses over 40,000 residents.

The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

The hosts have confirmed Democrats Anthony Weiner, Bill de Blasio, Bill Thompson, John Liu, Erick Salgado and Sal Albanese, as well as independent Adolfo Carrion.

The event is scheduled to take place at the Dreiser Auditorium, located at 177 Dreiser Loop in the Bronx.

The forum is sponsored by Transit Forward, a transit riders and workers coalition, River Bay Corp., the company that manages Co-op City and the Co-op City Democratic Club.

For more mayoral forums and other events visit Gotham Gazette’s calendar.

Campaign Trail: Weekend Roundup


Vito Lopez's attempt to win a seat on the City Council was made more difficult after an underdog candidate dropped out. (New York Post)

Three major daily newspapers endorsed Scott Stringer for comptroller over Eliot Spitzer. (New York Times, New York Post, Daily News)

Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn attacks rival Bill de Blasio on his record on stop-and-frisk. (Daily News)

Quinn's wife said if her partner is elected as the first woman and openly gay mayor "it will change lives for young girls, it will change lives for LGBT people, and for New Yorkers, it will say a lot about the amazing place we live." (The Wall Street Journal)

TODAY: Candidate forum for the 50th City Council District race sponsored by Food Bank for New York City. (Gotham Gazette calendar)

 

Housing Woes In The 'New' Brooklyn


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BROOKLYN — Over a decade ago, Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene was often referred to as “Murder Avenue.” The street was filled with boarded up storefronts and its sidewalks littered with drug needles.

Today there are small boutiques and high-end diners along the thoroughfare — just some of the many signs that demonstrate how the neighborhood has joined the ranks of the economically resurgent “new Brooklyn.”

With the improvement in the quality of life in the 35th district — which includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and parts of Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant — has come an affordable housing crisis that the next City Council member will be challenged to tackle. The most recent data available from New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy indicates the rents increased nearly 26 percent between 2006 and 2009 in neighborhoods including Fort Greene.

A flood of money from real estate and developer interests into the 35th district Council race has highlighted the importance of housing to the district and stirred up tensions between at least two of the frontrunners for the seat being vacated by Letitia “Tish” James, who is running for public advocate.

The candidates for the 35th district include City Council staffer Ede Fox; Jelani Mashariki, the director of Pamoja House Men’s Shelter in Bedford-Stuyvesant; Laurie Cumbo, the founder of the Museum of Contemporary Diasporan Arts; attorney Richard Hurley; and former district leader Olanike Alabi.

Read more: Housing Woes In The 'New' Brooklyn

Campaign Trail: Public Advocate Candidates Debate


The candidates vying for the office of public advocate sparred in a televised debate (New York Daily News) (Photo: Instagram/juanmanyc)

New poll shows Bill de Blasio running "neck-and-neck" with Christine Quinn for the Democratic nomination for mayor (Capital New York)

Comptroller candidate Scott Stringer tried to run a saloon (The New York Times)

Mayoral hopefuls talk a lot about plans for education that are beyond the power of City Hall (Gotham Schools)

Which mayoral candidates have smoked weed? (Politicker)

 

Why Does The Public Advocate Matter?


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NEW YORK — Here’s one reason why the office of public advocate matters: the officeholder is one heartbeat away from running the city.

The office currently held by surging Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is widely considered the least powerful on a citywide level — but the person is also next in line to be mayor.

That may be good reason enough for New Yorkers to pay attention to who is running in the primary to fill the job that is often described as an ombudsman to City Hall. Voters will get a chance to hear from the cast of this election cycle’s candidates at a city-sponsored televised debate tonight.

Read more: Why Does The Public Advocate Matter? 

Why Voters Should Care About The Office Of Public Advocate


NEW YORK — Here’s one reason why the office of public advocate matters: the officeholder is one heartbeat away from running the city.

The office currently held by surging Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is widely considered the least powerful on a citywide level — but the person is also second in line to be mayor.

That may be good reason enough for New Yorkers to pay attention to who is running in the primary to fill the job that is often described as an ombudsman to City Hall. Voters will get a chance to hear from the cast of this election cycle’s candidates at a city-sponsored televised debate tonight.

The candidates include Democratic Party wunderkind state Sen. Daniel Squadron; Letitia James, currently the City Council member for the 35th district of Brooklyn; political newcomer Cathy Guerriero; former Deputy Public Advocate Reshma Saujani; and police advisor Sadiqui Wai.

The office of public advocate has few powers and a small budget. Even it's position in the line of succession betrays the actual relevance that the office plays in the city's policy making. While a public advocate certainly has some appointment powers and can introduce legislation — not vote — to the Council, it has no independently funded budget.

But the position does play one big role in city politics. As Capital New York's Dana Rubinstein writes, even though it's not written into the charter, a public advocate "may use it to establish a public profile and a record in citywide office that forms the basis of a run for mayor."

Whether or not any of this year's candidates for public advocate aspire to higher office, they have to get to the office first. And with five notable candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, the September primary might be a close one.

So close, even, that the city's Campaign Finance Board ruled in favor of a request by Squadron to allow candidates to accept up to $2,475 in donations for a possible two-way run-off. The board also released public matching funds for the primary: Squadron got nearly $200,000, followed by Saujani’s with nearly $180,000. James received $25,000.

The first and only poll of the race seems to indicate it will be a close race. A late June Marist College poll found James and Guerriero statistically tied for the lead at 17 and 16 percent, with Squadron and Saujani trailing with 8 and 4 percent, respectively.

Event Of The Day: 19th City Council District Debate


Six candidates vying for disgraced former City Councilman Dan Halloran's seat in the 19th district of Queens are expected at a debate tonight.

The Democratic contenders include lawyer Paul Vallone, former Assemblyman John Duane, former state Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran, urban planner Paul Graziano and former Halloran chief of staff Chrissy Voskerichian. The lone Republican in the race is lawyer Dennis Saffran.

The race for the seat was blown wide open when Halloran, a Republican, announced in May that he would not be seeking a second term following his arrest on allegations that he was involved in a bribery scandal.

Shafran is leading the fundraising race with Vallone, Duane, Saffran trailing close behind and Graziano and Voskerichian far in the background.

The issues within the district can all be folded into the phrase "quality of life": public safety, education, zoning, overdevelopment.

The forum will be held at the Temple Beth Sholom at 171-39 Northern Blvd. in Flushing, Queens. It's expected to run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The forum is co-sponsored by Gotham Gazette's sister organization, Citizens Union, as well as the MinKwon Center, Flushing Jewish Community Council and Korean Community Services.

For more elections events visit Gotham Gazette’s calendar.



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