INSIDE ANDREA STEWARTCOUSINS’ LEADERSHIP PAGE 6 SPECIAL SPOTLIGHT: HEALTH CARE & HOSPITALS PAGE 18 DEEPAK CHOPRA REVEALS IF POLITICS CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY PAGE 27
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BALLOT WE COVER THE ELECTION. WHY NOT COVER THE VOTERS? A NEW SERIES
MAYOR FOR LIFE There weren’t tears died right before he reached until the end. Not until the the Promised Land, Ed died organist’s dirge became hours before the documenrecognizable as “New York, tary about him opened in New York” as the colossal theaters. Leave it to Ed to find the best coffin floated way to maxiout of Temple mize publicity Emanu-El on for a film about the shoulders of his life.” six of the city’s Since Koch’s Finest did it passing in the seem to dawn early hours of upon the crowd Feb. 1, everythat the man we where I have had somehow gone in the a s s u m e d , Morgan Pehme city I have overagainst reason, EDITOR would live forever was gone. Up until that moment the funeral of Edward I. Koch had been a riotous, unsentimental affair—just the type of farewell the mayor would have enjoyed to the hilt. Koch’s longtime law partner, James Gill, recalled how in Koch’s post-mayoral years, passersby would often stop him in the street and implore him to run again for the good of the city. “No!” Koch would respond unequivocally. “The people threw me out, and now the people must be punished!” Former President Bill Clinton, who cut short a trip to Asia to attend the service, quipped, “Yesterday I flew home from Japan after spending eight hours there. I think it was Ed Koch’s last gift to me, because, you know, you pick up a whole day when you come back from Japan, and at our age every day counts.” And after comparing Koch to Moses—“with a little less hair”—for leading the city in its exodus from degradation and despair, Mayor Bloomberg observed, “Just as Moses
heard recollections of what he meant to New Yorkers whose lives he touched— whether he knew them or not. I was born the year Koch was first elected, 1978, and though he gave me a proclamation on the steps of City Hall when I was in grade school, it wasn’t until three years ago that I got to know the mayor as anything other than the legend. As an aide to Koch’s dear friend Henry Stern, I had the great fortune to pick up the phone four or five times a day as Koch called Stern to plot their “Uprising,” to announce his decision to endorse Bob Turner, to tell him about the bridge renaming or simply to debate what movie they should review. For the privilege of playing receptionist to history, I shall always be in Henry’s debt. In recent days a treasure trove of eloquence has been bestowed upon the man who always had le mot juste at the ready, but it was a statement from Rep. Peter King that summed up best the sentiments of the 8.4 million of us who mourn him: “New York’s mayor for life is now New York’s mayor for eternity.”
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AROUND NEW YORK The best items from The Notebook, City & State’s political blog City & State’s political blog, The Notebook, is your key source for political and campaign developments in New York. Stay on top of the news with items like these at www.cityandstateny.com/thenotebook. MANHATTAN Manhattan borough president candidate Julie Menin (below) is leaving no potential constituency untouched in her quest for votes. At what the campaign said was the seventh “Menin Meet-up” in a week, the former Community Board 1 chair addressed an unusual assembly of supporters: chess players. Menin became active in the chess world through her three sons, all of whom play chess competitively, and the “friend-raiser,” hosted by former United States Chess Federation President Beatriz Marinello, brought together grandmasters, international masters and some of the city’s top scholastic players for an introduction to the candidate and, for the children, the opportunity to participate in a simultaneous chess exhibition. “In chess we have a slogan— gens una sumus—which in Latin means ‘We’re a family,’ ” Marinello said. “The chess community is a family; we’re all part of it—players, parents, coaches, children—so I think it’s important that when one of our own is running for such an important position like Manhattan borough president, that we support her.”
BROOKLYN In front of his Park Slope row home, with a solid crowd of supporters braving the subfreezing weather and waving newly printed red “de Blasio for Mayor” signs, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (right, top) officially announced his intention to run for mayor. He joins former City Comptroller Bill
Thompson and former City Councilman Sal Albanese as the only Democrats to formally declare their candidacy thus far. De Blasio wasted no time in revving up some sharp campaign rhetoric, going after Mayor Michael Bloomberg (below, bottom) for his “elitist” policies and firing shots at his rival Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker. Without mentioning Quinn by name, he cited inaction on paid sick leave legislation and the “backroom deal” that allowed Bloomberg to serve a third term, which Quinn helped facilitate by shepherding a change to the law through the Council. “There are some who believe that Mayor Bloomberg’s policies from the last 12 years just need to be tweaked here and there, and that his vision should continue more or less uninterrupted for the next four years,” de Blasio said. “There are others who practice a politics of the moment, who are heroic in election years but not engaged in the fight to save our neighborhoods when their names aren’t on the ballot. I have a different point of view; I will be a mayor for our neighborhoods every day.”
ALBANY A parade of mayors visited the
state Legislature to share with lawmakers their concerns about rising pension costs and balancing their own city’s finances. Mayor Michael Bloomberg avoided directly criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (below) pension rate plan for local governments, which would reduce near-term employer payments but require higher contributions in later years. The city doesn’t postpone pension costs as a general policy, the mayor said: “Postponing down the road, with expenses that you have every year, is not a good policy. Some years, investment returns can be negative, and that can happen when pension costs go up.” Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards said he was open to studying the budget proposal, but Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner (above) was more apprehensive in her testimony, asking whether her city would actually end up saving money if it defers its payments. “The near-term savings are calculated on events in the future that may not occur,” she said during her testimony. “I am concerned that in the first five years of this plan we may be financing another liability that we may not be able to pay.”
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www.cityandstateny.com | February 11, 2013
THE FOOTNOTE: A real press release, annotated Tweeted at 3:27 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28, from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press office
The plan, passed last year, increases employee contributions, raises the retirement age and cuts benefits—but only for new employees. The new pension tier is projected to save more than $80 billion over 30 years.
The governor may not be able to offer that choice, as Comptroller Tom DiNapoli would have to approve the plan first. “I don’t think borrowing is the most fiscally responsible way to approach this problem,” said Miner, who is also the governor’s handpicked state Democratic Party co-chair. Mahoney, who supported Cuomo’s run for governor, is one of his go-to Republicans for bipartisan appointments and statements of support. The governor put her on his transition team, the New York Power Authority board and his Moreland Commission investigating utilities after Superstorm Sandy.
JOINT STATEMENT FROM LOCAL LEADERS ACROSS NEW YORK STATE ON GOVERNOR CUOMO’S TIER VI SAVINGS PLAN This year the Governor’s executive budget builds on the foundation of last year’s pension reform and state takeover of Medicaid increases, with a budget that reforms workers compensation, binding arbitration and implements many key recommendations from the Mandate Relief Council. On top of these reforms, which will save us hundreds of millions of dollars, the proposed executive budget gives localities the option to realize new and immediate savings on our pension obligations through a Tier VI savings plan. This plan gives us a common sense choice: establish a stable flat rate for pension payments for the next several years, allowing us to take advantage of Tier VI savings today, instead of having to wait years for them to kick in. This isn’t a one-size fits all top down mandate; it’s a choice that can help New York’s Counties save over $1.8 billion and Cities over $630 million over the next five years. Opponents that would deny our counties and cities the right to make this responsible choice would only continue the years of inaction we have seen from the State in the past. While there is more to be done, this budget proposal continues a real commitment by Albany to deliver real mandate relief to our local governments. Nassau County County Executive Edward Mangano Suffolk County Executive, Steve Bellone Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney Ulster County Executive, Mike Hein Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Kenneth Jenkins Glens Fall Mayor John Diamond Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster Rome Mayor Joe Fusco Oswego Mayor Thomas Gillen Oneonta Mayor Richard Miller Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia Elmira Mayor Susan Skidmore Jamestown Mayor Samuel Teresi Olean Mayor Linda Witte Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward Norwich Mayor Joseph Maiurano Johnstown Mayor Sarah Slingerland Herkimer County Board of Legislators Minority Leader John Brezinski Essex County Board of Supervisor Chairman Randy Douglas Schenectady County Legislature Chairwoman Judith Dagos tino
FEBRUARY 11, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Others have raised concerns about borrowing against future savings, including State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner. One local leader who didn’t sign on is Orange County Executive Edward Diana, the president of the New York State Association of Counties. “This budget builds on the long-term mandate relief achievements of the last two years, but counties need some shorter-term relief,” he said.
The bipartisan list includes 39 local officials, but only seven are Republicans.
Troy would save a projected $11.9 million over five years. Nassau County and Suffolk County would each save over $300 million, far more than any other counties.
BY THE NUMBERS How are women doing in New York politics? Council Speaker Christine Quinn is currently leading the pack for mayor in New York City, state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins recently became the first female conference leader in Albany, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing for women’s rights legislation. But in terms of getting into elected office, women are still lagging behind men in the state—and they didn’t gain any ground last fall.
U.S. SENATE (NEW YORK DELEGATION) 2012 Men: 1 Women: 1 2013 Men: 1 Women: 1 U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (NEW YORK DELEGATION) 2012 Men: 20 Women: 9 2013 Men: 20 Women: 7 STATE SENATE 2012 Men: 51 Women: 11 2013 Men: 52 Women: 11 STATE ASSEMBLY 2012 Men: 114 Women: 36 2013 Men: 114 Women: 36 NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL 2013 Total: 51 Men: 33* Women: 18
LEGEND Men Women
*ALTHOUGH THE SEAT OF FORMER CITY COUNCILMAN JAMES SANDERS IS EMPTY, IT IS COUNTED HERE AS A SEAT HELD BY A MAN.
THE KICKER: A CHOICE QUOTE FROM CITY & STATE ’S FIRST READ EMAIL “You know how I became governor . . . Let’s just say it was the best sex I ever had—and I wasn’t even there!” —Former Gov. David Paterson joking about his ascension to governor at the expense of Eliot Spitzer, who became embroiled in a prostitution scandal, via the New York Post
Presents A Day of Candid Conversations with New York City’s Government and Thought Leaders
Thursday, February 28, 2013 Session 1: Public Safety
Peter Vallone Chair of Public Safety Committee, New York City Council
(9:00 AM – 10:15 AM)
George Kelling Manhattan Institute
Additional Panalest TBD
Session 2: Real Estate/Land Use Policy
Rick Bell Executive Director, AIA New York
Seth Pinsky President, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Session 3: State of Labor
(10:30 AM – 11:45 AM )
Robert LiMandri Commissioner, Department of Buildings
(12:00 PM – 1:00 PM)
Moderator: Nick Powell, Reporter, City & State Panel TBA For more information and to learn about sponsorship opportunities please contact us at 646-442-1662 or firstname.lastname@example.org CITY&STATE
www.cityandstateny.com | February 11, 2013
The Lady In Waiting
Andrew Stewart-Cousins has already made history, but can she rescue the Democrats from themselves?
very vote counts—but some count more than others. Some lawmakers know firsthand the rigors of a protracted recount that comes down to a handful of ballots and a little luck. That very experience taught the state Senate Democrats’ new Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to value every vote—and each and every member of her conference. So it was with great anticipation and relief that, on a subfreezing afternoon in Albany, StewartCousins and her colleagues welcomed their conference’s 27th and final member, Cecilia Tkaczyk, who after a harrowing three-month-long recount had finally prevailed. One by one Democratic senators sauntered into the chamber, chatting with one another or checking their phones before the session began. A cozy group, they clustered around one another’s desks to catch up on gossip or make plans for dinner. Across the chamber, where a governing majority of Republicans and breakaway Democrats sits, the room was largely empty. Stewart-Cousins entered the Senate just before 3 p.m., her eyes darting around the room to see whom she could greet. She wore a slate gray wool dress accented with pearls and a dark leopard print silk scarf that snaked around her shoulders like a Hudson River tributary. Tkaczyk sat patiently in the Senate sergeant at arms’ office, located in an alcove to the side of the chamber, as 6
FEBRUARY 11, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
her colleagues awaited her official swearing-in. Only the day before, election workers had opened the final batch of 99 outstanding ballots, which would secure Tkaczyk an 18-vote victory over her Republican challenger, George Amedore. When Tkaczyk finally stepped onto the floor and took the oath of office, her colleagues rose and applauded. Stewart-Cousins stood behind them smiling, then stepped aside as a cadre of photographers swarmed Tkaczyk and her family, capturing their triumphant moment. As her son squinted at the flashes, Tkaczyk excused herself, saying, “I have to go find my seat.” Stewart-Cousins marveled at the long-awaited addition of another member to her conference. “Eighteen votes is poetic justice,” she said. “I’ve been on the other side of those 18.”
tewart-Cousins’ offices are immaculate. Her district office in Yonkers contains only a few mementos from her days as a county legislator in Westchester and early campaigns for state Senate. Her two Albany offices—one a snug hideaway on the third floor of the State Capitol, the other a spacious corner office on the ninth floor of the Legislative Office Building—have desks, leather couches for lounging and soft, pale gray carpeting. She prefers her ninth floor office to the one in the
Capitol. “I think this is a little more comfortable,” she said. “I want people to feel comfortable when they come and speak with me. And the members are here. It’s convenient for them.” Stewart-Cousins’ fellow conference members feel comfortable with her too, praising her personality and vaunting the historic nature of her position. “She’s the first woman to ever lead a legislative conference in New York State history. That’s a big deal,” said state Sen. Mike Gianaris, the Democrats’ second-in-command. “She brings a very dignified presence to the conference. Her instincts are very good, and she’s a unifier. The conference is very much unified behind her.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had campaigned with Stewart-Cousins before he was elected attorney general and governor, called her a “very competent, able person” and said it is “exciting” that Democrats have picked the first female leader in state history. Even her colleagues on the other side of the chamber praised the Democrats’ selection of their conference leader—something they haven’t always done. “Andrea Stewart-Cousins is universally liked and respected by her Senate colleagues,” Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos said in an email. “She was an outstanding choice to lead the Democratic conference, and she seems to be adjusting very well to her new role. Andrea knows that my door is always open to her, and I
ALL PHOTOS: AP PHOTO/MIKE GROLL
By AARON SHORT
PERSONALITIES will continue to work hard to ensure she has a voice in the important work we’re doing in the state Senate.” Democratic state Sen. Liz Krueger, thinks StewartCousins’ selection may someday spur change through the entire Legislature. “I hope it’s going to spark a culture shift in the Capitol, which is still very much a boys’ club,” Krueger said. “She’s also the first Democratic conference leader in about a century whose district lies entirely outside the New York City limits—and that, I think, also reflects where our conference is going.” It took 20 years for Stewart-Cousins to get there. She was born and raised in New York, attended Pace University and earned a teaching certificate in business education from Lehman College. But in 1992 she veered into government service when she took a job as director of community affairs for the City of Yonkers, where she created art walks and a citywide celebration known as “Riverfest.” Three years later she made her first bid for elected office, taking on a powerful county Democrat in a primary. Much to the surprise of local politicos, she won, earning a seat in the county Legislature. Stewart-Cousins’ fellow senator, freshman George Latimer, who was then the newly elected minority leader of the county Legislature, took notice. “It was a big victory. It sent earthquake tremors,” he said. “She knocked off a guy with substantial power. She’s a very bright woman, articulate, with a winning personality. The things you see today were there.” Stewart-Cousins served in the county Legislature for a decade, creating a human rights commission with subpoena power that still exists today, helping to revitalize the Yonkers waterfront and presiding over contentious hearings on equal rights and on gun control. Sensing an opportunity to bring her expertise to Albany, in 2006 she challenged state Sen. Nick Spano, who occupied a relatively safe Republican seat. The campaign was grueling, and the three-month
recount process was even worse. Stewart-Cousins lost the election by a mere 18 votes—remarkably, the very same margin that decided the Tkaczyk race—after Republican lawyers challenged scores of absentee and affidavit ballots. Then U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, who lived in Stewart-Cousins’ district and was a key early supporter, comforted her during the loss. A framed photo in Stewart-Cousins’ Yonkers office with Clinton immediately following that election preserves for posterity that significant juncture in her life. “What she was saying to me there was, ‘I’m so proud of you,’ ” said Stewart-Cousins. “I really couldn’t believe she was saying that. I told her I’m so proud of her. It was a shared moment.” Stewart-Cousins’ supporters, who included state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, her deputy field director at the time, were “deeply disappointed.” He called the race a “formative” experience. “One thing I learned [from] the race was to make sure that you don’t make a fool of yourself,” he said. “She could have been crestfallen, angry, and she wasn’t. She was the way she usually is. She said, ‘We did everything we needed to do, and we’re just going to have to get back and do it in two years, and I need your help again.’ We knew we were turning the corner.” Two years later Stewart-Cousins defeated Spano and was on her way to the state Legislature. Spano would later be indicted on tax charges. Latimer called Stewart-Cousins’ first campaign against Spano “inconceivable” and her second, one of the five biggest upset victories he has ever seen in politics. “This woman ran close against an iconic figure in a district that was not majority black,” he said. “I don’t know how many of my colleagues could do that. These are tough races. They smack you around pretty good, and you get outspent. She had the intestinal fortitude [to] lose by a fingertip of a vote and still have [the] tenacity to try it again.”
Learning from the Major Mistakes of Shoreham By Dr. Matthew C. Cordaro
Back in 1989, the State of New York decided to shut the Shoreham nuclear plant after it was fully built but not yet providing power. Along the way, it created the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) to assume the debts and responsibilities of the plant’s owner, the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO). Almost a quarter century later, we’ve now gone full circle, as the state currently wants to abolish LIPA too. According to a report by the State Comptroller’s office, by 1993 25% of Long Island customers’ electricity bill was dedicated to pay for the Shoreham shutdown. By 1994, that amount rose to 32%, then dropping to a projected 27% in 1995. For the last 25 years, Long Island residents have paid an average of $316 to $424 annually and Long Island businesses paid between $2,766 and $3,735 annually toward the Shoreham debt. According to Hofstra’s Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy, “Long Island lost 100,000 jobs between 1989 and 1998.” It’s no wonder the economic scars created by the closure of Shoreham run so deep and have traumatized policy makers, business owners, and ratepayers alike. What is clear is that if Shoreham were operating today, the cost to keep the lights on for Long Island's 327,571 businesses and 940,000 families would be significantly lower. Not to mention that by generating hundreds of megawatts of virtually greenhouse-gas free electricity, Shoreham would also have made a significant contribution to job growth and local tax revenues for the bi-county region. Today, LIPA has a staggering $7 billion debt, while the total Shoreham cost in principal and interest could end up being as much as $16 billion. Yet, as bizarre and harmful as the closure of Shoreham has been, some are intent on repeating and compounding this mistake by pushing to close Indian Point. The costs to New Yorkers of closing Indian Point would likely dwarf Shoreham, as the plant provides two and a half times the amount of power that Shoreham would have generated, and accounts for as much as 11 percent of the electricity used in the state. Just as Long Island has had to deal with high electric rates, job losses, excessive property taxes, and a degraded economic competitive position with the loss of Shoreham, so too would the Lower Hudson Valley in the event Indian Point is shuttered. Today, it is critical that we study and learn from Shoreham’s mistakes so that they are not repeated and compounded. Dr. Matthew Cordaro is a member of New York AREA’s Advisory Board and Former Utility CEO. S P E C I A L
State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk hugs Andrea Stewart-Cousins after being sworn in at the Senate Chamber last month.
S P O N S O R E D
S E C T I O N
New York AREA’s membership includes some of the state’s most vital business, labor and community organizations including the New York State AFL-CIO, Business Council of New York State, Partnership for New York City, New York Building Congress, National Federation of Independent Business and many more. W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G
www.cityandstateny.com | FEBRUARY 11, 2013
Sampson had hoped to retain his leadership post, but the party’s numbers did not translate into a majority because Republicans allied themselves with a breakaway group of independent Democrats to retain control. Sampson bore the brunt of the failure. “We had two years of experience under John to see how he could negotiate with the Independent Democrats, and it didn’t get us to [a] majority,” said state Sen. Kevin Parker, who ended up abstaining from the vote. “People felt like we needed to do something different. The definition of insanity was to do the same thing over and expect a different result. It almost seemed pointless to go in the same direction.” Sampson privately told members after the election that he was unsure about staying on as conference leader. He would later put his name forward, but his ambivalence prompted members to contemplate yet another transition. In early December Democrats began floating the names of their colleagues in private conversations over the phone and in one-on-one meetings. Along with StewartCousins, senators discussed Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Eric Adams, Adriano Espaillat, Parker, Bill Perkins and Gianaris as possibilities. Several senators specified key qualities and preferences they wanted in a leader, as if they were honing in on a desirable online dating profile. Their new leader must have integrity, be wellrespected, preferably a woman from outside of New York City and someone who wasn’t actively running for another office in her home district. Stewart-Cousins said she had not thought about pursuing the role of leader, but senators called her and asked her to consider it. “Frankly, I was not seeking the position,” she said. “During the weeks running up to the election, I had several members call, saying they didn’t want to commit to anybody before they knew what I was doing. I heard that over and over again.” Gianaris, who had been the architect of a successful election cycle as the head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, thought about vying for the position but quickly decided against it. Telling colleagues that his strengths lay elsewhere, he threw his support to Stewart-Cousins. “It was clear to me that Andrea Stewart-Cousins was the best choice to move our conference forward in a unified fashion,” he said. Some senators mentioned that Gianaris would make a great deputy, but he insists there was no talk of a Stewart-Cousins-Gianaris ticket. “She made her choices as she saw fit, after I was supportive. It was not something the two of us had agreed upon ahead of time.” Sampson privately told his colleagues he would seek another Stewart-Cousins waves to the gallery from the Senate floor before being sworn in at the Capitol on Jan. 9. term, but the conference began to coalesce around Stewart-Cousins.
black mug inscribed with the words “Where Life Takes You” sits on Stewart-Cousins’ Yonkers desk, not far from the photo of her with Hillary Clinton. Although the catchphrase comes from a large Yonkers development project’s opening, Stewart-Cousins has adopted it as her personal motto. “I like the slogan, because who knows where life takes you?” she said. “My career has certainly been unexpected and unpredictable.” Stewart-Cousins joined the state Senate in 2007. In the next election cycle Democrats swept into power for the first time in more than 40 years, but their majority was short-lived. A coup by a group of Democrats disrupted Albany during the summer of 2009, temporarily giving power to the Republicans. As a result of the fray, then Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith lost his title and much of his power to former state Sen. Pedro Espada and state Sen. John Sampson, who became Democratic conference leader. Though the majority swung back to Democrats when the coup was resolved, Republicans retook control of the Senate in 2011. In the aftermath Sampson volunteered for the thankless job of Senate minority leader. After Democrats won more seats than the GOP in 2012,
february 11, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
“It was a cross section of people,” she said. “My name had been popping up for a while, but toward the vote it gained momentum. When people started seriously asking them to support them, a lot of people being asked would circle back to me.” Stewart-Cousins had several key allies throughout the caucus, including newer members Rivera and Latimer and more senior members Gianaris and Krueger, who pushed her to run. “I certainly had spoken with her many times, encouraging her, asking, ‘Is this something you want to do?’ ” Rivera said. “I am certainly glad that she decided to do it.” Stewart-Cousins, Sampson and Hassell-Thompson were among those interested in the position. But some senators suggested Hassell-Thompson’s behavior as conference chair in the past session disqualified her. “Sen. Hassell-Thompson’s heavy-handedness, her rudeness and her lack of respect for her colleagues while leading the conference was one of Sen. Sampson’s biggest mistakes,” state Sen. Rubén Díaz Sr. wrote in his “What You Should Know” column in December after the leadership vote. “By sitting idle and letting Sen. Hassell-Thompson do as she pleased, he angered many who, little by little, started to show their frustration and began to organize against Sen. Sampson.” Unable to gain momentum, Hassell-Thompson, who declined to comment for this article, ultimately threw her support behind Sampson. Many senators said they wanted to change the way their conference negotiated with Republicans and the governor, and how Senate Democrats were perceived across the state. “Members were frustrated that even if we didn’t get into [the] majority, the perception was ‘Democrats, they can’t govern. They’re a bunch of misfits who can’t stay out of trouble,’ ” state Sen. José Peralta said. “That isn’t who we are. We shouldn’t be all painted with [the] same brush.” “It was more of an image issue,” he added. “Who can help us lift this image, erase this image of what we have today? Andrea fit the bill nicely. She represents her constituency well. She’s part of a growing, emerging demographic in the state, and when you add a little bit of icing on cake, we could make some history. Why not support the first woman leader?” State Sen. Joe Addabbo cited Stewart-Cousins’ “professionalism” and the likelihood that she could improve relations with Jeff Klein’s Independent Democratic Conference. “When she speaks, she speaks credibly, not just to hear herself, and she has something substantive to say,” Addabbo said. “Leadership was always going to plague our conference no matter what issue we would talk about. The issue was raised whether we would be better off negotiating with the Independent Democratic Conference if we did not change leadership.” The minority leader campaign picked up in midDecember, about a week before Democrats would meet to choose their leader. Stewart-Cousins only needed 14 votes to win the post. When Democrats met in downtown Manhattan on Dec. 18, she received 20. Multiple sources said that Sampson was surprised by the results. He did not return several calls for comment. Most Democrats praised Sampson for his service to the party during a volatile period in state history and insisted that the conference just needed a change. “John [Sampson] held us together under the most difficult circumstances a Senate minority leader has ever faced, and helped us weather some real storms, but our conference has changed substantially in the three years since he took the reins, and leadership changes happen,” Krueger said. “I think Andrea’s election simply reflects an emerging consensus among most of our members on where we are and where
PERSONALITIES happening? Is everything well with you? Do you have any concerns? What issues are bothering you? What issues do you want to push?’” he said. “She is more handson than John was. That’s not knocking John. There are different styles to how he ran the conference and how Andrea runs the conference. Because she’s more handson, things don’t fall through the cracks.” But some members who supported Sampson appear disengaged from the new leadership. Sampson himself regularly attends conference meetings but spends much of his time in the Capitol during tewart-Cousins has spent a little over a session talking on a rotary phone just outside the Senate month in her new post, and the beginning of floor instead of socializing with members. Díaz said that Sampson’s outspoken views sometimes make him a session has been unusually busy. She has emerged as a key partner for the maverick. Several senators privately mention that he has long been a loner. Espaillat remains interested in a congressional seat Last month Stewart-Cousins joined (from left) state Sen. Jeff Klein, Assemafter nearly defeating bly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy Rep. Charles Rangel (behind) in the Red Room at the Capitol for the signing of the Secure Ammulast year, and Adams nition and Firearms Enforcement Act. is actively running for Brooklyn borough president. Adams also raised eyebrows among fellow Democrats when he took a committee chairmanship that Skelos and Klein offered. What kind of influence StewartCousins will have when the Legislature tackles the budget and progressive issues on the governor’s agenda, including a minimum wage increase and campaign finance reform, is an open question. “You have to governor on progressive issues. Cuomo made passing have a leader who represents all the Democrats, and it the Women’s Equality Act, which she championed six remains to be seen whether she will be able to run the years ago, a prominent goal in his State of the State conference,” said state Sen. Diane Savino, one of five address. And Stewart-Cousins introduced the governor members of the Independent Democratic Conference. during the bill signing ceremony for the strictest gun “How do you hold all your members in one direction? That was always the problem.” control legislation in the country. Democrats are aware of the challenges they face “I think that the governor clearly has an agenda, and our conference has an agenda, and this session [they] while they are in the minority this session. “You want someone to be a vigorous leader,” Latimer seem to be complementary,” she said. “I don’t think anybody has come here to have their voices muted. said. “I know she can do that, and she’s capable of doing There’s a desire to have voices at the table. There’s been a it. But she has to prove it to 200-plus other legislators. clear difference in terms of my presence, the fact that at This is not a business for the weak of heart. The Republican majority has been there a long time. They’re very this point I am a visible partner.” well-schooled. They know how to debate. They know Her colleagues in the conference agree. “It’s a huge error to mistake her elegant presentation nooks and crannies of the budget. Klein is a very smart, for anything other than a really strong spine,” state Sen. very shrewd guy. You don’t put a pretty face in front of Daniel Squadron said. “She’s been setting the tone this guys like this. You have to put in somebody [in whom] year on the gun bill. She was able to make a big differ- you have confidence.” Stewart-Cousins says she is up to the task. ence for the conference. She’s been doing a really good “We’ve been able to have people look at our conferjob getting the conference engaged and unified. Her tone has been respectful and very clear, and she has a ence in a different way,” she said. “We’re at a crossroads, and it was important to have a conversation on policy on vision for where the conference should go.” Peralta says Stewart-Cousins is a “breath of fresh trying to serve the people of New York. And I believe that air” and is more engaged with members than Sampson we have been very clear—our first priority is the people was. “Where John may have approached members from who have sent us here. And with every day, we’re here to time to time, she asks on a day-to-day basis, ‘What’s do the people’s business.” we’re going.” Privately, some members expressed reservations over a number of unresolved scandals, including a federal probe into Sampson’s involvement with the selection process of the Aqueduct racino in Queens. But others said that Aqueduct never came up during discussions. “John is very well-regarded. That’s what made this a difficult thing to do,” Gianaris said. “It wasn’t about John Sampson. It was a need to make a statement that our conference is moving in a different direction.”
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T H E F I V E B O R O U G H B A L LOT
TTAN • • MANHA N ISLAND ROOKE B T • TA X S N • O NS • THE BR STATEN N N • QUEE • TA LY S T K N A O E H E O R AN QU RONX • B TTAN LAND • M X • BROOKLYN • B A IS H E N H N E T A T • •M TA NHATTAN HE BRON STATEN ISLAND EENS • S OOKA T U R • M Q B • • N • D N X TA N T N LY • TEN ISLA • MANHA KLYN • QUEENS THE BRO S • STATEN • BROOK • D TA X S N N N • A O L TA S R T N IS B A O N N E • QUEE D • MANH OOKLYN • QUEE HATTAN NX • BRO TAN • TH S • STATE R LYN MANHAT THE BRO S • STATEN ISLAN • QUEEN N • BROOK TATEN ISLAND • RONX • B ATTAN • OOKLYN N AND • MA B H X R E L N N E B E IS A H O • U T R M N Q X • • B E • N T S E N D • BROOK O N • TAN • TH ENS • STA N • THE BRONX • THE BR EN ISLAN ONX • BROOKLY ANHATTA QUEENS E T N • M U • TA Q N TA S • D T • LY N A N K S MANHAT A H R O TA • STATEN N L LY N B T E O K S IS A A E E R O N M N H U H B E O • E T N • Q E R T • A • D U X B N M N • Q N N STA TTAN ROOKLY OKLYN • THE BRO NS • STATEN ISLA ISLAND • ANHATTA LYN • QUEENS • E BRONX • MANHA OKRONX • B NX • BRO TAN • TH • STATEN LAND • M EE • BROOK O THE BRO N • THE B ENS • STATEN IS MANHAT N ISLAND QUEENS X R • LYN • QU • E • N B TA T N D • T N O N TA A R X TA LY S A H B T N K • L N A E O O S IS H UE MA TEN • THE BR D • MANH OKLYN • QUEEN NX • BRO TTAN • T KLYN • Q • STATEN N N TA A O O ISLAND • S S A H R L TA • O N N B T R E IS S A E A E B N N M H H • U E O • T N Q E TE ONX N• ATTAN • ONX • BR NS • STA OKLYN • LYN • QU AND • MA N ISLAND H R E K TA O L E N B E T R T O • THE BR IS A U E A B O M TA H H N Q • R S • T E • N B X • • T A D N N EENS BRONX • ROOKLY LAND • M LYN • THE BRO S • STATEN ISLAN NHATTAN N • QUEENS • STA E B K • IS A H • O T M N N X O • • LYN • QU E N R T TA N D B O T N • TA R TA N S LY A MANHA N • THE B NS • STATEN ISL MANHAT E BRONX UEENS • • BROOK N • QUEE AND • H L Q X TA T LY • D T IS N • K N A N O N O ISLAND • N A H R E L O LY N B T K IS A TTA EE E TA ONX • BR X • BROO • MANHA LAND • M BROOKLYN • QU TAN • TH • STATEN EENS • S N T IS U S D A O N Q N N H R E • A E B N E L T • THE BR N A E U IS TA H • Q LY •M EENS • S TTAN • T • STATEN OKLYN • • BROOK E BRONX STATEN ISLAND LYN • QU • MANHA QUEENS NX • BRO TAN • TH • E BRONX OKLYN • THE BRO MANHAT N ISLAND TAN • TH QUEENS O • • E T • R T A N D B N H N • TA N TA LY S A X T A L K • N M IS HA OO NS THE BRO TATEN ISLAND • ND • MAN N • QUEE ONX • BR ATTAN • S TEN ISLA ONX • BROOKLY • THE BR UEENS • D • MANH Q NS • STA N R E • A B E L N U E IS H Q LY T N • K O TE LYN TAN • NS • STA NX • BRO LAND • MANHAT N • QUEE THE BRO IS ISLAND • ATTAN • STATEN BROOKLY H • • N S X A N N E M O E • R U Q ND THE B OKLYN • TEN ISLA O R TA B S • • S X QUEEN HE BRON TTAN • T • MANHA
WE COVER THE ELECTION. WHY NOT COVER THE VOTERS? MOTT HAVEN, THE BRONX: CAMAGUEY RESTAURANT
By JOE HIRSCH, JON LENTZ, JARRETT MURPHY, MORGAN PEHME, NICK POWELL AND AARON SHORT
UPPER WEST SIDE, MANHATTAN: ARTIE’S DELI
ine months before the 2013 election— the first without an incumbent mayor since 2001—the field of candidates for citywide office has largely taken shape, and the media and pollsters have leapt ahead to handicap the races’ outcome. Consultants have already done their utmost to plant the narratives they hope will grow into victory in the primary and general elections, and insiders have already discarded a host of hopefuls as impossibilities, while elevating others to the status of frontrunners. But for all of the insights bandied about endlessly in the 24-hour news cycle—the fundraising totals, the endorsements, the numbers, the thundering roar of the horse race—what do the residents of the five boroughs actually think about the elections that will determine who governs them for the next four years?
BAYSIDE, QUEENS: 215TH STREET AND 48TH AVENUE
BROWNSVILLE, BROOKLYN: VAN DYKE HOUSES
TOTTENVILLE, STATEN ISLAND: W’S BAR & RESTAURANT
FEBRUARY 11, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
T H E F I V E B O R O U G H B A L LOT Are the candidates who are so familiar to the chattering classes the same leaders who are being talked about in the private conversations of regular New Yorkers? Are New Yorkers even aware that a major election is coming? In order to gain a microcosmic perspective on the actual opinions of New Yorkers about the upcoming election, City & State and City Limits, in partnership with WNET’s MetroFocus, present a new series: “The Five Borough Ballot.” From now until November we will be following the election from the point of view of five locations: a deli in Manhattan, a NYCHA building in Brooklyn, a bar in Staten Island, a restaurant in the Bronx and a block of homes in Queens.
Each week we will revisit one of these five places to get a grounded angle on the election as it evolves and escalates toward its climax. Our goal is not to shape the opinions of our interviewees but to listen to them—to learn from them what the issues, stances and personalities are that are really resonating with the people of New York—and in so doing, gain a unique insight into the dynamics of these critical contests. Will the judgments of the cast of characters at our five locations conform to the prevailing wisdom floated by the press? Will they stand in stark contrast to the spin and the hype? Will they prove the pollsters right? Over the next nine months we will discover the answers to these
BROOKLYN PHOTOS: ANTHONY LANZILOTE
here is tranquility to the regular Friday bingo game in the cafeteria of the Van Dyke II senior center on Dumont Street in Brownsville. There is the gentle sloshing of dishwashing in the kitchen; the raindrop patter of bingo balls churning in their dispenser; and the rhythmic cadence of the game caller. “B … 17. The number 17.” Pause. “N … 5. The number 5.” Hanging plants dangle from the ceiling. There is a sign that says “Happy Kwanzaa!” and another that reads “No person will be denied service because of inability or unwillingness to contribute.” There is a photograph of President Obama and a painting of an alternative Mount Rushmore featuring Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglas and W.E.B. Du Bois. Brownsville is 80 percent black. In the census block where the senior center sits, there are around 3,800 black people and 29 whites. One Friday in January, one of the players is named Joyce. She has lived at the Van Dyke development for 34 years. Eighteen thousand people reside in 15 public housing developments in Brownsville, but Van Dyke is the biggest, with 22 buildings and 4,200 tenants. Joyce says she always votes. Like most in the room, she’s not familiar with the names of anyone running for mayor. Of the neighborhood, she says, “It was worse; then it got better. Now it’s going back. Too many guns on the street.” “You know who’s going to be mayor?” asks another player, Michael. “Christopher Quinn. That’s who’s going to be mayor.” Michael is one of only two men playing bingo. There are 17 women there. There is no chatter and little smiling, because
people are concentrating on their numbers. Some manage three, four, even six bingo sheets. Geraldine has lived at Van Dyke for 50 years. She said this about Mayor Bloomberg: “He should go out. He don’t do nothing anyway. Bloomberg’s doing a good job for the people upstate.” At another table is Sybill Moore, who thumbed through her Bible before the game. She believes the mayor performed in exemplary fashion after Sandy: “He brought out what I didn’t see in him [before]. In his heart he still has love for the people. That disaster showed what he had on the inside.” A hand shoots up at another table. “And ‘bingo’ has been called!” the caller declares. The prize is a bottle of Tide. The prizes are all household goods: paper towels, plastic forks and spoons, talcum powder, garbage bags. An hour earlier the room was packed for a lunch of fish, French fries and coleslaw. James Smith, 68, ate alone. He lives in a private building nearby and is trying to get into NYCHA. What strikes him about this neighborhood, he says, is the fear people have about robbery: Many do not leave their apartments on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd of the month because they believe robbers target people on days when Social Security or benefit checks come in. He’s worried about the further decriminalization of marijuana, because it’s what most of the street criminals are high on, he says. “What’s it going to be like when that stuff is legal?” he wonders. He has been stopped several times by the police. “It don’t bother me none. They have a job to do.” There were 15 murders in the 73rd
questions. We will see the history of New York unfolding before the eyes of those whose twists and turns it will affect most deeply. This year the people of New York will elect a new mayor, comptroller and public advocate. Four of the five borough presidents will change, as will two-thirds of the City Council. The opportunity to largely refashion the city’s government and the direction of its policies is in the hands of the voters. What is the government that New Yorkers want to see? Over the course of “The Five Borough Ballot,” we’ll ask them. In this first installment of the series we introduce you to the five locations we will be returning to over the course of the coming months.
VAN DYKE HOUSES Precinct last year, compared with 26 in 2001. With nearly 40 percent poverty in 2011, Brownsville was the fourth-poorest district in the city. In the election last November, the local assemblyman, William Boyland Jr., was returned to office with 79 percent of the vote. Turnout was 59 percent. Lisa Kenner knows Boyland, knows state Sen. John Sampson, knows Councilwoman Darlene Mealy. Kenner, 54, is a former district leader and currently heads the residents’ association at Van Dyke, the only place she has ever lived. Retired after being injured breaking up a fight at a juvenile justice center where she once worked, she works on resident issues full-time: chasing down residents who fail to take care of their garbage and hounding management to remove the scaffolding that lingers around 422 Powell Street—her building—and that
makes residents feel unsafe walking at night. “I love my mayor,” she says of Bloomberg. “He has to be tough to be the mayor. But you still have to give and take. You can’t talk down to people, the people who put you in office.” The bus strike, she says, is a classic example of the mayor’s refusal to compromise.
www.cityandstateny.com | FEBRUARY 11, 2013
t h e f i v e b o r o u g h b a l lot
Upper West Side, Manhattan
he Upper West Side is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, a reliable bastion of liberal politics, home to Jerry Seinfeld, Eric Schneiderman and Scott Stringer alike. It’s also home to the city’s best delis and diners. Take Artie’s, for example. The 15-year-old delicatessen is a West Side institution that attracts middle-aged condo and co-op residents eager for the tastes of home. “In most families, both spouses are normally working a profession where they work late, and it’s hard for them to prepare or cook,” said Artie’s owner Barry Orenstein. “We have knishes, chopped liver, pastrami, matzo ball soup—everything your grandmother made.” But the Upper West Side of most New Yorkers’ memories is changing Just under 210,000 people live in the two-square-mile area bounded by Cathedral Parkway, the Hudson River Expressway, West 59th Street and Central Park West. The area is almost entirely developed—
Artie’s Deli 7.6 percent are black and 7.6 percent are Asian, according to 2010 U.S. Census data. The median household income is $73,836, nearly double the city’s median income of $38,293. It’s no wonder that home prices average above $1.07 million, making this one of the priciest areas in the city. Still, the neighborhood has been selecting Democrats to represent them in Congress, the state Legislature and City Council for generations. And its boisterously liberal spirit serves as the base for a handful of ambitious politicians hoping to grace the national stage. That’s what attracted Orenstein to the Upper West Side 40 years ago. He hasn’t left since. “It’s more intellectual, it’s not as blonde, it’s more Jewish,” he said. “More people read The New York Times and The New Yorker here, instead of Vogue, USA Today and the Post, which I wouldn’t even wrap my fish in.”
the population growth has hovered at 1 percent over the past decade. But a growing number of power singles— high-earning individuals in their 20s, 30s and 40s who rent or own condos— are moving to the neighborhood. The change is evident in the area’s commercial corridors. Neighborhood shops are getting priced out in favor of luxury retail chains catering to moneyed newcomers. Even Artie’s is contracting, renovating its protruding sidewalk café because business has slowed. Over half of the neighborhood’s residents, 59.8 percent, are single. Another 40.2 percent are in married households, but only 12.4 percent are in married households with children under the age of 18—perhaps lower than many people expect for an area with a family-friendly reputation. Women make up an estimated 54 percent of the population; 46 percent are men. About 67.4 percent of residents are white, 15 percent are Latino,
’s Bar & Restaurant is easy to miss if you’re an outsider driving through this suburban enclave of Staten Island—the southernmost section of the borough, a stone’s throw from New Jersey across the Hudson River. Situated in a nondescript strip mall adjacent and in proximity to several other equally bland strip malls, from the outside it looks like nothing special—a dive, a holein-the-wall—but the atmosphere in the bar tells a different story. The bar appears not to have been
redecorated in about 25 years, and therein lies its charm. Wood-paneled walls display framed photographs of local youth sports teams and New York Yankees memorabilia; a University of Notre Dame flag hangs high on the wall across from the bar, dwarfed only by the American flag right next to it. Patrons sit at the bar glued to a college basketball game; some walk from table to table dropping in on conversations as if to finish a thought they had left behind. W’s has no aspirations of trying to be anything but the local
february 11, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
watering hole; no need for the flourishes found at bars in Manhattan or Brooklyn, where hardly any semblance of continuity exists in neighborhoods and the only constant is change. As part of a larger liberal Democrat city, Tottenville might be considered somewhere between Pennsylvania and Texas on the political spectrum—that is to say, generally more right-wing, but with hardly any traces of the brand of social conservatism that has co-opted the larger Republican Party. Board of Elections statistics show the majority of the 62nd Assembly District, which includes Tottenville, voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, and in conversations most of the locals seem to take the matter of voting seriously yet hold politicians in a cynical light. “People here are not happy with politicians,” said Charlie Wonsowicz, the owner and namesake of W’s. “Everybody thinks all politicians are crooked. Everybody believes they are stealing our money.” For a bar that counts cops, firefighters and other city workers among its regulars, there are many opinions to be heard on this topic, though coaxing them out is slightly more difficult. Charlie is initially reticent to talk about such a taboo subject on this hallowed ground—the old adage of “the two things you don’t talk about at dinner,” religion and politics, applies at W’s— but he loosens up when asked whether
he thinks 2013 is a good time to be a small business owner in New York City. The twinkle in his eye dims, reflecting the gravity of the topic. “It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said. “[The city is] doing everything in their power to close the small guy out. They want the big chains to buy us all out so they don’t have to help us out.” This general skepticism toward politicians and government is prevalent in conversations with the bar’s patrons. For the most part, the current slate of mayoral candidates is unknown to them, and those who are familiar elicit little enthusiasm. Mike Gallagher, a retired police officer, recognizes the name of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, but says he will reserve his vote “for whoever I think is gonna do best for me.” Another patron, Bob, a retired Con Edison worker affectionately known as “Uncle Bob,” seems to be choosing his preferred candidate through process of elimination, and the first to be cut from his list is City Comptroller John Liu. “I’m not gonna go for Liu. He’s kinda shady already, so that kills his vote,” he said. “I think he’s a thief.” As for Charlie, he detests Mayor Bloomberg, who, in his view, is “out for himself,” but he’s developing a liking for Quinn— perhaps unaware of her close ties to the mayor. “She looks like she knows what to do,” he said. Pausing a beat, he added, “Whatever that is, I’m sure she’ll do it.”
staten island photo: nick powell; manhattan photos: aaron adler
Tottenville, Staten Island W’s Bar & Restaurant
t h e f i v e b o r o u g h b a l lot
Bayside, Queens 215th Street
n this leafy street in northeast Queens, asking questions about who should be New York City’s next mayor invariably turn to the current mayor—and that’s about it. Several residents say that all they know is that they’re happy that Mayor Michael Bloomberg won’t be running City Hall next year. Even though more than two-thirds of Bayside voters cast their ballots for Bloomberg in both 2005 and 2009, the incumbent seems to have worn out his welcome in the neighborhood after he overturned term limits and won a third go-around. “I don’t want to have anything more to do with politics!” one middle-aged man huffed when asked about the mayor and his potential successors, and then slammed his door shut. The eroding support for Bloomberg isn’t the only shift. The residents of this stretch of 215th Street, with its grassy front lawns, driveways and tidy two- and three-story homes, are now represented by Democrats in every state and federal office. Last fall twice as many voters in the Assembly district that includes Bayside voted for President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. The area’s only Republican representative is Dan Halloran, one of the few GOP members in the City Council. The area wasn’t always so heavily Democrat. Leo Gorynski (below), a self-employed 54-year-old who has lived on the street for 25 years, recalled that in the early 1990s Frank Padavan was his state senator and Doug Prescott was his assemblyman, both of them Republicans. Padavan, who took office in 1972, lost to former City Councilman Tony Avella, a progressive Democrat, in 2010.
“This neighborhood changed,” Gorynski said. “It used to be Padavan and Prescott.” Gorynski and his neighbors enjoy a solidly middle-class or upper-middle-class lifestyle, and the street has a suburban feel. The stretch of homes is accessible by bus
and the Long Island Rail Road, but it’s four miles beyond the last MTA subway station. In the 2009 City Council race for Avella’s old seat, Halloran narrowly beat Democrat Kevin Kim, who would have been the first Korean-American on the Council. That
race, which was marked by racial politics, also reflected the diversity of Bayside and neighboring Bayside Hills, where whites make up only a third of the population. Over a quarter of the population is Hispanic, 23 percent is black and 13 percent is Asian.
Mental Health Under the Gun
New York politicians can talk all they want about gun laws to secure schools and communities and ensuring that people with mental challenges get the help they need. Their record on mental health services doesn’t inspire any confidence.
By some estimates, more than half the inmates in county jails and state correctional facilities are mentally ill – that’s a reflection of bad policy and poor budget choices. But even in secure settings mentally ill individuals are not getting adequate treatment, if any at all. Many of these individuals wouldn’t even be incarcerated if the care and treatment they needed had been available on the outside.
queens photos: Sang Hee Ma
There are not enough mental health services in New York to match the need but the state continues to seek cuts in programs, facilities and funding without a plan for improvement. That will only ensure more pain and suffering no matter what politicians say they’re doing to make things better.
LOCAL 1000 AFSCME, AFL-CIO
Mental Health Policy must not be the shame of all New York.
DA N N Y D O N O H U E , P R E S I D E N T
8912_Mental Health 7.458x10 CS.indd 1
www.cityandstateny.com | february 2/7/13 11, 2013 2:59 PM13
T H E F I V E B O R O U G H B A L LOT
MOTT HAVEN, THE BRONX CAMAGUEY RESTAURANT
hange is palpable in Mott Haven, a neighborhood that over the years has gained notoriety as the poorest congressional district in the country. New condos and housing developments just north of the Hub, the area’s commercial
center, reflect one of the Bronx’s biggest building booms. Population in the 2.8-square-mile area in the borough’s southwestern corner grew by 11.4 percent between 2000 and 2010, nearly three times the borough average.
But the area’s recovery from decades of in the neighborhood stay out of the kind neglect is far from a fait accompli. No of trouble he has been in most of his adult neighborhood had its heart ripped out life, by volunteering with an antiviolence quite as aggressively as Mott Haven’s to initiative. Factory worker Taisha Pearson said she feed the city’s 1950s’ highway-building frenzy. The Bruckner, Major Deegan and would be inclined to vote for City Council Cross Bronx expressways all crisscross Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor in the area, contributing to some of the city’s November because Quinn has shown support for her plight as a mother whose highest asthma rates. Mott Haven is home to one of the child was killed by a stray bullet in 2006. city’s densest cluster of public housing The killing of Pearson’s daughter Naiesha complexes. In a 2012 report the Citizens’ has become a galvanizing issue for antiCommittee for Children, an advocacy violence activists in Mott Haven in recent group, found that 67.3 percent of all resi- years. They hold a march every Mother’s dents and nearly a third of all children live Day to support Pearson and other mothers of slain children. in “areas of extreme poverty.” Despite being adamant about taming On 138th Street, one of the neighborhood’s main arteries, spacious bargain gun violence, none of the diners at the outlets and telecommunications store- table were impressed with Mayor Bloomfronts predominate, alongside Dominican berg’s stance on gun control, which they and Puerto Rican restaurants that reflect shrugged off as political opportunism. Angelica Pizzaro, 27, who works partprior immigration waves and scores of Mexican restaurants run by the latest time as a teller at a local bank, said, “Everything is increasing, but my pay isn’t going newcomers. up.” She didn’t know who One small eatery was running in November, that melds Central locally or citywide, adding American and Caribthat she is uninterested in bean staples has politics. stood near the corner One regular customer, of 138th Street and Norma Vilarosa, 74, Brook Avenue since considers herself a Puerto 1987. Weekdays during I can’t stand Rican nationalist above lunchtime, diners Bloomberg. He all. For that reason, pack into the cozy, Vilarosa said, she votes, narrow Camaguey ain’t for us. He but not for president. Restaurant, where they don’t care about Although she respects the can choose between the minority. incumbent City Council mofongo, enchiladas, and Assembly members and various seafood who represent the area, and meat stews. At Vilarosa echoed a familiar one table on a recent theme among the lunch weekday, several crowd at Camaguey: diners were animaGrassroots advocates, not tedly debating which politicians, offer the best nearby tax preparers could help them get the maximum refund. bet for improving residents’ quality of life. All said they were scraping by with part- She remembered a beloved Mott Haven time jobs. None put any stock in the social justice advocate who died last year possibility that next November’s elections as a “brother” for his battles over the would improve their chances of finding decades to defeat city policies and corporate interests many here said would have full-time work. “I can’t stand Bloomberg. He ain’t for harmed the neighborhood. “They’re more important than the polius. He don’t care about the minority,” said Jesse Rivera, 36, who is on parole after ticians,” she said of the advocates, referserving nearly 12 years on gun charges in a ring to elected officials with a scowl as number of upstate facilities. Rivera said he vividores, or opportunists. “They just want is mostly focused on helping young people your vote.”
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BRONX PHOTOS: MARC FADER
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PERSONALITIES in equipment. You aren’t supposed to drag, you’re supposed to lift the person out who has succumbed but who is not deceased. It was hot as hell, and there was smoke all around. You couldn’t see anything. It was so bad.
JOHN LIU City Comptroller John Liu’s workplace is a tidy office on the 10th floor of One Centre Street, an aging structure that is home to many of the city’s municipal workers. Liu hopes to move from there to a decidedly more spacious abode in the west wing of City Hall in the coming year. He won’t have a lot to bring with him, judging by what’s currently in his minimalist workspace. BY AARON SHORT Asian Jade Society penholder “It’s a fraternal organization that honored me several years ago. It’s a good penholder.”
Picture of his son, Joey “That’s my son, Joe. That was a long time ago. I was elected on his first birthday. He’s probably 2 or 3 there.”
NYPD Captain Endowment Association award “I got that earlier this year, [in] March. It’s an annual event, and I was the keynote.”
Phoenix Award “That’s from the time I traveled to Beijing. That was in 2007. It was two days. They awarded 40 people, including [Labor] Secretary Elaine Chao and movie director Ang Lee.”
Note from Tompkins Park Senior Center “It reads, roughly, ‘To New York City Comptroller John Liu, seeing the people with all his heart and energy.’ It’s not a Chinese senior center. It’s an AfricanAmerican senior center.”
Photo of President John F. Kennedy “That was presented to me by the speaker of the Irish Parliament in Dublin in 2010. I think he did it because he knew that I
FEBRUARY 11, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
was named after JFK.” Fire helmet “That was the helmet I used during a free operations training at Randall’s Island.” C&S: What did you have to do? JL: Some pretty scary stuff. There were several simulations, which are what firefighters go through, such as entering a burning building to save a fallen firefighter. You have to wear 80–100 pounds
President Obama photo “That was when he came to New York in 2009. My guess is he had a town hall at the Manhattan Center. They were going to pass his health care bill and there was a reception.”
Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation paper sculpture “This is the Chinese character for peace. I did Sandy relief work with them. They distributed $10 million to families stricken by Sandy in the form of VISA cash cards.” Trailblazer Award “That was from Rev. Jesse Jackson in 2001. This is part of the Wall Street Summit. This was for some of the contract procurements that changed in this office. I had
called for open computers instead of using the usual rotation of investment banks. We got new companies that were bidding to sell city bonds on behalf of the city, including minorityowned businesses.” Billion dollar bill “Someone gave this to help with the city’s finances. I brought this out just for you. I usually keep this under lock and key.” Scrooge McDuck figurine “I don’t know what’s up with that. Somebody was trying to tell me they think I’m cheap. By the way, that’s the city’s money.” Zenith television with VCR “It’s been sitting in that spot since I got there. The TV does work.” Bouquet of flowers “It came from Captain Al Hagan, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. I’ve never gotten red roses from anyone before, so the office has been talking about me and Al.”
Photo of Western Wall in Jerusalem “That was in September 2010.” C&S: What did you put in the wall? JL: My prayers and wishes. “Warrior Citizen” flag “This is a signed flag. Every year we have a toy
PHOTOS: AARON ADLER
FROM THE DESK OF...
Leather couch and chair “I usually sit in the chair. That’s been here a long time. It was here when former Comptroller Bill Thompson was here. I had met with him a couple of times before I took office.” C&S: Did he give you any advice? JL: He did work to help give me a smooth transition.
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S P OT L I G H T health care
Countdown To Coverage Health care exchanges are in the works, but the deadline for implementation approaches By Nick Powell Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, health insurance in the United States will change for the foreseeable future. On that date, the central provisions of President Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act will go into effect; individuals will be mandated to purchase health insurance and states required to have set up health benefit exchanges—essentially a marketplace for people to shop around for an insurance plan that best suits their medical needs and income level. While many states resisted taking steps toward implementing the act after it was passed, assuming the Supreme Court would rule the law unconstitutional, New York was one of the few that set the wheels in motion in order to meet the federal deadlines for creating its exchange. Now, roughly eight months after the Supreme Court upheld the legislation, some states are so behind schedule setting up their exchanges that the federal government will have to pick up their slack and operate their exchange in order to meet the mandated open enrollment date of Oct. 1. New York, however, has had relatively smooth sailing toward the creation of its exchange, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has pointed to New York as one of a handful of states that is well ahead of the curve. As a reward for its pace, New York has received millions of dollars in federal grants to support the state’s planning and operating of the exchange, including a recent $185.8 million award. Despite its progress, there are still some
significant hurdles that New York’s exchange will have to overcome in advance of the October deadline. One challenge is how the Department of Health, under whose purview the exchange falls, will conduct outreach and market the exchange in order to attract consumers and small businesses to use it. Addressing this concern, Danielle Holahan, the deputy director of the New York State Health Benefit Exchange, explains that exchange officials have already set up a meeting with an advertising agency and will use a combination of different mediums, including social media, to reach out to the public. “What we’ve done so far is really try to get as much detail as possible about who [the consumers] are before we kick off this [outreach] campaign, where we will try the target messages that best meet the interests and needs of our target population,” said Holahan, who estimates that when the exchange is fully operational it will cover roughly one million new customers. “We’ll have different messages for different groups. ... There’s a fair amount that will go into paid advertising ... [and] other outreach and marketing activities that we’ll need to do.” Once consumers are engaged, the question becomes what sort of health plans and benefits packages will be offered. Exchange officials recently sent out invitations to a variety of health insurers, asking them to offer a health care plan in the exchange marketplace. Holahan said that she expected most of the insurers to reply to the invitation by Feb. 15, with actual applications for exchange participation to be sent in April. As far as the details of the various insurance policies, those have yet to be determined, although the state has chosen
february 11, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Oxford EPO, the largest small-group plan in the state, as the benchmark for the 10 categories of essential benefits that are required to be offered to individuals in the exchange. Some experts, like Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, had advocated that the state employee benefits package should be the model, rather than one of the small group policies, but he was overruled. “I felt that a broader benefit package made more sense and that the proposition that any health benefit that I as a legislator or the people who clean the buildings or
“I would say to the skeptics: A lot has been done, and I think we’re well-positioned to meet our targets.”
the governor are entitled to ought to be available to the people on the exchange,” Gottfried said. Gottfried has also raised the question whether people who are now eligible for Family Health Plus—the state’s public insurance program for adults age 19 to 64 whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid—would be offered health coverage through commercial products on the exchange or whether the state will pursue the option in the Affordable Care Act to create what the federal law calls the Basic Health Plan. That plan would offer a similar policy to Family Health Plus but would be paid for using federal tax subsidy dollars and offer coverage for individuals with incomes between 139 and
200 percent of the poverty level. Gottfried said that because the federal government is dragging its feet in approving states’ proposals for the Basic Health Plan, the state is hesitant to move forward with it, but he believes having such a plan offered in the exchange would be a financial boon for the state. “What I’ve stressed to the Health Department is for the consumers involved, the basic health plan route will save them significant money in avoiding deductibles and co-pays,” Gottfried said. “For the state treasury, there is perhaps in the ballpark of several hundred millions of dollars in federal matching money that we could obtain. I think that’s important enough that in the budget we should put our heads together and try to work out the complexities.” Another issue that still needs to be resolved is how the state will handle the influx of high-risk patients into the exchange, which could cause insurance premiums to surge if not enough healthy individuals enroll. The state will also have a slightly different array of insurance plans for small businesses in a separate part of the exchange—businesses with anywhere from 2 to 50 employees will be eligible for coverage—with federal tax credits available to subsidize the insurance. And while the federal government is helping to subsidize the exchange in its first year, the law requires that it be selfsustaining by 2015, leaving little room for error after year one. Still, Holahan remains confident that the state will continue to lead from the front when it comes to the exchange system. “I would say to the skeptics: A lot has been done, and I think we’re wellpositioned to meet our targets,” she said.
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www.cityandstateny.com | February 11, 2013
S P OT L I G H T health care
Expert Roundtable Richard Gottfried Chair, New York State Assembly Health Committee
Kemp Hannon Chair, New York State Senate Health Committee
Q: How big a problem is sepsis in New York, and will the governor’s plan to overhaul how hospitals treat the disease help? RG: Thousands of people die each year from sepsis, a very dangerous infection. If it is diagnosed early enough, it is treatable with antibiotics. But the early symptoms of sepsis can also be the symptoms of fairly minor ailments. The Health Department’s new regulations require hospitals to pay closer attention to potential sepsis cases and change procedures so cases will be less likely to slip through the cracks. These rules were made in consultation with experts from across the country. I expect they will save thousands of lives a year.
Q: Where do you stand on for-profit hospitals? Can they be effective in delivering care, or is there too much risk when money is the motive? KH: It would be a useful avenue for New York to explore using private equity because of the vast amount of capital needs that the hospitals have. We’ve tried the HEAL grants, and we’ve exhausted that, and there’s no appetite for those again. Therein lies the problem: Where are you going to get the money and the capital to start providing money to the health care system? To the extent that we’ve tried the alternatives, to the extent that this is one of the things that is available, I think it certainly should be explored.
Q: With the potential cutbacks to New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, what can be done to provide the resources needed for the agency to provide necessary services? RG: Most hospitals in New York State face federal cuts, mainly in Medicare rates. This will be partly offset because more patients will have health coverage, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. In this year’s state budget legislation we will hopefully change our system for distributing hospital “indigent care” money to better target treatment of truly uninsured patients. This will help hospitals serving large numbers of low-income patients, including the HHC hospitals.
Q: What changes are being made to long-term care for seniors? KH: The Medicaid Redesign Team took a look at the long-term care and the community care aspects of New York State’s health care system and has proposed changes that essentially can be summed up in trying to introduce managed care. Whether it be to home care, for nursing home programs, or even for people with behavioral health or substance abuse problems, both long-term care and community care for people with problems is really being addressed in a comprehensive way for the first time in a couple of decades in New York.
Q: The Affordable Care Act gives the states a variety of policy options. How can New York best take advantage of these possibilities? RG: Most important: New York should adopt a universal “single-payer” health coverage system covering everyone, and financed fairly by taxes based on ability to pay instead of regressive premiums, deductibles and co-pays. It’s a common sense, patient-centered, evidence-based approach. For more information, contact me at GottfriedR@assembly.state .ny.us. President Obama recently said, “No American should have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.” Why only our golden years?
Q: Has the global cap on Medicaid been effective in reducing costs to the program without affecting services? KH: It certainly has provided a target, and people are wary if they’re getting close to the target because they know the global cap gives the commissioner power to make cutbacks. But we’ve also seen over 200,000 [people] headed to the Medicaid rolls during that period, so to some extent you could argue most of the growth in the cap has been taken up by the new enrollees. We need to go back and look at how well we’re doing and where we’re going, because the budget proposes an extension of the freeze on trend factors, and the extension of the two-year budgeting process, and the extension of the global cap.
20 february 11, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Thomas Farley, M.D. Commissioner, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Q: Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban has gotten the most attention of his recent public health initiatives. Are there other efforts the city is making around nutrition that have not received as much publicity? TF: The rule is not a ban but a cap on portion size. It is only one part of the Health Department’s multifaceted approach to promoting healthy eating and physical activity. In 2006 New York City became the first jurisdiction in the United States to require restaurant chains to post calorie information on menus and menu boards. Q: What has been the impact of posting calorie information? TF: After the regulation took effect in 2008, customers who used the calorie counts bought fewer calories: 15 percent of customers reported using the calorie information, and these customers purchased approximately 100 fewer calories at lunch than customers who did not see or use calorie information. Q: With the closure of several hospitals in New York City over the past few years, how vital are community health clinics to providing services? Will there be a renewed emphasis on providing resources to these clinics should more hospitals be forced to close? TF: There is a need for high quality primary care services through clinics of various types. Although in general the Department of Health and Hospitals does not fund medical care, we will be monitoring availability and access to primary care and will work with the state health department and others to increase access to quality care, especially for underserved populations. Q: What do you see as the biggest public health crisis the city will face over the next five years? TF: Smoking remains our city’s biggest underlying cause of preventable death. In addition, with nearly two thirds of New Yorkers obese or overweight, this crisis and its health consequences threaten to undermine public health gains made over the last few decades. Each year there are over 5,000 overweight and obesity-related deaths in New York City.
Nirav Shah, M.D. Commissioner, New York State Health Department
Q: Is it realistic that every New Yorker could have health insurance in 5 years? NS: There are currently 2.7 million New Yorkers who lack health insurance coverage. New York’s efforts to create a health exchange will make it easier for people to obtain affordable health insurance, and it is projected that more than one million New Yorkers will gain coverage through the exchange in its first three years of operation. Q: What has been the biggest success of the DOH over your tenure? NS: We have made great progress in changing the mind-set of our health care system. Under the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and through the efforts of the Medicaid Redesign Team, New York has been able to contain costs and expand the number of insured New Yorkers while improving health care outcomes. As a result of Medicaid reform, an additional 191,000 low income New Yorkers obtained health coverage since March 2012, and MRT initiatives are projected to save New York State and the federal government more than $34 billion over the next five years. Q: How do you reconcile the state’s interest in hydrofracking with the public health implications? NS: In October the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens requested that I complete a public health review of DEC’s draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement. Further, DEC requested that DOH identify highly qualified, external public health experts to help inform the review. The public health review is an analysis of potential public health impacts related to the use of high volume hydraulic fracturing in shale gas development to determine if any additional potential public health impacts should be considered beyond those already outlined in the draft SGEIS. Also, the review will determine if any additional mitigation measures are necessary. This effort also includes a review of existing and proposed environmental and public health surveillance systems to determine if they are adequate to establish baseline health indicators and detect and measure potential public health effects.
S P OT L IGH T
The High Cost of Low-Income Care The governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team has saved billions, but can it keep the program solvent for years to come?
4 percent annually. The cap is characterized by some experts as “an ongoing experiment” because it is the first of its kind to be introduced in the country. In the first year alone, the cap helped reduce spending by $4 billion while adding 150,000 people to the Medicaid By Nick Powell rolls. The state was able to stay under the In January 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo cap again in the second year; however, issued an executive order creating a some members of the MRT are skeptical Medicaid redesign team to tackle the that the program can continue to cut problems of a program that was deliv- spending and enroll new patients in the ering mediocre care at an exorbitant future while operating under the cap. “A global cap is an experiment, and I cost. Cuomo tasked the team, made up think we need the Legislature to review of 25 experts, executives and leaders the implications, because you cannot from various sectors of the health care cap payments and unleash significant community, with finding ways to save enrollment expansion year after year if money for the state’s Medicaid system you’re not simultaneously dealing with both for that fiscal year and long-term. At the cost of doing business,” said Daniel the time, the state’s Medicaid spending Sisto, the president of the Healthcare rate was more than twice the national Association of New York State and a average, and it ranked 21st in the nation member of the MRT. The executive director of the MRT, for overall health system quality. Two years later the Medicaid Redesign state Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson, Team (MRT) can claim success in reining agreed with Sisto’s characterization of the cap as an “experiment,” but added in the costs of the program, but its work that some of the burden of increased continues, and the question is: Has enrollment will be alleviated by the slashing of the Medicaid budget the federal Affordable Care Act, come at the expense of delivering which is scheduled to go into care, or has it enhanced the effect starting next January. program by increasing its “The Affordable Care efficiency? Act will create more Many members of the insurance options health care commufor individuals nity believe the with slightly higher answer is the latter, “One of the positive incomes, and we noting that New York things about the think that over has retained many time that may help of the key benefits Medicaid Redesign stabilize some other states have cut Team is what it growth,” Helgerson from their Medicaid didn’t do.” said. “It remains a programs. work in progress, “One of the posibut we feel pretty tive things about the Medicaid Redesign Team is what it didn’t good about where we sit two years in, do,” said David Sandman, senior vice that we’ve been able to manage the president of the New York State Health program under the cap.” Another major initiative of the MRT Foundation. “It did not cut back any eligibility for Medicaid, and it did not cut is the migration from Medicaid as a feeback any benefits. Other states started for-service program, where the state dropping optional coverage like dental pays providers directly for services, coverage, and New York State did not do to a care-management system, where that. We pursued bigger, more structural the state contracts with plans that are reforms, and tried to protect beneficia- responsible for meeting and managing ries of the program, so that was a very the day-to-day health care needs of Medicaid recipients. The idea is to coorpositive thing in the initiative.” The central reform of the MRT’s work dinate services for chronically ill people, to date has been the institution of a including those with drug and substance global cap on the program that mandates abuse problems. To paint a picture of that the state increase spending by no how much this population of patients more than the 10-year-average rate for costs the state, Helgerson and the MRT the long-term medical component of looked at the 100 most expensive indithe consumer price index—roughly viduals for the Medicaid program last
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S P OT L I G H T health care
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year. Those 100 individuals cost the result of the $17.1 billion in savings Medicaid program $50 million, or an New York has already made to its Medicaid program. Helgerson said the average of $500,000 per person. “If we can just find a way to better state has saved the federal government connect those people to primary care, enough money to flatline the national to get them the services they need, keep growth rate of Medicaid, and that the them out of hospitals, keep them out waiver amendment will allow them to of detox, keep them out of inpatient continue to make structural improvepsychiatric services, we think we can ments to the program. That is, with save a tremendous amount of money the expected addition of one million and meaningfully improve the quality of insured New Yorkers through the state’s health exchange—the primary tenet life for those people,” he said. Still, despite the positive gains to of the Affordable Care Act—the state the program in terms of spending and could use the extra funding to alleviate delivery of services, challenges remain. the stress on an already taxed health Health care experts note that certain care delivery system. Helgerson said health care providers, from hospitals to he is confident that the waiver amendnursing homes—which often have a high ment will ultimately be approved. Even more pressing given its topical concentration of Medicaid recipients— are struggling to meet the state’s finan- relevance is what will befall Medicaid if another natural cial criteria. They like Supersay the state also has “New York State has disaster storm Sandy were to figure out how to saved the federal to sweep through deal with its high population of “dual government enough the state or a flu as bad eligibles”—indimoney to flatline the epidemic as the current one viduals who receive both Medicaid and national growth rate of become even more widespread. With Medicare—a very Medicaid.” the program just challenging group skirting under the to identify because spending cap in the of the lack of cooperafirst two years of the tion historically between redesign, there is little those two entities. Helgbreathing room for the addierson said that the state is tion of a significant number of exploring enrolling a chunk of the people to Medicaid, especially if dual-eligible population into both the goal of the state saving $34 bilMedicaid and Medicare managed care lion after the first five years of the programs, which he estimates could save redesign is to be met. the state about $1 billion. Though the state can thus far claim Another key component in achieving the full vision of Medicaid reform is the significant progress in maintaining pending Medicaid waiver amendment. the fiscal solvency of Medicaid, these The amendment is essentially an appeal unanswered questions will continue to to the federal government for up to $10 loom over the program in the coming billion in additional grant money as a years.
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S P OT L I G H T health care
Scorecard The Players
GOVERNMENT New Yorkers’ health care needs continue to rest in the hands of Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah, Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson and Jim Introne, the director of health care redesign. Shah has dealt with several public health issues this year, including the proliferation of synthetic drugs and the ongoing flu epidemic, and has fielded questions and concerns over the Health Department’s pending fracking review. Helgerson will continue to oversee the evolution and progress of policies issued by the governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team. In the Legislature, Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried wears the mantle of one of the state’s leading health care advocates, and he is a longtime proponent of single-payer health insurance. Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon is another leading voice in the field. He recently supported a new law that requires the disclosure of more information to women in mammography reports. Other important figures include Medicaid Inspector General James Cox, Department of Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky, Senate Insurance Committee Chair James Seward and new Assembly Insurance Committee Chair Kevin Cahill.
UNIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS Unions have traditionally played a major role in the state’s health care agenda, with the financial and political clout to demand input in the area with legislators and the governor. The most powerful is 1199 SEIU, the health care workers’ union, whose president is George Gresham and political director is Kevin Finnegan. Both served on Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team. Other important players include the state’s hospital and health care associations. Among the most influential of these organizations are the Greater New York Hospital Association, headed by Kenneth Raske, and the Healthcare Association of New York State, led by Daniel Sisto. Other important association heads include Elizabeth Swain, CEO of the Community Health Care Association of New York, James Knickman, CEO of the New York State Health Foundation, and New York State Nurses Association Executive Director Jill Furillo.
are Pamela Brier, CEO of Maimonides Medical Center; Stephen Berger, chairman for the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century; Michael Dowling, president and CEO of North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System; Montefiore Hospital President Steven Safyer; Continuum Health Partners President Stan Brezenoff; and Metropolitan Jewish Health System President and CEO Eli Feldman. The Issues
Dollars in Millions
STATE HEALTH CARE EXCHANGE When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act, many states, assuming it would be overturned, had to scramble to set up the health insurance exchanges mandated by EXECUTIVES AND HEALTH the legislation. Fortunately for MANAGEMENT New Yorkers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo Government officials often rely upon had already set the wheels in motion the expertise of hospital and health well before the Supreme Court decimanagement CEOs, who combine busi- sion, signing an executive order authoness management and medical knowl- rizing the state to begin setting up edge and serve on advisory boards the exchange and mandating that it statewide. Among the most influential be operational starting on Jan. 1, 2014. The exchange is designed to provide a menu of affordable insurCost of health insurance premiums, city of new york, ance options from fiscal years 2012–16 which consumers throughout the $7,000 state can choose. Every American $384 Medicare Part B will be required to $6,000 $346 Reumbursement purchase health $1,887 $312 insurance by 2014 $281 $5,000 $1,701 or else pay a $252 $1,536 federal tax penalty, $1,422 $4,000 so the exchange Retiree $1,282 Health Insurance is essential for putting the system $3,000 into practice. $4,393 Open enrollment $4,000 $2,000 $3,608 for the exchange $3,483 $3,257 Employee begins on Oct. Health Insurance $1,000 1, and notifying and attracting consumers across $0 the state is just one FY2013 FY2014 FY2015 FY2016 FY2012 of the remaining aspects of the SOURCE: New York City Office of Management and Budget via the Citizens Budget Commission implementation
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that still need to be sorted out. MEDICAID REDESIGN The governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team worked diligently to recommend major changes to the joint state-federal program, and the continued implementation of those policies and initiatives is a big part of the health care agenda in 2013. The redesign includes changes in long-term care, assigning special management units for the care of individuals with multiple health care difficulties, and identi-
fying people who are dually eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare in an effort to save money for the state and federal government. The state is currently waiting on a Medicaid waiver amendment that would provide $10 billion in federal grant money to help accommodate these changes. MEDICAL MARIJUANA Several lawmakers believe that the state might finally pass legislation allowing medically supervised marijuana treatment for people with debilitating or life-threatening illnesses. Last June the Assembly passed a bill that would establish a tightly regulated system permitting health care providers to consider medical marijuana for their patients, only to watch it die in the state Senate. But with a renewed push from state Sen. Diane Savino, of the newly empowered Independent Democratic Conference, and a strong ally in the Assembly in Richard Gottfried, there is some hope that it might eventually get done. Medical marijuana advocates have hired the powerful lobbying firm Patricia Lynch Associates, run by Lynch—a former advisor to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver—and will likely have the ear of the Legislature and the governor to press for action.
PERSPECTIVES Bruce N. Gyory
Numbers Paint A Murky Picture Of Mayoral Race
he New York City mayoral race has finally become engaged. How should we analyze this race? First, let’s internalize the full implication of New York City’s electorate being a minority majority. The aggregate minority vote (black, Hispanic, Asian and multiracial) will this year cast 56 to 58 percent of the total vote (slightly higher in the Democratic primary than the general election). This means that a candidate emerging from a white base would have to garner 40 percent of that aggregate minority vote to win a Democratic runoff or a two-person general election. Alternatively, a candidate with a unified minority base (no mean achievement, as there is tremendous diversity within each of the black, Hispanic and Asian communities) would need only a third of the white vote to win a Democratic runoff or a general election. The close 2009 race—when the minority vote was at 54 percent—shocked almost everybody, because Bill Thompson was able to get 80 percent of blacks, just shy of 65 percent of Hispanics, a narrow majority of Asians and 29 percent of white voters against Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Given the growth of the minority population, any candidate who could replicate the breadth of this coalition would come even closer to victory this year. Why do pundits favor Joe Lhota in the multicandidate GOP field? Simple. With the single exception of 1981, when Ed Koch beat a littleknown assemblyman named John Esposito in the GOP mayoral primary,
African-Americans Need President Obama’s Undivided Attention
ust a few weeks into President Barack Obama’s second term, some African-Americans are still looking for him to articulate a “black” agenda. For over a year, political commentator Roland Martin has urged black leaders to come up with an “ask.” Martin says black activists must lay out a specific set of demands, just like women, Hispanics and gays. Despite President Obama linking America’s long march toward equality for all from “Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall,” many African-Americans were unhappy about what they didn’t hear. Black critics were irked that President Obama failed to outline a set of policies directed at soothing black America’s continuing pain: record unemployment, poverty, health care disparities. At the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s MLK Day event, Harry Belafonte delivered a fiery denunciation of present-day black leaders for failing to address black suffering as previous generations of leaders did. Pundits and activists, like Belafonte, ache for Obama to embrace an urban jobs plan, defend affirmative action and fight poverty. During a recent Meet the Press appearance, NAACP leader Ben Jealous declared that black Americans are doing “far worse” than when President Obama first took office. “White people are doing a bit better [economically],” he said. “Blacks are doing far worse.” Jealous and others believe that the pursuit and fulfillment of a specific
no Italian-American has lost a Republican primary citywide or statewide in almost a half century (e.g., Marchi in 1969, D’Amato in 1980, Giuliani in 1989 and DioGuardi in 2010). In New York City, 78 percent of the GOP’s registration base is in the outer boroughs, where Italian-American homeowners cast an overwhelming share of the GOP’s primary vote. Consequently, Joe Lhota, backed to the hilt by Rudy Giuliani, is understandably favored to win the Republican primary. However, if John Catsimatidis runs, his resources could damage Lhota in the primary, just as Ron Lauder did to Giuliani in 1989. Catsimatidis could leapfrog Lhota, or his antiLhota barrage could open the door for George McDonald, Tom Allon or Adolfo Carrión (if he is granted a Wilson-Pakula to enter the GOP primary) to walk over the rugby scrum in victory, much as Bob Abrams did against Geraldine Ferraro and Liz Holtzman in the 1992 U.S. Senate primary. As for turnout, most pundits project that around 500,000 votes will be cast in the Democratic primary. I disagree. Prime New York’s Jerry Skurnik, whose knowledge of electoral trends is encyclopedic, recently reminded me that in every Democratic primary for mayor in which Democratic voters felt the winner of the primary could be the next mayor, turnout was at least 700,000 (1961, 1965, 1969, 1973, 1977, 1989 and 2001). Democratic turnout only dipped below 700,000 in a mayoral race when voters sensed there was no real contest (1981 and 1985 with
Koch) or when they knew the outcome would be determined in November (1993 and 1997 with Giuliani and the 2005 and 2009 Bloomberg re-elections, when turnouts dropped below 500,000 votes). The winner of this Democratic primary will be seen as the likely victor in the general election, thus driving turnout to 700,000 votes. Another factor to follow in this race will be the two competing majorities within the Democratic primary, for not only will 56 to 58 percent of the vote be minority, but 56 to 58 percent will also be female. Will minority women vote as minorities or as women? If Quinn can trigger a gender gap in her favor, especially from minority women, she will win this primary. Yet the ranks of female candidates who could not achieve this feat (e.g., Bella Abzug and Carol Bellamy for mayor, Mary Anne Krupsak for governor, Ferraro for Senate and Leslie Crocker Snyder for Manhattan DA) are far larger than those who succeeded (e.g., Krupsak for lieutenant governor and Bellamy for City Council president). There are simply too many precedents foreshadowing a bumpy ride for anyone to now be anointed a true mayoral frontrunner. Buckle your seat belts. This roller-coaster ride has just begun.
black socioeconomic agenda will secure “the riches of freedom and the security of justice,” as Dr. King urged. President Obama’s supporters fire back by saying that he was elected to make economic policies beneficial to all Americans. Obama firmly believes that a rising economic tide lifts all boats. But some African-American activists say that during times of low tide, blacks get thrown overboard like ballast. At this point the joke comes to mind about the man amid rising floodwaters who forsook the help of neighbors, preferring instead to wait on God. You’ll recall the water kept rising. The man drowned, died and went to heaven. When he got there he asked God, “Father, why didn’t you help me?” God replied, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter!” Decades of federal transfer payments (i.e., ADC, food stamps, subsidized housing and Medicaid) and education programs (e.g., Brown v. Board of Education, Head Start, courtordered busing, etc.) prior to the election of President Obama seem to have wrought little change for the chronic poor. Undoubtedly, black families are not as successful as they ought to be. There still exists disproportionately high poverty and low health outcomes that have remained stubbornly resistant to efforts to improve those conditions. We know that poverty is highest among women and children. The combination of high rates of black male incarceration, early death, high unemployment and welfare policies that
militate against men contribute to this persistent poverty. I have no doubt that smart antipoverty policies promoting marriage, family stability and economic opportunity would benefit economically disadvantaged female-headed households. Fostering and supporting healthy, intact income-earning families should be the basis of new antipoverty efforts if President Obama wishes to make good on Dr. King’s promissory note and achieve our goal of a stronger, better America. In his second term President Obama must also address health care disparities that contribute to premature male death in the black community. I believe that lowering the shockingly high black abortion rate is another goal worth pursuing. There is, however, another “ask”: creating a stronger America that’s equal parts economic, geopolitical and cultural. It is in America’s national security and economic interests for the Obama administration to forge greater commercial and strategic ties with Africa. America should assist the development of Africa with African-Americans at the forefront of that effort. I believe that these are prudent “asks” that benefit the national economy, AfricanAmericans and President Obama. And they are certainly worth pursuing.
Bruce N. Gyory is a political consultant with Corning Place Communications and an adjunct professor of political science at SUNY Albany.
Former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin represented the Bronx for eight years. www.cityandstateny.com | february 11, 2013
# W I N N E R SA N D LO S E R S
winners & Losers
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The perfect budget is like the perfect posterior: well-rounded but not growing at an unsustainable rate. Mayor Bloomberg should know: His budget sheds some pounds in the form of teachers and education programs. But how it will shake out is only one issue, and he’s only one of our winners and losers. Go to cityandstateny.com each week to vote.
Week of jan. 28, 2013
Week of jan. 21, 2013
Winners tkaczyk 51% schumer 22% skelos 10% white 9% wright 8% Mary Jo White: Nominated to chair SEC Keith Wright: Gets Assembly Housing chairmanship Dean Skelos: IDC coalition prescient, weak redistricting amendment passes
master mc Charles Schumer: Can he host the Oscars too? The state’s senior senator charmed a nation with gentle wisecracks while he emceed inauguration festivities. Schumer kept a weary President Obama smiling throughout the afternoon and made the entire proceedings feel like a post-Shabbat services brunch. Who cares if he pronounced Beyoncé like your suburban dad would and earned playful tweets asking whether he might be available for weddings? You know what? He probably would be.
Losers NYC campaign finance board 20% lacorte 29% hartzog 27% journal news 15% miner 9%
The Journal News: Drops controversial gun map Stephanie Miner: Unhappy with mandate relief proposals New York City Campaign Finance Board: Council passes bill over CFB opposition SMOOTH OPERATOR Ed Hartzog: It’s not too often that a City Council candidate attracts national exposure. Unfortunately for Hartzog, an Upper East Side Democrat, his sudden notoriety is for making a particularly tasteless quip. When a reporter asked Hartzog why in his recent campaign finance filing half of his donations came from out of state, he replied, “What’s a pretty girl like you doing reading those?” For the record, Ed, the answer to your question is: her job.
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Cecilia Tkaczyk: Better late than never. The final member of the state Senate took her seat in the chamber after an ultimate round of ballot openings gave her an 18-vote victory. Tkaczyk’s triumph, three months after Election Day, was hailed by environmental advocates, campaign finance reform supporters and, most of all, Senate Democratic leaders, who scored a seat in a district Republicans had drawn up specifically to help their candidate win.
YOUR CHOICE Dagan LaCorte: Suffern Mayor Dagan LaCorte wanted to trip up his opponent, Spring Valley Justice David Fried, in a Democratic primary race for Rockland County executive. He wrote a text message to his campaign manager that read, verbatim: “Record fried on phone / – gay marriage, desal. $$$ he can’t raise – spy early bc Chris smith will tell him who you are. I’ll check in later for recon. Get names and emails[.]” Then LaCorte accidentally texted the Nixonian instructions to… Fried.
Winners alfonso 2% nolaN 22% miner 18% adams 30% quinn 28% Antonio Alfonso: Highest-paid state employee Stephanie Miner: Backed on mandate relief Catherine Nolan: Blasts Bloomberg and Mulgrew
your choice Eric Adams: The increasingly likely successor to the throne of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz nabbed a leadership post in what could be his final year in Albany. Heading the Senate Aging Committee, part of a GOP-IDC effort to include Democrats in the leadership, Adams will have an inside track for appealing to Brooklyn seniors. As an added bonus, Domenic Recchia, Adams’ strongest rumored challenger, has decided to take a pass on the BP race to run for Congress.
Christine Quinn: The Christine Quinn publicity tour was at full throttle, with a glowing cover story in New York magazine showcasing her dynamic personality and largely skipping over her vague political positions. A forthcoming memoir, with a title better suited for a British soap opera, With Patience and Fortitude, will score her points with the book club voting bloc. Plus, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union endorsed her. Not even Mayor Bloomberg questioning her fashion taste could take away from a solid week.
your choice huntley 37%
recchia 9% cuomo 25% bloomberg 27% ryan 2%
Michael Bloomberg: UFT battle leads to budget cuts Domenic Recchia: Drops Brooklyn BP bid Matthew Ryan: Binghamton’s credit rating downgraded FREE-FALLING Andrew Cuomo: After two years of sky-high approval ratings, the governor took a serious hit after his gun control legislation passed. The drop—from 74 percent to 59 percent— was expected, but it reflects serious dissatisfaction with the new law and the way it was “ramrodded” through. Now the governor faces a gun lobby lawsuit, calls to change the law and criticism from mental health advocates over privacy. Then again, what good is political capital if you don’t use it?
Shirley Huntley: The former state senator is the latest pol to go down in ignominy, pleading guilty to charges that she embezzled from a nonprofit she ran. Huntley’s guilty plea will not only cost her $87,000—the amount she allegedly stole from the nonprofit— but also potentially two years in the clink, an unfortunate place for any senior citizen to spend her time. But, hey, if Alan “Hevi D” Hevesi made friends in prison, maybe Huntley (“S-Hunt”?) will have similar success.
B AC K & F OR T H
Meditations On Politics A Q & A WITH Deepak Chopra
r. Deepak Chopra is a spiritual guru and one of the world’s most famous practitioners of alternative medicine. The best-selling author of more than 70 books, including Super Brain, The Soul of Leadership and War of the Worldviews, Chopra is also the founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in California and the Chopra Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at advancing holistic healing and education. A supporter of President Obama, Chopra has recently waded into New York City politics by endorsing Reshma Saujani for public advocate. City & State Editor Morgan Pehme spoke with Chopra about why he has decided to support Saujani and asked him whether politics can be a means to achieving happiness. The following is an edited transcript.
City & State: How did you get to know Reshma Saujani? Deepak Chopra: I met her first 10 years ago [when] she was working on John Kerry’s campaign. And then she was working later on President Obama’s campaign—and actually she helped me do a major fundraiser for President Obama’s second term, so I’ve been following her for a long time now.
Photo by Todd MacMillan - not far now studios
C&S: What makes you think she is going to be a good public advocate for New York City? DC: In many ways I’ve been partially coaching her, too—I teach a course on leadership at the Kellogg School of Management. She is a good listener, she knows how to emotionally bond with people, she’s very specific in her goals that she wants to achieve, she’s responsible, she takes initiative and she’s done already, I think, some really good work with her nonprofit, Girls Who Code. I go to the inner city in urban New York, to Queens and other places, to teach African-American youths skills in self-awareness—and she has been going there with me [as part of her] program Girls Who Code, which is basically [aimed at] getting disadvantaged youths to learn skills that will give them jobs. So I think she comes from a place of service more than a place of ego, and I really believe in her. She has enjoyed the support of President Obama, and she has already worked as a deputy public advocate, so I think she is the right candidate. C&S: You have supported President Obama and other national candidates. Is this the first time you have ever endorsed a candidate for local office? DC: Yes, it is the first time I have ever [done so], and it’s taken me a while to do that. I’ve gotten to know her over a period of time. C&S: Does it make a difference to you that she is an Indian American or a South Asian American? DC: It does make a difference that her parents are immigrants. Immigration is a big issue and an important issue for a lot of people, locally and nationally. Her parents are actually from Africa, from East Africa, of Indian origin, but immigrants, so it does make a difference, yes. C&S: In 2011 you did an interview with Playboy in which
you said President Obama should be a one-term president—I believe you’ve since come back to feeling positive about him—but I was wondering if there is something inherently disillusioning and difficult for people to stomach about politics? DC: That article was a little misinterpreted. What I was saying was he would be a better world leader than a political leader, but the headline was “Why [Obama] Shouldn’t Run for Office a Second Time,” and so it was misinterpreted, in my view. I think what happens is when you’re running for office, you have to compromise, and that’s the nature of politics. I think there comes a time when great leaders have to relinquish politics if they really want to be leaders.
C&S: Do you think that politics is something that everyone should participate in? Most of our readers’ lives revolve around the field in some capacity, and I was curious if you think that engaging in politics can be a means of achieving happiness. DC: It’s a means to become wiser and [more] realistic, and a means to maneuver your way to leadership by actually looking at all of the power mongering and influence peddling and, in many ways, corruption that happens when people are not mature enough to be leaders. It’s a great learning experience. C&S: It seems as if it is a great challenge to one’s character as well. DC: Definitely. [Laughs] It’s the biggest challenge to one’s character. C&S: What would you hope that Saujani achieves as public advocate? Where would you like her to concentrate her energies? DC: The people who need her help most: the disenfranchised, the disadvantaged and the poor. C&S: Who are the politicians you think we should look to as a model of virtue, as a model for us to follow? DC: I look at international politicians like Nelson Mandela, like the former president of Costa Rica Óscar Arias [Sánchez]. There are a few who are really stellar examples of how you can be an amazing political leader, as well as an amazing leader for the rest of the world; we have very few of those. I do admire President Obama a lot as a great example of somebody who offers hope, trust, stability and compassion, and who manages to do very well given the opposition that he has to deal with. I think Nancy Pelosi is a very smart and elegant leader as well. C&S: So many people around the world revere your lessons and look to you for wisdom. Would you ever run for office yourself? DC: No, I would not. Never. C&S: Why is that? DC: First of all, I’m not the right age. Secondly, I’ve spent my life in a place where I can speak my truths without having to ever defend or compromise or do deals with people, and the nature of politics is that you have to compromise. The best leaders do that—even our president right now. [He] has to deal with a very strident, polarized opposition in Congress, and in order to do anything it’s like he [has] to fight the Mafia. www.cityandstateny.com | february 11, 2013
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The February 11th, 2013 issue of City and State.