Vol. 2, No. 12 - JULY 8, 2013
The past, present and future of the historic state Senate alliance between the IDC’s Jeff Klein and the GOP’s Dean Skelos By Aaron Short
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UPFRONT TIME AND MONEY
Morgan Pehme EDITOR When Mayor Bloomberg declared his support for resurrecting the discarded lever voting machines for this year’s elections, he inadvertently gave the lie to an old fabrication he himself had concocted. As soon as Bloomberg announced on Oct. 1, 2008 that he wanted to seek a third term in 2009, he put forth the argument that with the general election that year just over a month away it was far too late—as well as prohibitively expensive—to ask the voters to reconsider the term limits law they had already twice approved by putting it on the ballot. Of course, anyone who had seen the polling knew at the time that Bloomberg’s reasoning— which his allies in the City Council promptly adopted— about the impossibility of mounting a new referendum was entirely self-serving. In a Quinnipiac poll taken the month of Bloomberg’s announcement, a majority of voters (56 percent) opposed the extension of term limits in principle and, though there was greater receptiveness among the respondents to Bloomberg being allowed to stay on another four years, 60 percent of those surveyed said they strongly opposed their local City Council member being afforded the same exception. In other words, if the question had been returned to the voters, the odds of a term limits extension succeeding would have been extremely problematic certainly far more challenging than winning over 26 Councilmembers who stood to gain a great deal from voting yes— both by serving another term
and accruing chits from the mayor and the speaker. On Oct. 23, 2008, the Council, acting with staggeringly uncharacteristic speed, approved the extension by a tight vote of 29 to 22. What is less remembered by history is that the vote was the second of two that day. The first was on an amendment calling for the matter to be decided not by the Council, but in another public referendum—a measure that if passed would have essentially sunk the whole scheme. In a bit of horse-trading intended to confuse the electorate, Jessica Lappin of Manhattan and Anthony Como of Queens were allowed by Speaker Christine Quinn to vote against the extension to shield themselves from reprisals from the incensed public in their re-election campaigns (Como lost anyway). In exchange for the pass, Lappin and Como voted “no” on the amendment—a nonsensical combination of votes for anyone actually opposed to a third term. The amendment failed 28 to 22 (then Councilman James Sanders bafflingly voted to abstain). The fact is, then and now, that the idea of returning the question to the voters was not rejected for either logistical or economic reasons. The mayoral election was more than a year out at the time, and no one other than the self-interested parties would have blanched at the city laying out the money to ensure that the will of the people was done. The proof? On June 23 of this year, a mere two months before this primary, the State Legislature approved the mayor’s request to completely upend the New York City Board of Elections and revert to the old lever voting machines, a move that will entail a host of expenses. Never mind that the city has dumped around $95 million in recent years into the changeover to electronic voting machines. When the city has to clean up its errors, price is no object. It’s only when the outlay will negatively affect our elected officials that there’s a problem.
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AROUND NEW YORK The best items from City & State’s political blog City & State’s political blog 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.
ALBANY A last-gasp effort to reform campaign finance laws sputtered when Senate Democrats failed to muster enough votes. The drama began when state Sen. Gustavo Rivera introduced a hostile amendment to state Sen. Marty Golden’s bill authorizing lever machines for runoff elections in New York City. The amendment, which would have established matching funds at a rate of $6 for every $1 for small donations given to candidates, received 30 yes votes—including 25 votes from Senate Democrats, four votes from Independent Democratic Conference members and one vote from expelled Democrat state Sen. John Sampson. But Senators Rubén Díaz Sr., Malcolm Smith and Simcha Felder joined Republicans in refusing to vote for the amendment, dooming a final effort for campaign finance reform this year. Several Democratic sources privately contended that the IDC, a group of four breakaway Democrats, only voted for the amendment when it became clear that there would not be enough support in the chamber to pass it, but IDC leaders, who share power with Senate R e p u b l i c a n s , blasted Senate Democrats for failing to round up the votes necessary for passage. “Tonight, the Independent Democratic Conference took a stand in support of publicly financed campaigns, but once again, Senate Democrats were either too disorganized or too fractured to unite in support of public financing legislation carried by their
own leader,” Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein’s (left) spokesman Eric Soufer said in an email. “Make no mistake, today Senate Democrats may have just killed the best opportunity for serious campaign finance reform in over a decade.” MANHATTAN Anthony Weiner, (below) in his first on-camera interview since The New York Times published a story about the personal and professional difficulties of the women he became involved with during his “sexting” scandal, reiterated his regret that their names had been dragged through the mud because of his actions. “I’ve said many times whenever I was asked that I have deep regret for the women’s lives who were turned upside down by their unwitting involvement in all of this,” Weiner said. “One of the reasons I had been so reluctant to speak about them is that they’re entitled to their privacy, and I want to reiterate that sense of apology—and I’ve never talked about the private exchanges that we’ve had and I never will, because I think that they’ve already been put through enough.” The story tracks down several of the women with whom Weiner had cyber dalliances. Some expressed displeasure at being drawn back into the spotlight because of Weiner’s campaign for mayor. MANHATTAN While there has been plenty of speculation about possible Republican challengers to Gov. Andrew
Cuomo next year, there has been little talk about potential GOP candidates for other statewide offices. As for the state’s attorney general race, former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia (above) is mulling a challenge to Eric Schneiderman, City & State has learned from multiple sources. One of the most prominent Latino lawyers in the state, Garcia was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2005 to 2008 and is now a partner at Kirkland & Ellis. The Republican Party’s nominee in the last cycle, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, lost the general election by more than 12 points to Schneiderman. Garcia, 51, has long been rumored as a potential candidate for elected office. An appointee of President George W. Bush, Garcia served in the Bush administration as assistant secretary for immigration and customs enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security before becoming U.S. Attorney. As U.S. Attorney Garcia was not in the news for prosecuting political corruption as much as his successor, Preet Bharara, but Garcia brought indictments that led to convictions of former Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin, ex–State Sen. Efrain Gonzalez and ex–NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik. He also caught former Gov. Eliot Spitzer on a wiretap arranging a liaison with a prostitute.
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UPFRONT THE KICKER: A CHOICE QUOTE FROM CITY & STATE ’S FIRST READ EMAIL “They say he’s a pain in the ass and is always trying to follow a path of dictating and bullying people.” —Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, who is considering running for governor, on upstate Assembly Democrats’ opinion of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, via the New York Post
BY THE LETTERS New York received one of the worst overall report cards in the Conexus Indiana 2013 Manufacturing and Logistics National Report from Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research, which grades states on several areas of the economy. And while New York did poorly across all of the categories, it bombed in Manufacturing Industry Health and Tax Climate, receiving Fs in both categories. But how does New York compare with its own past record? NEW YORK’S PERFORMANCE RATING BY CATEGORY FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS
THE TWITTER CANDIDATE ANTHONY WEINER @anthonyweiner 15,265 followers
MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY HEALTH 2013 2012 2011 2010
CHRISTINE QUINN @Quinn4NY 15,172 followers
Logistics Industry Health
BILL DE BLASIO @deBlasioNYC 6,103 followers
JOSEPH LHOTA @JoeLhota 5,181 followers
Worker Benefit Costs
JOHN LIU @JohnLiu2013 4,443 followers
WILLIAM THOMPSON @BillThompsonNYC 3,889 followers
Expected Liability Gap
JOHN CATSIMATIDIS @JCats2013 2,099 followers
GEORGE MCDONALD @McDonald4NYC 1,543 followers
Productivity and Innovation
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UPPER WEST SIDE, MANHATTAN
GALE FORCE WINDS Upper West Siders prefer Brewer, mostly because they’ve heard of her BY AARON SHORT the neighborhood. That bodes well for Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who is hoping to become the next Manhattan borough president. “I think she’s interesting, but I like her,” Manhattan resident Tina Hansen said. “I like that she’s scrappy and that she worked really hard on this paid-sick-leave deal and that she didn’t give up on it.” Dedelioglu was excited to hear that Brewer was running at all. “I would vote for her … She’s done great things,” she said. “I didn’t know she is running.” But candidates for City Council will likely face a tough crowd this summer. Most diners could not identify any candidates running for City Council races and said that it was “premature” to start
paying attention to them. “They’re only starting now to reach out to people,” Upper West Side resident Jonathan Silver said. “I’ve seen them out in the neighborhood, but I try to avoid them. I see them at the subway stations at the morning.” Manhattan resident Alex Schenck said he did not know who was running for the lower seats and had not seen any campaign flyers in his neighborhood. “I can’t say I have seen any advertising in my neighborhood … not since last election,” he said. “The only one I’ve seen posters of and ads on TV for is John Catsimatidis.” And Harlem resident Jacqui Burwell said she is “not paying much attention” to the races, but she will once it gets closer to
the primary. “I’ll wait until the last minute and go online and Google search it like I usually do, and look up some information,” she said. Not that Burwell or the other diners are that inspired by anyone currently running for office. “Politicians say good things in the beginning just to get your interest and to get your vote,” she said. “They get the job, and all the promises they made go out the window, and they become not as important as the campaign to win. My believability in politicians wanes quickly.” Silver had even nastier things to say about this year’s mayoral crop. “I don’t regard the current candidates as suitable,” he said. “A lot of them just seem
Artie’s Deli 6
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y now, many Upper West Siders know which candidates are running for mayor. They may not like any of them particularly, but they have heard about who’s out there. But voters at Artie’s Deli in the West 80s who were chewing on pastrami sandwiches with marble rye are also chewing on candidates running in the down ballot races. “What’s-her-name’s son is Noah Gotbaum and is running for something,” Manhattan resident Kate Dedelioglu said. “Public advocate? Do I know of him? I’ve met him before, and I know of him.” Artie’s politically engaged customers were likely to support candidates for lower office if they had met them or seen them in
T H E F I V E B O R O U G H B A L LOT BLOOMBERG’S CONFIDENCE GAME
The mayor is misrepresenting the city’s fiscal condition to justify denying workers decent raises
like political hacks who have no vision of the city. They seem far more selfish than visionary.” And Upper West Side resident Fasil Mogus said he would not vote for anyone because he was shocked that Anthony Weiner, a “pervert candidate,” was running for mayor. “He took us for fools,” he said. “Because he’s bad, de Blasio looks good. It’s just like the presidential election. That’s why I’m not voting anymore. It doesn’t make sense.” But most diners, as well as Artie’s wait staff, said they didn’t know the candidates, but planned to vote in the fall. “Not at all, to be honest,” Elizabeth Rodriguez, a waitress and Bronx resident, said, when asked if she knew who was running. “I don’t know anything about it.”
Her co-worker, George Yturrizaga, was also unsure of the candidates for City Council and Manhattan borough president. “I don’t even know who’s running, at this point,” he said. “I have to read into it more. You don’t hear much about the Manhattan borough president.” He has heard about Anthony Weiner— and he likes him. “I think he has a better chance of winning than Christine Quinn,” he said. “It’s just his whole attitude. He knows what he’s done is wrong. He’s taken the punches and goes with it.” What would Yturrizaga recommend to Weiner if he came to Artie’s to politick? “Pastrami!” he said. “ It’s the best. I’d give him a wiener with some sauerkraut if he wants it.”
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BY MICHAEL MULGREW Mayor Bloomberg claims that times are so tough, there isn’t enough money in the city budget to give city workers, including teachers, the retroactive pay raise they are owed. The truth is that—thanks in part to a strong local economy—the city has generated huge budget surpluses every year. And those surpluses would have been even larger if the mayor hadn’t blown billions on doomed pet projects and unnecessary tax breaks for developers and business. The annual predictions of fiscal doom are getting ridiculous. In fiscal year 2007, Bloomberg first projected a budget deficit of nearly $4 billion. But when the city controller closed the books after the year ended, the deficit had turned into a $4.7 billion surplus. That pattern has continued right through this year. In fact, since fiscal year 2005, the city has had annual budget surpluses ranging from $2 billion to well over $4 billion. Why? The record shows that the city consistently overestimates its costs and underestimates its revenues. At the end of fiscal 2011, the city had nearly $1.5 billion more than it had projected in tax collections and more than $400 million more in non tax revenues. At the same time, many expenses had come in well below what the city was expecting—in the case of workers’ pension and health costs, $831 million less. In 2012, unanticipated revenues totaled $364 million, while pension and health costs were $549 million under projections. Meantime, the city has exaggerated its borrowing costs for capital projects like water system improvements, parks and highways. Debt service costs have come in well below expectations—an average of more than $250 million every year—since 2007. Although the nationwide economic downturn was the worst since the Great Depression, New York City lost a significantly smaller percentage of jobs than the country did. And while the nation’s job total is still down 2% since the recession began in January 2008, the city’s payroll employment is now ahead of its prerecession level. Wall Street profits in 2012 were nearly $24 billion; job growth was strong in computer systems, management consulting and other fields, and the mayor’s office boasted that tourist spending for the year passed $55 billion, setting a record. But rather than spending these resources prudently, this administration has thrown good money after bad—on both the spending and tax sides of the ledger. Remember CityTime, the system that was supposed to eliminate waste and fraud in the city payroll system? It started out with a projected cost of $68 million, ballooned to a $750 million project that still requires outside contractors to finish the job and embroiled the city in a scheme that resulted in criminal charges for more than a dozen individuals. When the Bloomberg administration took office, business tax breaks were valued at about $1 billion, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute. Now they are worth almost $3 billion a year. Look at the $200 million annual “carried interest” break that goes to hedge funds, or the property tax break for Madison Square Garden, or hundreds of millions in property tax benefits granted through the city’s Industrial and Commercial Abatement and 421-a programs. An $88 million penthouse at 15 Central Park West is taxed as if it were worth only $3 million, thanks to an outmoded assessment process that grotesquely undervalues luxury buildings. The latest giveaway was highlighted by the Daily News, which found that the city budget will take a multi million-dollar hit because a special exemption has been carved out for five super luxury developments in Manhattan. The mayor keeps saying that teachers and other city workers have been getting raises even without new contracts. But while recent city contracts with outside vendors have included automatic raises to match inflation, city step and longevity increases apply only to some city workers at some points in their careers. A study by Controller John Liu found that city workers overall make less money than their counterparts in the private sector. The mayor may claim that teachers in particular have done well during his tenure—but New York City teacher salaries are still well below those of teachers in surrounding districts, even below struggling districts like Yonkers and Hempstead. Bottom line: Despite unneeded tax breaks and disastrous outsourcing mistakes, New York’s underlying economic strength and rolling budget surpluses show that the city can afford to make a fair agreement with the people who keep it going. But City Hall has to have the willingness to do so. Mulgrew is president of the United Federation of Teachers, which has endorsed Bill Thompson. Reprinted from June 24th, 2013 NY Daily News ADVERTISEMENT www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013
T H E F I V E B O R O U G H B A L LOT
VAN DYKE HOUSES
WHY VAN DYKE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE RACE FOR MAYOR
Lisa Kenner, Van Dyke’s resident association president, in her basement office. She explains political disinterest as a reaction to challenging lives.
By JARRETT MURPHY Gunshots. Waterbugs. Losing my
mother. Doctor. Rats.”
Asked to list their fears at a youth conference in mid-June, the children of the Van Dyke public housing complex in Brownsville, writing on poster board, inked in Crayola colors a litany of dreads. Lisa Kenner, the resident association president at the 22-building Van Dyke development, organized the day-long conference, which combined motivational speeches with lessons in elementary finance. She says 50 people attended— not bad for a sunny Saturday. But that was nothing compared to the appearance of
JULY 8, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
City Councilwoman Darlene Mealy. “She surprised me,” Kenner said. “She showed up.” Kenner—who as RA president is a force to be reckoned with at Van Dyke—and Mealy, who has represented the area in the Council since 2005, are not close. Kenner says she has been asked to run against Mealy in the past but has declined. She blames a falling out between Mealy and another local pol, Alicka Amprey-Samuel, for allowing William Boyland, Jr. to become the area’s assemblyman; Boyland now faces trial on a slew of corruption charges. Kenner served as a Democratic district leader from 2004 to 2008; Mealy took over the post in 2010.
Ask a person around Van Dyke about this year’s mayoral election and you’re unlikely to find much interest. And if interest in the mayoral race is vaporthin, engagement in down-ballot races is nonexistent. “Talk about the election? Not for three years,” said one man in his 40s standing outside Kenner’s office. Told that there’s a city election in 2013, he said, “Oh no. No, no, no. I won’t be voting for that. I never vote in city elections.” A block away, a young man in glasses barked, “I don’t give a damn about no election,” then asked rhetorically, “Is there a black man running?” He wasn’t impressed to hear that a black man is in the race.
Kenner thinks people are turned off because the challenges they face have narrowed their perspective. “Here, people been beat down so much they don’t see,” she said. The conversation at Van Dyke, she adds, isn’t about who should be the next mayor, but about whether to have an annual community event that Kenner would rather skip. “They worried about Family Day. They worried about franks and hamburgers.”
thers around Van Dyke have different explanations for the lack of interest. Zakkia Hallums, a lifelong Brownsville resident in her 20s, says people at Van Dyke haven’t tuned in to
Many in the Brownsville housing project profess no interest in the mayoral race. But being disengaged from the election doesn’t mean they’re disengaged from the debate about where New York is headed.
T H E F I V E B O R O U G H B A L LOT
the mayoral campaign because “they aren’t really campaigning here.” Hallums has a day job carrying petitions for Abe George, one of the two men challenging Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. “It’s hard getting signatures because people think once politicians get into office, they’re bull—t anyway,” she said. People are turned off, she continued, when elected officials pursue individual agendas rather than working together. Hallums once worked for Mealy, whom she says is a nice person. She believes Mealy gets resistance from Kenner on ideas to help Van Dyke. What’s frustrating to her is that, while many of Brownsville’s problems are hard to solve—intergenerational poverty, health disparities, gun violence—others shouldn’t be. Six years ago, Hallums said, the city removed the traffic light at a nearby intersection near a senior center. To this day, seniors expect to cross safely and narrowly avoid getting hit, or don’t avoid it. She wonders why they don’t just put the light back. The most common complaint at Van Dyke is that there’s nothing for the kids to do. While Kenner views Family Day as a distraction and has resisted efforts to organize one this year, Hallums believes a day of hamburgers and hot dogs on the patios around Van Dyke’s mix of high- and lowrise buildings would at least provide a day of activity. Hoping to fill the gap between what Van Dyke’s kids need and what they have, Hallums and her friends sell candy on Sundays to buy balls, jump ropes and other items for local children. That kind of self-reliance is a great thing, but in this case it reflects a broad feeling that government is incapable of addressing even simple needs. “These young people, they don’t care”
about politics, she said, gesturing to her friends milling about the open area between Powell Street, Blake Avenue and Dumont Street. “They’ve given up on them.”
tanding outside the nearby senior center, Earl Hunter, 68, and his friend Kindu, who declined to give his last name or age, say they also have no interest in politics. “I ain’t never been political,” Kindu said. “I can’t vote. I did 10 years in prison.” Asked if he might be able to regain his franchise, he said he probably could, but he won’t. “It’s always been the same and it always will be. Because it’s the have and have nots,” Earl said. “And we are the have nots.” Both men are as worried about the neighborhood’s young people as Kenner or Hallums. If he were mayor, Hunter said, his first priority would be to “try to get the young people something to do.” “You can’t fault these young kids for what’s going on,” he said. “Every place where there’s a possibility that they could burn off that energy” is closed off to them. “No positive role models,” added Kindu, who has a prosthetic device below his left knee where a cinder block crushed his leg in a construction accident. “All the fathers are gone. Moms are being mothers and fathers. Their lives all f—d up.” The men differ subtly on whose fault that is. “I stopped blaming white people a long time ago,” Kindu said. “It ain’t about the blame game no more.” It’s everyone’s fault, he says. For his part, Earl believes responsibility is shared, but not equally. “That blame game is everybody included, but it does start at one particular place and that’s the people in power,” he said
VAN DYKE HOUSES
he 2013 campaign is not something that people out in the street at Van Dyke want to talk about. But as Kindu and Earl displayed, the disengagement is not so much from politics as it is from elections. People have strong ideas about what their community
needs. They just have no faith in elected officials to deliver. Indeed, concern about Brownsville’s youth links Hallums, who is very politically engaged, with Kindu, who has never voted in his life; it in turn unites Hallums and Kenner, even if they have different takes on neighborhood politics. Kenner was recently in Tampa for a five-day training to be a coordinator for Section 3, the federal law requiring public housing authorities like NYCHA to employ residents on large capital projects. She’s hoping to secure jobs for local youth in and around the nearby Prospect Plaza site, which is being torn down and rebuilt. She knows her neighbors are looking for government to make a difference, so jobs would be a great boon not just to the young workers, but also to those just walking by. “When young people work in the neighborhood who live in the neighborhood, it just lifts your spirits,” she said. At Kenner’s recent youth conference, after they were asked to delineate their fears, the children of Van Dyke worked on another posterboard, this one for their dreams. “Lawyer. Doctor. Teacher. Pop-star. To own my own home. See Jesus’s face. Singer. To be rich. Big sister. Attend college.” No one wanted to be president, let alone mayor.
www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013
COV E R
The Odd Couple THE SENATE MAJORITY FAILED TO PASS MUCH LEGISLATION IN AN ACRIMONIOUS SESSION THIS YEAR—BUT MAYBE THAT WAS THE POINT. By AARON SHORT
his year’s legislative session in Albany began with an unprecedented event, somewhat reminiscent of a civil union. On January 9, Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein were sworn in as co-temporary presidents of the state Senate, thus codifying the historically unprecedented coalition between Skelos’ Republican caucus and Klein’s Independent Democratic Conference At the ceremony, Skelos give Klein a gentle, approving nudge on his shoulder, as Klein’s brother administered the oath of office to him. Both men were beaming. After the formalities were concluded, Skelos, who had held the title of majority leader and president pro tempore exclusively since 2011, thanked his colleagues in brief remarks. As for Klein, he appeared to savor the moment in which he had finally attained the chamber’s top position after nine years in the Senate, delivering a resounding speech referencing his immigrant grandparents’ hopes and promising to help a new generation of young immigrants. In taking power, he vowed to work with his colleagues in both conferences and the governor’s office to pass bipartisan legislation. “From this day forward it is no longer acceptable to dig in your heels in personal political combat at the expense of hardworking taxpayers of this state,” he said. “Coalition governing, by its very nature, is an inclusive endeavor, not an exclusive one. I have no doubt that our promise to create this historic bipartisan governing model will be the vehicle by which we can continue to build on the tremendous progress we have achieved in the past two years and the road that will lead us to even more results for all New Yorkers.” Hours earlier, the two men released a statement explaining how they would run the Senate. They would take on the new title “temporary president” and serve as co-leaders, sitting in with the governor and the Assembly Speaker during budget negotiations. Both men would share power of the chamber on alternating days—a press release actually listed the days of the legislative session when each would preside over the Senate—though Skelos would have veto power over what bills could be introduced on the floor. As the IDC and Republicans rejoiced at their new coalition, Senate Democrats quietly seethed. After last November’s election, Democrats thought they had finally achieved their long sought goal of winning enough seats to take control of the Legislature’s upper chamber. Upending Republican challenges in Westchester, Dutchess, Erie and Monroe counties and, eventually, in another district in the Capitol region that had been gerrymandered to favor a Republican legislator, the Democrats could now count 31 members of the 63-member Senate in their conference with one seat that remained contested (which the Democrats would win after a long recount). However, before the session began Democrat Simcha Felder of Brooklyn announced that he would be caucusing with the Republicans instead of his party. Shortly thereafter Klein announced even worse news for the Democrats. His Independent Democratic Conference would
JULY 8, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
join forces with the Republicans in exchange for IDC members landing influential committee chairmanships and Klein sharing leadership of the coalition. As a result, the regular Senate Democrats would be cast back into the minority, despite their numerical advantage on paper. Klein justified his party-hopping move as the best way to advance a progressive agenda. He emphasized that his conference, empowered by the new power-sharing agreement, would advance progressive legislation including gun control, the decriminalization of marijuana, a minimum wage increase and education funds for immigrant college students. “We can’t go back to the days of dysfunction,” Klein told The New York Times in November. “We can’t go back to the days of relying on every single Democrat to get things done, ignoring the other side completely, jamming through a legislative agenda which doesn’t have bipartisan support.” Most importantly, Klein had the governor’s blessing. Cuomo approved of the new Senate governing majority and set about to work with them. He outlined an exhaustive list of priorities for the year in his State of the State address, including women’s equality, campaign finance reform and an on-time budget in early January. Then he used a procedural measure, known as a message of necessity, to push the Legislature to pass a package of gun control bills in the first three days of its session. Before the month was over, the governor got his gun bill, satisfying Democrats, and the Senate power-sharing agreement appeared to be working. In March, Skelos and Klein’s coalition passed its next test, agreeing to a budget before the state’s April 1 deadline, which included a minimum wage increase to $9 an
hour phased in over a three-year period, $1.1 billion in tax relief to families and businesses and an extension of a tax on the state’s top earners. Though Republicans grumbled over the tax extension and Democrats moaned that the minimum wage increase should go into effect immediately, the coalition partners declared victory. Cuomo said he was “hap-hap-happy” with the results. “These three years in a row getting the budget passed on time and the integrity of the budget is better, I think it is irrefutable proof that government is working,” Cuomo said in a radio interview in late March. It took less than three months for the mood in Albany to darken.
he first major issue to complicate Klein and Skelos’ marriage was campaign finance reform. Two weeks before the end of this year’s session, Cuomo introduced his package of ethics and election reform bills, surrounded by a cohort of district attorneys throughout the state. But legislative sources indicated in the waning days of the session that the Senate would not take up the governor’s anti-corruption bills because it included taxpayer-funded campaigns. Though the IDC came out in favor of the public financing of elections, Skelos opposed it in any form. Cuomo refused to budge on his public integrity proposal and announced that he would impose campaign finance reform without the Legislature, if necessary, by convening a Moreland Commission. Good government activists swarmed the fourth floor of the Capitol on June 18 and staged a sit-in at Klein’s fourth floor office. State Troopers arrested 21 demonstrators, who chanted, “IDC stands for I Don’t Care.”
COV E R Campaign finance reform drew its last breath of the year two days later when state Sen. Gustavo Rivera introduced a hostile amendment to an unrelated Republican elections bill. But Senate Democrats corralled only 30 “yes” votes for the measure. So down it went. Democrats pointed fingers at each other for the bill’s failure. Rivera said he was “deeply disappointed” with the Senate majority coalition for blocking the legislation. An Independent Democratic Conference spokesman retorted that Senate Democrats killed election reform because they were “either too disorganized or too fractured.” Klein explained after the session that it was an issue that Senators “couldn’t come together and get done.” “The Independent Democratic Conference supported a public financing system and we put out the most robust plan as far as anyone can say,” Klein told City & State. “You have to really question the motivation [of the activists]. A lot of special interests would like nothing more than to see coalition collapse. I think there are some in the Senate Democratic Conference who feel the same way.” At least the proponents of campaign finance reform got a vote. Last month, in the waning days of the session, rumors about the fate of hundreds of other bills oscillated like an electric fan as lobbyists, activists and legislative staffers rushed between chambers to get updates on their causes. The legalization of casino gaming, restructuring the Long Island Power Authority and the governor’s plan for tax-free zones near state university campuses all appeared headed for passage before the end of session—and eventually they did. But the DREAM Act, medical marijuana, marijuana decriminalization, speed cameras, early voter registration, transgender discrimination and a 10-point plan for women’s equality wavered between success and failure. The Assembly worked 12-hour days to pass a flurry of bills in the waning days of the session—but the Senate was stuck in a logjam that held up debate. Sources said that Skelos and Klein could not come to an agreement on which bills to bring to the floor of the Senate. Skelos nixed several proposals popular with Democrats and vowed not to introduce the tenth plank of the equality agenda that codified abortion rights. So Klein introduced the abortion bill as a hostile amendment on the last day of the session. The surprise move failed by one vote—one Democrat joined the entire Republican conference to vote against it. Klein directed his ire at Senate Democrats. “I think it was clear that the other side of the aisle, my governing partners didn’t want to bring this amendment to the floor,” he said. “The Independent Democratic Conference is all pro-choice, the only conference in the Senate … and we thought the women of New York deserved a vote. And they got a vote today, not the right vote, but they got a vote.” The Senate proceeded to pass the other nine women’s equality bills. But the Assembly, which grouped the equality bills into one package and passed it, adjourned for the summer at 9 p.m. on June 21 without picking up the Senate’s individual pieces. Neither bill could become law, making the Women’s Equality Act the most high profile victim of Albany’s gridlock. The women’s coalition’s deflated activists did not know who to blame first. NOW-New York leaders chastised Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly members for leaving without at least passing the nine less controversial bills. Others blamed Senate Republicans for quashing the abortion component and suggested that Klein’s amendment was a cynical ploy to score political points. “You begin to wonder if this was all orchestrated,”
League of Women Voters of New York State director Barbara Bartoletti said. “There were so many other ways to do this but it wasn’t done. It is what it is, and the groups that do electoral work will take what happened in the Senate as a negative vote and go after the senators who voted against the bill.” NARAL director Andrea Miller put the failure of the legislation at the feet of Klein and Skelos. She said the session proved that the Senate coalition government is “unworkable” since it did not allow a floor vote on upholding federal abortion rights, an issue that a significant majority of New Yorkers favor. “I consider that the IDC failed to demonstrate that they are truly pro-choice. … They failed to bring this forward in a real way,” she said. “They operated as if the IDC were a cluster of four votes and not part of a leadership coalition government. So I hold them as accountable if not more accountable for a woman’s right to choose.”
fared so far, few insiders believe it will break apart anytime soon—as long as Cuomo gets his way next year. The governor may not have as notched as many legislative victories as he would have liked, but the real battle will be passing a tough budget next spring when Sandy money runs out, healthcare and education costs rise, the state’s municipalities face growing financial crises, and the effects of the cuts from federal sequestration become clearer. “The governor’s interest in the coalition doesn’t end at the earliest until next year’s budget,” former assemblyman Richard Brodsky said. “The last thing Cuomo needs is an election year donnybrook. He’s got to clear the deck by April 1. And the easiest thing for the Senate coalition has been the budget. The friction has occurred on social issues.”
uccess in Albany is in the eye of the beholder. Both Skelos and Klein believe their coalition government is working. While Skelos declined to comment, his spokesman cited the passage of an early budget that curbed government spending, tax incentives for businesses and a relief package for Superstorm Sandy victims. “Coalition government does not mean we will agree on every issue, nor should it,” Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif said. “New Yorkers, however, are better off thanks to the bipartisan results we delivered.” Klein said that the majority coalition would “put forth issues that are right for New Yorkers” over partisan bickering, and cited the minimum wage passage, an early budget, speed cameras and tax credits for middle class families as examples of its accomplishments. “We have another year to go,” he said. “I’m very optimistic. The purpose of the coalition was never to turn Republicans into Democrats or Democrats into Republicans. It was to find common ground. We were very successful, and we want to be judged on the merits and judged on the results and we accomplished a lot.” Klein noted that the failure of the abortion component and campaign finance reform did not signify that the coalition itself was a failure. “When we started the coalition I never said that the only way to get a progressive agenda is to get a coalition, but on many issues when it is clear you do not have 32 Democrats, it cries out for bipartisanship,” he said. “You saw that on campaign finance reform, the choice issue— you need to get bipartisan support.”
lein’s Democratic colleagues outside of the IDC disagree. They believe the best solution to passing progressive legislation is for Klein and the other members of the IDC to re-join their conference. “I think they should be in a coalition with the Democrats, not the Republicans. I don’t care what they call themselves,” state Sen. Liz Krueger said. “They didn’t seem to get stuff they claimed they wanted when they left. They said they stood a better chance getting them if they broke off and made a deal with Republicans. I don’t believe they got what they wanted.” Regardless of one’s opinion as to how the coalition has
Nonetheless, there could be consequences at the polls next fall if budget deals fall apart and the Senate fails to advance a myriad of progressive items in an election year. For their part, Senate Republicans have said they will defend the Independent Democrats if they face challenges at the polls next year. As for the governor, it remains unclear who he will back, and how vigorously, when he is touring the state next summer in his re-election bid. Political observers believe Cuomo can change the balance of power in the Senate if he desires to do so. “It will be interesting to see what Cuomo does to help a Democratic Senate in the 2014 election,” Brodsky said. “He supported Republicans and did not suffer political criticism for it. And when the mainstream Democratic conference had a chance to govern the state, they couldn’t function, much less deal with significant ethical shortcomings. There is an argument that you can’t let those guys back into power.” Many progressive advocates bristle at the prospect of the coalition continuing, arguing that the results of the session prove that the Klein and the IDC placed their ability to control the Senate above their legislative agenda. “If all you care about is the patina of power and creating circumstances that allow members of the Senate to not have to vote for what their constituents expected, then perhaps you would consider that successful,” Miller said. “I don’t ascribe to that school. The vast majority of New Yorkers believe we send members to the Senate to do good things for the state and create progress for us, not to do procedural measures that hinder progress and attempt to create political cover.” Bartoletti agreed that the Senate was successful for those who ran it. “The Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference won, and yes they did win,” she said. “In the end, staying in power wins out.” www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013
COUNCIL BY SETH BARRON
A biweekly look at the candidates and campaigns for New York City Council
e each have a favorite charity, one that reflects the causes or beliefs most dear to us. But politicians have come up with all sorts of off-label uses for nonprofit groups. They can be used to gussy up a thin résumé, as a machine for gaining and maintaining political power, or even as a source of funds when personal bank accounts run low. If you happen to be the Speaker of the City Council, shadow nonprofits can also be a great instrument to stow away millions of dollars for later distribution to favored groups. The list of local politicians who have gone to prison because they looted or exploited nonprofit groups (a.k.a. “community based organizations”) is only a subset of New York’s roster of corrupt officials. Larry Seabrook, Miguel Martinez, Hiram Monserrate, Shirley Huntley, Pedro Espada (père et fils) … and that’s just off the top of my head. The aforementioned list also doesn’t include the many relatives and staff members of electeds who were involved in shady nonprofits, who may have taken a tumble in their boss’s stead. In this first City Council Watch column for City & State, we examine some of the relationships between nonprofits and the New York City Council members and candidates whose political fortunes are entwined with them. sss Bronx Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo has a long tangled history with the South Bronx Community Corporation, which her mother, Carmen Arroyo, ran, started in 1978. Over the years the SBCC received millions of dollars in grants to provide social services, and later became a developer of housing units for elderly and lower-income people using federal housing grants. It also became a base of operations and a source of local power for the Arroyo family: Carmen Arroyo was elected to the Assembly in 1994, and Maria del Carmen Arroyo, who under her married name, Maria Aguirre, took over the directorship of the organization from her mother, was elected to the Council in 2005. Oddly, the councilwoman cites her time as executive director of SBCC as a “volunteer” position on her official Council Web page, though IRS documents clearly show she was salaried. Keeping the nonprofit in the family, Carmen Arroyo’s grandson Richard Izquierdo took over the SBCC as president and ended up draining more than $100,000 from its coffers, spending the money on lavish dinners, clothes and plane tickets for his councilwoman aunt and assemblywoman grandmother. He and SBCC Executive Director Margarita Villegas, a friend and campaign treasurer for del Carmen Arroyo, subsequently pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges and went to prison in 2010. Izquierdo’s elected relatives managed to avoid prosecution. After his release from prison, Izquierdo was hired by another Bronx nonprofit, the Neighborhood Association for Inter-Cultural Affairs, headed by longtime family asso-
JULY 8, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
ciate Eduardo LaGuerre, to which Councilwoman Arroyo had previously tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to steer a juicy housing contract. In April 2013, 15 employees of the Puerto Rican Family Institute, which receives discretionary funding from Arroyo, made small contributions to her. Two PRFI employees independently confirmed to this columnist that they made these contributions at a “lunch meeting” at their Bronx office. One of them believed that Arroyo had been at the meeting; the other one wasn’t sure. By law, campaign fundraising cannot take place at nonprofits receiving city funding, and no intermediaries have filed on the councilwoman’s behalf. sss Right after Councilman Ruben Wills of Queens won his seat in a 2010 special election, he found himself in trouble regarding some outstanding warrants, including one for child support arrears and another for petty larceny. Well, we all have a past. In Wills’ case, his past also includes a nonprofit group called New York 4 Life, which received a $33,000 grant from now-indicted state Sen. Shirley Huntley, for whom Wills formerly worked as chief of staff. New York 4 Life, which Wills proudly touts in his official Council bio as part of his professional history, has never filed any tax forms or registered for nonprofit status. No one besides Councilman Wills appears to have worked for or with the organization, and no one can claim to have been helped by it—or harmed, for that matter—since it appears that the organization has never done anything beyond existing on paper. Wills has not been able to account for what happened to the $33,000 New York 4 Life received from the state, and has pleaded the Fifth on the subject when queried about it by the Attorney General’s office. sss Jenifer Rajkumar, who is running to unseat Margaret Chin in City Council District 1, was embarrassed earlier this year when it came out that W-Spin, the nonprofit she founded to promote Third World girl power and heralded as one of her major accomplishments, had never done anything—ever. But Rajkumar’s deception is small potatoes compared with the master of this kind of bamboozlement, Reshma Saujani, a candidate for public advocate, the ex-officio president of the Council. Saujani, coming off a disastrous and expensive challenge to Rep. Carolyn Maloney in 2010, badly needed to retool her image. A securities lawyer active in Democratic fundraising circles, Saujani apparently thought it wise as a congressional candidate targeting an Upper East Side electorate to play up her work for “three hedge funds.” What she did not emphasize on the campaign trail was that her employers included notorious financier (and Democratic fundraiser) Hassan Nemazee, now serving 12 years at Otisville for trying to steal $70 million from Citigroup; Blue Wave Partners, a subsidiary of the Bushconnected Carlyle Group; and the Fortress Investment
Group, which invested in the subprime mortgages of and foreclosed on people whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Of course, one needs to eat, but as Saujani learned on Election Day when she received a mere 19 percent of the vote against Maloney despite spending $1.3 million, a Wall Street-heavy bio like hers doesn’t tend to enthrall progressive Democratic voters in New York City. So Saujani got busy decorating her story to prepare for her next campaign. She took a sub-six-figure job working for Bill de Blasio as deputy public advocate for a whole 14 months; and then, after leaving the office, launched her own nonprofit group, Girls Who Code, in the spring of 2012. Girls Who Code now takes top billing on Saujani’s public profile. It is hard to find mention of her having done anything else. The organization, which states as its mission “to achieve gender parity in computing fields,” has received a staggering amount of press, including multiple stories in The New York Times, coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Time, Forbes and Glamour. It has also amassed sponsorships from Goldman Sachs, Google, GE, AT&T, Twitter, Capital One and eBay, among others. As Saujani puts it, “This is more than just a program. It’s a movement.” Given the amount of attention Girls Who Code has received, one might be surprised to discover that, until two weeks ago, virtually the entire extent of Girls Who Code’s work was a single 8-week computer day camp for 20 teenage girls last summer. This summer Girls Who Code is holding another 8-week computer day camp for 160 girls at 8 different locations. While certainly this program seems admirable, the actual scope of Girls Who Code falls short of what one generally expects of a major social movement. It is odd that Girls Who Code, while not shy about promoting itself, makes it hard to actually get in touch with anyone at the organization. The nonprofit does not have its own offices: The group borrows space from AppNexus, a company owned by Saujani’s husband’s business partner. Moreover, its website does not list a phone number to contact it, or even an email address. Directory assistance says there is no listing for Girls Who Code in New York, though this columnist did get a number by appearing in person at AppNexus’ front desk and asking for one. Apparently Girls Who Code has paid to keep its number private. Saujani, whose tech-entrepreneur husband afforded her entrée to the rarefied world of the tech billionaire class, has no tech background herself. So what inspired her to found Girls Who Code 18 months before an election in which she knew she would be running? We cannot confirm motive, of course. Girls Who Code hit the ground with a million dollars in seed money, according to IRS documents. Some might suggest such an effusion of publicity around a relatively slight endeavor was chiefly one thing: a stroke of self-promotional genius.
THE NEW YORK STATE
On the evening of June 18, City & State hosted a cocktail reception in honor of its latest 40 Under 40 Albany Rising Stars. The event, co-sponsored by Time Warner Cable and ACCA, brought together many of the biggest players in state politics and government, along with nearly all of the 2013 honorees. Among the partygoers who came out to toast the rising stars and enjoy the vista from the outdoor balcony of Albanyâ€™s Taste Restaurant were 2013 City & State Albany Power List members Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins; lobbyist Emily Giske of Bolton-St. Johns; Evan Stavisky of the Parkside Group; Patricia Lynch of Patricia Lynch Associates; and Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Though the heated final negotiations in this yearâ€™s legislative session kept some elected officials from attending the reception, 40 Under 40 awardees Assembly Members Michaelle Solages, Ron Kim, David Buchwald, Nily Rozic and Andrew Garbarino were able to steal away some time to make it out to the event.
Rising Star Michael Cassidy with Shanna McCoy
Rising Star Olympia Sonnier, Nic Cappon, Mike Barber, and Rising Star Gareth Rhodes
Joe Borelli and Cathleen Sims Devito, both Rising Stars, and Jeff Leb
Janet Palella, Stu Gruskin and Jessica Ottney with Rising Star Amanda Lefton
Phoebe Stonbely, Lisa Reed, Jeff Leb, Julie Miner and Jamie Venditti www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013
Rich District Poor District A Tale of the Tape in City Council Races By STEPHEN WITT While public financing has leveled the playing field in many New York City Council races, the huge discrepancy between the wealthiest and the poorest districts in the city in terms of campaign fundraising reveals clear distinctions as to how money is being spent to win the upcoming election. On Manhattan’s affluent Upper West Side, a six-person race to succeed the term-limited councilwoman, Gale Brewer, has been flooded with cash, with all six candidates raising over six figures, according to campaign finance records. Former Community Board 7 chair Helen Rosenthal leads the pack with a hefty $194,615. Conversely, the poorest non-incumbent race in the five boroughs is the fiveperson battle in East New York, Brooklyn, to replace term-limited Councilman Charles Barron. In Barron’s 42nd Council District, the top fundraiser so far is Christopher Banks, who has raised a mere $26,989. John Whitehead raised $8,250 and Barron’s wife, Assemblywoman Inez Barron, who is looking to replace her husband in the City Council, has accumulated just $9,064, while the other candidates, Sean Henry, Nikki Lucas and Regina Powell, have each raised slightly more than $5,000. Dick Dadey, executive director of the good government group Citizens Union, said that comparing fundraising in the two districts is like apples and oranges because the aim of public is to level the playing field within a given district, not to equalize spending across the board in all races. “What’s important is that candidates [within a given district] are financially competitive with one another, as opposed to comparing them to candidates in another district,” he said. However, while matching up the two districts in terms of overall fundraising may not be an apt comparison, the candidates’ expenditures reveal that the amount of money raised alters the mechanics of campaigning. It also highlights the growing role of political consultants in the city’s publicly financed elections. For example, the total outlay of all the Upper West Side candidates—Rosenthal, Marc Landis, Ken Biberaj, Noah Gotbaum, Debra Cooper and Mel Wymore—includes thousands of dollars for attorney and consultant fees, as well as polling, the acquisition of voter data, advertising and mailings. Wymore, for example, has already shelled out $17,500 to retain the high-powered election law firm of Stroock 14
JULY 8, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
any candidate have been made at local restaurants and bars to hold fundraisers. Whitehead said he retained an attorney because he has worked on many campaigns over the years and seen how many candidates are beaten not on the merits, but by technical errors and legalities that could have been avoided had they had a capable election attorney advising them. Far less important, in his mind, is hiring a consultant. “I’m not about to hire a consultant at this point because to pay a $3,000-amonth retainer for someone to sit in the office wasn’t worth it for me. I’ve got 15 brothers and sisters and many nieces and nephews, and I can get them to sit down at a table and stuff envelopes for me,” he said. Similarly in other districts around the city, the dynamics of New York City Councilman Charles Barron (far left), shown races are greatly here at a rally supporting the family of Trayvon Martin, influenced by the represents one of the poorest parts of the city, while his ability of candicolleague, Gale Brewer (fourth from right), is on the wealthy dates to hire Upper West Side. The candidates seeking to replace them have a wide divergence in fundraising totals. (AP Photo/New consultants. The Advance Group, York City Council, William Alatriste) for example, of the Upper West Side candidates paid charges a number of candidates a rela$2,376 to the New York State Demo- tively low $3,000 a month as a retainer, cratic Committee for voting records but has a menu of add-on costs for such data on registered Democrats within the services as communications, mailings district—a fairly standard expense even and flier designs. In Brooklyn’s relatively wealthy 35th among candidates from many of the less District—which includes the increasingly moneyed districts. However, in the cash-strapped 42nd gentrified neighborhood of Fort Greene Council District, only Banks put up the along with Downtown Brooklyn—where money for the State Democratic database. several high-rolling developers have projHe has also hired two consulting firms ects in the pipeline, candidate Laurie for a total of $5,000, though this money Cumbo has raised $89,207, of which she is listed as a liability in his disclosure has already paid The Advance Group report, meaning that he has not actually about $20,000. The candidate with the paid for the services yet. Banks did not second-highest fundraising total, Ede return phone calls at press time seeking Fox, has amassed $63,623, over $14,000 of which has been paid out to her consulcomment. Of the declared candidates in East tants, the Brown Miller Group. Meanwhile, in the neighboring 36th New York, none has paid for access to the state Democratic Committee’s database, District, which covers the less affluent of Bedford-Stuyvesant nor have any of them paid retainers for communities consultants. As for election attorneys, and Crown Heights, the top fundraiser only Whitehead has hired one according is Kirsten Foy, with $43,777. His biggest to the most recent data available, laying expenditures thus far were retainers for out a paltry $2,500 to retain attorney election attorney Marty Connor and Daniel Simonette. Aside from this fee, the consulting company Berlin Rosen, each of largest expenditures so far in this race by which received $3,000. & Stroock & Lavan, and another $12,000 to the similarly influential consulting firm George Arzt Communications. Wymore’s campaign manager, Jordan Jacobs, explained that hiring George Arzt’s firm makes sense because Arzt was Ed Koch’s press secretary when he was mayor and is an expert in the arena of New York politics. “George helped us get messaging out at the beginning of the campaign and he continues to help us get our message out,” explained Jacobs. In addition to hiring consultants, all
Several sources that work for consulting firms said that the mechanics and even the outcomes of local elections change dramatically without their services. “Hakeem Jeffries didn’t start winning until he hired consultants,” said one consultant, who asked to remain nameless so as not to adversely affect his business, of the congressman and former state assemblyman. “It helps getting a firm that knows how to run a campaign and has the resources and technology for the various things you need to streamline a campaign.” But political watchdogs say that candidates in poorer districts often can’t afford to pay consultants steep retainer prices. They also note that several of the major consultants—such as The Advance Group, George Arzt Communications and The Parkside Group—also lobby, making hiring them a slippery slope for potential conflicts of interests. “Consultants are like feudal barons that are the lords of the neighborhoods,” said Gary Tilzer, who writes the blog “True News.” “The candidates, especially in the poorer neighborhoods, don’t have the connections to the press, the unions and big business. They look for which candidates have raised the most money and they go after them, putting the other candidates at a disadvantage.” Arzt responded that while obviously candidates have a lot more access to money in affluent districts in Manhattan than many in the outer boroughs, his firm always tries to work out fees taking into consideration the best interests of a candidate’s budget. Arzt also defended the ability of political consultants to work as lobbyists while simultaneously running campaigns, and noted that Wymore has long been opposed to Extell, one of his lobbying clients on the Riverside South project. “I’ve worked with Mel previously and he’s been very steadfast against some of my clients,” said Arzt, adding that he never brings a lobbying client before an elected official he has also represented. Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), said there is a concern about consultants also being lobbyists on both the city and state level, but as of now NYPIRG is not taking a stand on the issue. “We supported some kind of general matching funds so that candidates are not mortgaging themselves to special interests,” said Russianoff. “But if candidates take public funds and then hire consultants that are lobbyists then it makes the public more skeptical of the political process.”
Campaign CaSh How much money do New York City Council candidates need to win?
IT DEPENDS ON WHERE THEY LIVE. CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 6 (UPPER WEST SIDE)
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 42 (EAST NEW YORK)
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $194,615
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $26,989
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $61,201
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $10,280
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $136,045
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $18,179
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $81,069
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $6,356
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $134,773
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $9,064
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $65,618
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $2,253
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $122,838
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $5,448
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $59,996
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $3,253
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $109,893
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $5,405
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $78,539
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $4,078
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $103,131
CAMPAIGN FUNDING: $5,150
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $70,678
CAMPAIGN SPENDING: $674
www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013
Unions see mixed results in 2013 legislative session By NICK POWELL
ow that another legislative session is in the books in Albany, pundits, lawmakers and the media can evaluate which interest groups and organizations came out ahead and who was left wanting. The only consensus regarding the outcome of this session is that the legislative results for organized labor ran the gamut, from overwhelming success for certain unions and coalitions to a bitter disappointment for others—though with several major labor initiatives passing and little legislation going through with wide-ranging consequences for labor, it’s safe to say that labor unions fared pretty well this go-around. Speaking with City & State in January, AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento outlined a long list of priorities that organized labor hoped to see realized. The AFL-CIO represents 2.5 million members in the state, and includes public and private sector unions, as well as smaller trade unions. Included in their agenda this year was a minimum wage hike, revamping the unemployment trust fund and passing legislation supporting farmworkers’ rights, among other priorities. The political landscape of each session is amorphous, with certain initiatives taking precedence based on various factors, including which party controls the Legislature and which items Gov. Andrew Cuomo would most like to see passed. Priorities can sometimes change within a matter of weeks, and legislation that may have once languished, such as reforming the state’s gun control laws, will suddenly move to the forefront of the lawmakers’ consciousness due to extenuating circumstances, such as a national tragedy like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. As a result, Cilento said, if a labor coalition or union is able to get one or two items on their agenda introduced as legislation or signed into law, it’s a small but significant victory. “[Getting legislation passed is] really about party lines. The dynamics of the state Senate have changed in the last year, so there might be an opening to do something,” Cilento said at the start of the session. “You have to take a look at these things in a twoyear cycle, so sometimes you lay the groundwork for something that happens down the road, sometimes things move quicker than you think, sometimes things move a lot slower than you think, so that remains to be seen, but you always have to work at it, and you have to be ready.” Leading up to and during every session, labor leaders grab the ear of state lawmakers that are proponents of their agenda or form coalitions with other unions to pressure the Legislature to enact—or, at the very least, introduce—their desired legislation for a vote. One of those legislators is state Sen. Diane Savino, the chair of the state Senate Labor Committee and a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, which runs the chamber jointly with the Republicans, headed by state Sen. Dean Skelos. Savino said that while she enjoys individual working relationships with many labor leaders, who will often try to solicit her support behind the scenes, she prefers a collaborative approach to mobilizing labor initiatives to ensure they will have a smooth passage rather than being forced through along party or upstate/downstate lines. “Oftentimes what [labor leaders] will do is they’ll come in and find a sympathetic ear in the Senate or the Assembly, and they don’t listen to the other side, and they just push the bill through, and then what happens? It gets vetoed,” Savino said. “I don’t approach
JULY 8, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
New York AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento
it that way; if there’s a way to find compromise, that’s the best way to do it.” One labor priority to which Savino hopes to apply this collaborative method and resurrect in the next session is legislation enacting a farmworkers’ bill of rights. While the Assembly passed the bill this session, it never came up for a vote in the Senate, in part because the issue has been co-opted by downstate senators who see the cause as righting a “historic injustice,” but have crafted legislation without seeking the input of upstate senators who represent the farming industry. “I’ve been very clear: I don’t think I should sponsor this bill. I’m a New York City Democrat; I couldn’t be any further south and still be in New York,” Savino said. “I do think that it would be better if [the legislation were sponsored by] an upstate member, but if it can’t be, that doesn’t mean we should walk away from this issue.” Whether through compromise or good old-fashioned lobbying, certain labor unions scored big victories this session. The most significant bill that passed—perhaps now overlooked in the flurry of legislation that squeezed through at the end of the session— was an increase to the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 per hour over the next three years. Cilento and other liberal groups and unions originally had hoped that the minimum wage would be indexed to inflation so it would automatically increase in the future, but that provision was left on the cutting room floor. Regarding a so-called compromise, Senate Republicans scored hundreds of millions in tax breaks for businesses and families in exchange for passing the wage hike. Another major item on Cuomo’s agenda this session was amending the state constitution to allow for expanded casino gambling upstate, an amendment that will require approval from voters in November. Cuomo touted the casino proposal’s job-creation potential—and thanks to labor peace agreements folded into the agreement, many of those jobs will go to union workers, a boon for private unions like the Hotel Trades Council, which advocated strongly for casinos throughout the session. A provision of the bill that would have treated all capital projects on casino sites as “public work” under state labor law—meaning that the casino facilities would have to submit to union-friendly project-labor agreements for renovations and construction work, which would have benefited unions like the Building and Construction Trades Council—was left out of the final legislation. The Hotel Trades Council had been working behind the scenes since 2011 hoping to get the gaming legislation passed; sources familiar with the union’s thinking said it was extremely important for the labor peace agreements to be included in the final bill. “[Casino expansion has] been our priority in Albany for a few years now. I testified about it at one of the first hearings before the first constitutional amendment was passed,” said Josh Gold, political director for the Hotel Trades Council. “We wanted to make sure that the state protected its proprietary interests, and that the jobs created would be good jobs, and that was done first in the budget and then again in the legislation.” Still, some decried the union benefits in the casino proposal. “[The casino bill] has an impressive giveaway,” said E.J. McMahon, a senior fellow for tax and budgetary studies at the Center for Civic Innovation at the Manhattan Institute. “To an unprecedented degree, they’ve rigged the whole thing so that organized labor has
Gov. Andrew Cuomo shakes hands with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver after announcing a budget agreement. Silver pushed for a minimum wage hike, which was included as part of the deal. (Photo: Executive Chamber)
CAN BILL DE BLASIO OVERCOME HIS LACK OF LABOR SUPPORT? By NICK POWELL Going into this year’s mayoral election, many expected that Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s path to victory could only be carved with significant help from organized labor, whose ground operations and large memberships could help sway the electorate in his favor to make up for his lack of name recognition. But with the most powerful labor unions splintering and all backing different candidates, de Blasio has been left with only one major union endorsement—from 1199 SEIU—and a lot of question marks. De Blasio, New York City’s public advocate, quickly took up the “progressive” mantle in the race, hoping to establish himself as the left-wing alternative to more business-friendly candidates like City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, and a stark contrast to the über-capitalist, deeppocketed Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But the de Blasio campaign was thrown an unexpected curveball with the entry of former congressman Anthony Weiner into the race, a candidate with the name recognition that has eluded de Blasio and his opponents, and with support in areas like Brownstone Brooklyn that cuts directly into de Blasio’s base. A week before Weiner officially announced his candidacy, de Blasio rolled out the 1199 endorsement, touting the support of the city’s largest private sector union. Conventional electoral wisdom holds that the 1199 endorsement keeps de Blasio afloat in the race, but labor sources agree that had he won the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers, which went to Thompson, he likely would have also garnered the support of SEIU 32BJ and the Hotel Trades Council, both of which eventually endorsed Quinn. Some believe that part of what is hurting de Blasio in his courtship of labor is what insiders perceive to be lack of synergy between the membership of these unions, which tends to be more progressive, and their leaders, who look at endorsements through a more pragmatic lens. “A lot of the staff with these unions are younger, lefty progressive types,” said a
all the jobs. That alone was a huge win for them. Of course, the reason [Hotel Trades] got it was now they are going to be relied upon to help pass the thing.” A close observer of Albany politics, McMahon views most of legislative victories for organized labor this session as a loss for the flagging upstate economy, arguing that Cuomo and the Legislature chose to focus on cozying up to unions rather than turning their attention toward natural gas drilling, which has the potential to be a major job creator in New York. McMahon added that even certain legislation enacted that does not serve the interests of organized labor this session, such as a binding arbitration cap designed to give leverage to struggling municipalities in bargaining negotiations with local unions, was ultimately toothless. The final bill failed to include a provision revising the Triborough Amendment, which
locks in all labor contract provisions even after a contract has expired, levying a large fiscal burden on upstate cities. “The [binding arbitration] bill was tailored to placate [local municipal unions],” McMahon said. “It was just enough for him to say, ‘I did something,’ and not enough to change their world.” Still, as Susan Kent, the president of the Public Employees Federation pointed out, a revision of the Triborough Amendment would have alienated Cuomo’s labor support at a time when he was gearing up for re-election in 2014. “The governor going anywhere [near the Triborough] will come back to bite him,” Kent said. “[Cuomo] said that last year at a meeting with the AFL-CIO. He knows how far he can push things, but he’s a smart politician, and he’s not going to push them to where he’s not going to be able to reach that base at all, because he needs organized labor.”
source with close ties to city labor unions. “There’s always buzz coming out of every union, ‘Oh, everybody likes de Blasio,’ but they don’t make the institutional decisions.” Reports that the Working Families Party is not expected to endorse in the primary election takes another potent labor-backed organization off the table for de Blasio, especially given the party’s renowned ground operation. With labor divided, the party believes that reaching their internal 60 percent threshold to endorse a candidate is not possible. “[Working Families not endorsing] is kind of reflective of what’s happened in the progressive world,” said Ed Ott, a city labor consultant. “They’re divided on candidates. They’re gonna wait out the first round at least. They might be waiting it out until the general. If they can’t do an endorsement, that’s something that de Blasio thought he had.” But even without widespread labor Bill de Blasio hasn’t been hearing from support, history shows that July is many of the big unions who could have far too early to write any candidate bolstered his campaign for mayor. off. The previous two Democratic (Photo: Bill de Blasio Facebook page) nominees, Thompson in 2009 and Fernando Ferrer in 2005, both had discouraging poll numbers in the months before the primary before a late surge won them the nomination. “It is beyond premature to write off de Blasio,” said Bob Master, political director for the Communications Workers of America District 1, which endorsed de Blasio. “This is a liberal electorate looking for a liberal candidate. If you have Alec Baldwin doing commercials for Bill and Cynthia Nixon doing commercials for Bill, then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Oh, who’s this guy?’ Then he gets a five-point bump, the other two fall down, and he’s in the runoff. It’s still a very fluid situation.” www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 8, 2013
POLITICS Experts discuss the municipal budget crisis and and possible reforms at a City & State conference
Budget Policy and Possible Reforms.
MUNICIPALLY BANKRUPT Could bankruptcy proceedings in California spread to New York?
City & State’s Morgan Pehme moderated a panel featuring (from left) Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino. (Photos: Filip Wolak)
By JON LENTZ going to be a resolution by consent or there’s going to be a resolution with litigation and ultimately a bankruptcy court solution. Either way, it’s a bellwether,” said Mark Kaufman, a bankruptcy attorney with McKenna Long & Aldridge. “I don’t see the circumstance where whatever happens in Stockton stays in Stockton.” Kaufman, who spoke at City & State’s “State of Emergency” conference last month, said that the conditions municipalities are facing in California are not unlike those in New York, with a similarly toxic mix of generous union contracts, large pension obligations and hefty retiree benefits, combined with shrinking property tax revenue and slashed federal funding. “That’s going to ripple not only through California but I believe in any of the industrial states that have a heavy union concentration where the same dynamics exist,” he said. Whether a New York municipality actually enters into bankruptcy, the threat of one and the precedent set in California could spur local governments and public sector unions and creditors to confront the stark financial reality, Kaufman added. “Nobody sees bankruptcy as the answer. That’s a last resort,” Kaufman said. “What you need is a bankruptcy threat. The whole notion is, why would anybody sit at the table and say, ‘I’m ready to make concessions,’ unless you have an offer and then a stick in your hand to say, McKenna Long’s Mark Kaufman discussed the role of the courts in municipal ‘Something worse could finance with CUNY’s Marc Shaw and Robert Ward, a state deputy comptroller.
When the city of Stockton, Calif., was allowed to enter bankruptcy earlier this year, it immediately became a test case for other financially strapped cities across the state—and some say the implications of its move could reverberate even as far away as New York. At the center of the country’s first-ever Chapter 9 bankruptcy case, Stockton is facing a confrontation between federal bankruptcy law and state law protecting pension obligations, which make up a sizable chunk of Stockton’s budget. Since they cannot liquidate assets, Stockton and other struggling municipalities will have to restructure their finances and wipe out some of their debt, although creditors, bondholders and pension plans are all resisting. “What’s going to happen in Stockton—either there’s
JULY 8, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
happen’? If you don’t have that dynamic—and half of the states, by the way, don’t have bankruptcy as an option— then there’s no dialogue that can really be had.” Others are less certain that a local government in New York would ever have to take that painful step. Robert Ward, a state deputy controller in New York, said that although bankruptcy is a legal option for municipalities here, he doesn’t know any that are giving it serious consideration. “I agree that we need to have these conversations at a very serious level so that we do not get to the point where people even start thinking that bankruptcy is an option,” said Ward, who joined Kaufman as a panelist on a “State of Emergency” discussion on the role of courts and states in addressing municipal fiscal crises. Marc Shaw, who headed the MTA and was Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s top budget aide, said the fact that top officials were increasingly paying attention to the situation in Stockton and to states with severe pension problems, like Illinois, was a positive sign. “While Stockton is something that we’re going to see as a test model, in many ways it’s also serving the purpose of preventing it from happening in New York, because dialogues just like this are taking place here these days, and that’s a really healthy thing,” said Shaw, who is now a senior vice chancellor for budget, finance and fiscal policy for the City University of New York. “The fact that these dialogues are taking place right now is going to prevent municipalities in New York State from ending up like Stockton.” Kaufman said that Stockton’s bankruptcy could also prove helpful for other struggling cities, towns and counties across the country by setting a precedent for how the unions, bondholders, contractors and other players share the pain. “One can say it’s scary because it invites other cities to do it,” Kaufman said. “On the other hand, it also creates a notion that there’s a set of parameters and a go-by as to how cities ought to do it. And it also makes something that otherwise has been underneath the table, not wanting to be talked about, now a discourse that can be had, because the players have already made some concessions, and they’re open to do business.
KICKING THE CAN BY NICK POWELL
Former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch gave a sobering assessment of the challenges that New York municipalities face at City & State’s “State of Emergency”
conference, blaming state officials and the private sector for extending a long game of “kick the can.” “[New York] continues to borrow money,” Ravitch said. “Whether we borrow from the pension funds to make pension contributions, whether we borrow from our state insurance funds rather than raise taxes, whether we go to all kinds of steps to avoid dealing with the fact, the fundamental problem, in my view, is we have a revenue insufficiency problem.” He added that to keep providing essential services, officials must make tough choices. “If we want to keep all the promises that we made, and if we want to continue to provide the level of services that this society has decided through its political process that it wishes to provide over a long period of time ... we’re just not ready to pay for it,” he said. “And we have devised ways of deferring those obligations with the full complicity of all the professional and financial groups and institutions that benefit from these actions that enable us to kick the can.” Former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch warned that officials are still “kicking the can” and trying to avoid their fiscal troubles.
STEP ONE Multiyear fiscal plans could help struggling municipalities—but many resist By JON LENTZ There is no shortage of proposed solutions to the fiscal crises New York municipalities are grappling with. But one of the simplest strategies—developing multiyear financial plans and posting them for all to see—has yet to catch on. “To an amazing degree, there is a dearth of public, systematic, uniform, comprehensive multiyear planning on a local government level in New York,” E.J. McMahon, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Insti-
multiyear plan in hand.” Marc Shaw, a veteran budget official at the city and state level, noted that multiyear financial planning was imposed on New York City during its severe fiscal crisis in the 1970s. The use of long-term planning helped position the city for its comeback, Shaw said. Today the city publishes plans looking ahead four years, and they are updated on a quarterly basis. “One of the positive things that came out of the fiscal crisis was the concept of not looking at budgets on an annual basis but to do more long-term planning,” Shaw said. “One of the reasons why it is so important is that it allows one to look at the longterm consequences of the decisions one is making, to look at what the driving forces are that are causing the structural budget problems, so that you have a more intelligent debate about what needs to be done to solve those problems.” However, relatively few municipalities around the state have followed New York City’s lead. “The irony is that many local governments and school districts do in fact engage The Manhattan Institute’s E.J. McMahon called for more multi-year in multiyear planning as an planning at the local level. internal planning mechanism, but do not share those plans tute for Policy Research, said at City & State’s “State of with the public,” McMahon said. “We can’t actually Emergency” conference. “In fact, even as we sit here have a discussion of these issues in many cases until today, only a handful of local governments in New we have multiyear plans on the table. Local governYork not just maintain but publish multiyear financial ments continue to find reasons for resisting this, even plans. You can’t begin to meaningfully get a grasp on those that actually do it as an internal mechanism, the problems of local governments until you have a and it’s really essential.”
“I think the single most significant problem facing New York State government is an outmoded and inflexible statutory framework for collective bargaining, which shapes the costs primarily of local governments and school districts in particular. That makes it very, very difficult to restructure some of the basic elements of employee compensation and deployment from patterns that have been set in place over decades.” —E.J. McMahon, senior fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
“Gov. Cuomo should be commended for trying to do a lot of things in the economic development realm. Whether it’s Regional Economic Development Councils or his ‘Tax-Free New York’ or his efforts to try to help upstate, they’re all commendable. But the No. 1 thing you can do is improve the tax and regulatory climate. Nothing against all the other programs, but the best focus would be on tax and regulatory policy.” —Kevin Law, president and CEO, Long Island Association
“What’s fundamental to this is for cities to understand that the recovery in Cleveland or Philadelphia or New York—or in my case, in Washington, D.C.—there was a government leader involved, and that government leader had to take bold steps to confront brutal reality. Sometimes it involved layoffs, a lot of times it involved right-sizing and recalibrating government agencies, but above and beyond all that, it was really about improving the economy.” —Anthony Williams, former mayor, Washington, D.C.
“Government still does a lot of things that they do best, and they need to stay on those tasks. When it comes to facilities, operations and maintenance, and maybe construction—well, maybe those are good things for the private sector to take a look at. You can do that in a competitive environment and bring down those costs, and we’ve been talking about fiscal issues today, trying to do more with less. It’s obviously an issue that would sit well with a lot of folks in this room.” —Thomas Mulvihill, managing director, KPMG Infrastructure Advisory Practice www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013
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TECHNOLOGY & TELECOMMUNICATION
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right, talks with Alain Kaloyeros, the chief executive officer of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany, during a meeting of Cuomo’s Tax-Free New York plan in early June.
CUOMO AIMS TO REPEAT ALBANY’S NANOTECH SUCCESS WITH START-UP NY
By WILDER FLEMING
f all the government-sponsored efforts aimed at making New York a high-tech hub, none has achieved the runaway success of the University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE). What started in 2001 with an initial investment of $50 million from the state and $100 million from IBM has grown into an 800,000 square foot, $14 billion complex boasting an industrial-size clean room and some of the most cutting edge equipment for developing nanotechnology in the world. Over 250 companies—Samsung, Intel 20
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TECHNOLOGY & TELECOMMUNICATION and GlobalFoundries among them—now partner with the college, and many have moved their operations to the region or to the complex itself. Today the cumulative $1.3 billion invested in CNSE by the state has been matched by over $16 billion in private and federal funding. Now Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hoping to bring this kind of success to other regions with START-UP NY, which aims to lure qualified companies to the state by allowing them to operate in and around SUNY campuses tax-free for 10 years. But questions remain about whether CNSE’s success can be replicated elsewhere, or if it came about as a result of unique factors. The state initially provided $1 for every $2 of private investment in the complex, but no tax breaks were provided. And while Nano was one of five state-sponsored “Centers of Excellence” created in 2001 as part of the effort to harness the joint powers of industry and academia, investment in the other four locations has paled in comparison. The distinguishing factor may come down to one man, CNSE’s vice president and chief executive officer, Alain Kaloyeros. Hailing from Lebanon, Kaloyeros immigrated to the United States, obtained his Ph.D. in an obscure branch of physics from the University of Illinois in 1987 and was recruited by then Gov. Mario Cuomo as an associate professor at the University of Albany. He began assembling his own lab equipment, scavenging parts from colleagues, and eventually convinced Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to give him $5 million in order to continue his research on computer chips. “He doesn’t function like a normal academic,” said David Shaffer, a senior researcher at the Rockefeller Institute of Government who conducted a case study of Kaloyeros and CSNE a few years ago. “He came in with a much larger vision of what could be done, and a willingness to utilize a tool kit that’s routine in business but not so much in the academy.” As of 2006 CNSE had received $1.2 billion in private investment, while all the other centers combined had attracted only $135 million. Not surprisingly, CNSE had commanded well over half of the total $586 million in state funds allocated up to this date as well. The Capital Region has weathered the economic downturn better than the rest of upstate New York, due in part to the influx of high-tech industry to the region. GlobalFoundries moved its headquarters to the area in order to be in proximity to CNSE, and the company has plans to open a new cutting-edge microchip production facility some 20 miles north of Albany. Shaffer noted Kaloyeros’ relentless mission to sell his vision to the companies with which he wished to partner, and said he pushed his students to do the same. In Shaffer’s view, companies like IBM crave
access to universities, where scientists are paid to experiment in ways that might not be worth the risk for private firms. And in so-called “technology clusters,” where academia and industry co-mingle, professors can make industry connections and cross-pollinate with scientists who work outside their own narrow fields of study, opening the way for innovation and business opportunities. “It turns out that high-end private sector companies really needed someone to do this for them,” Shaffer said. “And Kaloyeros came along with the brains and the energy to do it.” Such interactions have been going on in Silicon Valley and along Route 128 in Boston since the 1950s, albeit more organically. But in the 1980s the federal government began providing seed funding for so-called “Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers.” This spurred more programs, whose success provided a blueprint for local policy makers to fund their own research clusters in the interest of spurring economic growth. States like Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Arizona and Michigan have all implemented similar initiatives. But New York has been late to the party, due in part to the fact that state laws prohibit public-private partnerships, unless the Legislature grants special approval. In the case of the CNSE, lawmakers allowed the nonprofit Research Foundation for SUNY to lease land to a private nonprofit, which managed the property. Cuomo’s START-UP NY aims to get around these laws by use of a “notwithstanding” clause in which the Legislature repealed a prohibition on leasing state-owned land on SUNY campuses. Kaloyeros, who rarely misses an opportunity to praise the governor, supports START-UP NY wholeheartedly. But he says the thinking in the SUNY culture needs to change to meet the new demands of a 21st century university. “It will take a new way of thinking on the part of traditional academics, a realization that the ivory towers and silos of the 20th century no longer apply in the 21st,” Kaloyeros said. “The growth of CNSE is a clear illustration that it can work, and the governor’s strategic START-UP NY blueprint is an important step in the right direction.” Kaloyeros has previously been critical of his colleagues at SUNY, asserting that other Centers of Excellence, such as the one in Buffalo, spent their funds lobbying in Albany rather than investing it strategically. Shaffer thinks that START-UP NY could be just what Buffalo needs. “They haven’t developed the center of gravity the way Nano has, but they’ve got an awful lot going on there,” he said. “It has the potential to click one day, particularly with effective leadership, but START-UP NY could also be a substantial help.”
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TECHNOLOGY & TELECOMMUNICATION
As weather patterns worsen, officials try to get phone wires uncrossed By ADAM JANOS
COM M U N ICATION BREAKDOWN
People in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, without power because of Superstorm Sandy, waited for a chance to charge their mobile phones on an available generator setup on a sidewalk. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
n the early morning hours of Oct. 30, 2012, the basement at 104 Broad Street was filling up with water. As the building, a major switching center for Verizon in Lower Manhattan, lost its power, copper cables integral to its operations were submerged in salt water. The center is just one link in a vast chain of telecommunication technology, but it was critical enough to create serious problems. The flooding is one of numerous reasons Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called for the city—and by extension its telecommunications carriers—to learn from the lessons of Superstorm Sandy and to adjust accordingly. Last month the mayor released his “Stronger, More Resilient New York” report, in which the city looked at the effects of climate change and how infrastructure would have to change to deal with potential future disasters. According to Tokumbo Shobowale, the mayor’s chief business operations officer, the 14-foot storm surge that came with Sandy showed how woefully underprepared for climate change the city is. Fifty-one miles of telecommunications wiring were flooded, with saltwater corrosion creating some of the biggest problems. One day after the storm, some 1.9 million New Yorkers registered disrupted service. Things will only get worse from here, the mayor’s report predicts. Though meteorologists have described Sandy as a “one hundred year storm” and a perfect mix of catastrophic conditions, the Bloomberg administration predicts rising sea levels so dramatic that by the 2050s a Sandy-level storm surge will be five to six feet higher. Those numbers correspond with a dramatic expansion of New York City’s flood plain. As a result, the population in the affected zones will grow from 398,000 to 801,000. The mayor’s plan for storm surge preparedness includes several architectural changes to the waterways, such as jetties and buffer-zone wetlands, and better management of telecommunications is front and center for when the water does come to shore.
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Wireless telecommunication outages during disasters can be broken down into two categories. The system can become overburdened with calls, texts and data transmission owing to an emergency that doesn’t affect infrastructure. Alternatively, component parts of the wireless infrastructure can be made inoperable by severe weather that knocks out the system. NYU Polytechnic Professor Shivendra Panwar suggested that in both circumstances opening up cell towers would make private carriers more resilient by providing redundancy. That way, should Verizon’s tower go down in a storm because of flooding at 104 Broad Street, a nearby T-Mobile tower could pick up the slack and keep Verizon’s customers connected while repairs are made. “They’re all moving towards 4GLE technologically, and so it’ll make it easier for them to share towers, radio, infrastructure, backhaul … all the pieces,” Panwar told City & State at a recent New York State Wireless Association conference. “AT&T and T-Mobile shared some of their infrastructure after Sandy. But remember AT&T/TMobile have some sort of business alliance—there was a big movement for the two of them to merge—so they do work closer than other carriers. Now the question is whether Verizon and AT&T will work together.” Christopher Nurse, AT&T’s regional vice president of regulatory and external affairs, said the decision to work hand-in-hand with T-Mobile and not Sprint or Verizon was dictated more by technology than the marketplace. “It’s just not [technologically there] yet, and it’s going to be a long time before you get there,” Nurse said in a phone interview. “We put the radio bands that we’re licensed to use in our phones. We don’t put the radio bands in that we’re not licensed to use, and so you’re not going to have a universal phone for decades.” In February, New York City’s chief information officer testified before the Federal Communications Commission on better practices for private carriers in the wake of the storm. A top concern was a lack of backup power for cell towers during emergencies.
“In an age of increasingly severe weather events and related outages it is no longer enough to rely wholly on industry best practices as regards to battery backup,” said Rahul Merchant, the city’s chief information officer. “To this day it remains unclear exactly how many hours of backup power commercial mobile wireless carriers provided their customers during the storm. Commercial communications providers must assure the public of resilient, robust networks capable of continuous service in emergencies.” Cell sites are equipped with a backup battery, so that in the event of power failure the site can stay on for four to eight hours. But in the event of a serious storm like Sandy, the power grid stayed down in some places for weeks. Nurse said that improving reliability through the widespread use of generators is difficult because of the vertical nature of New York City. In most of the country cell sites are freestanding towers, but in the metropolitan area they’re rigged to the rooftops of buildings. “Where do you put [the generators]? The basement floods. If it’s the roof, how does the fuel get up to the roof? It’s very challenging to physically place these … and because power is so reliable, there isn’t a lot of a call for it,” he said. Although local government cannot regulate how mobile carriers prepare for emergencies, Bloomberg’s plan seeks to create a Planning and Resiliency Office within the Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications. The office would use the franchise renewal process to help leverage better practices from the carriers. Mobile telecommunications franchise renewals will be written in 2019. Todd Schlekeway, the executive director of the National Association of Tower Erectors, has worked on fixing problems associated with wind and flooding. Like Nurse, he echoed the sentiment that the grid’s reliability was integral to telecommunications. “It’s hard to say you’ll have 100 percent of the network on when the electrical grid goes down,” he said.
www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013 23
S P OT L I G H T
TECHNOLOGY & TELECOMMUNICATION
911 IN THE DIGITAL AGE By ADAM JANOS n March 13, 2011, a suspect under arrest for domestic violence shoved New York City Police Officer Alain Schaberger over a stoop in Brooklyn. Tumbling nine feet, Schaberger broke his neck and died. The perpetrator of the crime, George Villanueva, already had a record of 28 arrests. He had been to prison twice. Yet Schaberger had not been privy to any of that information while detaining Villanueva—all he had were the barebones basics of a 911 call. According to Charles Dowd, the commanding officer of NYPD’s Communications Division, having that knowledge handy could have saved his life. Making targeted information more readily available to public safety officers in the field is a central component behind FirstNet, a nationwide broadband network for first responders. The network is a project of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), which was set up as a part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. Speaking at the New York State Wireless Association’s conference on June 14 in Manhattan, Dowd, a FirstNet board member, outlined the planned program, which he is helping bring to life. Wireless services will allow police officers to download and listen to the 911 calls to which they are responding, as well as to receive access to information about protection orders and previous incidents. Officers will be able to take pictures of perpetrators on the scene, and then use facial recognition software to identify matches in a database. Working with other first responders, the police will also be able to use basic medical technology and transmit vital signs to paramedics, thereby allowing trained staff to gather information about the degree of emergency in order to efficiently allocate ambulances and medical personnel to the scene. In New York City, the architecture for broadband wireless is already in place, thanks to the New York City Wireless Network, or NYCWiN. NYCWiN is a wireless extension of CityNet, a public official cyberinfrastructure system used for wireless meter readings of water and electric, license plate recognition and mobile data transfer. NYCWiN operates on a 2.5 gigahertz spectrum; FirstNet will be on 700 megahertz, a cleaner band that wasn’t around in 2007 when NYCWiN was first assembled. Steven Harte, the associate commissioner of wireless technologies at the New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications, said that the two systems should work hand in hand to give the five boroughs’ public safety officers cutting edge broadband capability. “The great thing about the spectrums is they complement each other,” Harte told City & State in a telephone interview. “We built a network that would provide greater than 95 percent coverage on the street … and the 2.5 spectrum, while it’s a great spectrum and offers the capacity we need, 700 MHz has different characteristics, including greater in-building coverage. We envision having a device that can roam on and off between FirstNet and NYCWiN.” Both FirstNet and NYCWiN are built around the idea of “mission critical” levels of consistency. The goal is having a signal that never drops, because the stakes with clean
JULY 8, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
communication in emergency response are so high. With commercial broadband, the stakes are considerably lower. Another central component of FirstNet’s mission is to establish the interoperability among all public safety units in the country, possibly by latching onto advancing commercial technology to help advance emergency coordination. FirstNet has eight pilot programs in locations ranging from Adams County, Colo., to the New Jersey Department of Treasury to Los Angeles. The NTIA hopes to have a nationwide system live in five years, a timeline Harte describes as “very aggressive.” For upstate New York, nothing like the NYCWiN infrastructure exists on the municipal level for the federal government to piggyback on, except in Albany. For great swaths of the upstate region even commercial broadband remains scarce, with up to a million New Yorkers still lacking coverage and some Democratic state senators pushing for statesubsidized broadband infrastructure through the area. According to John Facella, a RCC telecommunications consultant, FirstNet would be valuable in rural areas in addressing the large distances between hospitals and other public service buildings. Without infrastructure already in place, though, the investment will be more costly not just in New York but also across the country. Morgan O’Brien, a former chairman of Cyren Call Communications and co-founder of Nextel, said he believes that funding for the nationwide broadband emergency response system remains woefully short. With Cyren Call, O’Brien pitched Congress in 2006 on setting aside a 30 megahertz spectrum in the 700 megahertz band for something equivalent to FirstNet. By Cyren Call’s estimates, the system would cost upward of $20 billion and take 10 years to complete. Though the idea didn’t come together then, the 2012 legislation that established FirstNet provides up to $7 billion for its infrastructure, a hefty sum that nonetheless leaves the project short on cash. According to O’Brien, the capital funds to build the network remain scant, though he estimates that partnerships between the federal government and private wireless carriers on existing infrastructure would help lower costs. For operational expenses, however, O’Brien envisions NTIA selling off extra data from FirstNet’s 700 megahertz spectrum to private carriers. With laptop computers occupying a rapidly increasing slice of the telecommunications marketplace amid an ever-growing demand for wireless data, the 700 megahertz band could prove to be an ideal spectrum for the hundreds of millions of cell phones, tablets and other wireless devices on the market. As a result, O’Brien said he believes that the government’s share of the spectrum will only grow more valuable in time. “You can relatively easily project demand,” O’Brien told City & State. “If you build the right network, if you use the right operating systems, you’ll build enough revenue.”
AS NEW YORK WIRELESS GROWS, UPSTATE REMAINS UNDERSERVED
New York City has a growing tech sector and New Yorkers are as techsavvy as anyone—but taking the state as a whole, there are still a million residents without broadband access. Ken Adams, the president and CEO of Empire State Development, pointed to the upstate region as the state’s most underserved area during a New York State Wireless Association conference in Manhattan last month. Adams noted the challenges of bringing broadband to places like Adirondack Park, a six-million acre expanse stretching across 12 counties. That lack of broadband is a major impediment to advances in telemedicine and education. With increased connectivity, medical personnel and educators would be able to serve, through online services, more sparsely populated areas like the Adirondacks’ Saint Lawrence County. With $40 million of investment in infrastructure planned this fiscal year ($31 million from the Regional Economic Development Councils and $9 million from matching private investment), Adams claimed that New York’s commitment to broadband is the largest of any state in the country. That money will go toward adding 6,000 square miles of broadband coverage and—by Adams’ estimates— will create 8,000 new businesses and 1,400 permanent new jobs. Those seeking information on block-by-block, mile-by-mile broadband coverage in New York can check a map at broadbandmap.ny.gov. “Increasingly [New York] is an economy dependent on technologydriven companies, dependent on innovation,” Adams said. “We deploy loans, grants, and tax credits, and other economic incentives to attract economic investment to the state, and we’re not looking for another steel mill.” —ADAM JANOS
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TECHNOLOGY & TELECOMMUNICATION
S P OT L I G H T
EXPERT ROUNDTABLE RAHUL MERCHANT
New York City’s Citywide Chief Information and Innovation Officer
Chair, New York City Council Technology Committee
Ranking Member, New York State Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee
Q: What role is your office playing in making sure New York City is prepared for future storms? RM: As part of Mayor Bloomberg’s comprehensive plan for rebuilding and resiliency, DoITT [Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications] will look to establish the city’s new Planning and Resiliency Office (PRO) to foster more strategic communications with telecommunications providers, and to provide additional monitoring of their efforts to modernize and improve the resiliency of their systems. The genesis of PRO can be found in our testimony before the FCC earlier this year, during its hearings on [Superstorm] Sandy communications. Among the recommendations we made were: multiple and affordable communications options (especially as older copper wire gets replaced with fiber optics); better resiliency and backup power; and better information sharing on outages. Historically one of the challenges has been that while various consumer services—like phone, Internet, and cable television—are increasingly provided over the same physical infrastructure, oversight of these services is decentralized across the local, state and even federal government. We think PRO can help navigate this regulatory thicket and result in a stronger relationship between the city and the providers—and in better service delivery to the public. Q: Your office recently announced that it will hold a hearing on “micro-trenching,” a technique for installing fiber-optic cable. What are the pros and cons of this technique? RM: With the Department of Transportation, we authorized the piloting of the micro-trenching process in the wake of Sandy late last year, and it’s now being run at more than a dozen locations across the five boroughs. It entails Verizon installing small conduits within the edges of city sidewalks to house fiber-optic cabling, which can be used to deliver voice, Internet and cable television service. The excess capacity of these conduits is made available for use by other communications industry providers—as well as by city agencies—at no cost. It’s an exciting initiative that we think can revolutionize fiber deployment across the city—minimizing traffic and environmental impacts as well as reducing the costs associated with the more traditional ways of digging up, or “trenching,” the city’s streets. We’ve seen less debris produced compared to traditional installation methods, no reduced performance of the fiber cabling and zero street closures. All of this increases the speed to market and lowers cost of entry into new neighborhoods for companies looking to expand broadband infrastructure. Based on this success, we’re moving to formalize the microtrenching process from the pilot phase to an established alternative to conventional trenching. I invite everyone to review the draft rules we published in The City Record and to share their thoughts with the city at its public hearing on August 6.
Q:The city’s 911 call system has drawn complaints and criticism for delays and glitches. What is the problem? Is enough being done to fix it? FC: The 9-1-1 system went through a review process resulting in recommendations which included the development of a new computer dispatch system known as Intergraph Computer Aided Dispatch. Since the new system was put in place last May there [have] been reports indicating that the system doesn’t work properly, causing screens to go blank, computers to begin buffering or NYPD computers to become disconnected from the Emergency Medical Service dispatchers, causing no calls to arrive from precincts. All these issues resulted in delays in emergency response times and have cost at least four lives. Chair [Elizabeth] Crowley, City Council members and myself are recommending an independent investigation and proposing legislation to report and track response times in order to improve the emergency call process. Q: Your committee held a meeting earlier this year on having all public meetings be webcast. What is the status of that effort? Are all City Council meetings online? Are other public meetings streamed online as well? FC: There have been efforts to make the city government more transparent. Over a year ago the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), in collaboration with the City Council, began the live broadcast and streaming of public hearings and stated meetings. Ninety-eight percent of past hearings can be found as archives on the Council’s website at http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar. aspx. In regard to the bill that will require all public meetings to be webcast, we will move forward with the legislation once MOME provides us with the cost analysis study, as discussed at the hearing, detailing what is needed in terms of operations, infrastructure and equipment. Q: Is the city doing enough to use technology to fight crime? FC: The mayor needs to add Argus cameras in the outer boroughs. He added many cameras to many areas of Manhattan, but for the most part the outer boroughs often rely on the limited capital funding of Council members. Crime is reduced 60 percent in areas covered by police cameras. It is one of the most effective ways to combat crime. In the last four years I have allocated more funding in this area than any other Council member and have seen the immediate positive results firsthand. But much more is needed from the mayor’s office to have an equitable strategy to fight off crime in all boroughs. I sponsored the recently enacted crime-mapping website legislation in order to use technology to fight crime. The site will display the number of complaints that have been filed with the NYPD. The data can be analyzed to strategize efforts against violence.
Q: Was any key telecommunications legislation passed this year? KP: There were several important telecommunications bills this year, but unfortunately there was very little that is likely to become law. One bill that I believe will become law soon is S.4442A, which allows victims of domestic violence to get an anonymous or pseudonymous directory listing without charge, if they have received a temporary order of protection in the context of a domestic violence case. By requiring such a service within 15 days of application, we are empowering victims of domestic violence who need to retain access to telephone services but don’t want that fact to lead their batterer back to them. I had also hoped that my bill S.5033 would pass both houses and be signed into law. That bill helps victims of domestic violence who have signed up for a “triple play” or “bundle” contract to save money to cancel those cable/telephone contracts without penalty so that they are not penalized when escaping their batterer. The innovative thing about these bills is that we have been able to leverage the power of advanced telecommunications to help victims of domestic violence become safer. Q: Did you support Sen. George Maziarz’s legislation to require phone companies to have call centers in New York? KP: Like my colleagues, I support legislation that retains jobs in New York or creates new employment in the state. To focus upon a few of the bills I worked with Sen. Maziarz upon that have a great deal of potential for job creation and retention, there is the rural broadband act, S.5481, and several innovative bills in the area where technology meets alternative energy. All of this legislation is an opportunity for Maziarz and I to help the state reduce its carbon footprint while creating and retaining jobs, and I have little doubt we will continue to work together on these topics as closely and effectively as we have to this point, with the same positive results. Q: Our special section also focuses on technology, which could be boosted by the governor’s “Start-Up NY” initiative. Is this program a good idea? KP: Like many potentially innovative ideas, the “Start-Up NY” initiative is neither good nor bad at this point. The proof will be in how it is implemented, and whether the results (verifiable by objective metrics) are a [source] of new jobs, new industries being created in or lured to New York, and a general improvement of New York’s economy, neighborhoods and upstate and downstate communities. To the extent that it facilitates the “Hot Spot” program and interacts well with the venture capital fund and “green bank,” it could be transformational for New York’s economy, which is something every legislator can applaud. www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013
S P OT L I G H T
TECHNOLOGY & TELECOMMUNICATION
TECHNOLOGY & TELECOMMUNICATION THE PLAYERS THE STATE In the Cuomo administration, Brian Digman is the chief information officer and director of the Office of Information Technology Services. Digman, who was named by Government Technology Magazine as the state’s CIO of the year in 2012, has taken steps to streamline and consolidate state IT functions and make government more transparent. In the Legislature, state Sen. George Maziarz chairs the telecommunications committee and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo is the chair of her house’s commission on science and technology. Ken Adams, the CEO of Empire State Development, also plays a key role with the state’s regional economic development councils, which have secured funding for high-tech projects, and the governor’s new “Start-Up NY” program.
THE ISSUES ROOSEVELT TECH CAMPUS Cornell University is poised to build a technology campus, dubbed Cornell NYC Tech, on Roosevelt Island in order to “bring industry and academia together.” The university has recently partnered with Forest City Ratner Companies to develop a corporate co-location building, a first for the school. The building will allow various companies to operate within the same vicinity of each other, start-ups and more established companies alike. Cornell also has an ambitious goal to create a campus that uses as much energy as it makes via green technology. The campus is scheduled to open in 2017 with the full site being completed in 2037. The tech campus is aimed at helping New York overtake Silicon Valley as the nation’s leading tech hub, something that the Brooklyn Tech Triangle coalition deemed a possibility in its recent strategic plan.
THE CITY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who earned his fortune in information services, has made bringing the high tech industry to New York City’s “Silicon Alley” a focus of his administration. Deputy Mayor Bob Steel and Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, launched a competition that paved the way for Cornell University’s planned science and technology campus on Roosevelt Island. Meanwhile, Rachel Sterne, the city’s chief digital officer, has spearheaded an ambitious “Digital Roadmap” for the city, including expanded broadband, more WiFi and an apps contest to make better use of the city’s data. Rahul Merchant heads up the city’s department of information technology and telecommunications, while City Councilman Fernando Cabrera chairs the technology committee.
Cybersecurity has emerged as a major issue as citizens face threats from malicious software and hackers. The Internet has provided an opportunity for criminals to engage in identity theft and fraud. President Barack Obama this year signed an executive order to deter potential attacks and bolster cybersecurity. The order allows more sharing of information between the government and private sector industries. Closer to home, Gov. Andrew Cuomo formed a Cyber Security Advisory Board—which includes Richard Clarke, White House antiterrorism aide to the three previous presidents, and Elizabeth Glazer, deputy secretary for public safety—that the governor said will defend New Yorkers from cyberattacks “just as we protect against crime on our streets.”
MAYORAL RACE The New York City mayoral hopefuls have weighed in on their visions for New York’s tech sector if they take the reins of the city when Jan. 1 rolls around. Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s lofty goals include ensuring that New York become the most wired city in the nation by 2018, with everyone in the five boroughs having access to broadband Internet. She’s also keen on the idea of opening a tech campus at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and wants more computer science courses offered and textbooks phased out for tablets. City Comptroller John Liu plans to whip the cable companies into shape and performing up to expectations, after several blackouts have soured New Yorkers on them. He also has called for a revamping of the city’s 911 emergency system.
BY THE NUMBERS THE CYBERSECURITY CHALLENGE In 2012, Deloitte and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers published a cybersecurity study looking at the growing risks to state networks and what state chief information security officers—or CISOs—are doing to respond, and what they see as the biggest risks.
The Changing Face of External Breaches
Top Five Barriers In Facing Cybersecurity 2010
Physical attack, such as stolen laptop
Foreign state-sponsored espionage
External financial fraud
CHANGE Lack of sufficient funding
Increasing sophistication of threats
Inadequate availability of cybersecurity staff
Lack of visibility and influence
50% 14% 70%
CISOs manage a team of one to five cybersecurity professionals
CISOs feel they receive enough funding and executive support
State officials feel cybersecurity is very important for the state
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CISOs have reported a breach
24% 32% 86%
CISOs are very confident in protecting state assets CISOs feel that staff is competent CISOS say lack of funding is an issue
PERSPECTIVES NICOLE GELINAS
QUINN’S FISCAL CRUNCH When Mayor Bloomberg gave his final budget speech last month, for the fiscal year that started July 1, he didn’t hog the stage. He ceded most of his time to the woman standing to his left: New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Standing outside City Hall on Sunday, June 23, Bloomberg praised Quinn, noting her “effective leadership.” On dealing with the motley crew of Council members Quinn leads, he commiserated: “Chris, it is never easy,” he said. “We owe you a debt of gratitude.” Quinn was happy to return the nice words, telling the mayor: “We want to thank you … for being a great partner for us.” Quinn may hope that her position as Bloomberg’s fiscal partner helps her with voters worried about spending and taxes, but Bloomberg’s fiscal inheritance is as much a liability as it is an asset. Following the speech, Quinn did what she does every year. She took political credit for protecting daycare slots, firehouses and library hours. In this year’s budget, the mayor gave her a particularly valuable primary-season gift: $71 million for public housing. Quinn said that by winning back those dollars, the New York City Housing Authority would “avert 325 layoffs” and “avoid the closures of nearly 60 senior and community
centers.” The money may help Quinn plug a political deficit on the left. As a former tenant activist, she has made “affordable”—government-subsidized—housing a key campaign issue. Yet she has endured boos at mayoral forums from advocates who don’t think she’s done enough. Now she’s brought home some bacon—while avoiding the fact that the average public-housing rent—$436 monthly—can’t cover aging buildings’ upkeep. Quinn went further, though, and embraced all aspects of the mayor’s budgeting. She sounded just like Bloomberg. “Other cities in the country are still suffering badly,” she said, because of the 2008 recession. But “the forward-thinking decisions we made … in the boom years … allowed us to avoid the more painful layoffs and cuts. … We put money aside in my early term as speaker.” Noting that the budget “does not rely on one-shots,” she concluded: “We’re not leaving the next council and the next administration on bad financial footing.” This is stock Bloomberg—but wrong. New York’s fiscal problems have little to do with the 2008 crash. The city needs a permanent Wall Street bubble to spend what it does. Since Quinn became Speaker, city spending has risen 39.3 percent (inflation has risen 19.3 percent), to $53.4 billion. Most of that extra spending has gone toward two things—public-worker pension and healthcare benefits. They’ve risen 59.8 percent, from $10.6 billion to $17 billion annually. Quinn’s reference to the pre-2008 budget surplus, too, is incorrect. True, the city built up $8 billion. But that was mostly to start prefunding about $88 billion in future
payments the city owes for retiree healthcare, as the city already pre-funds pensions. Now, that surplus is gone. But we haven’t pared down healthcare promises. Plus: what to do about retroactive raises for union workers, whose contracts are expired? Raises would cost nearly $8 billion, yet Quinn hasn’t said if she’d approve them as mayor. She should tell primary voters that by signing off on eight budgets with no money set aside for such raises, she’s implicitly said “no.” Quinn could have used her time to gently warn New Yorkers of the permanent fiscal crunch (even the mayor sometimes does this). Chronic budget woes are the reason the NYPD has lost more than 5,000 officers over Bloomberg’s years. Instead, she’s chosen to own next year’s—and the next mayor’s—$2 billion deficit. She leaves herself open to criticism. Sure, candidates like Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio hit City Hall’s latest budget from the left—for not spending enough. But former Congressman Anthony Weiner and his GOP counterpart, former MTA chief Joe Lhota, are hitting from the middle. Both men say that city workers should have to pay some of their healthcare premiums. Lhota has disavowed retroactive raises. Weiner is ahead in polls—whereas Liu and de Blasio haven’t gained traction. The budget may be one reason why Quinn has lost her frontrunner status.
voters. EPIC, with a compromise on generic substitution acceptable to the Republican Senate, passed in a postelection special session. In light of that example, Andrew Cuomo might have grounds for optimism. Let’s take campaign finance. After the indictments of legislators started flowing, the wind seemed to lift the sails of those recommending campaign finance reform, but the convictions in the New York City case centering around Oliver Pan’s role in John Liu’s campaign were effectively used by opponents of public financing to blunt the push for the public financing of elections. The governor will be appointing a Moreland Act Commission. If this Moreland Commission does its job, it could put persuasive proposals before the public, which the governor could use to mobilize public opinion behind broad campaign finance reform. City & State recently published an exposé on apparent fundraising abuses by the local GOP in Nassau County. Whether, and how Nassau County’s voters react, should that controversy heat up, could prove persuasive to Long Island’s Republican senators, creating a point of movement for campaign finance. On the codification of Roe v. Wade, the governor made a tactical mistake by waiting so long to put forth his language on this provision. The Catholic Conference and their allies did a masterful job of lobbying against what they feared the provisions would be. The delay left prochoice advocates hamstrung, not being able to counter with proof of what the bill would actually accomplish. In that lobbying scrum, pro-life advocates were able to lock down adamant GOP opposition in the Senate to moving the abortion part of the bill—the 10th plank of the
WEA. Nevertheless, a political reality could emerge to break the logjam on this Roe v. Wade codification. Over the last three decades, when you distill the polling data, the prolife share of the New York State electorate has dwindled from roughly 40 percent to about a 25 percent share. When your numbers dip that low politically, you can lose the leverage to provide the critical mass of opposition necessary to accomplish your legislative agenda. The choice issue remains a perilous one for Senate Republicans. It is enormously divisive within Republican primaries. Meanwhile, the swing suburban districts, chock-full of highly educated and relatively affluent voters, are now overwhelmingly pro-choice. Republican women especially are pro-choice in these districts. Heading into 2014, the GOP’s conundrum on choice in swing districts will be to find a way to steer between primaries tilting pro-life and general elections, which are decisively pro-choice. Consequently, it is too early to accurately handicap the future prospects for campaign finance reform and the codifying of Roe v. Wade. Positions are deeply held, especially given the moral dimension underlying both sides of the abortion question. But the proponents of change may have multiple cards to play as the 2014 cycle heats up and a governor in Andrew Cuomo, who is skilled in both building political pressure and enacting legislative compromise.
Nicole Gelinas (@nicolegelinas on Twitter) is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.
BRUCE N. GYORY
FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT: CUOMO’S AGENDA COULD COME ROARING BACK
uch of the early punditry has branded the failure to pass campaign finance reform and the codification of Roe v. Wade as a part of the Women’s Equality Act (WEA) as a complete defeat, especially for the governor. I would like to enter a dissent to that interpretation. A more accurate analysis might be to gauge how and why the politics underlying both issues could lead the Senate to change its mind down the road. A precedent from 1986 is instructive. Back then Gov. Mario Cuomo added a controversial change in the generic substitution law to his proposal to enact the overwhelmingly popular EPIC program—the senior citizen drug program. The GOP Senate would have passed EPIC in a heartbeat, but they opposed the generic drug proposal. The regular session ended in 1986 without EPIC passing. However, as Mario Cuomo campaigned for re-election, the EPIC compromise gained steam with 28
JULY 8, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Bruce N. Gyory is a political consultant with Corning Place Communications and an adjunct professor of political science at SUNY Albany.
HAVE A QUESTION FOR JEFF? EMAIL EDITOR@CITYANDSTATENY.COM
DO AS I SAY A political advice column
I work as a body man for an elected official who recently told me that I am in his “circle of trust,” which was, he said, why he decided to place me in such a sensitive job. A few days later he directed me to call the scheduler to cancel a midday appearance, and instead had me drive him to an apartment building. He disappeared for an hour and then came back. The next week he did it again. Yesterday he asked me to do it for a third time despite the fact that he would be missing a big event we’d discussed in staff meetings. Before calling HQ, I said, “Yes, sir, but isn’t this a pretty important event?” He replied, “Last time I checked, you were my driver, not my campaign manager.” So far we’ve been able to reschedule some things, By JEFF but the point is, I am feeling pretty uncomfortable, especially since he is married. What is your advice? —No name, no location, please
This is a tough predicament, and I’m sorry you’re dealing with it. You have three choices, as I see it. 1) Explain to the campaign manager what is happening, without any editorializing or speculation. It may be that he/she is already aware of the issue, but you could probably shed some more light. 2) Tell the principal you are concerned about his behavior. Don’t accuse him of infidelity, but say that people on staff are starting to ask questions about the frequent cancellations and suggest that they should stop. 3) Quit. According to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Game Change, John Edwards’ body guy tried Option #2, but when that didn’t change Edwards’ behavior, went to Option #1, which resulted in something like Option #3: He was summarily fired by an angry Edwards, who accused him of tattling. Really, the point here isn’t that he’s cheating on his wife (although that’s troubling and could hurt the campaign); the point is that he’s cheating on the campaign. What he does in his personal life is no one’s business, but wasting a staffer’s time and using campaign time to get off when he should be getting
votes or money? That’s unforgivable. My overall thought: This won’t end well. With his “last time I checked” comment, the principal indicated his probable reaction if confronted, so that approach is unlikely to work. Going to the campaign manager might change the principal’s behavior but may cost you your job—at least your job as body guy—and your chances for upward mobility in this organization. So unless you are absolutely convinced that the principal is going to change the world as a public servant and that outweighs your discomfort, I’d suggest you start looking for other gigs. If you do decide to address the issue directly with the principal before making a final decision to quit, remember that doing so could make it impossible to use him (or other staff ) as a reference.
I worked for a congressman who had a rule not to eat at events SMITH so he could talk and shake hands. Not wanting to be rude, he made me grab a plate in his place. So at every event I had a plate of food that I enthusiastically praised and enjoyed. After four events per day not only was I full but I was getting incredibly fat. How did you balance your campaign and your eating habits? —C.W., Silver Spring, Md.
I may not be the best person to ask here: When my congressional campaign ended, I weighed 107 lbs. (at 5’6’’). But yes, you gotta eat something at events, especially in ethnic communities. The symbolism is powerful. However, that doesn’t mean you have to eat an entire plate. Remember when you were 5 and you tried to spread veggies across your plate to make it look as if you ate more than you actually did? If you are adroit on the front end, you can look as if you are helping yourself to a healthy portion. And no one ever said you couldn’t discreetly deposit your plate on a table before leaving. Just don’t throw it out—someone might see that. Also, work out. Given the stress and terrible food of campaigns, campaign aides should work out daily both for your physical and mental health, even if it’s just push-ups or pull-ups at lunch.
Jeff, I’ve finally decided that, for me, politics is what it’s all about. I’ve even been able to narrow down the
area of policy that interests me most: economic development. I’ve landed an internship for a New York City Council member and am about to apply to my community board. Moreover, I want to run for office. First stop: City Council 2017...then parlaying that experience and subsequent contacts into starting my own consulting firm (perhaps I’ll have the consulting firm concurrent with my run). I appear to have it all [figured] out. Not quite...because after this UNPAID internship I NEED A JOB! I’m patiently [training] the Council member’s staff to bringing me on full-time, but there’s no guarantee. I’m building contacts in hopes that once the internship is over—if a full-time position doesn’t pan out—perhaps another opportunity will. But everybody wants me to work for free! And applying for a position in the government could take forever! I’ve got 2 1/2 months, Jeff. Any thoughts on what to do after my internship? And might you be looking for a consultant? The first consultation is free. ;) —Lost & Hungry in Midtown
Nah, not looking for a consultant, unless you specialize in diaper changing and do it cheaply and are willing to work the wee hours. Seriously, it will be hard to find a consulting gig without experience. Moreover, opening a consulting company a few years after an internship doesn’t sound plausible. Regarding your candidacy, while it’s admirable to plan ahead, I’m no fan of running for office as a steppingstone to a consulting career—or really, as a stepping-stone to anything. Public service should be an end in and of itself, in my opinion, not used to position oneself for more lucrative endeavors. Plus, going from intern to City Council in four years is ambitious. Not impossible— and I don’t want to discourage ambition; hell, I ran for Congress at 29—but that’s awfully quick. You’re doing the right things in terms of making contacts. Ask people to coffee: people who have jobs that you might want someday or work for the type of firms you might want to work for or are tight with people in the aforementioned categories. Ask them what exactly they do, why they went into it, and how they got their start. It’s a grind—think of it like a field campaign—and the wider your net is, the better your odds of hearing about a gig before others, which is usually the key to getting hired. Also, keep your head down at work and excel, so that your Council member will either hire you or place you somewhere, or at least serve as a reference. www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013
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Session’s out for summer! Lawmakers were cramming to pass the remaining items on their agenda like a college student during finals, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the big man on campus, insisted this was his most productive session. Fortunately, this class of lawmakers isn’t Pass/Fail, but there are Winners and Losers:
Go to cityandstateny.com each week to vote.
WEEK OF JUNE 24, 2013
WEEK OF JUNE 17, 2013
WINNERS WEISENBERG 35% THOMPSON 29% BHARARA 17% SKELOS 14% BONACIC 5%
Preet Bharara: Gets NYC pension deal John Bonacic: Up to two Catskills casinos Dean Skelos: Held the line in Albany
TEACHER’S PET Bill Thompson:
Endorsements do not a mayor make, but Thompson has been racking them up recently, and none was bigger than the United Federation of Teachers’—arguably the most powerful union in the city, with a formidable ground operation. Thompson first picked up Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, then wooed AFT President Randi Weingarten and capped it off with the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. Now comes the hard part: translating the support into votes come September.
driving if alcohol is on their breath.
YOUR CHOICE KLEIN 38%
ESPADA & ESPADA JR. 36% BROOKS 12%
BLONSKY 4% Doug Blonsky: Central Park Conservancy contract axed Maggie Brooks: Monroe County tops distressed list Mike Kink: Gets arrested as campaign finance reform fizzles
LIKE FATHER… Pedro Espada Jr. and Pedro Gautier Espada: The Espada dynasty has come to an end—at least for now. The former Senate majority leader’s bid for a new trial was rejected as utterly baseless and could get him charged with submitting a false affidavit, too. Pedro Gautier, who got six months, blamed his dad for his troubles. The first father-son team to represent the Bronx in the Legislature, the Espadas are now the borough’s first father-son team of legislators to go to jail. 30
Harvey Weisenberg: The Legislature’s unofficial gym coach helped get $90 million in funding for disabilities services restored after being cut from the budget. His indefatigable advocacy convinced lawmakers to back the bill unanimously, after the governor huffed and puffed on the issue but could not blow the people’s house down. Weisenberg, a lifeguard in his native Long Beach, also pushed through a bill to prevent convicted drunk drivers from
JULY 8, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Jeff Klein: The Senate co-leader was targeted by progressive groups for foot dragging on several items of the governor’s agenda. Fair elections activists staged a protest in front of his fourth floor Capitol office when it became clear public corruption would not pass; women’s rights groups said they would target him at the ballot box over the Women’s Equality Agenda; and Democratic legislators grumbled that Klein’s disagreements with his co-leader, Dean Skelos, were to blame for a paltry agenda as the session closed.
WINNERS WINDSOR 54%
GUERRIERO 10% GLASER 5% Howard Glaser: Makes peace on Peace Bridge Cathy Guerriero: Poll support for public advocate candidate Anthony Weiner: Leading or tied in recent polls
STOP THE FRISK Jumaane Williams: The Brooklyn councilman has been out front on reforming stop-and-frisk for a long time, and as one of the primary sponsors of the Community Safety Act, which recently passed, he has a nice notch on his belt to further bolster his progressive credentials. Whether or not you agree with the final legislation, this is a huge victory for him politically and changes the landscape of public safety in New York City. Congratulations, Jumaane! Now maybe you will stop being arrested.
When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act that Windsor had challenged, she received a phone call. “Who am I speaking to? Oh, hey, Barack. My day is going great, thanks for asking. I just got the Supreme Court to recognize marriage equality in the United States. Oh, you saw that too? Well, thank you for everything you’ve done.” No, Edith. Thank you. Is Betty White available for the inevitable Edith Windsor biopic?
YOUR CHOICE: DE BLASIO 32%
JOHNSON 20% WOLFSON 13% HABER 8%
Adam Haber: Stereotypes Italian-Americans Corey Johnson: Gay candidate hides work for antigay firm Howard Wolfson: Hypocritical criticism of UFT
Bill de Blasio: You would think that running to the left of everyone else (except John Liu) in a New York City Democratic primary would be a smart decision, but it has backfired for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. He’s struggled to gain ground in the polls, and was dealt a severe blow when SEIU 32 BJ dissed him for Christine Quinn, virtually blocking any logical path to victory he had. At least he has Howard Dean backing him. YEEAAHHH!
LAME DUCK Michael Bloomberg: For all his billions, Mayor Bloomberg is still a lame duck—and the City Council knows it. Over the course of a few hours, the Council overrode Bloomberg’s veto of the paid sick leave bill and passed two pieces of legislation strenuously opposed by the mayor, which will impose new oversight on the NYPD, including creating an inspector general. Though Bloomberg has vowed to veto these bills too, the Council passed both with enough votes for an override.
B AC K & F O R T H
BROOKE’S VIEW A Q&A WITH BROOKE SHIELDS
ifelong New Yorker Brooke Shields has been one of the most recognizable faces in the world since she was a child. Her roles in films like Pretty Baby and The Blue Lagoon, along with the iconic ad campaign for Calvin Klein jeans in which she appeared as a teenager, vaulted her to the status of international sex symbol and cemented her place in American popular culture. Since the ’90s, the Princeton graduate has been a fixture on television, portraying the title character in Suddenly Susan, which ran for four seasons, and guest starring on shows like Friends, Two and a Half Men and, most recently, Army Wives. She has also appeared frequently as a fill-in host on The View. City & State Editor Morgan Pehme asked Shields why for the first time in her career she was actively engaging in supporting a candidate for elected office and what her most important considerations are in selecting New York City’s next mayor. The following is an edited transcript.
City & State: Why are you supporting Christine Quinn for mayor? Brooke Shields: I’ve always remained rather reticent with regard to almost anything political for a myriad of reasons, but I started to run into her at different events and I started hearing her speak— or I would catch something that she would say on television, and in the midst of whatever the current crisis was in the city, I started to perk up when she spoke, because [she’s] very passionate about New York and also very articulate. I love that she’s a woman. I love that she’s strong. I was able to get to know her a little bit more personally and really enjoyed spending time with her. I find her inspirational, and I think she would be a very committed, driving force in New York. And the little more I’ve learned about her and what she’s trying to do, [like] targeting tech jobs … I think is very impressive. I think she’s really about, from inside out, building New York back to what I think it’s capable of being. C&S: You’ve taken strong stances on issues pertaining to the perception of women. What would it mean to New York City to have its first female mayor? BS: On the one hand, I want to say it would mean everything, but that would be shining more light on the fact that she’s any different because she’s a woman. I feel that it would be wonderful—a marked moment in history—but by the same token I think more than just being a woman, she’s capable. Obviously, the first of anything, people are going to say, “Oh, it’s the first,” but her qualifications and her passion for the city are what appeal to me, not just that she’s a woman. I think it’s sort of a shame that those are the kind of conversations that people are still having. I want to be past all that now. She just happens to be the most qualified. C&S: You contributed to President Obama’s campaign, but it seems that Quinn is the first candidate that you have ever been out front in supporting. Is that accurate? BS: Yes. Back in the day, I used to do a lot of “I Love New York” stuff with our sadly deceased mayor [Ed] Koch … but it wasn’t the political side of it. It was just about supporting everything in New York. I’ve always felt that celebrities or people who are in the public eye—just because they are celebrities doesn’t
necessarily qualify them to speak out politically, and I find sometimes that it’s misused— and so I’ve always chosen to use whatever notoriety that I have toward charity, rather than politics. But [Quinn] is the first person I’ve gotten to know personally, and then from that also just started to say, “Oh, I believe this that she’s doing,” and “Oh, yes, that,” and she’s happens to be a very loyal, solid person as a friend. C&S: Do you think a celebrity coming out for a candidate can motivate people who might not otherwise pay attention to an election to perhaps take interest and participate? BS: Yes. That’s across the board. I think, [as with] everything, sometimes you just put a face on it and it gets people to pay attention, and the rest, hopefully, will follow on its own. And I never undermine. … I think that it also depends on who the person is who is the supporter. I am a born and raised New Yorker, through and through, through all the disasters, and just such a loyal member of this city and have been since the day I was born. And I’m hoping that if that is in fact the case in this scenario [that people decide to listen and participate], that it is because of what the city has meant to me, and how I support the city, not just because I’m a famous person. C&S: As a lifelong New Yorker, what are the most important issues to you right now in the city? BS: Creating jobs. Not outsourcing, having these companies bring back [jobs], really making this city the hub that I think it can be. That’s internal. Internal strength and jobs and helping with wages and helping small businesses. New York is an amazing place for everything for industry, and I believe it should be thriving, and I’m very happy she’s focusing on that. C&S: Do you think New York has done enough to spur job creation in the film and television industry? BS: I think it’s gotten much better. There was a time when the taxes were so difficult [that] shows weren’t really being made in New York, and you see that really starting to come back. Obviously, that’s a personal thing for me, because I don’t want to leave my kids and go to California and do a show, and I don’t want to [go to] Canada, either. I like the fact that so many shows are being made in and around New York. C&S: Right now you’re acting on the show Army Wives. What are your thoughts on U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s efforts to take the authority for prosecuting sexual assault in the military out of the chain of command? BS: We don’t know if we’ve been picked up for another season, but before this last season ended, in the wake of all of this, I called my producer— there was one story last year that kind of touched upon it—and I said if we come back we must really bring attention to this and we must put this in our show and have it part of the story line. … I was appalled as this start[ed] to come to light, and I do think that it’s always shocking when you see where it generates from as far as the chain of command. … I think the prevalence of it has probably been pervasive for so long, but now that it’s coming into the mainstream, and that we’re talking about it and fighting against it, it definitely helps. It has to stop. The abuse of power has to stop on that level too. C&S: You have been a New Yorker through thick and thin. Now that you are raising your children in the city, do you feel optimistic about its future? BS: I will always feel optimistic about the future of this city, just because I never doubt it. I never doubt New Yorkers’ resiliency. I never doubt how they adapt. I also never doubt how unified the city is. You see it on 9/11, and you see it during Sandy, but those are the same people throughout the year. New Yorkers sometimes get a bad rap, and there’s sort of a tourist mentality about this city that it’s rougher than it is, and that’s not the case. I feel safer in this city than probably anywhere, and I feel protected by the city. www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013
The Coalition. Spotlight on Technology and Telecommunications. Actress and Model Brooke Shields on Christine Quinn.