Joe Crowley at an unrelated event in the district.

Crowley’s Treasurer Under Investigation

One of Queens Democratic Leader Rep. Joe Crowley’s closest allies, his campaign treasurer Scott Kaufman, is under investigation by the state Office of Court Administration. He may have violated the rules by receiving court appointments that allowed him to earn over the limit, taking home over $550,000 in court contracts over the last decade.

Kaufman received all these contracts from a judge whose sister works for Crowley, who also appoints judges. He told the Post that he had complied with all rules.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor de Blasio Far Ahead

The New York Times reports on what they describe as “unfamiliar territory” for Mayor Bill de Blasio–in the lead. He came from behind to win both his races for Public Advocate in 2009 and then for Mayor in 2013. This time, however, he has few serious opponents in the Democratic primary. The Republican challengers, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and real estate executive Paul Massey, don’t seem to be attracting much of a following.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. John Flanagan are at odds over opioids.

Opioids Create a Strange Alignment: Cuomo Agreeing with Democrats

In the closing days of the legislative session, the opioid crisis is turning into the latest flashpoint. State Senate Republicans passed a bill to make it easier for law enforcement to arrest drug dealers and impose longer sentences. Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo has lined up with the Assembly Democrats in advocating for more treatment, including more insurance coverage for substance abuse counseling and rehabilitation.

The state legislative session ends next week, meaning that the “three men in a room” will need to agree to something over the next week in order to enact it into law.

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Cuomoville, as activists are calling it: a big protest against Cuomo's housing policies.

Housing Activists Camp Out for Action from Cuomo

A coalition of housing groups is planning to camp out to pressure Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop the growing problem of homelessness and take action to protect renters.

The groups involved include some of the most active in New York City: Alliance for Tenant Power (an umbrella organization of eight other groups including New York Communities for Change, Make the Road NY, and others), Community Voices Heard, Vocal-NY, Citizen Action of New York and Manufactured Housing Action. They’re going to erect what they’ve called “Cuomoville” outside Gov. Cuomo’s office to demand action.

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Carlina Rivera collects petition signatures to get on the ballot as she runs for City Council. (Photo via Twitter).

It’s time for petitioning!

It’s an exciting time of year: petitioning time!

Huh, what’s that?

As New Yorkers, we’re used to people approaching us on the street asking for something. But if you’ve been confronted recently by clipboard-carriers asking you to sign a petition to get someone on the ballot, that’s because it’s petition time, the semi-official beginning of campaign season in New York.

So what’s the deal with the petitions?

In order to run in a New York election, candidates need to collect signatures from people who can vote in that election. That means if someone is running as a Democrat for Mayor of New York City, they need to collect signatures from Democrats in New York City. If a candidate is running as an independent, they can collect signatures from anyone who is registered to vote in the general election.

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Composting is going to expand in NYC

New York Tries to Be Sustainable

With Trump taking the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, New York can expect warmer temperatures, greater flooding and more damage from storms, and a whole host of other issues.

  • Did you see the New York Times article about composting? New York is trying to become more sustainable but it’s challenging for all sorts of reasons. However, building greener, more dense neighborhoods and improving public transit so people don’t have to drive will have more of an impact than composting. (It’ll be more affordable, too).
  • Check out this comparison between the subway map and where the trains really run.

    via GIPHY

    Notice how squished together everything is in Manhattan and how much further apart subway lines are in Brooklyn and Queens.

  • The Move NY group is proposing a plan to charge drivers for going into downtown Manhattan and use that money to pay for better transit. Their original plan required state approval and would also have lowered tolls on bridges between the outer boroughs where there are fewer mass transit options. This plan could be adopted by New York City but the money wouldn’t go directly to the MTA and so would make less of an immediate impact on fixing all the issues with the subways.

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NYC Schools are currently run by the Mayor. Mayoral control could expire if the state legislature doesn't act.

Republicans Toy with de Blasio Over Mayoral Control

Mayoral control of New York City schools is set to expire, threatening to plunge the school system into chaos, unless the state legislature passes a law extending the program.

However, the Senate GOP threatens to continue mayoral control only if NYC allows more charter schools. They are also pushing to include a tax cut for rich New York City residents and a tax credit for private schools, too. Meanwhile their IDC allies offered another bill tinkering around the edges by letting neighborhood education councils choose superintendents.

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Rep. Chris Collins

Is a Trump Ally Profiting Off Congress?

The Hill reports that Buffalo Congressman Chris Collins told colleagues to buy stock in a biotech company where he’s on the board. He also reportedly has brought the company up in official business.

“If you get in early, you’ll make a big profit,” Collins reportedly told another group of House Republicans last summer, according to a second GOP lawmaker who was part of the same 2012 class as Collins.

Half a dozen Republican lawmakers interviewed for this story said they have heard Collins talking up Innate Immunotherapeutics at official meetings and in informal settings on the Hill.

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Julissa Ferreras-Copeland with her then-newborn son and husband.

Pol Bows Out to Spend Time with Family… and Means It

Normally when a politician says they are retiring to spend more time with their family, we’re skeptical. But Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland seems to really mean it, describing the anguish of not being able to spend enough time with her husband and son. Though she was widely-seen as a rising star, Ferreras-Copeland says she’s putting her happiness first.

Why it matters:

  • This shakes up the race to be the next Council Speaker, perhaps the second most powerful role in City politics after the Mayor. Ferreras-Copeland was seen as a serious contender for the position which is voted on by the City Council. While insiders pointed to her as de Blasio’s preferred candidate, her strained ties with Queens Democratic Leader Rep. Joe Crowley might have been a stumbling block.
     
    Without Ferreras-Copeland in the race for Speaker, there are no other serious candidates from Queens, leaving Crowley free to wheel and deal. Look for him to throw his support (and the votes of the dozen-or-so Councilmembers loyal to him) to whichever candidate will deliver the most for him.
     
  • Ferreras-Copeland’s retirement highlights the plight faced by women in government. We mentioned this issue last week whenthe New York Times reported on how many women left working for Mayor de Blasio amid complaints about mismanagement and a hostile workplace. There were suggestions that Ferreras-Copeland couldn’t be Speaker because of her young family, an accusation that virtually never comes up for fathers. 
  • With Ferreras-Copeland leaving, only 8 out of 51 City Councilmembers are likely to be women next year. The successor to current Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Puerto Rican woman, is also very likely to be a white man (probably Upper Manhattan’s Mark Levine or Corey Johnson from Chelsea). While both are progressives, many activists are dismayed at the lack of diversity in the New York City Council.

Who’s going to succeed Ferreras-Copeland?

Jackson Heights Assemblyman Francisco Moya is running to succeed Ferreras-Copeland. He has the support of the Queens Democratic Party and is widely-known thanks to his current position, making him the instant frontrunner for the Council seat.

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