New York City politics is busy this week. De Blasio proposed a new budget and declared a goal of providing free, universal preschool for three-year-olds. Meanwhile, the opposition takes shape as Bo Dietl seeks permission to run as a Republican and a new Republican enters the race for Mayor.
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Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio doubled-down on his widely-praised Pre-K for all, announcing the launch of a new 3-K Preschool program for three-year-olds.
De Blasio campaigned on free pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds and successfully implemented Pre-K for All within his first year in office. 3-K, however, will be much more gradual. The program will start in a couple neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx but will need $700 million in state or federal funding to expand city-wide.
From Across New York
Tonight is a do-or-die moment for the campaign of former television personality Bo Dietl. Because Dietl is a registered independent, he needs the permission of Republican Party leaders to run in the Republican primary for Mayor. They’re meeting tonight to decide and if they reject Dietl, his campaign is basically over.
This afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed his budget proposal for next year. We’re tracking what’s in it and collecting reactions.
Many Buffalo neighborhoods have worse problems with lead poisoning than Flint, Michigan. Buffalo has been working to remove lead and help children suffering from lead poisoning but Donald Trump is threatening to cut funding for those programs.
There’ve been several major issues at Penn Station over the last few weeks. Amtrak is trying to fix the tracks under the Hudson but LIRR, NJTransit, and Amtrak riders can expect more delays for the foreseeable future.
• New Republican Candidate for Mayor: Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is running for Mayor “unless my good friend John Catsimatidis jumps into the race” she declared Tuesday. A draft movement called on her to run but she may have trouble winning over the rest of the city.
• Republican State Senator Headed to Court: A judge ruled Niagara Republican Rob Ortt will face trial on charges he illegally used money for the Niagara County Republican Committee by secretly paying his wife. While his Senate district is historically Republican, the cloud of scandal and a Democratic wave in 2018 could flip the district and with it, the closely-divided Senate.
• Brooklyn DA Moves to Protect Immigrants: Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced a new policy to try to avoid causing immigration problems for foreign-born defendants. The office will hire two immigration lawyers to train prosecutors about what convictions would lead to deportations or citizenship denials. When possible, prosecutors will try to avoid charges that would result in those consequences for immigrants.
• New SUNY Chancellor: Kristina Johnson will be the new chancellor of the SUNY college system. She served as energy undersecretary in the Obama Administration and was the provost at Johns Hopkins University , though she doesn’t have a New York background or experience with public universities. Johnson will have the difficult challenge of implementing the free tuition Excelsior Scholarship without busting the SUNY budget.
• Homeless but still in school: 33,000 New York City public school students are homeless according to a new report by the city’s Independent Budget Office. Nearly half of homeless students go to school in the Bronx but every borough has seen more homeless students over the last five years. The de Blasio administration, under fire for the continuing homelessness crisis, announced the City would include $10.3 million in the budget to better serve homeless students, though the IBO says more is needed.
• The rent is too damn high: ProPublica reports on how landlords take advantage of a loophole to undermine rent stabilization for over 260,000 New York City families. As one landlord told ProPublica, if a rent-stabilized tenant gets a discount, “it’s the same as having a deregulated apartment.”
• Racist Taxes? A coalition of the NAACP and other groups is filing a class-action lawsuit arguing that the New York City property tax system is biased to make poorer, homeowners of color pay more than wealthier, whiter homeowners. Mayor de Blasio, for instance, pays just over $7,000 in property taxes on the two multi-million dollar houses he owns (and rents out) in Park Slope. A homeowner in East New York pays even more than that, though house house is valued at only $156 thousand. However, politicians are loath to touch property taxes since wealthy homeowners who could vote out the politicians would almost certainly have to pay more.
• Maybe not the best look for Cuomo? His new Chief of Staff is Republican Maria Comella, a former top aide to New Jersey’s Chris Christie. While she has Presidential campaign experience (working for Bush, McCain, Giuliani and Christie), you’d think Cuomo would want Democratic staffers as he prepares to run for the Democratic nomination. This should be a demonstration that Cuomo isn’t going to be a progressive champion as Comella replaces Melissa DeRosa who was promoted to Secretary for Cuomo, despite her ties to lobbyists.