New York politics is contentious. That’s why ShakingNews is here to explain it.
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– Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein
Quote of the Week: “You look at me, Mr. Governor, but you don’t see me. You see my black skin and a woman, but you don’t realize I am a suburban legislator. Jeff Klein doesn’t represent the suburbs. I do.“ – Democratic State Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (Westchester) to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accusing him of favoring the Independent Democratic Conference. Cuomo reportedly responded with stunned silence.
That’s the question a provocative new article in the New York Review of Books poses. As Michael Greenberg argues, building affordable middle-class housing in poor neighborhoods like East New York, South Williamsburg, and Crown Heights, leads to gentrification. (If the several-page article is too long, Curbed has a handy Cliff Notes.)
Because the affordable housing draws in wealthier neighbors, landlords push out their poorer tenants, even if rent regulations should protect them. Rents across the area go up and, Greenberg argues, poor residents can’t afford to live anywhere near their old home.
Is this just a Brooklyn issue?
East Harlem is also becoming a flashpoint over affordable housing. Last week, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer announced her opposition to a proposed rezoning to allow more development in the heavily-Latino neighborhood. Though Brewer can’t stop the project, the City Council is likely to share her concerns about new housing not being affordable enough and the city not doing enough to protect tenants from harassment. In addition, the rezoning excludes the area closest to the new Second Avenue Q Train at 96th St, which could also support more affordable housing.
So what should de Blasio do?
One key factor is that New York City isn’t actually building that much more affordable housing. Mayor de Blasio set a goal of 200,000 affordable apartments. However, 60% of those are already built and the goal is to “preserve” them as affordable housing, renovating and repairing them as necessary. In order to really wants to drive down rents, New York City will need to build more housing across the city. That, however, is politically contentious.
State Senator Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) is planning on leaving the Senate if he gets elected Suffolk County Sheriff. Now, on its own, that’s not so weird–two other Senators are resigning or running for other offices and several Assemblymembers are trying to get elected to other jobs. The Sheriff also earns $193,123 a year, far more than the legislature’s $79,500 salary. But the circumstances around the race are suspicious, to say the least.
Is the fix in for Boyle?
Some believe it. According to the theory, the Democratic candidate for District Attorney, Tim Sini, will get elected along with the Republican Boyle for Sheriff. As part of the rumored deal (though denied by all parties), Boyle will resign his Senate seat after winning the primary so that there is a special election in November. Then, Democrats won’t run a serious candidate for the position so that Republicans can continue their tenuous hold of the Senate.
When all else fails, try the truth. The MTA is testing the wisdom of that aphorism. Combined with new subway countdown clocks, the hope is that riders will at least know what’s going on if they’re delayed.
Why you’re delayed: aging power systems
After six years and a half as Governor, Andrew Cuomo finally toured the subway to discover their technology is very old. (He should just read the coverage on ShakingNews). The Governor announced an overhaul of the aging ConEd power system whose problems cause 32,000 power delays last year.
Why you’re delayed: some trains don’t run enough
Surprised? Over the last two months, exactly zero days had as many rush hour trains on the Lexington Ave 4/5/6 as scheduled. The MTA has increasingly focused on preventing long wait times, ignoring the schedules in the process. For the 4, 5 and 6 trains, that’s meant 91 fewer trains from 6 AM to 8 PM on the average day this summer. Those trains could each carry 1,000 people, making your commute that much more crowded.
Why you’re delayed: political infighting
Mayor de Blasio is calling for a millionaires tax to pay for subway repairs and long-term work. That’s similar to what he campaigned for to pay for Pre-K for All and likely to face the same fate; Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan said it’s dead on arrival. However, the proposal may increase the pressure on Gov. Cuomo to address the subway crisis. He responded by suggesting a congestion pricing plan for commuters driving in Manhattan, a plan that Mayor Bloomberg unsuccessfully pushed for a decade ago. However, Cuomo did not reveal any details of what he might propose. Cuomo and state legislators are also unlikely to want to take on a controversial issue like congestion pricing while they are preparing to run for re-election.
Stories We’re Following
• Cuomo Should Be Worried… And That’s Making Activists Happy
We’ve covered some of the many people talking about running against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Now, Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon is flirting with a bid, too. Nixon, though, isn’t just a celebrity. She’s also a noted education activist and longtime supporter of Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Keep in mind: like with de Blasio’s rumored opponents this year, these potential candidates could all end up not running.)
At the same time, there are more and more stories about Cuomo’s political danger. Besides being embroiled in the MTA crisis, two of his top allies face trial on corruption charges, and both Republican and progressive opponents are emboldened to challenge him. The Working Families Party, which narrowly supported Cuomo in 2014 only to see him renege on his promises, is bitterly divided over the whether to back the Governor. Even State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli refused to say if he’d support Cuomo. As Clio Chang writes in The New Republic, “Cuomo’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
However, despite all that opposition, Cuomo is still the favorite to win re-election, though it might be ugly. As Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, a Cuomo opponent-turned-advisor put it: “The best way to win anything is to have a sufficient enough menu so people from the right will have to hold their noses and vote, people from the center will have to hold their noses and vote, and people on the left the same.”
• Quitting Time
State Senator Dan Squadron, a Brooklyn Democrat and leading reformer, announced yesterday in a Daily News op-ed that he’s leaving the State Senate. He’ll launch a new project focused on improving state government around the country.
What’s next? The Senate seat should be filled in a November special election. The Democratic nominee (and presumptive next Senator) will likely be chosen by the Democratic County Committee for the district, which includes Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights and parts of Carroll Gardens, Williamsburg and Greenpoint. That means most voters will have no real say on who becomes their state Senator.
Already rumored to be running: Manhattan Assemblymembers Brian Kavanagh and Yuh-Line Niou and former Brooklyn District Leader Lincoln Restler.
• Need Help? So Do Politicians
Long Island Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan recently completed an alcohol treatment program. He said the pressure of leading the Senate caused him to become dependent on alcohol and after the Senate session ended in June, he checked himself into a rehab program.
The New York Post also seems to think that Flangan’s sometime-nemesis Mayor Bill de Blasio needs help. In the last few days, they’ve run a series of negative stories claiming that de Blasio takes mid-day naps and bullies his staff. The Post suggests that the mayor has driven away aides by being unprofessional. Though de Blasio denied the allegations, it’s notable that he doesn’t have former aides going around praising his work ethic.
• It’s Been Long Enough
Prosecutors from every borough except Staten Island dismissed 645,000 old warrants. The warrants, all more than ten years old, were for non-violent infractions and had been issued to people who have not since had any criminal justice issues. Many of the people subject to those warrants weren’t even aware of them. They’d only find out about the criminal charges from a background check or if a police officer checked their ID. Those warrants could have also made immigrants subject to deportation.
Meanwhile, all four Democratic Congressmembers for Brooklyn endorsed Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez for re-election, lauding his work to clear the wrongfully convicted.
Number of the Week: four years. Buffalo went more than four years without a fatal police shooting, without using tasers, and they’ve only had one officer killed in the last 20 years.