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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Trump's signature healthcare plan will have vast impacts for New York.

Trumping the AHCA? How New York will respond to Trumpcare

Since the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act and its impact on New York has become more clear, the reaction has been angry towards the Republican Party which pushed it through. After several false starts with Paul Ryan repeatedly delaying a vote on Donald Trump’s signature proposal, the measure squeaked by on a 217 to 213 vote. A series of polls in early May found a paltry 31% approval rating for the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, while nearly 50% of the country disapproved.

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IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Republican Leader John Flanagan could be in trouble because of the Senate lulu scandal.

Why the Senate Lulu Scandal Might Be Trouble for Everyone

Right now, the top news in the New York politics is the story of the State Senate’s lulu payments, the extra money that legislators in leadership positions earn. A New York Times investigation discovered that seven Senators (three Independent Democrats and four Republicans) earned lulus for positions they did not hold. While the legal fallout is unclear, the consequences will reverberate throughout New York politics.

Thanks to his coalition with the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference, Republican Leader John Flanagan (Long Island) leads the Senate even though there are 32 Democrats and only 31 Republicans. To maintain support, he arranged for seven Republican and Independent Democratic Conference members to earn larger lulus by paying committee vice-chairs as if they chaired the committees. This continued a practice of his predecessor, Dean Skelos (since convicted for corruption). Flanagan must have figured no one would notice.

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Senate lulu payments are stoking controversy. Are they legal?

Who in the Senate Broke the Law?

Last week, we mentioned that the Independent Democrats in the State Senate are earning more money thanks to their alliance giving Republicans control. Turns out, there’s a lot more to the story of the Senate lulu payments.

Catch me up:

Even though there is a 32-31 majority of Democrats in the State Senate, nine of those Democrats support the Republican leadership, giving them control of the chamber. Those nine Democrats (eight members of the Independent Democratic Conference or the IDC and Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder) got leadership positions as the chairs or vice-chairs of committees.

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Bill de Blasio earning the endorsement of the Hotel Trades Council union. Photo credit: Monica Klein.

Why the Hotel Trades Council Endorsing de Blasio is Important

The Hotel Trades Council, the union representing hotel workers around New York City, is surprisingly powerful. It’s one of the smaller unions, with under 35,000 members, but that belies its importance. The HTC is powerful because it commands one of the most powerful political operations of any union. That makes its endorsement especially useful so Mayor Bill de Blasio is surely happy to receive it.

Who are the members of the Hotel Trades Council?

As the union for hotel workers, HTC counts 32,000 members. They work in over 300 unionized hotels, motels, casinos, and other connected businesses including parking garages and spas, according to the union. HTC formed during the Great Depression as a merger between 15 different unions, so that hotel owners couldn’t play the individual unions off one another. That worked incredibly well over the years to the point where they represent about 75% of the hotel industry in New York City.

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The three men in a room: Cuomo, Flanagan, and Heastie.

Three (or Four) Men in a Room and When It Breaks Down

New York State politics is often derided as “three men in a room” making a decision. Whatever is agreed upon by those three men–the Governor (Andrew Cuomo), State Senate leader (currently, Republican John Flanagan), and the Assembly speaker (currently, Democrat Carl Heastie)–becomes law. With the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate, it’s now grown to four men (with Senator Jeff Klein).

But sometimes, it falls apart, and the budget doesn’t get passed by the April 1 deadline. In 2004, it took the three men in a room until August, 133 days past the deadline to reach an agreement; that’s 19 weeks, over a third of the year.

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