- Governor Cuomo formally announced his support for congestion pricing, a longtime pipe dream of transit advocates that would institute a tolling mechanism for cars entering Manhattan to cut traffic and fund transit. The specific details of his proposal and its prospects in the State Legislature are still unclear.
- Prominent NYC Democrats have rallied behind Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and against Daniel Loeb, a hugely influential donor who has directed much of his money to Governor Cuomo, the state Republican Party, and the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). Several of the Democrats to recently speak out in support of Stewart-Cousins had previously undermined her by backing IDC candidates and elected officials.
- A group of tenants in a West Village apartment building were able to mount a successful legal challenge to have the building brought back under rent stabilization. Meanwhile, residents of a Brooklyn building owned by Jared Kushner filed a suit charging violation of rent stabilization rules.
- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found merit in an unfair labor practice charge against B&H Photo. Only earlier this week B&H had reached a settlement in a federal employment discrimination suit, which alleged that the electronics and camera retailer relegated Latino employees to lower-paying jobs and failed to accommodate female employees. (NYC-DSA is involved in a B&H boycott and participates in weekly solidarity rallies with B&H employees on Fridays from 12pm-2pm and Sundays from 3pm-5pm.)
- The City Council has officially launched its bail fund, which will provide bail to low-level offenders facing misdemeanor charges who cannot afford to post bail. When fully operational, the fund aims to assist between 1,000 to 2,000 people who would otherwise be sent to Rikers Island for failure to post bail as low as $250.
- DSA endorsee Rev. Khader El-Yateem was among a group of faith leaders that removed a plaque honoring Robert E. Lee in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn.
- The Commercial Observer profiles six of the most powerful people in real estate policy in New York.
- Nine candidates for the New York City Council seat in District 43 (Bay Ridge), including Rev. Khader El-Yateem, met for a debate this past Tuesday. The forum at times drew strong reactions from those attending and covered topics such as illegal home conversions, school funding, and immigration and racism. Rev. El-Yateem is facing much of the New York Democratic establishment in his race to be the first Palestinian-American elected to the City Council.
- Brooklyn City Council Member Jumaane Williams (District 45, Flatbush) took Mayor Bill De Blasio to task over his record on police accountability. Williams has announced his candidacy to become the next City Council Speaker, and his name has come up recently as a potential challenger to Andrew Cuomo for the 2018 Democratic nomination for New York Governor.
- The Stonewall Democratic Club rescinded its endorsement of Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s (District 10, Upper Manhattan) reelection effort over his endorsement of avowedly anti-LGBTQ City Council candidate Ruben Diaz, Sr.
- Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres (District 15, Fordham, Belmont, East Tremont) has joined the race to become the next City Council Speaker, which has taken on a new shape after presumptive front-runner Julissa Ferreras-Copeland announced last month she is not seeking reelection.
- Queens City Council Members and their primary challengers butted heads at a forum on the effects of rezoning, homelessness, and access to transportation across the borough. Although the Democratic mayoral primary will include five candidates, only two will feature in the debate.
- In yet another example of a New York politician resigning late in campaign season to circumvent the democratic process and allow party insiders to choose a successor, longtime State Assemblymember Denny Farrell (District 71, Upper Manhattan) announced his resignation. Farrell acknowledged the rationale behind the timing of his resignation which had been expected since at least the beginning of the summer. Substitutes for Democratic Party candidates in state races like Farrell’s and another recent resignee, Daniel Squadron, are decided by the sub 500-member Democratic County Committee.
- Although the Democratic mayoral primary will include five candidates, only two will feature in the debate.
In-Depth: NYC Democratic Mayoral Primary
On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio will face one of his Democratic challengers, Sal Albanese, in one of two scheduled primary debates. The existence of such a debate is itself unusual, as no incumbent mayor has faced a primary debate since the Campaign Finance Board took over the debate program in 1997. The last time an incumbent mayor faced a serious primary challenge was nearly 30 years ago, when David Dinkins defeated Ed Koch in 1989.
Yet, it is still a stretch to call Albanese a serious challenger to de Blasio. A former City Council Member from Bay Ridge, Albanese has run for mayor twice before, most recently garnering less than 1% of the primary vote in 2013. After a number of high-profile candidates including Hakeem Jeffries, Scott Stringer, and Preet Bharara declined to challenge de Blasio, the Mayor was left with a number of challengers who could not meet the CFB’s requirements to raise and spend $175,000 in order to participate in the debate. Albanese only barely met the requirements himself, and has pointed out that de Blasio signed a bill that raised the requirements from $50,000. Thus, despite a shaky approval rating that has suffered in light of recent MTA failures, de Blasio maintains a formidable lead over his 2017 opponents.
De Blasio’s Challengers
Sal Albanese, the only other candidate who will appear on stage on Wednesday, served on the City Council from 1983 to 1998, and has not held elected office since. As a result, his politics are somewhat anachronistic. Seen as a liberal in the 1990s, he voiced support for the death penalty, and voted to expand the size of the NYPD. He proposed expanding it further as recently as 2013. He also introduced New York City’s Living Wage Bill, which protected wages for City contractors. But the primary focus of his campaign and his earlier political career has been political reform and anti-corruption campaigns. While on the City Council, he proposed an aggressive Campaign Finance Reform Bill, and has proposed “Democracy Vouchers” as a means of reforming the current system.
Robert Gangi has been shut out of this week’s debate, but says he will stage a mock debate with a de Blasio surrogate (“a stick with a Red Sox hat on it”) outside the debate site. Former head of the Police Reform Organizing Project and previously Executive Director of the Correctional Association, Gangi has made police reform the centerpiece of the campaign, promising to end Broken Windows and the NYPD’s quota system. He also promised to fire NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo and the other officers involved in the death of Eric Garner in 2014. In addition to his criminal justice positions, he has attacked de Blasio from the left on housing and education issues, promising to promote desegregation of New York City schools, and ensure affordable housing meets affordability requirements for current neighborhood residents. He has never held elected office before.
Richard Bashner, another candidate who won’t be on the stage this week, is a Park Slope attorney and former Chair of Brooklyn’s Community Board 6. That community board has been at the center of a few rezoning votes in the time Bashner has served on it, but it is unclear what role he played in each vote. His campaign maintains support for community control over zoning decisions, but he has also headed the real estate practice of his law firm for over 25 years. Like Albanese, he has touted transparent government and a limit to big money in New York City politics as reasons for running.
Michael Tolkin has actually raised more money than any candidate in the election, including de Blasio, with nearly $8 million in contributions. But nearly all of that has come in the form of in-kind contributions to his own campaign, meaning that it does not count toward the CFB requirements. Tolkien is a former tech CEO who is only 32 years old. According to his campaign website, he is “a go-getter” who believes in “collaborative leadership” as well as a governing philosophy that is “non-ideological and apolitical.”