ELECTION TOMORROW + “FLIP YOUR BALLOT” PROPOSALS

Elections:

  • Politico released a map breaking down all of the competitive State Senate races across New York. According to their analysis, Democrats have a chance to pick up as many as ten seats on Tuesday, but given the lack of reliable polling in any of the races there’s limited ability to make clear predictions. Just one net gain would theoretically give Democrats control of the State Senate. The one competitive race in NYC is District 22 (Southern Brooklyn), where Democrat Andrew Gounardes is challenging incumbent Republican Marty Golden. The other seats in play are spread across Long Island, Hudson Valley, and the Syracuse area.

  • Joe Crowley insisted that he is not behind the flyers that have recently appeared in Queens, encouraging voters to elect him over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Crowley’s name will still appear on the ballot under the Working Families Party and the Women’s Equality Party.). Meanwhile, the local GOP committees have pulled their support from Anthony Pappas, the Republican in the race, after Pappas admitted that his ex-wife accused him of domestic violence and took out a restraining order against him. Pappas will also still appear on the ballot.

  • The New York City Campaign Finance Board released a voter guide that mistakenly told voters they couldn’t vote if they were on parole. Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order extending the right to vote to parolees earlier this year.

  • The four gubernatorial challengers debated in Albany, but Gov. Cuomo skipped it. Only the Democrat, Tish James, and the Republican, Keith Wofford, were invited to the only televised Attorney General debate.

  • Ahead of a potential run for Queens Borough President, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (District 26, Long Island City) announced he would cease accepting donations from real estate developers or landlords. The move follows similar announcements from Assembly Member Aravella Simotas and State Senator Michael Gianaris, who all hail from Western Queens districts that overlap with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional district.

Local News:

  • Even though ending the LLC loophole is allegedly a plank of Cuomo’s campaign finance agenda if the Democrats take control of the State Senate, LLCs have poured millions of dollars into State campaigns on both sides of the aisle since September’s primary. The LLC loophole allows wealthy individuals to semi-anonymously contribute unlimited amounts of money directly to State electoral campaigns.

  • While he is expected to be reelected, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli faces criticism for his continued refusal to divest the State pension fund from fossil fuel stocks, even those facing lawsuits from the State AG.

  • NYC-DSA is part of a coalition of community members, medical students, and unions that are fighting New York Presbyterian Hospital’s closing of Allen Psych Ward, the only inpatient psychiatric ward in Upper Manhattan.

  • Bronx City Council Member Mark Gjonaj is using campaign funds to sue the City, raising eyebrows about potential campaign finance violations. Gjonaj filed the lawsuit while running for City Council in August 2017, alleging the City was overburdening the Bronx with a disproportionate amount of homeless shelters, likening it to a “dumping ground.”

  • One month into the heating season, over 35,000 NYCHA residents have already faced heat outages. This comes a year after heat failures affected over 80% of residents.

  • Brooklyn Borough President (and retired NYPD Captain) Eric Adams announced that, after the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh, he will bring his gun into his house of worship, and called on other off-duty cops to do the same.

  • Over a year after the Governor announced a plan for corporate sponsorships subway stations, nobody wants to “adopt a subway station” because of the MTA’s terrible reputation.

  • Nearly 300,000 new voters have registered in New York State since April, over half as Democrats. (113,000 registered with no party, and 22,000 registered as Republicans.)

IN-DEPTH: NYC Charter Revision Commissions

New Yorkers may have seen ads recently encouraging voters to “Flip Your Ballot” in tomorrow’s election. This campaign is a part of the New York City Charter Revision Commission’s work, which has put three proposals on the ballot for voters—on the back of the ballot, to be specific. But despite the late publicity, there remains confusion over what the Charter Revision Commission is, who is behind it, and what it has proposed.

The City Charter

The New York City Charter is the legal document that codifies the rules and structure of the City government. First established in 1898, when the five boroughs merged, it was most recently amended back in 1989, when the Board of Estimate was replaced with the current City Council.

Dueling Commissions

There are actually two City Charter Revision Commissions, one initiated by Mayor de Blasio, and the other by the City Council. Although the Mayor’s was officially announced first, the one authorized by the City Council was originally proposed last year, by Public Advocate Letitia James and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Council Speaker Corey Johnson revived the idea this year, and the Council passed a bill establishing its own commission in April.

The City Council’s Commission, which includes members appointed by the Mayor, the Council Speaker, the Borough Presidents, the Public Advocate, and the Comptroller, has a broad mandate and a longer timeframe—its proposals will not be submitted to voters until next year. The Mayor’s Commission, whose members were all appointed by de Blasio himself, had a much narrower focus, to present reforms related to campaign finance and community engagement.

Some critics accused the Mayor of rushing the process, and trying to preempt the Council’s Commission with his own. But while there were initial calls by each side for the other to drop its commission, neither relented, and each held hearings and took input from the public this summer.

So What Is On the Ballot Tomorrow?

The back of tomorrow’s ballot will include the three proposals submitted by the Mayor’s Commission. The first involves changes to the City’s campaign finance system, lowering the contribution limit, increasing matching funds, and making public funds available to candidates earlier. The second proposal would create a Civic Engagement Commission that would, among other things, oversee a citywide participatory budgeting program. The third, and most controversial, would make changes to local Community Boards, most notably setting a term limit on members. (See here for the full text of the questions.)

A coalition of unions and other groups have set up a website outlining reasons to vote yes on all three proposals. Bernie Sanders weighed in to support Proposition 1. Some proponent City officials, however, have voiced their opposition to some or all of the proposals, most commonly Question #3, regarding Community Board term limits.

If any or all of these proposals are passed by voters, they will become law.

And What About the Council’s Commission?

Wait ‘til next year!

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