- Queens State Senator Michael Gianaris proposed a three-year “millionaires tax” to pay for vital repairs to failing MTA infrastructure. A former MTA official estimated that it would cost $35 billion to bring the subway into a state of good repair.
- Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo doubled down on a flagrant lie that he doesn’t actually control the state-run authority, while he personally reappointed former MTA chairman Joe Lhota back into his old role.
- Brooklyn Community Board 9’s Land Use Committee unanimously voteddown the Bedford Union Armory proposal.
- A broad coalition of 100 progressive and conservative groups has formed to oppose the state Constitutional Convention question hitting New York ballots this November. One notable inclusion in the coalition is Planned Parenthood, even though prominent liberal advocates for the constitutional convention have claimed that a convention could strengthen abortion rights.
- Council Member Rafael Espinal (Bushwick, East New York) wants to amend the City’s Cabaret Law, which bans dancing in most NYC bars and restaurants and has been used to target establishments in communities of color. His proposal would create an Nightlife Task Force and an Office of Nightlife to regulate such businesses.
- A civil liberties lawyer has filed a suit that accuses the NYPD of illegally refusing to release documents that outline how the department trains officers to handle protests and demonstrations.
- State legislators failed to reach an agreement to extend mayoral control of City schools before the session ended on Wednesday after Upstate and Long Island Senate Republicans tied an extension to lifting caps on charter schools. Despite doomsday warnings from City officials, mayoral control may be renewed in a special session, as it lapsed briefly in 2009 with few consequences.
- Mayor de Blasio released a plan for shutting down Rikers Island. In an interview with Brian Lehrer, the Mayor stated that the plan will hinge on members of the City Council clearing the way for local jails to be placed in their districts.
- Crown Heights landlord Daniel Melamed was found guilty of unlawful evictions this week and faces up to a year in jail. Another Brooklyn landlord, Silvershore Properties (who are currently attempting to sell over $200M of Brooklyn real estate), is also facing legal action in the form of a harassment suit being pursued by tenants.
- Bertha Lewis’ Black Leadership Action Coalition endorsed Hiram Monserratein the 21st city council race in Queens to replace Julissa Ferreras, even though he has been convicted of domestic assault and fraud. The race also includes Assembly Member Francisco Moya and a rumored entry from IDC state senator Jose Peralta.
- Bob Capano, a Republican running for Council in District 43 (Bay Ridge) is clumsily fundraising off of Khader El-Yateem’s affiliation with DSA. Capano’s Republican primary opponent Liam McCabe brought trash to Gracie Mansion in a political stunt.
- The LGBT Caucus of the City Council, which includes Carlos Menchaca and Richie Torres, has endorsed Democrat Laurie Cumbo for her run in the 35th District (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill).
- A group of DSA, Socialist Alternative, Green Party, and Socialist Students members that included City Council candidate Jabari Brisport briefly occupied Senator Simcha Felder’s office to protest his role in blocking the NY Health Act, which has now officially failed to pass the State Senate for the third straight year.
Jabari Brisport Interview
DSA’s own Jabari Brisport is running for the 35th District City Council seat, which covers Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, and a portion of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. We asked the longtime Prospect Heights resident some questions about his campaign, now that he has officially been endorsed by NYC DSA.
The NYC Thorn: You support “killing the deal” for luxury housing at the Bedford Armory. As City Council Member for the 35th District, what would you have the City do with that site?
Jabari Brisport: I would have the City place it under the control of a Community Land Trust, and use that model as a springboard for other plots of public land within the 35th District.
Thorn: How would you be able to advocate for criminal justice reform from within the City Council?
JB: I’d be able to advocate for bail reform and the transfer of low level offenses (like jumping a turnstile) from criminal court to civil court. I can also fight for a charter revision that converts the CCRB to an Elected Civilian Review Board. And I can exert pressure on the Mayor to close Rikers on a faster timetable than 10 years.
Thorn: You chose to run as a Green. Where do you see the limits of the “progressive” Democrats in NYC and how do you think you can change the conversation?
JB: The limits of most progressive Democrats are that they try to “progress” within the capitalist framework. I say “most” because we have some stellar elected comrades who use the Democratic line (hi, khalid). However, in NYC, we have progressives who fight for affordable housing, which is good. But public and/or community control of the land would be better. We have progressives fighting for small businesses, which is good. But increasing worker-coops and funding them via higher taxes on over-sized corporations would be better. We have progressives fighting for the Right to Know Act, which is good. But elected oversight of the NYPD and democratic management of its funding would be better.
Thorn: What are your plans for the campaign in the coming months?
JB: Up until mid-July, the goal is to finish petitioning and formally qualify for matching funds. At this point, I only need 6 more signatures get on the ballot, and 40 more donations from within the district to formally qualify for NYC’s 6:1 matching funds. In parallel, I’ll be activating the campaign volunteers to canvass non-Democrats. We’ve identified 15k voters who are Green, Independent, or No-Party and will focus on those doors first, before targeting Bernie Democrats,based on this data. I’m open to all suggestions and alternative ideas because I’m very excited about this campaign and truly believe we’re gonna win.