Special Election Bracket Busters

Cinderella stories are common in March, but what about in April?

On April 24 the state’s political season kicks off with special elections from Long Island to Buffalo. There will be 11 potential upsets, with nine Assembly races and two in the state Senate.

Most eyes are on the 37th Senate District because it’s viewed as a pivotal battleground for control of the state Senate. The district leans Democratic, but Republicans are hoping they can wrestle back control and pad their majority. Michael Lawler, campaign manager for Republican hopeful Julie Killian, joined the podcast to talk about their path to an upset victory.

The Assembly seats could also be ripe for surprise victories, as was the case in last spring’s special election on Long Island. Melinda Person, political director for NYSUT, came on the show to talk about the possibility of repeating that win on a larger scale.

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Assembly poised to act on New York City housing

The Assembly appears ready to weigh in on the scandal plagued New York City’s public housing agency.

Late Friday night, Speaker Carl Heastie introduced legislation that  would authorize NYCHA to use design-build procurement processes to quickly respond to its critical infrastructure needs.

“Currently, there are a large number of tenants living in New York City Housing Authority developments requiring a significant amount of work. Given the substantial scope of repairs needed to NYCHA’s heating systems and other critical facilities, a new, more efficient approach needs to be taken by NYCHA to address its capital needs; otherwise, tenants will continue experiencing disruptions,” reads the bill memorandum.

The bill also requires NYCHA to provide annual reports on their response to lead paint health risks. The goal of the requirement, according to the memorandum, is to empower residents and ensure compliance with inspection laws. Continue reading “Assembly poised to act on New York City housing”

Seeing Through New York

The expectation in New York that public information should be available online is only a recent development in the online era.

Ten years ago the landscape was radically different (and not just because Netflix dealt solely in DVDs), which is why the creation of See Through New York was a game changer.

In its first year, the site published payroll information for New York City and the state’s largest authorities, shared legislative expenditure data and unveiled a tool to analyze local tax data. Since then, See Through New York has launched new applications and continued to grow its database of public information. Continue reading “Seeing Through New York”

Armed officers for NYC schools

At the end of last year’s legislative session the state senate approved a bill directing the New York City Police Department to put an officer in every public and private school under their jurisdiction.

The proposal from Sen. Simcha Felder, which passed 51-11, was adopted with very little fanfare, but could resurface in some form in the wake of the Florida school shooting. This week Assemblyman Ron Castorina introduces the bill in the Assembly (where it has no chance of passing in its current form).

It’s interesting to note the senate debate around the bill last year. There was no discussion during the committee process (it only went through Rules) and Sen. Liz Krueger was the lone dissenting voice on the floor.

She noted that there were nearly 2,000 schools in New York City and questioned whether the law would divert police officers from their regular duties. “This doesn’t increase funds for New York City to hire 2,000 more police officers,” she said of the proposal.

The bill memorandum doesn’t account for additional expenses, stating there are no costs to the state or localities.

Krueger also argued that parents were concerned about having officers with guns in schools. “We are concerned about changing the culture of schools,” she said.

The lone Republican vote in opposition came from Mike Ranzenhofer, who represents the Buffalo area.

Here is the argument for the bill from its memorandum’s justification: “Requiring an NYPD officer to be at every school in New York City during the instructional day, as well as before and after classes are in session, will ensure that students are more protected in the event that a threat or the need for law enforcement intervention arises in New York City schools.”

The Loan behind the Lawsuit

If you ever stumbled across a late night television advertisement promising cash – maybe with a catchy jingle – then you might have unwittingly heard the sales pitch from a lawsuit lender.

Lawsuit lenders can act as third-party financiers of lawsuits with a simple pitch: Need cash while you wait for the resolution of a lawsuit? Then call an 800-number that probably ends in CASH.

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