Bill de Blasio
Mar 4th - 2:20 pm
In lobbying individual members of the state Legislature, the coalition supporting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push for universal pre-Kindergarten is coming prepared with district-by-district statistics breaking down who benefits.
The stat-fact sheet, like this one below for Assemblyman David Weprin’s district, provide data on the number of children in the district, their racial identity as well as income levels.
All of this comes on a mega lobbying day at the Capitol for both UPKNYC as well as charter schools.
De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who are meeting this afternoon, differ on how to fund universal pre-K.
Cuomo wants to fund a statewide version out of existing budget dollars, while de Blasio is pushing for a tax hike in the city, but that must be approved by Albany.
Mar 3rd - 12:21 pm
ICYMI, here’s the lead item today’s Morning Memo:
The New York City-based war over charter schools will reach a head in Albany tomorrow, as hundreds from either side descend on the state Capitol for dueling rallies.
On one side: Former NYC Councilwoman and charter school operator Eva Moskowitz, who is furious with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for reversing co-location decisions by his predecessor, former Mayor Bloomberg, that would have allowed for the expansion of three schools operated by her Success Academy network.
Moskowitz has cancelled school tomorrow at all 22 of her charters, and plans to bus angry parents, students and teachers to Albany to protest de Blasio’s decision.
On the other side: De Blasio and his allies, who had already planned to be in Albany Tuesday to rally for his ever-more-out-of-reach plan to let the city tax wealthy residents to expand pre-K and after school programs in the five boroughs. De Blasio last week fanned the flames still further by calling Moskowitz’s rally a “sideshow,” insisting he would not be deterred by her plans.
There is a belief among de Blasio backers that that Moskowitz has launched her competing rally with the tacit approval – if not outright encouragement – of the pro-charter Cuomo administration, which is at odds with the mayor over pre-K funding.
Just last week, Cuomo was praising the charter school movement and its departed “champion” (Bloomberg), while refusing to weigh in directly on the co-location argument.
A Cuomo spokesman did not return an email seeking comment Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos told the NY Post he’s prepared to fight on behalf of charter schools during the ongoing budget negotiations with Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and IDC Leader Jeff Klein.
Skelos called de Blasio’s co-location decision “unconscionable.” He also expressed concern about the administration’s effort to redirect a $210 million construction fund used to build space for charter schools toward pre-K, and its plans to charge better-financed charter schools rent.
Not everyone in the charter community is at war with de Blasio. Twenty-three charter organizations have signed onto a Feb. 27 statement calling Moskowitz’s competing rally “not the right approach at this time,” and refusing to participate.
“Tuesday is not a day to be divided,” the letter reads. “Those rallying in Albany next week should stand together with the city and advocate – side by side – for our children, particularly the most underserved, and all of whom are public school students.”
Mar 3rd - 11:28 am
She may not be an everyday New Yorker, but actress Cynthia Nixon is touting a video from the coalition backing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-Kindergarten approach that features parents backing the plan.
“When I meet the parents, kids, early childhood educators, and activists who advocate every day for universal pre-K and after-school, I know we can win this,” Nixon wrote in the email to supporters.
“And the stories they share should remind all of us why we can’t afford not to. This is about real New Yorkers, and New York City’s plan offers all our kids a real shot at success. I’ll keep this message brief, because I want you to hear it from the parents and children themselves.”
The video comes as a major lobby day is to occur on Tuesday. De Blasio himself is expected to travel to Albany to drum up support for the proposal, which would tax those who make $500,000 and more a year to fund the program.
At the same time, advocates opposed to de Blasio’s push to reduce the available space in charter schools in New York City will also descend on the Capitol.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal would create a statewide pre-K system funded at $1.5 billion over five years.
In other words, it’s going to be a busy and loud day at the Capitol as the budget season begins in earnest.
Feb 17th - 12:36 pm
A pro-charter schools group is launching a digital campaign over the next several weeks on social media and other websites opposing multiple de Blasio administration efforts, it announced Monday.
The campaign, which features 30-second videos on YouTube, is part of an effort from Families for Excellent Schools opposing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent reduction of $210 million in capital as well as a new charter rent policy.
“The de Blasio administration has said parent voices matter to them, but they seem to be discounting ours,” said Rafael Lois, the father of two Girls Prep Bronx scholars who is featured in one of the videos. “My daughters are receiving an excellent education, which is their moral and legal right, and I will do everything in my power to make sure they continue to have these opportunities.”
Families for Excellent Schools added in a news release they are also concerned about that the administration “also continues to hint at plans” that would roll back charter co-locations.
New York City has 185 charter schools, which the coalition points out serves students who live in poverty and are 93 percent black or Hispanic.
The push comes a day after de Blasio’s latest trip to Albany for caucus weekend, when he again reiterated his push for a universal pre-Kindergarten program that would be paid for by taxing those who earn $500,000 and more a year.
The mayor did not mention the tax increase in an event with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has said he wants a statewide universal pre-K program without the tax increase for New York City.
The YouTube channel can be viewed here.
Feb 12th - 1:18 pm
Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee Chairman Greg Ball on Wednesday blasted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to carry city-issued identification cards.
Ball in a statement this morning plans to hold an oversight hearing on the ID card proposal, which the mayor included in his State of the City address this week.
“My concern is not about the illegal alien dish washer looking to get to work, this extreme Mayor’s proposal, joined by efforts in the New York State Senate to provide New York State driver’s licenses to illegals, will simply provide a mask to those seeking to harm the United States,” Ball said in a statement.
“Among the September 11th terrorists, 19 of them had over 300 aliases and identifications. They went to other states with lax identification laws and that’s why the U.S. Congress enacted the Real ID Act, to save lives. Now this crazed Mayor wants to forget all that.”
To be clear, the ID cards would not be the equivalent of a driver’s license, which is issued by the state.
Recall that one of the earliest walls Gov. Eliot Spitzer ran head-long into was a proposal to allow undocumented workers receive drivers’ licenses issued by the state, a move that was vehemently opposed by county clerks and became a campaign issue for Hillary Clinton, then running for the Democratic nomination for president.
But since it’s a city-issued card, it’s unclear what, if anything, Ball as a state lawmaker could do to block the proposal.
Supporters of the de Blasio plan, which he first raised during the campaign, say the card provide needed services to undocumented immigrants that they previously could not access.
But opponents, including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and now Ball, a Republican from Putnam County, see it as a security issue.
“New York’s security is America’s security,” Ball said in the statement. “While this new Mayor is now free to focus on carriage horses and beyond, he should look back in recent memory when more responsible Mayors took terrorism and security more seriously. Beyond the fact that this action, if the federal government actually enforced its laws, constitutes a felony by the Mayor for aiding and abetting, this Mayor’s proposal is a homeland security nightmare, and must be stopped.”
UPDATE: Another statement slamming de Blasio’s ID plan was issued by Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, who called it a “national security nightmare.”
Anything DMV related generally serves as a flashpoint for the GOP, but in this case, the Republicans might do well to recall that their NYC mayoral candidate, Joe Lhota, not only endorsed the IDs-for-immigrants idea during the campaign last year, but also said he supported the concept of letting them get driver’s licenses – though he didn’t plan to push that in Albany, should he have managed to get elected.
UPDATE2: Lhota reached out to clarify that while he has “always supported municipal ID cards (like Houston and Oakland)” for all New York City residents, he has “never” backed the idea of issuing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, Democrats are coming to de Blasio’s defense. Sen. Jose Peralta issued a statement saying that Ball’s “overheated anti-immigrant rhetoric stands in stark contrast with the view of many in law enforcement,” adding:
“Senator Ball seems not to be aware that municipal IDs have been used for years in cities from New Haven, Connecticut, to San Francisco, California, where they have greatly improved cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement.”
“He also seems unaware that all immigrant driver’s licenses, including the one I have proposed in New York and those already in place in 11 states and Washington D.C., must be clearly distinguishable and meet with the approval of the Department of Homeland Security. With municipal ID’s and driver’s licenses, undocumented immigrants today would be able to better provide for their families, contribute more to the economy and fully integrate into the American mainstream, just as generations of immigrants to this country have before them.”
“Lumping these hard-working immigrants in with terrorists is the worst kind of irresponsible.”
Feb 4th - 8:57 am
From the morning memo, in case you missed it:
The coalition supporting the creation of universal pre-Kindergarten in New York City will descend on Albany March 4 to boost the issue.
According to the event’s organizers, the coalition plans to bring more than 2,000 advocates and supporters to the Capitol for what is being described as a “massive grassroots” day of lobbying and advocacy.
UPK NYC also plans to hold borough town halls featuring legislators across New York City this month.
The citywide pre-K program is a campaign pledge of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wants to hike taxes on those earning $500,000 and more a year in order to pay for it.
But the income surcharge needs to be signed off on by Albany, and Republican Senate lawmakers have indicated little willingness to take up the tax hike, especially in an election year.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his budget proposal made an alternative plan: A statewide universal pre-K program that would be paid for out of the budget.
Cuomo’s plan would spend $1.5 billion over five years, with $100 million in the first year targeting needy school districts. Department of Education Commissioner John King has said the total annual cost of universal pre-K statewide is likely higher, $1.6 billion.
Jan 30th - 1:25 pm
New York City reached an agreement on Thursday with plaintiffs challenging the controversial stop-and-frisk procedure.
The agreement includes a federal court-appointed monitor over the next three years who will oversee the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy.
The monitor also has the power to issue reports to court on the city’s enactment of the policy adheres to Constitutional protections.
At the same time, city government will be involved in a “joint process” with community leaders to help overhaul the use of the procedure, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said.
“This is a defining moment in our history. It’s a defining moment for millions of our families, especially those with young men of color. And it will lay the foundation for not only keeping us the safest big city in America, but making us safer still. This will be one city, where everyone’s rights are respected, and where police and community stand together to confront violence,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The de Blasio administration previously began the process of asking the Court of Appeals to send the case to the federal district court.
The Department of Law, along with the plaintiffs in the case, have also agreed to recommend the court’s monitor have the three-year oversight with the stipulation that the NYPD is in “substantial compliance” with the ruling.
Once the resolution is formally confirmed by the court, the city will move to withdraw its initial appeal of the case striking down the broad aspects of stop and frisk.
Jan 30th - 10:57 am
Albany has not been the friendliest place for New York City mayors or their policies. However, newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to change that, despite differences he’s having already with Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“We have a pathway forward that we have to make sense of, but that’s just another day in government,” de Blasio said at a joint news conference at the Capitol with Cuomo on Monday.
Cuomo and de Blasio disagree over how to fund universal pre-Kindergarten. De Blasio wants permission from Albany to increase taxes on New York City residents earning $500,000 and more. Cuomo wants to fund a statewide version of pre-kindergarten out of existing funds, without a tax hike.
Republicans have been quick to point out the divide.
“It also shows there is a schism in the Democrat Party between the Democrat progressive left and the Democratic progressive right,” Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos told reporters following Cuomo’s budget presentation this month.
Both the governor and mayor downplayed their differences this week, and played up their shared resume, including work at the Department of Housing and Urban Development
“We use the word friend in politics often, and sometimes casually. But the new mayor of New York is truly a friend in the deepest sense of the word,” Cuomo said.
Despite the show of mutual affection, de Blasio must sell his plan and himself to state lawmakers and legislative leaders who have often stymied previous mayors.
That starts with making the trip upstate.
“I think it’s important for the mayor to be here. You know, he’s just starting out as mayor. A lot of things happen here that effect the mayor and I think it’s important that he get here,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
In particular, he’ll have work with senate Republicans, who have shown little appetite to grant the tax hikes. De Blasio says meetings with Skelos and Finance Chairman John DeFrancisco have gone well.
“We are working on the assumption that this is a partnership on many, many fronts and that we want to have a special working relationship regardless of partisan differences,” de Blasio said.
His biggest ally so far has been Independent Demcoratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, who supports de Blasio’s tax plan for universal pre-kindergarten.
“He laid out the plan. It’s an ambitious one. It’s one we can accomplish and I look forward to help you every step of the way,” Klein said after meeting with de Blasio.
Jan 30th - 10:46 am
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced he was joining Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the gun-control organization co-founded by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.
“We are taking every step within our power to protect our people, and we need our leaders in Washington and other states across the country to do the same. Mayor Bloomberg took on this fight when few others would, and today we are safer for it. He built a national movement for commonsense gun control—one I am proud to join. We are going to force this issue on the national stage to protect New Yorkers from the illegal guns flooding into our city,” de Blasio said in a statement.
The organization, co-founded by Bloomberg and now former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, announced in December it was merging with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
The group is pushing Washington, D.C., to take on various gun-control measure including stronger background check requirements, the submission of records of banned purchasers to the NICS database and making gun trafficking a federal crime.
The mayors also want to strengthen laws that restrict those convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun.
“Mayors are on the front lines of preventing gun violence in their communities and they know better than anybody else the daily toll of gun violence in our cities and towns,” said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Founder Michael R. Bloomberg. “As a New Yorker, it is particularly meaningful to me that Mayor de Blasio is joining our effort to curb gun violence. As Mayor, he understands that commonsense gun laws are vital to that success – but gun violence is a national problem that must be addressed by our leaders in Washington. Mayor de Blasio and the other new mayors who join our coalition strengthen our efforts to end the bloodshed. I look forward to working with him to change our nation’s laws so we can get illegal guns off our streets.”
Jan 29th - 11:56 am
Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on Wednesday that Republican leadership in the House of Representatives should “absolutely” take steps to sanction Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm for the threats made to Time Warner Cable News reporter Michael Scotto.
Grimm called Scotto earlier on Wednesday to apologize after threatening to throw the reporter off a balcony in the Capitol rotunda following a question about the arrest of the lawmaker’s campaign fundraisers this month.
Scotto said he accepted Grimm’s apology.
But de Blasio told reporters that Grimm’s reaction was “absolutely inappropriate.”
“We’re going to have moments, between all of us in public life and all of you who do your job, where we have disagreements or tensions,” de Blasio said according to a transcript of the question-and-answer session released by his office. “But it’s absolutely inappropriate for it to be expressed in that manner. There has to be mutual respect even when your questions are tough, your job is to ask tough questions. But to physically threaten someone? That’s something that no public servant should do. And I think he owes Mr. Scotto an apology.”
Asked if the GOP leadership in the House should sanction or censure Grimm for the incident, de Blasio said “absolutely.”
“You don’t threaten reporters physically. It was a physical threat. It’s unacceptable,” de Blasio said. “And look, I think all of us who go into public life accept a higher set of standards, by definition. And I think that – think about it from the point of view, we always have to ask the question, ‘What does it say to our constituents? What does it say to the people? What does it say to our young people?’ A leader can’t do that. It’s just absolutely unacceptable, and if the leader does that, those in power or those in the leadership structure have to speak out. So I would hope that the House leadership says very strongly that this is unacceptable behavior.”
Update: In a statement, Speaker John Boehner’s office said Grimm’s apology was sufficient.
“Rep. Grimm has apologized, and the Speaker believes that was appropriate.”
Updated X2: Grimm’s office has released a second statement to say he was “wrong” for making the threats to Scotto. It’s a complete 180 from the defiant tone he took in a statement following the incident.
“I was wrong. I shouldn’t have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and lose my cool,” Grimm said. “I have apologized to Michael Scotto, which he graciously accepted, and will be scheduling a lunch soon. In the weeks and months ahead I’ll be working hard for my constituents on issues like flood insurance that is so desperately needed in my district post Sandy.”