Council Member Item Reform Easier Said Than Done

Written by Kristen Meriwether on . Posted in Blog, Budget/Taxes, Daily, Features, Government Operations, Latest, News, Social Services

For years, Council members have cried foul at the discretionary funding process. They argued the funding was used as a reward by the Speaker, leaving those that disagree without adequate money for their district.   “When Council members are afraid to vote their conscience or advocate for their constituents because they fear the funding to their district will be cut, the rules in the Council are not working,” said Councilman Brad Lander at City Hall on Monday. With a new… [More]

De Blasio Pre-K Push Mirrors Dinkins Era Negotiation [CORRECTED]

Written by Nick Powell on . Posted in Blog, Budget/Taxes, Daily, Economic Development, Education, Features, Government Operations, News, Public Safety, Social Services

Last week New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio traveled to Albany to make the case for his universal preschool program in front of the state Assembly Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees. De Blasio, who campaigned on providing full-day preschool for all four year olds, as well as after school programs for every middle school student, has ramped up his campaign for the effort, which would be paid for through a temporary tax hike on the city’s… [More]

Unsettled Teacher Contracts Could Raise Cost of De Blasio’s Universal Preschool Program

Written by Nick Powell on . Posted in Budget/Taxes, Daily, Economic Development, Education, Features, Government Operations, Labor/Unions, Latest, News, Social Services

During his back-and-forth with the state Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committees on Monday—pitching the merits of his proposed universal preschool and after school programs—Mayor Bill de Blasio listened while state Sen. Diane Savino expressed shock that his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, left him very little in the way of reserve money to negotiate long-expired municipal labor contracts. When Savino, who chairs the Senate Labor Committee, suggested that de Blasio use the labor contract conundrum to bolster his case for a tax increase… [More]

After Sunset: Can Vito Lopez and Ridgewood Bushwick Survive Without Each Other?

Written by Aaron Short on . Posted in Budget/Taxes, Campaigns/Elections, Health Care, Housing, Real Estate/Construction, Social Services, Uncategorized

Former Assemblyman Vito Lopez received a warm welcome at Ridgewood Bushwick’s annual picnic in July. (Photo by Aaron Short) The unforgiving sun beat down on former Assemblyman Vito Lopez and some 2,000 Brooklyn senior citizens milling about the picnic grounds on one of the hottest days of the year. Lopez clutched a plastic water bottle that he would soon empty and stood near a roped-off table, greeting a line of seniors waiting for their steaks to finish sizzling on the… [More]

Ridgewood Bushwick Seeks Distance From Vito Lopez

Written by Aaron Short on . Posted in Features, Heard Around Town, News, Social Services

Former Assemblyman Vito Lopez distanced himself from the Bushwick charity he founded when government investigators probed the group’s tax filings in 2010 while he was still in office. Now the charity is distancing itself from Vito Lopez. Top Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council officials said that the $422,000 they received in earmarks from the City Council will go toward ongoing programs and were not a result of political patronage from their one-time benefactor. “The city and state fund these programs because RBSCC… [More]

Ravitch Gives Blunt Assessment Of New York’s Fiscal State

Written by Nick Powell on . Posted in Blog, Budget/Taxes, Daily, Economic Development, Features, Heard Around Town, Latest, News, Social Services

At City & State‘s “State of Emergency” event Thursday, former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch gave a keynote address outlining the problems facing the state’s local governments. It was a sobering assessment, as Ravitch blamed both state officials and the private sector for extending a long game of “kick the can” by borrowing money from unsustainable sources. “[New York] continues to borrow money, whether we borrow from the pension funds to make pension contributions, whether we borrow from our state insurance funds… [More]

Weisenberg Pressures Cuomo Administration to Restore Disability Funding

Written by Aaron Short on . Posted in Features, Health Care, Heard Around Town, News, Social Services

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg may have put the governor’s office in a corner. The Assembly is poised this week to vote on the Long Island lawmaker’s bill that restores $90 million in funding to disabled services that had been cut from the state budget in March. Weisenberg discussed the bill with Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz and State Budget Director Bob Megna on Tuesday. “They’re panicking,” Weisenberg said. “I have every member of the Assembly on my bill and the Senate promised to restore the money.”… [More]

Stevenson’s Tainted Bill Going Nowhere Fast

Written by Morgan Pehme on . Posted in Features, Heard Around Town, News, Other News, Social Services, Trials/Hearings

Eric Stevenson Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was hauled away by the feds last week for taking bribes to write legislation for his constituents. His bill, which he drew up in February, would establish a moratorium on the construction of new adult day care centers. But Assemblywoman Joan Millman, who is chairwoman of the Assembly Aging Committee, said the bill is “certainly not going anywhere.” “We’re never going to bring it up,” she said. “I took a look at it [on Friday]. He didn’t circulate it. The… [More]

Lopez-Founded Nonprofit’s Funding Isn’t New [Updated]

Written by Aaron Short on . Posted in Budget/Taxes, Features, Heard Around Town, News, Social Services

Vito Lopez A Brooklyn nonprofit under investigation by the city and the federal government for its ties to Assemblyman Vito Lopez received $63,337 from the state in this year’s budget – but it wasn’t a new member item. Lawmakers stopped getting discretionary funding for their districts in 2009, but a residual pot of money remains. The Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council obtained a $1.9 million grant in 2004 to construct its youth center. The last of the grant is trickling through this year, according… [More]