Mendez mulling a run for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

Councilmember Rosie Mendez (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh having recently secured the party support he needed to secure the Democratic nomination for Daniel Squadron’s downtown seat, term-limited Council Member Rosie Mendez said she’s looking into the possibility of running for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat.

Prior to the primary for City Council and other citywide races, Mendez said she hadn’t had time to focus on the race. But now, she said, she can.

“It’s something I will look into now that we are through with the primary,” she said on Sunday afternoon, after the unveiling of Children’s Court Way street co-naming in Gramercy.

In September, Kavanagh secured the nod to get on the ballot through support of Brooklyn and Manhattan party bosses, rather than individual county committee members having their votes counted — or even getting to vote at all in Brooklyn, which makes up part of the Senate district. This strong-arm tactic, while criticized by more than a few people, was the legal alternative to a primary, which Squadron’s hasty departure from the legislature left no time for.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Kavanagh gets Dems’ nod for Senate in back room deal

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Democratic leaders in the Brooklyn and Manhattan on Sunday chose Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh as the nominee for the State Senate seat Daniel Squadron resigned from in August. The contentious nominating process pitted Kavanagh against district leader Paul Newell, who received the majority of the votes from county committee members in Manhattan but was not nominated because the block of votes from Brooklyn went to Kavanagh.

Since State Senate District 26 spans two boroughs, Manhattan and Brooklyn, party bosses in each were allowed to determine how to nominate a candidate, either by a convention, vote from committee members or a block vote.

The process in Manhattan included a convention on Sunday in which 100 county committee members took a vote, Gothamist reported. The vote was only advisory but members hoped that Keith Wright, the leader in Manhattan, would heed the results, in which members voted overwhelmingly for Newell.

According to official rules, Brooklyn did not have to hold a convention, although Democrats encouraged party boss Frank Seddio to do so. Seddio ultimately announced on Sunday that he would be backing Kavanagh without a convention or vote from committee members, which he said was because Kavanagh had the most support from elected officials in Brooklyn as well as the Working Families Party.

Continue reading

No one yet vying for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh is a candidate Daniel Squadron’s Senate seat. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh having expressed his interest in taking over the State Senate seat occupied by Daniel Squadron, who announced his resignation last week, it is unclear who would fill Kavanagh’s spot in Albany if he’s successful.

Two obvious choices would be City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, since they both live in the area covered by Assembly District 74 and are both getting term-limited out of the Council. However, neither of them has given any hint that they’re interested in the job, which involves taking a substantial pay cut and regularly commuting to the state capital.

Reached on the phone a day after Kavanagh made his announcement of his intention to seek the Senate seat, Mendez said she hadn’t had a chance to give it much thought.

“It’s absolutely too soon to say,” she told us. Instead, Mendez said, she’s been focusing on all the things she wants to get done before leaving office. “It’s a busy time. My plan was to start looking for a job after the primary.”

She did, however, get a call from Kavanagh ahead of his announcement to share his intentions and she also heard from others she didn’t name who were interested in running for the vacant Senate seat.

Continue reading

Kavanagh to run for NY Senate

Brian Kavanagh

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A few hours after State Senator Daniel Squadron announced he’d be leaving Albany, citing special interests and corruption preventing true democracy from taking place as a reason, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh said he’d be running for the position.

Since state elections aren’t until next year, the election for the Senate seat, which covers downtown Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, will be a special election. The date would be determined by the governor though it will likely be in November during the general election for citywide races. Prior to that candidates will be nominated by the county committee for each party.

According to State Senator Brad Hoylman, this process tends to be an insider game, which would make it easier for a well-known candidate like a current elected official to get the nod from the party as opposed to an unknown aspiring lawmaker. While Hoylman admitted he thought this process could use some reform to become more egalitarian, he nonetheless praised his colleague, an 11-year veteran of Albany, as a potential senator.

Continue reading

Week In Review, Jan. 21

State Senator Brad Hoylman called on telecommunications giant Time Warner Cable on Monday to improve access for blind and visually impaired customers by voluntarily instituting basic product standards, including television guides and documents written in Braille, font size options for on-screen menus, as well as “talking menus” and “talking guides.” In a letter to Chairman and CEO Robert Marcus, Hoylman noted that while “Comcast has already set an example with its simple to use and accessible technology,” Time Warner has yet to implement similar programs for its share of New York’s 400,000 visually impaired residents.
Hoylman learned of the issue from a constituent while visiting VISIONS, a nonprofit that offers rehabilitation and social services to the visually impaired, in his senate district with NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Council Member Robert Cornegy (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Council Member Robert Cornegy (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The City Council voted unanimously in support of legislation to change the way that the city communicates with New Yorkers who qualify for the city’s Rent Freeze Program on Tuesday.
The legislation, sponsored by Council Member Robert Cornegy, requires the Department of Finance to include a notice regarding legal and preferential rents on certain documents related to the NYC Rent Freeze Program.
Specifically, the notice must include the rent amount on which the benefit calculation was based, an explanation of why that amount was used in the calculation, an explanation that the tenant may continue to pay a preferential rent even once enrolled in the program, A statement that the tenant can obtain a rent registration history and file a complaint with the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal and a telephone number and email address for that agency. In addition, by 2018, the legislation would require the Department of Finance to include both the preferential and legal regulated rents of applicants to the NYC Rent Freeze Program in its database and include the preferential rent amount in the notice described above.

Continue reading

Cuomo: It’s time to close LLC Loophole

Kavanagh

Assembly man Brian Kavanagh has been pushing to close the LLC Loophole.

By Sabina Mollot

 

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said it was time to close the infamous LLC Loophole.

It was while making his State of the State address that Cuomo said that as far as the LLC Loophole is concerned, “The time for debate has passed. I call on the legislature to close the LLC Loophole. Pass it and I will sign it the very same day.”

He went on to say how there was a time when legislators, at the end of the day at the Capitol, went home to work on their farms. But nowadays, the governor said, they leave for their law firms, which is a recipe for conflict. He then proposed adopting the Congressional system of limiting outside income for legislators. He also acknowledged that the current campaign finance system makes it impossible for a candidate without funds to get anywhere. “We should encourage new participation,” he said, and also went on to say taxpayer money should not be used to pay the pensions of legislators who’ve been convicted of crimes relating to their jobs.

“2015 was a tough year. It was an ugly year on many levels,” said Cuomo, no doubt in reference to the Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver corruption cases.

Continue reading

Report finds election exploitation through LLC Loophole

State Senator Daniel Squadron

State Senator Daniel Squadron

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

While this will probably not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following the scandals in Albany this past year, a report by State Senator Daniel Squadron found significant LLC loophole exploitation in state elections contributions, with Tishman Speyer Development LLC one of the names topping the list.

Assemblymembers Brian Kavanagh and Jo Anne Simon, along with Squadron and other advocates, announced the findings of the report last Wednesday.

While the state prohibits corporations from giving more than $5,000 a year to candidates and political campaigns, through the so-called LLC Loophole, limited liability corporations, which are defined as businesses that share attributes of corporations and partnerships, are allowed to donate up to $60,800 to a candidate per election cycle and up to $150,000 a year to candidates and political committees overall. Corporations and individuals are also allowed to set up an unlimited number of LLCs through which to donate, and developers often have an LLC for each of their properties.

“This is why Albany and real estate interests run roughshod,” State Senator Brad Hoylman said of the loophole. “They can manipulate the law. These are often shadowy entities and have multiple owners. They exist primarily to circumvent detection of true ownership. The fact that they’re treated as individuals is outrageous and that needs to be fixed.”

Hoylman is a co-sponsor of Squadron’s bill in the State Senate that would close the loophole.

Continue reading

Hoylman to have sit-down with ‘Santa’

Revelers outside an East Village bar at last year's SantaCon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

Revelers outside an East Village bar at last year’s SantaCon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, a coalition of local elected officials led by State Senator Brad Hoylman were able to get the mysterious organizers of SantaCon to agree to a few policy changes to help turn the annual pub crawl from naughty to nice.

This has included the organizers providing the event’s route to local precincts ahead of time and promising to have “elves” on the sidewalks to help keep the roaming crowd of Santas, Mrs. Clauses and other Christmas characters under control on their way from one bar to the next.

Now, said Hoylman, the organizers have also agreed to meet with the politicians face to face following the event to review how things turned out. This, he noted is progress, considering that previously, the organizers had only spoken with the pols over the phone or through email with only first names provided.

SantaCon, which has grown in recent years due to social media, will take place this year on December 14. Hoylman said either he or someone from his office will be “observing” the event, which according to a report in the Daily News, will start at Tompkins Square Park, head to the Lower East Side and end up in Brooklyn.

As Town & Village has reported, officers from the 13th Precinct have previously said they are preparing for the event, due to crowds last year that were larger than expected.Critics, including local precincts and community boards, have complained that the event has become a nuisance due to crowding outside bars and rowdy, drunken behavior that’s included public puking and urinating.

Last week, a rep for the event, who would only identify him or herself as “Santa,” told Town & Village organizers have been trying to be cooperative and were in agreement with Hoylman about bad behavior among participants not being acceptable.

Other politicians in the coalition include State Senators Liz Krueger and Daniel Squadron, Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh, Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried and Council Members Dan Garodnick, Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin.

 

 

Hoylman: It’s time to rein in SantaCon

Revelers outside an East Village bar at last year's SantaCon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

Revelers outside an East Village bar at last year’s SantaCon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who has recently called on the mysterious figures behind the ever-growing bar crawl SantaCon to start policing its crowds, said this week he was able to get the group to agree to some of his suggestions on achieving this.

Though the conversation he had with the group was over the phone with individuals who would only identify themselves by first name, Hoylman said it was a positive talk since the group said it would take some concrete steps to keep the event under control.

“We’re reserving our judgment,” said Hoylman on Wednesday, in reference to himself and a coalition of other local politicians who also want to see the mass gathering become less of a disturbance to the neighborhoods it visits.

Last Tuesday, the group penned a letter to urge the anonymous organizers to work with police and community boards on curbing the crowding and rowdy behavior seen at SantaCon events in recent years. SantaCon, an annual event, encourages participants to dress like Santa or other Christmas-themed, and even Hanukkah-themed characters, as they head down a route announced only shortly before the crawl via social media, and hit various pubs along the way. As it’s grown, however, the event has been widely criticized by residents of neighborhoods that are included, due to the crowded sidewalks and the obvious intoxication of participants.

Last December, a Town & Village intern covering the event reported having to dodge male and female Santas yelling, fighting and even puking as they stood waiting to get into various bars or sitting on bus stop benches in the East Village and Union Square. After getting a few photos, the intern, Allegra Kogan, and a friend got into a cab and, before they could exit at Union Square, had the door flung open by more drunken Santas who tried to force their way in.

“Even the cab driver, probably used to New York City antics, looked shocked,” Kogan said.

This year’s SantaCon is set for December 14, with the route so far unannounced.

In their letter, the pols said the route ought be made public in advance to give the NYPD and local businesses time to plan.

“While SantaCon is an open event, the organization still bears ultimate responsibility for its participants,” the letter from the coalition of politicians read. “Every organization must ensure that it is not encouraging lawbreaking, which in this instance includes public consumption of alcohol, public intoxication, public urination, as well as disorderly and overly aggressive behavior.”

Along with Hoylman, others to sign the letter were State Senators Liz Krueger and Daniel Squadron, Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh, Richard Gottfried and Deborah Glick and Council Members Dan Garodnick, Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin.

Hoylman also noted that in a previous attempt he made to reach out via letter to SantaCon in October, organizers did respond, but it was “in a very cursory manner.”

He added, earlier this week prior to the Tuesday conversation, “They said they were looking at some options to police themselves and work with the NYPD, but it wasn’t sufficient.”

However, after the conversation, Hoylman said volunteers for the group said they would be willing to work with local community boards, precincts and elected officials and let the precincts know the route of the event ahead of time. There will also be volunteers to help maintain crowd control on the sidewalk “as well as weed out the bad actors, or rather the bad Santas,” said Hoylman.

Part of the event’s problem, he was told, was that anyone can participate simply by donning a Santa suit. “So there’s this flash mob mentality.

“At this point we’re reserving our judgment to see whether they follow through on their promises,” he said.  “The challenge will be whether they can actually control the people who participate.”

As for the organizers’ decision to withhold their full identities, Hoylman said, “It was the best we could do at this point, so I remain skeptical. Given that they’re a loosely affiliated group of people who want to remain unnamed, we all need to be watchful.”

In November, as T&V reported, police officers from the 13th Precinct announced that they were gearing up for SantaCon, following the unexpectedly large crowds last year.

Prior to the phone call with Hoylman, when asked for comment on the elected officials’ concerns, a spokesperson for SantaCon, who would only identify himself as “Santa” to T&V via email, insisted that the organizers have been trying to be cooperative.

“Once again, SantaCon organizers are in agreement with much of what Senator Hoylman’s office has stated,” the email said.

“We want to return the event to one that values the creative and charitable aspects of SantaCon over the consumption and over-crowding it is known for.

“This year we are reaching out to community boards, police precincts, Parks Departments and governmental agencies to coordinate our event. We plan to remain in contact with them in order to mitigate the negative effects SantaCon may cause on any community it passes though.”

On the event’s website, organizers note that the real purpose of the event is not boozing, but raising money for charity. Last year’s event raised over $45,000 for Toys for Tots and collected 10,000 lbs. of canned food for the Food Bank of New York City. This year, participants are being asked to contribute $10, which will be distributed to several charities.

On the site, “Santa” added that, “Santa agrees that there is no excuse for inappropriate behavior. Public drunkenness, urination or rude behavior is not only prohibited by the stated rules of the event, but actively discouraged by the crowds of Santas themselves, who are for the most part, responsible, creative community-minded New Yorkers.”