Harlem’s Mark Viverito, Levine And Mayor de Blasio Sign Legislation To Create Neighborhood Commitment Tracker

Harlem Council members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mark Levine, Mayor Bill de Blasio and others today held public hearings for and signed 29 pieces of legislation into law – Intros. 1132-A and 1182-A, in relation to creating a public list of City planning commitments and creating a process for the modification or removal of certain deed restrictions; Intros. 980-A, 985-A, 986-A, 987-A, 988-A, 990-A, 1001-A, 1002-A, 1349-A, 1350-A, 1351-A, 1352-A, 1353-A, 1354-A, 1355-A, 1356, 1358, 1361, 1362-A, 1363-A, and 1364-A, in relation to legislation that reforms the City of New York’s campaign finance system; Intro. 1345-A, in relation to a bill that regulates contributions to organizations affiliated with elected officials; Intros. 1260-A, 1261-A and 1262-A, in relation to the Department of Correction’s practices around transporting inmates, waiving cash bail fees and provision of non-uniforms for inmate court appearances; and Intros. 1099-A and 1193-A, in relation to reporting by the Department of Education on career programs and computer science education in New York schools, respectively.

“With this tracker, we are using technology to be more transparent about progress on our commitments,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Delivering on promised public investments to support projects like affordable housing is good policy and shows New Yorkers that they can count on the City’s word. I would like to thank the bill’s sponsors, Harlem Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Rafael Espinal and Public Advocate Letitia James. I also would like to thank the rest of the City Council for passing this piece of legislation.”

“This package of reforms to the New York City campaign finance system is the product of months of discussions with stakeholders,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “It addresses issues both large and small, from improving voter guides to reducing the influence of money from persons doing business with the City. These reforms close loopholes and level the playing field to ensure a transparent campaign finance process for all New Yorkers. I commend Mayor de Blasio for signing this package into law, and thank my colleagues at the City Council for their diligent work in developing this essential legislation.”

The first bill, Intro. 1132-A, creates a neighborhood commitment tracker. A year ago, the City committed to approaching capital planning in a more robust and integrated way for neighborhoods that are being rezoned. The City also committed to increasing transparency and accountability around the commitments made to neighborhoods. With Intro. 1132-A, the public will have an accessible and searchable online list of land-use commitments.

“Promises made must be promises kept, particularly for communities facing the major changes of rezoning,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “By tracking commitments like job creation, building and renovating local parks, or redeveloping subway stations, this law will hold the government accountable for its pledges to communities. I am proud to partner with Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Member Espinal on this bill to make our communities stronger and more successful.”

“For decades dozens of major city capital projects have gone unfinished and government commitments have not been kept,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal. “As abandoned properties have been left underutilized and opportunities have been missed, our communities were left in the dark without any transparency or awareness of the status of government plans. With the enactment of Intro. 1132, today we gain a major tool to ensure accountability and restore faith in a government that follows through on its promises to New Yorkers. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this issue and thank my colleagues, Public Advocate James and Speaker Mark-Viverito for their partnership.”

The second bill, Intro. 1182-A, relates to the modification and removal of certain deed restrictions. This bill sets forth a process for the removal or modification of a deed restriction by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. The process includes obtaining appraisals, seeking public input and conducting an extensive review prior to approving any change. Under the new process, requests will also be reviewed by a committee as well as the Mayor or the Mayor’s designee for a final determination as to whether the modification or removal is appropriate and furthers the best interests of the City. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Margaret Chin.

“By enacting this bill, we’re ensuring that there will never be a repeat of what happened to Rivington House, and the city will finally start keeping track of deed-restricted properties responsibly, in a public database,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I thank Council Member Chin for partnering with me on this bill, Speaker Mark-Viverito for championing it, and Mayor de Blasio for working with all of us to craft a substantial reform package that will have the permanence of law.”

Council Member Margaret Chin said, “Our city is not a playground for powerful real estate interests. Every transaction that involves properties set aside for the good of the people of our City, such as Rivington House, needs to be subject to the greatest amount of public input, transparency, and accountability as possible. Our legislation, which creates a public database of deed restrictions, requires notification of elected and community officials of transactions involving deed restrictions, and demands Mayoral sign-off for any deed restriction removal, achieves that goal. Today we are united with a simple message: No more Rivington Houses, not on this Mayor’s or any other Mayor’s watch. I am proud to join Borough President Brewer and Speaker Mark-Viverito in solidarity with the Lower East Side residents who woke up one morning to find a cherished, community asset taken from them.”

The third bill, Intro. 980-A, sets limits on contribution amounts for transition and inauguration entities for local office at the same level as the campaign contribution limits for that office. This bill will help clarify what a candidate can raise and spend during the transition period. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Fernando Cabrera.

The fourth bill, Intro. 985-A, eliminates the matching of public funds for contributions that are bundled by people who are doing business with the City. This bill will ensure that lobbyists and those doing business with the City will not be able to match any public funds for any contributions to a candidate. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Ben Kallos.

“Matching of small contributions with tax dollars should only amplify the voices of New Yorkers, not lobbyists,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Special interests who bundle campaign cash will no longer see that multiplied with tax dollars. This legislation gives the people’s individual small dollar contributions more power and deals a blow to special interest money and influence. Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for his support in making this legislation into law.”

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The fifth bill, Intro. 986-A, allows for the disbursement of limited amounts of public matching money to qualifying candidates at an earlier stage in the elections. This bill moves this date closer to the completion of the qualifying process. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Ben Kallos.

The sixth bill, Intro. 987-A, modifies the standard for contributions raised and spent by candidates who participate in the City’s public funding program to determine their eligibility to participate in the first debate. The new modifications require candidates to have spent 2.5 percent of their expenditure limit for such office. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Ben Kallos.

The seventh bill, Intro. 988-A, allows voters to opt-out of receiving a printed copy of CFB’s Voter Guide. This bill also requires the CFB to produce a Voter Guide for state and federal election races. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Ben Kallos.

The eighth bill, Intro. 990-A, extends prohibitions for contributions from non-registered political committees to candidates who are not participating in the City’s public matching program. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Andy King.

The ninth bill, Intro. 1001-A, requires disclosure of entities that own entities that do business with the City. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Jumaane Williams.

The tenth bill, Intro. 1002-A, requires the COIB to keep records of compliance with the annual conflict of interest law for those candidates who participate in the public matching campaign program. These records would be provided to the CFB upon any request. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Jumaane Williams.

The eleventh bill, Intro. 1349-A, strengthens the requirements that the CFB’s software be compatible with the State Board of Election software. This bill also requires that the CFB be fully compatible with state laws. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Daniel Garodnick.

The twelfth bill, Intro. 1350-A, gives the candidates the right to select a hearing before a tribunal of OATH for alleged violations and proposed penalties. This would allow both the CFB and the candidate to bring forward cases to the CFB. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Daniel Garodnick.

The thirteenth bill, Intro. 1351-A, extends the time that contributions can be deposited, from 10 to 20 business days. However, cash contributions would have to be delivered within 10 business days of receipt. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member David Greenfield.

The fourteenth bill, Intro. 1352, repeals the requirement that inquiries be made of each contributor whether they do business with the City. Additionally, this bill requires that only candidates or campaigns have a form that sets forth the doing business limits. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member David Greenfield.

The fifteenth bill, Intro. 1353, allows candidates to return certain campaign contributions at any point in order to protect a reputational interest. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member David Greenfield.

The sixteenth bill, Intro. 1354-A, requires the CFB to provide a review of all disclosure statements 30 days after report is due. This will allow campaigns to make corrections as needed. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member David Greenfield.

The seventeenth bill, Intro. 1355-A, specifies what documentation is necessary for making contributions. This bill additionally allows campaigns to fill out a required contribution card as long as the donor signs the card completed card. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member David Greenfield.

The eighteenth bill, Intro. 1356, treats participating and non-participating candidates the same in permitting transfers of contributions from any authorized committee filing disclosure statements with the CFB to the candidate’s principal committee. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Rory Lancman.

The nineteenth bill, Intro. 1358, permits the use of campaign funds for activities related to holding office, such as purchasing food for a meeting. This bill also stipulates that funding from public funding cannot be used for this purpose. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Brad Lander.

The twentieth bill, Intro. 1361, requires that the “doing business database” provide the dates the person on the list is considered “doing business.” This bill also states that those who have been removed from this list over the last five years must be posted in the city’s website. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Rafael Salamanca.

The twenty-first bill, Intro. 1362-A, requires that contributions in a special election be counted the same as contributions in the primary or general election. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Rafael Salamanca.

The twenty-second bill, Intro. 1363-A, allows candidates to rescind their written certification of participation in the matching funds programs. This bill gives candidates until the ninth Monday preceding the primary election or until they have received public funding, whichever comes first, to rescind their written certification. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Rafael Salamanca.

The twenty-third bill, Intro. 1364-A, prohibits CFB staff from attending executive sessions of the Board. This bill will only allow an independent counsel hired for the specific purpose to attend these executive sessions. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

The twenty-fourth bill, Intro. 1345-A, sets forth certain reporting requirements for non-profits that are affiliated with an elected official or their agent, with limited exceptions for specified entities. This information would be available on the website of the Conflicts of Interest Board, which would be responsible for administering the law. For affiliated non-profits that spend or expect to spend 10 percent or more of their expenditures on public-facing communications involving the elected official, this bill would prohibit donations above $400 per year from anyone other than a natural person, or from any person doing business with the City as defined in the bill. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The twenty-fifth bill, Intro. 1260-A, requires that the Department of Custody to determine whether an inmate has pending court appearances for any case and ensure that the inmate is transported to those additional appearances. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The twenty-sixth bill, Intro. 1261-A, authorizes the Department of Finance to waive fees from the collection of cash bails. This bill would mean fees of up to three percent, which are currently collected under cash bail, would be waived. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The twenty-seventh bill, Intro. 1262-A, regulates the use of uniforms by the Department of Correction for court appearances. This bill allows inmates who are appearing before trial or grand jury to access their clothing prior to being brought to their court appearance. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The twenty-eighth bill, Intro. 1099-A, requires the Department of Education to report information on Career and Technical Education programs in New York city schools. This report must be submitted annually and will include the number of CTE schools and programs available to students; graduation rates from CTE-designated high schools; and the number of students who applied to and enrolled in a CTE-designated high school. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Mark Treyger.

The twenty-ninth bill, Intro. 1193-A, requires the DOE to report information on computer science education in New York City schools. This report must include the number of Computer Science programs being offered in each school, the number of students who are enrolled in these programs and the number of STEM certified teachers in each school. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Mark Levine.

“Although a growing number of students are pursuing four-year degrees, it is our responsibility in government to ensure that we support the educational goals of those students who may not see four-year postsecondary education in their immediate future, particularly as costs for four-year options continue to rise. As a former high school educator, I have seen firsthand how CTE schools and programs provide valuable vocational training and help galvanize students. This legislation gives us valuable insight about the status of the CTE programs across the city. It will serve as a starting point for further advocacy which we can use to augment and improve these programs so that our students can better compete for high-wage, in-demand jobs. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito and Education Committee Chair Dromm for their leadership in moving this legislation forward,” said Council Member Mark Treyger.

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