City Council staffers have had a lot of reasons to be unhappy lately. Many aides chafed at the Council’s decision not to expel Council Member Andy King, who has been accused of a pattern of abuse of power and retaliation. And more than 100 current and former staffers posted an open letter to lawmakers complaining of a climate of mistreatment and intimidation earlier this month.
Now, fed-up staffers are moving to form a union, fueled by frustrations over low salaries and widespread pay disparities, our Joe Anuta and Danielle Muoio report.
Members of the Council mostly cast themselves as progressives and allies of the working man and woman. That doesn’t mean they’re easy to work for. Behind the scenes, the reality for the mostly young aides can be low pay, long hours, and sometimes dealing with the volatile personalities of bosses drawn to politics.
Each of the 51 pols in the body gets the same amount of money to run their office, and can divide it up among as many aides they wish — and a POLITICO analysis found paychecks vary widely. The average staff salary in member offices was $47,784 as of July 1 — but some offices are twice as generous as others. There are 42 employees on Council member payrolls making salaries between $27,300 and $35,100 — some of them part-time, but some full-time.
Let’s not forget that just a few years ago, Council members voted to give themselves a big raise. While the union push, which has been percolating for months, is still in its early stages, organizers hope to start a card campaign to get employee signatures by the end of the year. They’re likely to steer clear of major unions like DC 37, which are friendly with their politician bosses.
It would be very difficult politically for Council members, who miss no opportunity to brand themselves friends of labor, to publicly oppose a union bid. If the effort to organize comes together, a spokesman for Speaker Corey Johnson says he will not stand in the way.
IT’S THURSDAY and still horrifically cold (A high of 38 in Albany, and a high of 48 in NYC). Got tips, suggestions or thoughts? Let us know … By email: EDurkin@politico.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter: @erinmdurkin and @annagronewold
WHERE’S ANDREW? With no publicly scheduled events by press time.
WHERE’S BlLL? Making a personnel announcement and hosting a dinner for civic and business leaders at Gracie Mansion.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We really live in an information-centric world and patients should have data.” — state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on New York’s Wednesday decision to release the names of the medical facilities that have treated patients with a deadly drug-resistant fungus.
CUOM-OTE OF THE DAY: “I always wanted to be an Irish step dancer. Just not Irish and I am not a dancer, but otherwise I would have been.” — The governor, at a leadership event in Westchester County Wednesday night.
MAYOR BILL IS PLANNING TO ANNOUNCE A NEW DEPUTY MAYOR to oversee health and human services at the 14th Street Y today, filling a position that was vacated nearly five months ago when Dr. Herminia Palacio left to take over the Guttmacher Institute — an organization focused on reproductive health. De Blasio is expected to name Raul Perea-Henze to fill the role, a source with knowledge of the appointment confirmed to POLITICO Wednesday night. Perea-Henze, a physician with extensive public sector experience, served as President Obama’s assistant secretary for policy and planning at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The announcement is scheduled for 11 a.m. De Blasio’s spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests for comment. POLITICO’s Sally Goldenberg
A PUBLIC SCHOOL employee in Brooklyn allegedly forced a Muslim child to watch children eat while he fasted during one of the most important religious holidays in the Muslim calendar, according to a civil rights complaint filed on Wednesday. On May 14, while a 9-year-old Muslim student at Public School 264 Bay Ridge Elementary School for the Arts was fasting for Ramadan, an employee at the school allegedly told him that because he was laughing during a lunch break, “you must sit in the cafeteria and watch all the kids eat while you are fasting!” according to the complaint. The state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed the complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The student’s mother, Zaman Mashrah, filed a discrimination complaint with the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management in May…”It upsets me as a parent that I had to see my child go through such a discriminatory act against him,” Mashrah told POLITICO. “I’m upset that the Department of Education failed to resolve this issue.” POLITICO’s Madina Touré
A REAL ESTATE developer agreed to pay $10,000 in penalties to settle claims that it broke state lobbying law by donating to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s scandal-scarred political nonprofit. The deal with Douglaston Development announced Wednesday by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics is the latest in a string of settlements with donors who ran afoul of the law by giving to de Blasio’s now defunct Campaign for One New York. De Blasio called a senior executive at Douglaston in 2015 to discuss CONY, the fundraising organization he set up to push his agenda shortly after winning the mayoralty. De Blasio fundraiser Ross Offinger followed up with another call less than a week later, and Douglaston handed over $25,000. Under state law, lobbyists and their clients are banned from giving donations at the request of public officials. POLITICO’s Erin Durkin
— “New York City officials recently gave $5.3 million in contracts to a nonprofit that owes the state $143,678 for allegedly misusing grant money.”
IN ITS BID to transform itself, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has again gone north of the border. The MTA is poised to announce that it is naming Anthony McCord, from Montreal, its chief transformation officer. His brief: to overhaul the MTA. Canada has proven a fertile hunting ground for New York’s transit authority. New York City Transit President Andy Byford is British, but came to New York City by way of Toronto. So did his signaling chief, Pete Tomlin. “The MTA is created, what, 51 years ago?” said McCord, in a phone interview Wednesday from a hotel in Lower Manhattan. “A lot has changed in 51 years, and probably not as much has changed at the MTA as we would have liked to have seen. Well, I’m here to help drive that forward, along with the team.” McCord says he has only “a little bit of experience in transportation.” He has, among other things, helped run a major hospital complex in Montreal. POLITICO’s Dana Rubinstein
AS A DEADLINE NEARS, the Public Financing Commission continues to negotiate key parts of the binding changes they’ll soon make to New York’s elections. One thing became clear during a hearing on Wednesday: There’s still a lot of work to do in a limited amount of time. Commissioners need to finish their work by the end of the month, and the fact that Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 28 means that as a practical matter, they only have two weeks left to come to agreements on big issues such as fusion voting and who will manage a new public financing system.
POLITICO’s Bill Mahoney breaks down where the commission stands on key issues — fusion, raising money, enforcement — so far. But especially take note of this development —>
There have been some doubts about whether a system could be implemented mid-cycle in time for the 2020 legislative elections. None of the candidates were able to meet the fundraising thresholds for a pilot public financing program that was created for the 2014 comptroller’s race seven months before Election Day; the commission’s report will come out seven months before next year’s primaries. On Wednesday, commissioners discussed, with no disagreements, effective dates that were much further in the future. A public financing system for legislative candidates wouldn’t take effect until the 2024 contests, bypassing the rest of the current cycle as well as the entirety of the 2022 elections. For statewide candidates, it wouldn’t take effect until the 2026 elections, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo potentially could have won a record-tying fourth four-year term in 2022.
“GOV. ANDREW M. CUOMO was allegedly briefed on the details of a closed-door vote by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics last January, around the time the panel voted on whether to investigate Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to the governor. The allegation — that someone in JCOPE may have illegally informed the governor or his staff about the voting breakdown of the panel’s non-public decision — was secretly investigated by the state inspector general’s office between January and Oct. 4, when the inspector general sent a letter to JCOPE stating its investigation had been unable to substantiate the complaint. The apparent breach of JCOPE’s bylaws was revealed when Cuomo allegedly contacted Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie almost immediately following the commission’s January meeting and expressed concerns about the votes of the speaker’s appointees to JCOPE.” Times Union’s Chris Bragg
“A ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP named by Pope Francis to investigate the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo, New York, has himself been accused of sexual abuse of a child, an attorney for the alleged victim notified the church this week. The attorney informed Catholic officials in New Jersey that he is preparing a lawsuit on behalf of a client who says he was molested by Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio in the mid-1970s, when DiMarzio was a parish priest in Jersey City. DiMarzio said there is no truth to the accusation. ‘I am just learning about this allegation,’ he said in a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press. ‘In my nearly 50-year ministry as a priest, I have never engaged in unlawful or inappropriate behavior and I emphatically deny this allegation. I am confident I will be fully vindicated.’” Associated Press’ Michael Rezendes
— A correspondent for London-based weekly Catholic news publication The Tablet, citing “reliable sources,” suggests Bishop Richard Malone’s resignation is “imminent,” in advance of a Friday meeting between Pope Francis and the bishops of dioceses of New York State.
— Long Island Catholic leaders are bringing a legal challenge against the Child Victims Act.
#UpstateAmerica: Oh great, some “The Day After Tomorrow”-esque clouds have emerged in Buffalo.
“FORMER LONG ISLAND Republican Congressman Rick Lazio told The Post on Wednesday he is seriously considering running for the seat being vacated by fellow Republican Peter King. ‘I won this swing district four times, the last three by 2-1 margins, enjoyed broad-based support of Republicans, Democrats and independents and carried it against Hillary Clinton by nearly 20 points,’ Lazio said. Lazio, 61, was a popular LI congressman from 1993 to 2000 but got trounced during both of his bids running statewide — losing to Hillary Clinton in the 2000 U.S. Senate contest and the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary to conservative upstate firebrand Carl Paladino.” New York Post’s Carl Campanile
Mondaire Jones, a former staffer for President Obama who is running in NY-17 for Rep. Nita Lowey’s seat, has launched his first campaign ad. It opens with Jones’ narration: “My grandfather used to tell me a story about how when he would walk to school growing up in Virginia, there were white students who got to take the bus — and they would spit on him through the school bus windows as he was walking the dirt path on his way to school.” The two and a half minute spot leans on Jones’ campaign to be the first black, gay member of Congress and his assertion that the challenges faced by the country during the Trump administration are the same issues his grandparents faced half a century ago.
— Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages introduced legislation to ban virginity tests in New York state.
— New York lawmakers and judges aren’t sure yet whether consolidating the trial courts will bolster diversity on the bench.
— Bronx politicians blasted a proposal for a drug treatment clinic in spite of the borough’s own opioid crisis.
— Confrontations outside Rep. Elise Stefanik’s Glens Falls have grown heated but a local proposal to temper them is drawing backlash.
— An Upper West Side landlord was caught on camera shoving an NY1 reporter and allegedly punched a tenant leader in the head while being asked about leaving his tenants with no heat.
— Grubhub will convene a task force to review the way it charges restaurants for phone calls, after the City Council threatened legislation in response to business complaints.
— The New York City area’s three airports ranked worst in the nation in a survey by the Wall Street Journal.
— The mother of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, the Bronx teen fatally stabbed last year, is pushing for a bill that would equip small businesses with panic buttons.
— The city withdrew plans to move the Charging Bull sculpture away from its longtime spot on Broadway.
— Tenants of a Crown Heights building are suing their landlord, twice over: over an alleged inflation of rent in renovated units, and a purported neglect of hazardous conditions in others.
— A conservative group says it plans to spend $100,000 on a digital ad campaign that urges Reps. John Katko and Anthony Brindisi to vote against impeaching President Donald Trump.
— Some county clerks have vowed to ignore a court ruling allowing undocumented immigrants to get drivers’ licenses.
— A former Long Island DA will face trial for allegedly trying to cover up for the ex-Suffolk County police chief.
By Daniel Lippman
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Peter Lattman, managing director of media at Emerson Collective and vice chairman of The Atlantic, is 49 — Playbook Plus Q&A … Rachel Noerdlinger … Valerie Jarrett … Jonathan Landman, managing editor of Bloomberg Opinion, is 67 … Joshua Friedlander of the Brunswick Group … Lana Fern … P.J. O’Rourke is 72 … Olivia Lapeyrolerie of the mayor’s press office … Brian Lattman … Hugo F. Sonnenschein is 79 … Steven H. Cymbrowitz is 66 (h/ts Jewish Insider)
MAKING MOVES — Julia Arredondo is now a deputy press secretary for Mayor Bill de Blasio. She was previously communications director for Sen. Jessica Ramos.
— Susan DeSantis has been tapped as the new communications head at the New York State Bar Association. DeSantis, formerly the deputy editor-in-chief of the New York Law Journal, will be in charge of NYSBA’s messages to members and non members across all media platforms.
MEDIAWATCH — “Politico’s Founder Is Launching a Tech Site — Into a Very Crowded Market,” by Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo: “‘Now he wants to replicate Politico’s playbook, as it were, with Protocol, which he will officially announce this week. The digital-only venture plans to lift off with roughly the same level of manpower and investment as its predecessor did more than a decade ago: several dozen journalists and business employees and a little more than $10 million under the hood. Vanity Fair … Protocol.com
— LAUNCH STAFF: “Editorial Director Emily Dreyfuss and Managing Editor Joanna Pearlstein, both from WIRED; Editor-at-Large David Pierce, a veteran of The Verge, WIRED and, most recently, The Wall Street Journal; Head of Digital Vivyan Tran, who has worked at The Wall Street Journal, National Journal, and POLITICO; Newsletter Editor Jamie Condiliffe, who edited The New York Times’s Dealbook newsletter and authored the Bits newsletter; Senior Editor Mario Aguilar, Gizmodo’s former deputy editor …
… Associate Editor Kevin McAllister, from The Wall Street Journal; Contributing Editor Linda Kinstler, formerly an editor at the New Republic and POLITICO’s European edition; and reporters Matthew Drange (The Information), Adam Janofsky (The Wall Street Journal), Emma Johanningsmeier (former editor of The Fountain Hopper at Stanford University), Issie Lapowsky (WIRED), and Charles Levinson (Reuters).”
— Olivia Petersen has been named managing director of communications at Morning Consult. She most recently was global corporate communications director at Whole Foods and is an NBC and POLITICO alum.
— KIRK JOHNSON LEAVES NYT — @marclacey: “Departing The New York Times … after 38 years is the legendary @kljohnso, who reported from Seattle, Denver, New York & many places in between since joining as a news clerk. The good news as he heads off the write books: he has freelance ideas that’ll keep that byline around.”
— Vivian Wang is joining the NYT’s China team as a correspondent early next year. She most recently has covered NY politics for the paper.
— Per Talking Biz News: “Deborah Acosta has joined The Wall Street Journal as reporter for a new digital magazine which targets younger audiences. According to her tweet, the new magazine is expected to launch early in 2020. In her previous jobs, Acosta has held the positions of reporter/producer and public insight analyst at The New York Times and The Miami Herald respectively.”
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Christina Svolopoulos Robbins, D.C. booking supervisor and producer for Fox News, and Brent Robbins, MLS account manager for Remine, recently welcomed Calliope Lynn Robbins. Pic
— SPOTTED at Ivanka and Jared’s party for best selling author Donald Trump Jr. for “Triggered” at the Hay Adams on Wednesday night: Sens. Rand Paul, Cindy Hyde Smith, Tim Scott, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and David Perdue, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Seb Gorka, Reps. Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, Lee Zeldin, Matt Gaetz and Greg Pence …
… Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus, Brad Parscale, David Bossie, Pam Bondi, Andy Surabian, Arthur Schwartz, Avi Berkowitz, Mick Mulvaney, Sergio Gor, Tony Sayegh, Paula White, Katrina Pierson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
— SPOTTED at a screening of Lionsgate’s new Fox News movie “Bombshell” last night at the MPAA: Charlize Theron, Jay Roach, Dana Bash, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Reps. Lois Frankel and Annie Kuster, Maureen Dowd, Margaret Brennan, Ann Hornaday, Monica Hesse, Margaret Carlson, Virginia Moseley, Bob Barnett, Karen Finney, Juleanna Glover, Jen Psaki, Tammy Haddad …
… Steve Clemons, Stephanie Cutter, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, Liz Johnson, Margaret Carlson, Niki Christoff, Alice Lloyd, Amy Grappone, Nancy Cook, Meridith McGraw, Todd Flournoy, David Corn, Chris Ortman, Doug Thornell, Emily Lenzner and Adrienne Elrod.
“IT WAS ONE YEAR AGO today that Amazon announced it would co-place its second headquarters in Long Island City and Virginia, setting New York and the e-commerce giant on a collision course toward a multibillion-dollar Valentine’s Day breakup. The arguments for and against the tech giant’s plan have already been spelled out. What remains to be seen is how the housing market in the neighborhood has changed after Amazon’s announcement. Patrick W. Smith, a broker with Corcoran, said there was a spike in contracts signed in Long Island City during the roughly three-month period Amazon appeared ticketed for the neighborhood. There have been just under 200 closings in Long Island City through September this year, according to numbers from Corcoran. Roughly 45% of those deals were reached between the HQ2 announcement and Feb. 14, the brokerage found.” Crain’s Ryan Deffenbaugh
— A public meeting is scheduled for next week on the future of the site where Amazon was to go.
Jacob deGrom, the rare nice thing Mets fans get to enjoy, won the 2019 National League Cy Young Award.
Old friend Iman Shumpert signed with the Brooklyn Nets.
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