Episode 188: The Top 10 Stories Of 2019 In New York Politics


A two thousand nine hundred ninety. Almost done as anybody remember what happened. I'm jared Murphy from city limits dot. Org and this is Ben. Max from Gotha Muzak jared good to see you how you doing you too. Merry Christmas of right back at you. So we're here for our final show of of two thousand nineteen. It is difficult as you just mentioned to remember everything that's happened in any calendar year on any topic but especially this has been in a crazy year in New York politics and we're here to sum it up with our top ten stories of the year. That's right and of course we look forward to twenty twenty being perhaps even crazier easier. So we're taking this moment to look back on the big stories some of which we talked about here on the show and coverage certainly on our sites some that got a lot of coverage elsewhere as well Uh Stories that were big this year and most likely the stories that will have the longest residents in echo effect in two thousand twenty and beyond and we took a very scientific approach to coming coming up with our top ten list. Of course which is basically just a few emails back and forth between the two of US but You put together a great initial list and then I helped tinker with it a little bit if we missed anything. Let us know but we tried to put together a list of ten important stories. Some of them are a a little bit more like big topics that were discussed and have multi parts to them but really Even though was sort of the quiet year of the four year your cycle in terms of elections in New York it was a really really momentous year in terms of policy and politics in government in New York. And I'm excited to break down this whole issue. We get started started. I think it starts story. Number one is the effects of democratic control on Albany and the wave of legislation that came. I mean this time last year we were previewing that talking about the potential talking about at that point what. We thought was an enormous agenda that they probably wouldn't get through and they got through a lot of a lot it it really you know the Democrats control the state senate matching that with the Democratic Control. The assembling of course Democratic Governor Governor Cuomo. First Time there's been NAT TRIFECTA in a very long time especially a functional one in Albany and really they passed incredible amount of stuff even even so that the governor is still waiting through. Hundreds of bill signed that he's got to get to by the end of the year so there were huge big ticket items other smaller scale stuff. But if you know we've set I've said this on this show several times before if you name a sort of issue area they did something big on it. I mean it was almost across the board. They did things. They didn't quite get to marijuana legalization in a couple other things but really immense amount of things on reproductive rights the Environment Criminal Justice Transit Sexual harassment laws. I mean right. LLC Loophole Gun control across the board really really remarkable and then of course you know that also then got into this campaign finance commission which we covered recently in some of the drama around that and we income back to that but really they did at least something on almost everything is really even marijuana. They did a decriminalization. Move as opposed to the legalisation. I mean they did had something on almost everything now. Republicans are going to say. They swung way too far to the left. And this is why we need balanced government in Albany that aside for a second it was just a incredibly momentous year for what came out of state. Government also had some fascinating political dynamics in terms of governor Cuomo reacting reacting to the new reality with with all. It wasn't always all fun and games and I think Compared to the previous time the Democrats had control of the State Senate briefly flee in two thousand nine ten and what happened then with the coup in really. Obviously there was a different time. Economy was a much worse shape. The budget was in terrible shape There was less room to work in but they did far less accomplish far less and that was a talking point for Republicans for years. which is if you handle the Democrats is what's going to happen? He hey you had a very different situation and relatively flush economy and not just the Democratic majority. But he's very sizable one and one that had decided progressive tilt and what was interesting was looking looking back over the course of our show. A lot of the people we had on in two thousand eighteen were running to unseat members of the IDC took leadership positions in this Zeno Newly Emboldened Caucus Zellner Mary Jessica Romo's and others as well kind of leading the charge on some of this legislation right and you just reminded me of like a variety Eddie of other categories of things they passed because those two legislators had a hand in the election voting reforms that were immense E bike legalization rights exactly so really and it was a lot of it was driven as you just indicated by some newer New York City members who had UNDIS- a unseated the IDC members including alissandria Biagio obviously took out the big fish. Jeff Klein but you also had the leadership in Andrews two cousins who it does not represent the city and it was very interesting to see her manage her new perch In some ways the Senate Democrats were pushing shing the agenda harder and further left than the Assembly Democrats which was a very new dynamic in some ways not at all and in other ways you had some of the the Senate Democratic majority especially those on Long Island taking a few votes that were interesting as we look ahead to the twenty twenty election year and whether Democrats can keep that majority just about everybody thinks they can but will they grow it or will it received a little bit and that you know things related to like passing drivers driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. You know how that land in some of the suburban swing districts so there are a lot of different political dynamics happening at once logs and honesty being laid or sewn in this year for potentially different different fiscal environment for the twenty. Twenty discussion around the the Medicaid spending other things that are coming up now but obviously a of one of the biggest stories nominee. We've broken out as as number two on our list. And that is the sweeping regulation Sweden Sweden with regulations A really kind of one hundred eighty degree turn in terms of how that laws and the power and those laws shifting from landlords tenants getting rid of vacancy decontrol in the vacancy bonus preferential rent sharply scaling back major capital improvements individual neutral apartment improvements and really a host of other reforms to everything from from harassment laws to mobile homes after the nineties. He's being a decade when landlords want a tremendous swing of the laws in their favor and really the previous part of the century. More or less standing pat. This was a massive massive change and J- just again to be clear. We're separating this out of its own story separate from all the other Albany stuff because of how big a deal and how how long the fight has been around this and of course the other theme that plays into the power of the real estate industry the landlord lobby. I mean just these. The immense themes that that really shifted power dynamics in two thousand eighteen that that had been pretty static for a while and this is another area where you saw saw some of the really tricky dynamics around Governor Cuomo and the legislature and Cuomo not easily being able to play Assembly Democrats. That's awful Senate. Republicans as he had for so much of his tenure and so that was really interesting to watch where he sort of kicked back and said I favor all these really strong performs. I'll sign whatever the legislature can agree to because he thought there was a bit more hesitancy among some members of the legislature. Then it turned out there ultimately was does and so. They passed a sweeping set of reforms to rent regulations which impact a million apartments. I mean that is massive in one of the interesting things there and I. I don't know what you think on this. But we've even seen some pretty stalwart supporters of reform warm. Say they're wondering if this went a little bit too far and would might need to be scaled back a little bit in twenty twenty and I think that'll be a bigger theme that we need to see the next year is whether the Democrats in Albany do tinker with some of what they did in twenty nine t s and this is the earliest hours you know some people on the Blasi administration nations elsewhere raising questions about things like major capital improvements and whether that had eliminated some of the latitude landlords needed to move in. That talk has subsided somewhat. I think there was initially kind of have a period of buyer's remorse and now retreated to sort of see what plays out but Yes I wouldn't be surprised if there is some push by some people to tinker in the next in the next year and that doesn't mean it'll happen and the same thing I think we're gonNA see a big conversation continuing criminal justice reform which we which we dealt with a recent show of course and you know no these types of things in Albany. There could be a lot of Huffing and puffing and then nothing gets done or a bunch of tweaks of various things are jammed together in a budget. Bill passes in the middle of the night. And then everybody's dealing with the fallout of that. So we'll deal with that as it comes and then there was story number three battle to save our earth will be won or lost in our lifetime. There's no second chance don't back down in the face of the bully confront him take him on on as president. I will take on the wealthy. I will take on the big corporations. I will not rest until this. Government serves ordeal people as mayor the largest city in America. I've done just that. Divide the guys. Donald Trump must be stopped. I've unbeaten in before and I will do it again. I'm bill de Blasios. I'm running for president because it's time we working. I um that was mayor de Blasio announcing his candidacy for president. An idea that had been bounced around for felt like since at the moment he took office and Devon Fourteen Had Been raised a few times since then and obviously it was increasing speculation. which then he made Made official will that day with the publication of the online ad appearance on Good Morning America to launches his trial balloon which did not which never floated to hire or too far. It was a very odd and really embarrassing. Four month adventure. He was in late. He got out early He was basically in the race from something. Like made a September It did not go well for him. He was able to rely on some you. You know. Traditional donors Being the mayor of folks in the city who want things from him and some of his longtime allies but he was not able to really make a dent the polls to really get that much positive attention and he wasn't able to get the fundraising going. He made a couple of appearances on the debate. Stage by hitting the very a you know sort of low bars that they sat for the initial debates but then he started to miss the debate thresholds and pull the plug It was a curious various thing where he took a really long time to decide he probably should have just gone with his interest in running earlier and jumped in full bore but he didn't and he really landed in the race with a thud and never went anywhere. I think not knowing what his goals were because they are so mysterious makes it hard to evaluate eight. Just how big a failure was if even even was a failure by his own personnel Mesh. Okay I think for the city of certainly felt like there was a lot of distraction there at a time Qalat of important things that are happening around night show and other stuff and you know I think I wonder if twenty years from now people are writing the books about De blasio whether this will loom large as John. Lindsay's fail presidential campaign in terms of being like a real black eye for the mayor. I mean in that case as a some people actually thought he might have had a chance at some point. No one really thought that it but to Blasio a to some degree that people who applies you I think loads and before he ran for President President and still do the people who are decidedly mixed opinion of him are just as mix but it was certainly a a strange strange venture. Well when the field is already twenty plus he jumps in and he's he's polling at one percent almost gives this quality to like you're saying about Lindsay Z.. At one point there was some expectation that he could really go somewhere in the race. There was never really that expectation with the Blasio as he flirted with a little bit and then jumped in so it was almost like you. You know he was a little bit of an afterthought all along and then just sort of quietly exited the race and everybody kept moving on with everything so you know. I don't know how much it will be really discussed in the big picture for him although when you declare your candidacy for president needs to sort of be mentioned in the first paragraph of you've of the history books written about right if you're an elected official or anybody So the idea that he had a short lived and failed presidential campaign in two thousand nineteen will probably be at least a an important sort of highlight when the legacy is what the campaign also did did bring up was a bit more of US wrestling. With what the legacy is starting to look like and that was where you know is very interesting to have a lot of the journalists who've been covering him regularly take take a bit of a step back to try to shape for a national audience a bit and other journalists houses guy actually done on. What are the positive or the negative? We know that the Eric Garner case was happy. You know was really happening. The results of that were going on when he was running so that became a piece of the puzzle for him yet despite being a minor candidate with almost one chance he was about the whoever got heckled at the because he was a guy who was an executive position dealing with that very difficult issue. Wasn't that surprised me was that he had a couple decent ideas during the campaign. I thought the idea of an international workers hers bill of Rights as an antidote to some of the anti-trade fervor. It was interesting. I thought that the focus on automation was was interesting too. I don't know about the robot tax exactly but I think that was but he didn't lead with that he led with this idea. This line been trying for months about there's plenty of money in the world during the. US just wrong hands. And then the policy stuff. Jeff came later. I thought that if you really wanted to make a difference in the process he would've lend with a strong policy edge It was just curious. That wasn't that didn't happen. The whole thing seems to have been strangely conceived right and he did everything so traditionally in a Lotta ways with all these visits to Iowa and New Hampshire and the other states. And I'm not saying you don't do that but he also it could have reimagined a campaign a little bit to try to make waves you know. Be this sort of urban agenda mayor and just visit a bunch of cities with his. You know his outline of his plan for how to you know enhanced cities across the country. Here's some of the things we've done in New York. Here's how we'll do even smaller cities in places like Iowa you could. Could you could do that type of thing. Just something creative. And it really just wasn't part of of how they approach the the campaign I think Lastly lastly on onto blasio you know one of the interesting things about him getting out on the national stage and then coming back. Is this question about easy reestablishing any sense that he really wants the current job that he has because he raised even further questions that we're ready there about how much she really is into his job. Right travel have for two more two more years and obviously one of the things that has on his plate to fix or to make some progress towards fixing is story number four for us Nigeria. A story for many years the story for many years from here to zero this year the big one of the big headlines was that the settlement with the feds was sealed and a federal monitor I am imposed a big step for the authority. And we've seen since then slow drip-by-drip of announcements of plans for doing some MM rebuilding and revamping. The infrastructure has deteriorated. The state finally moving to release its money to some measure of progress but we are now seeing winter having having arrived in full force. Exactly what that's like in terms of people's services right and it seems it seems early on like this winter you know. Things are a bit better than in some recent past winners. Because they've they've done you know they have some new protocols in place around fixing boilers and things like that you know the the addition of this federal the Monitor while very clearly warranted in a lot of ways also creates this whole nother layer of bureaucracy and oversight the federal the Monitor's going to be paid overtime tens and tens of millions of dollars that could be going towards things like new boilers. It's very tricky dynamic. I think there's some real oh questions about how necessary this this monitor is but of course at the same time. Niger has just been run so poorly. And we had additional revelations. Come out in the last couple of years around lead exposure for for kids just real problems but one of the biggest questions that has remained in in two thousand eighteen and now goes forward. Twenty twenty is can the city really move ahead on a plan to bring in the funds needed to repair Niger. And get get the properties up to a state of good standing right because one of the signal features of the settlement was there really is no new federal money involved in all even though that has been the biggest part of Niger's fiscal struggles not not absolving them of management problems. And the money that is supposed to kind of make up that gap is through things. I converting units to section eight eight and developing space. All which has been there has been some progress but a fairly halting Sign of progress too far when they will get into the number to get you to make a difference seems years out and this goes back to some of these questions about De Blasio and you have to Blasio. They brought in the federal monitor her than together. They basically came to an agreement about a new chair and CEO. Greg Russ for the Housing Authority. He's been on the job a few months now. the federal monitor's Bar Schwartz. So you have this new leadership and oversight in place you still have two zero there but there has been no clear. SORTA the joint effort to aggressively. Move ahead with these plans. It does seem like the the section eight. The Rad conversion has been moving quicker than some of the the other pieces but there is very little. Sign that this infill development. Think of it. What you may is moving ahead to bring in the revenue that's supposed to be part of this revitalization plan and so whether the mayor and his his compatriots here are really going to aggressively push? That is a big open ended question here at the end end of two thousand nineteen that will continue into twenty twenty story number five for us. It was probably the most awaited and fraught personnel decision in city history. It is unlikely that Mr Garner thought. He was in such poor health at a brief struggle with the police would cause his death. He should have decided against resisting arrest. A man with family lost his life. That is an irreversible tragedy in a hardworking police officer with the family. Man took this job to do good and to make a difference in his community has now lost his chosen career and that is different tragedy in this case. The unintended consequence consequence of Mr Garner's death must have a consequence of its own. Therefore I agree with Deputy Commissioner of trials legal findings and recommendations this clear that Daniel Pantaleo canot longer effectively serve as a New York City. Police officer bring out the court's verdict. In this case I take no pleasure. I know that many will disagree with this decision and that is their right absolutely. No victors here today. Not the Garner family not the community at large and and certainly not the courageous men and women of the police department put their own lives on the line every single day and service to the people of this great city MHM. Today's a day of reckoning can also be a day reconciliation guys commissioner. O.`Neil now former Commissioner Neil Police Department the summer explaining his decision decision to abide by the recommendation of the internal trial judge and fire officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in the encounter that led to the death that killed Eric Garner in Staten Staten Island in two thousand fourteen right. This is one of these events that happened fairly early into blasios tenure that basically than has hung over the entire tenure even after after Pantaleo being fired by O'Neill you know it can. It will continue to just be part of the dialogue around de Blasio and policing and his you know his legacy around around these issues. The fact that Pantaleo on the forest for so long after Garner died And a variety of other aspects of that whether the NYPD is really implementing some of the changes that blasios promised in the wake of Garner's death. All of these issues. Continue to come up now. We've even seen it in additional change at the top of the NYPD as all all gun riding the Garner incident is a tragedy in its first dimension but it also embraces that you said so the things that have dogged to plow through his Merrill t the police officers feel he does not have their back or their his anti police that goes down to some of the comments made in the early days after that killing and on the other hand the fact that the very kind of broken windows policing that led to the encounter is something to devise Yo at least in word embraced for for for many years. I'm really didn't move away from Until Commissioner Bratton moved on even though the numbers were coming down his embrace of that as of something he really held onto. And we see that attention continuing to talking about now. Gang policing is something that we've discussed on the show recently The mayor is still defending As part of this larger conversation around criminal justice reform one area where there was significant. Change in that this year or lease change was solidified was on the question of closing braggers. The city council formalizing formalising the land use moves to create the new jails and as part of that within a cumbersome process ensuring that rikers would would would ultimately be close right right and this was one of the biggest conversations in city government in city politics. Two Thousand Nineteen was will they actually vote to create four new. Jails some some replacing existing facilities but basically building from the ground up for new jails and in conjunction with it. What were the sizes? Those buildings is be which is always part of the sort of land-use discussion around new development in this case being a a facility of jail facility but that then relates to what is the population of people being detained in those jails and things like broken windows policing and the philosophy of the mayor in the philosophy. The police commissioner not to mention the criminal justice reforms at passed in Albany earlier this year which allowed them to have a totally different estimate for the number of people that will be detained in these. Jails at any time. I'm getting it down to really unbelievably low numbers In the three thousand range across the city when you had well over what twenty thousand people incarcerated carsoup rated a couple of decades ago in New York City. So that's the projections. They voted through the jails plan in. Now it's GonNa be a obviously a several year process of closing down the rakers facilities and building these new ones and meanwhile on a state level there has been this move in the past couple of months to question whether some of those reforms went went too far or whether they did not come with sufficient infrastructure. You know the bail reforms with the questioning the number of offenses for which bail cash bail is not basically prohibited with with the exposes people to a potential public safety risks takes discretion. Judge his hands. There's been some pushback on that and questions about discovery reform and whether or not what first of all with the reform themselves are sound and whether district attorneys have the capacity to implement them to make sure they're sharing the files in a way that saved to make sure they're going from protective active orders when they need to shield witness names and things like that. There's been pushback. There's been a push back to the pushback and we'll see whether all takes up any of that at the same time. There are still elements of the Criminal Justice Reform Agenda that were not touched last year. That are central to the city's plans close regulars particularly dealing with parole reform a tremendous a number of people who ended up going into writers and at the State Prison System are people who are not being arrested for new crimes were for violations of parole some is very technical violations. It's a kind of messed I up system. It's a huge portion of people who are on regular everyday and know that they're going to try to get to this year whether or not the environment itself to I don't know right. I think there was something that was the only population nation of people in rikers. That was actually grow right the parole violation so that will be fascinating to watch. I'll just say sort of enclosing on this story which is our fifth one of our top ten in here on on criminal justice policing The new jails that were voted through the city council. Is You know this ongoing discussion as you got it about De blasio support for broken windows policing he now refuses to use that term and says we don't use that term anymore. It's quality of life policing because people want You know quality of life issues police in the city and they want them police aggressively but they want the police aggressively with also a very careful hand. And this is something that new police commissioner hermit. Shay has talked about it his initial remarks becoming police commissioner. And we'll be very important piece as we go from twenty nine thousand nine hundred twenty only twenty watching how the police department under Dermott Shea not only implements. Somebody's help implement some of these criminal justice reforms because again when you know policy is set at the state level the city level. There's always a lot of discretion in implementation. There's a lot of questions around how district attorneys and police officials will interpret them and we'll execute them And so that will be a lot of fodder for for the New Year so you're listening to maximum and to the UBA. I we we are going through the top. Ten stories of two thousand nineteen. According to our two percent is scientific poll number one was democratic control. Albany all this stuff. They passed number to rent regulation reform. Number three was bill blasios ill fated presidential campaign then before the nitrous settlement of the progress halting progress there and number five was criminal justice just reform in the conversation around moving onto story number six. Here's what former council speaker and current. CEO Women in Need Christine. Quinn Said said on our show recently and on this night when it is how old and unexpectedly wintering having those people who said if you open a shelter I will burn down those pro people who protests against having a good roof over a six year old child held towns. Had really think about why you hate homeless Louis. Children homeless people while you're so vicious on night like tonight with over sixty thousand people shelter and our obligation as win gene and the mayor's obligation down those hateful people in the faith and say we are moving forward. That was the former speaker. Adjust dressing people who have protested against homeless shelters in some areas of the city in that particular case a reference to the Glendale Debate She was speaking about the anti shelter. vaulter fervor which really was one of the features of the discussion about homelessness in two thousand nine hundred and this is obviously discussion. That hasn't you know really gone anywhere. This homelessness is basically in the top ten stories of of every year. Certainly since Mayor de Blasio has been office in well before that And it doesn't seem seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. While the administration has in some ways gotten a bit of a handle on the homelessness crisis as they say broken in the trajectory of homeless increase. We still have somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy five thousand people in various shelters You know the mayor has has taken a aggressive approach in terms of putting a lot of pieces in place but he's also taken a very modest approach in terms of the goals for reducing the homeless US Census and it's it's a very tricky situation because in some ways you look at how de Blasio is approaches. And you don't get the sense that there's this real urgency to it you know that he he recognized as a major problem he's putting plans forward and they've reinstituted voucher programs and they've done a variety of other things. They're opening new shelters getting out of hotels in clusters sites. But you still get the sense that is sort of just you know another sorta city issue to to take care of. It's interesting. He was been pushed by that on advocates advocates. On this for years and this year I think the pushing may have finally gotten to them just in the past few weeks the end of the year. We see an agreement with the city council to do the fifteen percent set aside whether it's the city subsidized housing project. Object fifteen percent of units or go to be people who are coming out of the shelter system and then more recently de blasio making a few kind of seemingly. These spastic moves on street homelessness answering a new outreach program that was criticized and then announcing fact not just outreach with the provision more safe haven even beds a commitment to ending long-term Street homelessness At some point in the not-too-distant future That seem to be him. Sort of laying down a marker that he hadn't previously down in both cases to really try to meaningfully change for managing what he says is a new status quo to maybe changing that status quo right. I mean when he you know he's sort of regard his approaches to homelessness a number of times. And that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that right. I mean you want to reevaluate your programming and add new WHO programs in change your approach. It's not working or you know react to crises. Hopefully not too much. But you WANNA do that. But when he announced his turning the tide plan in early two thousand seventeen is Alexi re election year. You know that was like a big sweeping new plan. And even even with that plan that you know he was only talking about reducing the shelter census by twenty five hundred people out of what what they were using as the number of of around sixty thousand. Because that's the sort of Department of Homeless Services Services Shelters variety of others that that Where people can find shelter so as he's moving into your seven year? This is clearly a piece of his Merrill T- that has has really dogged him because he was supposed to come in with the the type of Lens where he was really going to address this issue instead he's really sort of puttered along with it and it's been an area where people have raised so many questions including why not devote more of affordable housing plan to people coming out of homeless as you said. He just made a new compromise on that but but to do it at the end of two thousand nineteen again is indicative that this is still a work in progress. Speaking of works in progress story number seven is an interesting one because I remember the night that Bill de Blasio got elected standing at the back back of the room at the armory and hearing a couple of mental advocates advocates. Talk about how they were really nervous. Because Bill de Blasio almost no record on environmental issues and he said an interesting record record since of some pretty aggressive attempts to reduce the city's carbon footprint and some halting moves if you want to call it that on making the city more resilient into what are probably the inevitable effects of climate change and this year we saw some movement on both of those fronts right. I think you know de Blasio worked with the city council. I think there's is a bit more pushed by the city council certainly than Mayor's office on some very new aggressive regulations around building energy emissions which is a major source of pollution. And so that's moving forward to Bosnia wound up rebranding. That is the New York City Green new deal. It was part of him. Getting Ready to launch this presidential campaign pains. Who knows how much that came into it? Or if it's just you know sort of a branding exercise when the green new deal was at the tip of lots of folks tongues whether it's in Washington or elsewhere swear but but certainly that's going to be a key piece moving forward for the city of attempts to New York City contribute to what should be national national and global effort to reduce carbon emissions and a state effort to we saw the state pass major legislation as part of this bluewave green wave in Albany this spring spring and summer to put stay on course to really reduce and in some cases I think eliminate fossil fuels and moved to a sorters. There's zero fossil fuels state. Electricity Mix Energy Mix A number of years and we've seen already some tension about the implementation of that around the governor's decision not to approve a pipeline that was going to contribute to present day natural gas shortages. So some questions about the transition right. The the roles of natural gas and of nuclear power are really important here and big questions that remain. Meanwhile New York has set itself on a path to developing a lot more renewable energy in the in the forms of wind and solar and that is going to be a very important theme to watch because it involves loves a significant change in not only where energy comes from but also the economy of the state. And we'RE GONNA see wind farms popping up and you know it's going to be a very important Management Job Really for state government to implement this and some very tricky aggressive goals. That the governor wound up agreeing to after. Lots of consternation in Albany that I you know we'll see if Newark is able to meet them. They're they're pretty aggressive. And then meanwhile you have you know the city taking taking some actions around building emissions depositos had a bit of a mixed record on some of this stuff you know. He's definitely moved to sort of green the city fleet but he's also expanded the city fleet quite a bit and you know they argue that some of that was replacing vehicles that were damaged during Sandy. And things like that but really you know I think in key is by no means sort of an environmentalist. I and again he's also obviously. Just you know one of the things that keeps popping up you know. He's pooh-poohed this idea that you should be driving in this disease from the upper east side to park slope to work out. He very rarely takes the bus or the train to sort of encourage more New Yorkers to do that stuff he would say just look at my policies. Okay in some ways. It's a fair argument But he's got sort of a mixed record on that people look at the policies and say that you know again on reducing emissions on perspective efforts to try to lower the city's carbon footprint. There has been some progress the seeds for progress but when it comes to dealing with the effects that he has been much less bold. And so you saw this back and forth debate about this park on the lower east side and how to deal with that and the the city finally came to a decision to kind of bounce back and forth in the community plan to the city. Planning something in the middle and then the downside is lower Manhattan initiative which was kind of a big splash ardent upon and now a lot less detail as to what was actually meant in terms of whether you're going to extend the coastline and try to create a buffer zone. How you would do that? And what folks folks and other neighborhoods say is that that's all well and good but the city has a five hundred plus mile coastline a lot of neighborhoods where they have been very few steps to make the city any measurably safer than it was seven years ago for Sandy. A lot of this is waiting for the corps of Engineers to decide the army corps of Engineers to decide if and how wants to create some sort of harbor wide barrier. But there is is the sense of the clock is ticking. The storms are coming and the defense is just out there right. There's a variety of strategies that have been pointed to that need to be implemented a variety of projects that have been either you know green lit or said to be in the offing and just remarkably little progress made seven years after Sandy You know the other thing. I WanNa mention on this topic. was this plastic bag ban that the state passed that should be going into effect in another of these items that we have to. You see how implementation goes other. Unintended consequences You know how aggressive is the quote unquote ban. That's not fully a ban So a lot in the mix on this front but I think to your point on the resiliency question in two more years for New York City under Blasi. Oh in this sort of regime there. There needs to be marked progress in terms of getting some of these projects. Really going we we have seen and we we talked to Staten Island. Borough President Jimmy Otto something move ahead on. Staten that nyland on the east shore seawall but that was much more of a project that seemed to come in from the federal government And so you know the city needs to take think of bit more leadership on this on this question and story number eight in our top. Ten Review of two thousand nineteen will let city council speaker. Cory Johnson introduced the topic. Here in your city someone dies in traffic violence every one point eight days these are not accidents and every single one of them is preventable. Smart Street Design Saves Lives. We need to make our streets safer we need to finally break mccorkell germ or three. We make our streets better better. We know this were moving way too slowly. We need at least fifty miles of protected bike lanes a year real protected wildlife. It's the increase the amount of restaurants space that we create. We need every bus route and leans earth force with cameras or physical barriers arms. Feeds back to people as good for business. Business is good for the environment. And it's good for all workers and that was city council Speaker Cory Johnson with one of these sort of big catchphrases. That really took off this year in New York. Mark public policy this idea of breaking the car culture New York. Some people have taken that to mean this war on cars and that car owners are bad and there should be. You know. We're going to try. Had A band cars in New York. It's not what it means but you know maybe the speaker let that conversation get a little going a little bit too fast. I let's say this it's a bowl thing for someone to make pronunciations. WHO's planning a run for for mayor? Who is running for Mayor in two thousand twenty one given that there are a lot of people who drive in the city or depend Penn on cars one way or the other right and we know it's notorious in your say that people don't want their parking messed with for example and he's talking about the need to reduce pardon spots to put things in bike lanes and bus lanes? So you know Cory Johnson really move this conversation ahead in two thousand eighteen. He gave his status city speeches. I first one where he called for municipal control of the subways and buses. You know you can almost put that aside for a second but he also introduced this idea of streets master plan which wound up breath coming to a compromise with the mayor and being passed a very significant achievement and that will require the Department of Transportation in a couple of years to put forth a plan hand ad in lots more bike lanes and lots more bus lanes and a million square feet. Something like that of pedestrian space Really really a reimagining of city streets use and that has coincided at the same time with this fourteenth street bus way which is mostly been seen as a success so far. So we're seeing a whole new conversation around St use in the city and this is a visionary idea you know I don't know if Joe Johnson means by stick by it but really in terms of rethinking you thinking the city I like our fundamental rethinking of how the city has been shaped for. So that's one hundred years and we think about. How much does revolve around automobiles and Dan the way the streets are organized neighborhoods organize our policies? It's a it's a real challenge to that and what's interesting to me. Is that as someone. I know. You don't drive very much. I drive frequently and it has become much much much more difficult to drive around the city even the past two or three years. I mean it's always been difficult But even driving in the outer boroughs where I live locally anytime of day or night three in the morning three in the afternoon. It's getting very very hard drive on the city. I the thing is because of deliveries. I think because four hire vehicles and so I think oddly enough that you might find a surprising number of people who do rely on their cars cars acknowledging at least that there is some kind of problem whether there'd be willing to get them up all the time I don't know but I think you'll find people who are willing to say you know what the way that we have our streets organiz now just isn't working and they might look forward to a way to their car. Well I think you hit on a couple of important things one is for our vehicles and the other one is deliveries. And we've I've seen some really what we've seen a lot of discussion the vehicle front from back during blasios first term. When he tried to put a cap on Uber they eventually put the cap on on forever goals but then recently? We've seen a lot more reporting. I think on just the incredible a number of deliveries that are happening from Amazon and elsewhere across across the city that that do seem to really clock things up. And that's where you if if it's if you thread the needle the right way you could see some real support. Lord is you said even from people who rely on their cars in the city to do more around these regulations. I think one of the biggest challenges in front of Speaker. Johnson I and others is how you blend the better access for bicyclists end buses with allowing people people to use their cars and get around the city when they need to while. You're also really encouraging them to not do that. When it when it's available to take hey boss for example or to get on the subway and that ties of course two buses in the subways running and there's a little bit of a chicken and the egg thing with the buses of course and people getting out of their cars because if more people don't go out of their cars and get onto buses the buses can't move quicker and if you don't see the buses moving quicker you might not get out of your car so and it hasn't complex urban environment and it has to some degree zero sum game and we've seen this year a huge spike in the number of cyclists deaths and that can involve run INS with passenger cars? Delivery vehicles even with buses so figuring out a way to try to convert people from Assisting forms of transit to others in real time on real streets with people making real decisions is is very very difficult and so we've awesome reporting on enforcement around vision zero and lapses there. It's a very complicated puzzle involving enforcement as you mentioned some degree degree of coercion as some degree of invitation Being key to making it work finding mix is going to be pretty difficult and you know you you touch them vision zero. This is obviously a a key piece of the blazers agenda his legacy but it's another area where he's been probably a little more timid than he could or should be you know. And and this is where you've had had a lot of advocates and experts around street Houston Street safety. You know really call them to task for not being a bit more aggressive. And that's where the streets master-plan legislation came amen. But again this is now coming in towards the end of his Merrill tea and isn't going to be implemented until the very end and for the next mayor. I also want to mention engine on this topic of the discussion around breaking the car culture. which again means sort of reorienting? The city streetscape and transportation network towards words mass transit and pedestrian than bikers. That congestion pricing is coming which will we'll see what the impact on that is? The so much of the focus about that has been on. The revenue will generate that. We're losing sight over the question of whether the congestion piece is impacted at all And they also passed this private. Waste Hauling Overhaul legislation through the city council again. That is seen as both A safety measure sure and also around you know helping a little bit with street congestion you mention driving around three am. I won't ask you what you're doing driving around at three. Am but you know a lot of the a lot of the Private haulers going all through the night and things like that. So it's not the most traffic time but it also is a matter of of course St Safety Ian Missions and things like that so that fits into this discussion as well and the other thing that's happened in two thousand nineteen on this front to You know that we should we that we really think about is this will tie into our ninth story of our top. Ten is the fair fares program and how that's being implemented and again something that seen a little bit of a of a slow implementation so story nine now that Ben is totally. Let it other baggage spoil everything is the MTA and the ongoing discussions about how to improve. Prove that how to stabilize that some big moves this year with the approval capital plan on fair fares and its implementation being under scrutiny route Ni and as he just mentioned the looming arrival of congestion pricing. Plan one of the big achievements Democrats in Albany. Just about ten years Zapped Bloomberg's efforts to get such a plan in place One one that is being designed by an outside panel and remains shrouded in some bureaucratic mystery. But is they've started yet. You know again. This was like a legislative tricks by the governor in the in the state legislature that congestion pricing won't even even kick in until after the upcoming twenty twenty state legislative elections And so we're not looking at implementation until basically the beginning of twenty twenty one But it is coming. It was a huge story line of two thousand nineteen that they did pass a congestion pricing program the revenue from that program as I mentioned is is what a lot of people have been focused on and one of the key reasons. I think that it got across the finish line is because they were really struggling about how to fund the MTA capital plan and we now have a new MTA capital plan. It still has a little bit of Finalizing to happen but of over fifty billion in dollars for the five year plan. And it's supposed to really get the system up to a state of good repair re- signaling lots of other things and congestion. Congestion pricing was a key part of that we saw in two thousand eighteen incredible amount of attention on congestion pricing and the the MTA generally where you had governor Cuomo finally really take ownership of it even though he kept saying I don't control the MTA but okay you want me to take charge now take charge and a little bit of smoking mirrors. I think in that process of saying well we need a transformation plan at the MTA. We're going to bring in a new chair. CEO We need a chief transformation officer neither you were. I is a every day. MTA beat reporter. The obviously in our publications don't even cover it on such a regular basis but it is so it's very hard to keep track even for us what has happened with the MTA. This here different different plans that were mandated the overhaul of leadership they're reducing a bunch of positions but then they're adding other positions wins Andy Byford apparently resigned but then rescinded the resignation it has been a wild year related to the MTA and they basically have to implement implement a whole bunch of new stuff you know. Basically they have to fly the plane while they're rebuilding yet right and while they're considering What kind of personnel to have and what they should do when you're just in the last couple of weeks year the MTA board considering this plan governor performer to Station five hundred new police officers in the subways part of I think it combines. Crackdown on proceed disorder in the system homelessness and whatnot but also on this issue of fare evasion and something. Andy Byford has raised over a couple years. The idea that people are because of the lower police presence choosing not to pay fares on subways bosses more and that is actually making a dent in the. MTA's coffers where fare box revenue as they call. It has always been an important part of the mix advocates will push back on that. It's not as big a deal enforcement's not the answer but that is something that is going to be part of the COMMU- next year is more cops underground right. It seems it seems like that's all moving full. Oh speed ahead. There are some real questions about whether this makes fiscal sense for the MTA about MTA in additional MTA police force will interact with the NYPD. which is is really in charge of policing the subways? The buses are often only a little bit a part of this conversation even though that's apparently based on the flawed data that the MTA has is that the pair where the bigger fare evasion problem as a percentage is happening I'm much more of a regular subway rider than bus rider though I ride the bus. Sometimes I haven't witnessed witnessed the types of really high bus fare evasion that they claim but again. I'm not writing the most busy routes either That's going to be something that unfolds in the New Year that I'm very worried about because it has the potential for some really ugly incidents underground. We were always going to see some of Oh and we see those things related to policing above ground and below ground. But when you're talking about additions to the force and this question around MTA police versus NYPD TV. Police it's a recipe for some potentially troubling dynamics not to mention questions around criminalising poverty and and things like that that are part of this discussion around. Why don't they just put this money towards an expansion fair fares? You know things like that but there are legitimate issues. I think with people who can afford the fair skin and how you crack down on. That is is a topic for another time but certainly I. I think just to wrap up this topic. Maybe tie this together with the previous one about car culture one interesting I think so. Far Positive experiment this year and this ties is into a lot of I've been talking about. Is the Fourteenth Street bus way. which you know is because of the shutdown of the L. partial occasional shift under the AL for repairs hairs a plan which would have seen radical years ago to give buses basic the full run and other non personal vehicles the four hundred Fourteenth Street? It seems so far to have worked fairly. Well it's an interesting sort of experiment that's occurred in. I think probably like a positive note for the has gone off without a hitch but with generally generally positive reviews. As far as I can tell it's undoubtedly been a success. They just recently released the first study by Samm Schwartz's firm of how it's going. It seems like obviously bus speeds across fourteenth street have increased significantly and apparently according to the study. There is not that big an impact on sidestreet traffic. Which of course was was one of the biggest concerns and when they also instituted new bike lanes on the on the nearby streets? Apparently cycling has also increased quite had a bit on twelfth and Thirteenth Street. So all it seems like all initial signs point to this being a success and the big question then tees up of course is where else should they look to do busways across the city. And will this be something that you see. Someone like Cory Johnson really make a big push for In twenty twenty I would not be at all surprised and finally story ten has been mentioned early on this is not a year. That'd be typically considered an election year but lo and behold there were three election nights and this was a speech that was given on one of them a young black boy somewhere young. I've been trying to find space in the world. Nobody knows he cries himself to sleep. Nobody knows how much he misses his father. Nobody knows what he's going through this world tells you have to hide it. You can't talk about but I got some young men I think about very often That was Jimani. Williams has acceptance back in February when he won the special election very crowded. Special election for public advocate replacing tips James who had been recently elected and take office. As the State Attorney General Williams talking very emotionally about his own journey as a black man and as a person who had gone through therapy and really a very personal snowing and brave moment to reveal that at that at that point but a bit of personal drama in a ended up being actually a fairly interesting election year even though as an officer I mean thinking back to that public advocates special election. That was lots of fun and very fascinating very interesting and crowded field as you said. I mean it's funny. I think think back to that at the beginning of this year as now at the end of it But you don't people sometimes mock in. This happened on our show. Even you know. The position of public advocate it But it's it's important position citywide office it. It's not by any means and we've obviously seen the last two public graphic go on to become mayor and attorney general so it can be a springboard and Germany Williams. You know. Of course everybody's got their unique background but with his background coming into this office. As a housing organizers someone is a police reformer he ran for Lieutenant Governor and almost be. Kathy Oakland two thousand eighteen. This is basically his. You know sort of consolation prize after that now all of a sudden he's he's a city wide elected official with the with a pretty big purchase and allowed voice. You know he's always been someone. That's it's been good at using the bully pulpit but now he's got an even bigger one so significant and that election just looking back on it was also significant for folks That it did not win in such as you know former city council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito. WHO's now trying to run for Congress in the Bronx But you know if she had one. That public advocate special election. Very likely would have. I've been then a mayoral candidate money. Williams says he's definitely not running in twenty twenty one so But then he went onto to win reelection again in the November election election with very modest competition although we had a great chat with Joe Borelli about his campaign but there were other elections between the two of course we had the June election in data. That was when the Queen's district attorney primarily a fascinating race because Dick Brown had been there for a very long time these. Da Jobs do not open up very often often District Attorney Judge Brown had resigned and then died Actually before before the race plays with the election to place. It was a crowded field but it ended up being basically a battle between the insurgent Democratic Socialists of America wing in Tiffany Coban and the establishment democratic wing in then Queens as borough President Blenda cats and That was I mean that was. Maybe it's good that we're using using it in our wrap up. I mean this. This list is not necessarily an order of importance that that was one of the most important events of the year. I mean it was also one of the most interesting political events the year. Obviously the difference between Tiffany Coban being elected Melinda hats being elected is significant even though cats promised a pretty serious reform agenda and the idea of a young public defender taking over with a pretty radical view of how to approach criminal justice from the District Attorney's office at the top prosecutor. In in a borough of two plus million people. You know there was a lot on the line there Tiffany combined gave an acceptance speech on primary night and cats declined to to exit the race and then went to the recount. They cats wound up winning Really a lot of political drama and really significant importance and now of course that will kick off a special queens borough president election which will have the pleasure of of looking at early in the New Year. Why did not have much drama but was fairly interesting? Was the charter revision. Asian process. That was what the November election was largely about the five questions on civilian Complaint Review Board ranked choice voting. Some budget reforms was some shifting of power away from the mayor to other officials in terms of guaranteed budget. An interesting set of reforms fell short on land. Use in terms of what people had expected expected but certainly a substantive set of changes to how the cities covered and obviously we'll see how the reforms play out those were significant they were. They were opposed vehemently by some the police unions and their allies. But really you know probably the biggest takeaway was question number one on the ballot which which was the approval full of ranked choice voting. And how that's going to impact city elections starting in twenty twenty one will be absolutely Fascinating and it's going to shake shakeup. The mayor's race among others fascinating race. Anyway well that was how it looked loss. All right as in one thousand nine hundred quite a year. We'll be back soon to talk about looms ahead in two thousand twenty. which will I'm sure even more fascinating? Until then Merry Christmas happy kwanzaa Happy Hanukkah happy Wednesday. I am Jerry Murphy. From city limits. He's been maximum. Gotten to have a great holiday in the greatest city in the world.

Coming up next