Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
By Brigid Bergin : Reporter
Thursday, November 21, 2013
By Brigid Bergin : Reporter
The race is on to replace outgoing Council Speaker Christine Quinn. It's considered one of the most powerful positions in City Hall - second only to mayor. For years, it's been a race controlled by party bosses and decided through backroom deals. You can almost smell the smoke-filled room. But there's a serious effort underway to change all that. Here's are four things that make this Council Speaker race (which you can't even vote in) worth-watching:
Thursday, May 09, 2013
There’s a sense that the widening corruption probe is a sad end to what once seemed to be a promising moment for black political power in Albany.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the violence that erupted last night after a vigil for a teen shot by police was a one-time incident — but residents say it was fueled by long-simmering tensions between the police and the community.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Thursday, September 20, 2012
By Annmarie Fertoli : Associate Producer at WNYC
Some elected officials plan to use the coming weeks before the November elections to draw attention to problems at the voting booth.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
By Beth Fertig
City Councilman Jumaane Williams stands out in a crowd. It’s not just his long dreadlocks. It’s the rocking, jerking motion of his body that is the result of Tourette's syndrome. Mr. Williams doesn't usually refer to his disability, but he is frank about some of his challenges, especially when meeting young people in his Brooklyn district.
Monday, March 19, 2012
By Justin Krebs : IAFC Blogger
Mayor Bloomberg needs to defend corporate abuses one day, and police actions the next, making him the best recruiter Occupy Wall Street could ask for.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Democratic Assemblyman Karin Camara and State Senator Kevin Parker announced today their introduction of legislation that would establish an New York City Police Department independent inspector general position. The office would be housed within the New York City Department of Investigations. As it stands, the police department's only oversight comes from internal affairs, which report to the police commissioner.
The announcement, which came out of Parker's office, used strong language in talking about the need for independent oversight of the police department:
In recent years we have witnessed serious abuses by the NYPD, whether for racially and religious discriminatory policies such as stop and frisk, the wholesale surveillance of the Muslim community in New York City and other jurisdictions, and the mistreatment of the Occupy Wall St. protesters. In some of these situations the public was given misinformation and even deliberately misled.
"No one is above the law, not even law enforcement," Parker said in a statement. This legislation seeks to restore the public trust and honor the heroism and service of thousands of officers. By creating an independent inspector general, the NYPD will have an independent watchdog to ensure the integrity of the Department like other state and federal law enforcement entities."
"While the overwhelming majority of NYC police officers are exemplary in their conduct and beyond dedicated in serving and protecting the public, several recent incidences of alleged abuse and possible egregious misconduct call for greater scrutiny and accountability of the police department," said Assemblyman Camara in a statement.
New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who has been a vocal critic of the department's actions after a run in with police officers near his district in Brooklyn over the summer, praised the bill, saying in a statement, "No agency should be allowed to police itself, including the police. Independent oversight is essential to making sure we enjoy the best possible NYPD, on that serves all of our communities equally and respectfully."
Another Brooklyn elected official, Republican Senator Martin Golden, was less enthusiastic about the intent of the legislation.
"I don't believe that the New York City Police Department needs an inspector general," Golden, a former police officer, said when reached by phone. He said he hadn't seen the legislation yet, but felt that the department's internal affairs bureau has done "an excellent job going into its ranks" to deal with police misconduct.
Friday, January 13, 2012
There were plenty of things Mayor Michael Bloomberg wasn't going to address in his speech. The past year hasn't been a great one for the NYPD, and it was safe to assume Bloomberg would stay away from issues of police abuse in his State of the City address.
But that doesn't mean other city elected officials were happy about it.
[T]he only fleeting mention of police accountability was a line about increasing staffing at the Commission to Combat Police Corruption; while this is positive, it represents the lowest possible bar for which he could have reached," said City Councilman Jumaane Williams in a statement. "There was nothing on stop, question and frisk, nothing on surveillance of Muslim communities, nothing on anything of real substance to this crucial conversation.
"Make no mistake, this is a direct slap in the face to over half of New York City and its City Council."
Williams has been a vocal critic of NYPD procedures and actions since being arrested back in the summer during the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn. In his statement, he did go on to praise the Mayor for two specific portions of his speech: his support for raising the minimum wage and the Dream Act.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
We're talking to city, state and Federal officials to get their reactions to this morning's clearing of protesters from Zuccotti Park. We'll update as reactions come in.
At long last, a statement from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on the Mayor's actions last night:
As I have said from the very beginning, we must balance the protesters’ First Amendment rights with the rights of the residents, workers, and businesses of Lower Manhattan. We must protect the protestors' right to peaceful assembly and the local community's right to a safe and secure neighborhood.
Today’s actions include reports of excessive force by the NYPD, and reports of infringement of the rights of the press. If these reports are true, these actions are unacceptable. The Council will seek answers to questions surrounding these reports and clarifying information regarding the arrest and treatment of Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.
In a spirit of cooperation, we must work to ensure that the protesters are allowed back into Zuccotti Park as soon as possible and are allowed to exercise their right to protest while not impeding on the rights of others.
A joint statement from Manhattan State Senator Dan Squadron and Congressman Jerrold Nadler, whose district covers Zuccotti Park:
We agree that Zuccotti Park must be open and accessible to everyone – OWS, the public, law enforcement and first responders – and that it is critical to protect the health and safety of protesters and the community.
We have also been urging the City to have a zero tolerance policy on noise and sanitation violations, and to make the results of its enforcement public. But we must balance the core First Amendment rights of protesters and the other legitimate issues that have been raised.
The City’s actions to shut down OWS last night raise a number of serious civil liberties questions that must be answered. Moving forward, how will the City respect the protesters’ rights to speech and assembly? Why was press access limited, and why were some reporters’ credentials confiscated? How will reported incidents of excessive force used by the police be addressed?
On the issue of Brookfield’s rules, we are very concerned that they were promulgated after the protesters arrived; the specific legal questions on this topic are being addressed where it is appropriate – in the courts.
Whatever the courts rule, the City’s actions here must not be a backdoor means of ending the free exercise of protesters’ rights. Irrespective of this incident, OWS is now bigger than Zuccotti Park, and no one has the power to silence this national movement.
Statement from the chair of the City Council's civil rights committee, Staten Island Councilwoman Debi Rose:
Last night, Freedom of Speech was attacked like a thief in the night. While I recognize the importance of the occupier's health and safety, I seriously question whether protesters were given ample time to vacate the park without creating a scene of pandemonium. The fact that Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez was injured during this process was indicative of the indiscriminate use of force. I stand by my friend and colleague, Ydanis Rodriquez and I also stand firmly on the side of the 99 percent!
Statement from the chair of the City Council's public safety committee, Queens Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr.:
I support Mayor Bloomberg’s actions today in ending only the illegal aspects of what had clearly become an occupation which denied others their right to safe, clean streets. The protests can continue, within the reasonable restrictions set by the legislature and the courts.
Manhattan Democratic Party chairman Assemblyman Keith Wright said he'd visited the encampment at least seven times and had found protesters who "weren't bothering anybody."
"It seemed clean. It seemed orderly," he said. "I think it was a power move by the mayor. I don't really quite understand why they cannot go back and camp out." He continued, saying the Mayor was "trying to get rid of the mosquito that's been buzzing in [Bloomberg's] ear."
Statement from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:
For many weeks, there has been a struggle to balance the protesters’ First Amendment freedoms and the health, sanitation, and safety concerns surrounding Zuccotti Park. During this time, I have enjoyed a collaborative discourse with the Administration on this issue. I want to thank in particular my colleagues in government including Deputy Mayor Wolfson.
Last night, the Administration acted to end the occupation of Zuccotti Park by forcible eviction, and I am greatly troubled by reports of unnecessary force against protestors and members of the media, including the use of “chokeholds” and pepper spray. I am also troubled by reports of media being forcibly kept away at a distance from these events. American foreign correspondents routinely put themselves in harm’s way to do their jobs, in some of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. And their NYC colleagues deserve the freedom to make the same choice. Zuccotti Park is not Tiananmen Square. I call for a full explanation of police behavior in this evacuation.
New York City has a duty to protect public safety, and it also has a duty to protect people’s freedom to voice concerns about economic justice that have struck a deep chord with millions of Americans. Surely our City can do both.
Statement from Comptroller John Liu:
Going in and forcibly removing the protestors in the dead of night sends the wrong message. City Hall should have continued to talk with the protestors in the light of day if it wanted them removed, instead of evicting them in the middle of the night. There seems to be no compelling reason for this action at this time. The protestors have a right to be heard.
City Councilman Jumaane Williams was at Zuccotti Park this morning by 2 am, after hearing that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had ordered the clearing of protesters. "Just in time to see [City Councilman] Ydanis [Rodriguez] put in the paddywagon," Williams said. Rodriguez was arrested this morning along with more than a hundred other protesters.
"I think it's a very bad day for democracy. And I'm sorry that Bloomberg has his name all over it," the Councilman continued. He said the actions by the Mayor would serve to "galvanize" support for the Occupation, bringing more people in.
"People are going to get more energized now," he said.
Manhattan State Senator Liz Krueger:
I am very disturbed that the City's approach to dealing with the "health and fire safety" issues raised by the Zuccotti protest was a surprise ambush in the middle of the night. Physically forcing people out of the park or leaving them to face arrest, with no notice or warning, is not a commitment to civil rights and it certainly was not the right way to handle this situation.
Statement from Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who has been supportive of the Occupation. Hoping to speak to him a bit more on this later.
Protecting public safety and quality of life for downtown residents, and guaranteeing free expression are not exclusive of one another. Mayor Bloomberg made a needlessly provocative and legally questionable decision to clear Zuccotti Park in the dead of night. That some media and observers were prevented from monitoring the action is deeply troubling.
I know of no one—protesters included—who desires a permanent occupation of lower Manhattan. But provocations under cover of darkness only escalate tensions in a situation that calls for mediation and dialogue. I call on the Mayor to find a sustainable resolution—as other cities have done—that allows for the exercise of free speech and assembly, with respect for the rights of all New Yorkers to peaceful enjoyment of our great city.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Councilman Jumaane Williams and Public Advocate aide Kirsten John Foy have that hesitancy in their voices that suggests they’re not entirely pleased. There’s definitely a “but” coming.
Yes, Williams said, he and Foy were both pleased that the police department had disciplined officers after a Labor Day weekend incident that saw Williams and Foy arrested. Yes, they were gratified the internal investigation vindicated their claims officers used excessive force—at one point Foy is seen in video of the incident being tossed to the ground—and that a supervising officer was also disciplined for not providing adequate supervision.
“If it was not Kirsten and I, would the same thing have occurred,” Williams asked a wall of reporters on the steps of City Hall this afternoon. “We want to make sure this is connected to the broader police accountability movement. Just because there was some justice for us doesn’t mean that there is justice within the police accountability movement.”
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Video of Foy being tackled by police can be seen below.
The day after being handcuffed and detained by the New York City Police Department, City Councilman Jumaane Williams and an aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Kirsten Foy, held a packed press conference outside of City Hall earlier today. Backed by at least a dozen elected officials, Williams stated bluntly race was what led to the incident—not an attack on a police officer, which the councilman called a lie.
“We do have to acknowledge that if I did not look the way I look—young, black, with [dread]locks and earrings, with another young black male—if we were elected officials of a different persuasion, we are sure things would have been handled differently,” Williams said.
Williams said the police commissioner assured him there would be an investigation of the incident. That didn’t stop speaker after speaker from drawing the connection between the incident yesterday and the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy.
Monday, January 10, 2011
By Azi Paybarah
Here's the link to the live video feed of the City Council hearing into the city's botched snow removal efforts.
NYT reporter Javier Hernandez says"The hearing on Monday promises to be one of the most explosive political events of the year."
Among those expected to testify are Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith - who tweeted what a good job city workers were doing; Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, who has said he sees seen no evidence of an unofficial work slowdown.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn - an ally of Mayor Bloomberg - has already forwarded to his office the questions the City Council would like addressed during the hearing.
Quinn explained, "We sent this to the administration so that they don’t show up and say, ‘I’m sorry, we’ll get back to you.’ ”
The head of the Council's Investigation and Oversight Committee, Jumaane Williams, told me the question he'd like City officials to answer:
"What was making you say that these streets were plowed and everybody was telling you that it wasn't?"
Monday, January 03, 2011
Next Monday, the New York City Council will hold hearings into how the mayor's administration took nearly a week to clear city streets after a Christmas weekend snow storm.
"Did we just completely underestimate the storm and after that, when we realized how bad it is, what was the change up from the original plan" asked Jumaane Williams, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Committee. His committee, and three others, are holding hearings into the matter.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
By Beth Fertig
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's choice of publishing executive Cathie Black dominated Tuesday's monthly meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, even though the Bloomberg administration insisted the panel was no place for such a discussion.