New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Rebecca C. Lewis

City and State How would NYC cut $1 billion for the NYPD? by Rebecca C. Lewis

How would NYC cut $1 billion for the NYPD?

After nearly two weeks of protests in New York City against police brutality and racism, following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, policy demands have begun to crystalize. None are without controversy, but perhaps the most contentious is the call to defund the New York Police Department. Criminal justice activists are calling for the city to slash the nearly $6 billion annual budget by $1 billion, and reinvest that money in social services like homeless outreach and mental health counseling. 

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Most lawmakers have avoided committing to specific dollar amounts. That’s in part what prompted Stringer to put out his analysis, something to get the ball rolling. “This is a baseline,” Stringer told City & State. “You can certainly go a little higher… Before we did this, there was no movement.” City Councilman Ben Kallos has backed a plan cutting $1 billion over four years, while Councilman Carlos Menchaca has called for at least $1 billion in cuts in the budget this year, but has not yet offered specifics on how to achieve those cuts. City Councilman Daniel Dromm, chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, echoed two of Stringer’s proposals – capping overtime and cutting costs associated with a new class of cadets.

City and State What NYC Charter Amendments Didn’t Make It On The Ballot? by Rebecca C. Lewis

What NYC Charter Amendments Didn’t Make It On The Ballot?

New York City voters will have a lot to decide on this November, with five questions and 19 proposals in total to change the city charter. But even with that large number, there were still a number of proposals that did not make it onto the ballot in the end, including comprehensive city planning and democracy vouchers. With their omission this time around, it could fall to another revision commission or the New York City Council to make any additional changes. 

City and State Can NYC increase local input without endangering real estate projects? by Rebecca C. Lewis

Can NYC increase local input without endangering real estate projects?

The New York City charter is being revisited by not one, but two revision commissions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the first commission to review the city charter during his State of the City address in February. The stated intent of the mayor’s commission was to examine campaign finance and improve democracy in the city, but over the course of several public hearings, commissioners also examined local engagement through community boards and, in turn, the level of input that residents have in city land use decisions. That commission plans to wrap up in time to have proposals on the ballot in November.

Ultimately, substantial changes to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure – the standard public review process for city land use decisions – are unlikely given the commission’s narrow focus and short time frame. In its recently released preliminary staff report, the commission acknowledged the complexity of the matter and recommended not pursuing it further. The report defers consideration to future commissions, and recommends they conduct more outreach on the issue.