Approximately 20 members of the City Council staged a die-in in front of City Hall before briefly, and not quite completely, blocking traffic on Broadway this afternoon. Clearly angered by the Eric Garner grand jury decision, the council members came out of City just before their scheduled 1:00 council meeting to chants of “Black lives matter” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.” After reading aloud names of people killed by the police in recent years, they moved out to Broadway. After briefly blocking traffic, Council Member Debi Rose spoke briefly and the group then returned to City Hall.
This afternoon Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke with the press ahead of a stated council meeting, with passage of the Earned Sick Time Act and a resolution supporting Mayor de Blasio’s pre-K program and tax expected to pass.
Questions included how many people will be covered by the expanded pay sick leave bill, whether the agreement with Mayor de Blasio on such bill was too fast and unfair to other council members, how the expanded law will be enforced, whether convincing senate republicans or Governor Cuomo is more important on the mayor’s universal pre-K program, what to expect legislatively from the council and mayor, which city agencies will enforce the Earned Sick Time Act and how covered business owners will be advised or educated on their responsibilities, whether the speaker thinks Success Academy charter school supporters are right to urge parents to bring their children for a lobbying day in Albany, the reaction to the speaker’s decision to not have any official council delegation in the Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day Parade and her reaction to the domestic violence charges filed against the council’s finance director.
Following the city council’s stated meeting this afternoon, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito answered questions from the press. Among the topics: whether there was political retribution against some council members who did not support her speaker bid, rules reform and the “lulu” system of additional payments to council members and her view of Governor Cuomo’s recent pre-K proposal.
Update – Cuomo Pre-K Proposal:
I asked Speaker Mark-Viverito whether Governor Cuomo’s recent proposal for a state-wide pre-K program, seemingly intended to supplant Mayor de Blasio’s proposed program and especially it’s income tax surcharge, would be unacceptable. Here’s how she responded.
This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a substantial expansion of the 2013 paid sick leave law. The proposed bill, agreed to by the mayor and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Vivertio but not yet introduced or passed in the council, will expand the size of businesses required to provide paid sick leave from 15 or more employees to 5 or more employees, accelerate it’s applicability so that all covered businesses must comply by April 1, 2014 (businesses with 15-20 employees have until April 1, 2015 under the existing law), remove exemptions for manufacturing businesses and remove economic measurements that could have caused a delayed implementation and expand the range of family members that employees can care for during such paid sick leave.
The benefits are clear; according to the mayor’s office 235,000 workers will receive paid sick leave for the first time, 95,000 will receive it a year earlier than presently required and 190,000 more will receive a legal guarantee of paid sick leave. The costs, or at least who will bear them, are also clear. It’s predominantly very small businesses, those with 5-14 employees. Success or failure of the initiative is really about how those businesses are affected. Will they ultimately benefit from having a healthier, and perhaps more satisfied, workforce? Will they be able to pass along to their customers the added costs? To the extent that the answers to those questions are negative, is the cost to those businesses the right result in order to raise the overall welfare of our workforce?
It’s a dramatic move by de Blasio. He’s moving quickly to act on a point often discussed during the campaign, but one that he could easily have let wait for several months until the recently enacted law takes effect. It’s also dramatic in that he appears to have quickly set the terms with the newly selected council speaker without much, or even any, engagement of the council rank and file. While passage appears likely, he may face some vocal opposition around the terms and he, and his council speaker, may face future resentment from council members.
Following his announcement, Mayor de Blasio answered questions from the press. Here is his full press Q&A. (The press conference was held in front of Esmeralda’s Restaurant on Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick. As you’ll see, the mayor paused periodically as the elevated M train loudly passed overhead.)
Walter McCaffrey, the veteran New York City Councilman from Woodside, died this month. We’ve posted a clip of the procession into his funeral mass at St. Sebastian’s in Woodside.
This brief clip captures much about Walter: his friends from FDNY’s Rescue 4 standing in tribute to him, a New York City flag draped over his casket, a Boy Scout troop color guard hoisting the colors, Irish bagpipers piping him into St. Sebastian’s where his close friend Monsignor Joseph Finnerty waited to celebrate his funeral mass and, most of all, the many politicians, elected and otherwise, there to mourn his passing.
His obituary, after noting that his parents are deceased, observed that:
“He is survived by the City of New York, his beloved Borough of Queens, and his loving, proud and devoted friends and colleagues.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a package of ten proposed bills, prepared following a series of council hearings examining the City’s response to Hurricane Sandy. The bills include a number of specific directives to OEM, the Office of Emergency Management, as well as other measures aimed at avoiding future traffic and fuel management troubles.
Here is our report:
We also have the full statements of Speaker Quinn and Council Member Donovan Richards, who represents a large portion of Rockaway:
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