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As Deadlines Loom, Criticism Mounts for PayPhone Wi-Fi Plan

Gotham Gazette - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 1:00am

Wi-Fi is coming to all NYC payphones, date: TBD (photo:

The idea of turning New York City payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots seems to be generally well received by the public, members of which look forward to more free Wi-Fi access in all five boroughs. But as the City gets closer to deciding which company will be awarded the franchise to provide that service, questions regarding the process are quietly beginning to bubble to the surface.

On August 13, Public Advocate Letitia James became the latest elected official to pen a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio recommending he review the RFP process. City Council Member James Vacca, who chairs the council technology committee, submitted his own letter on August 1 and Council Member Mark Weprin submitted a letter signed by 24 of his fellow council members on July 29 (an additional four council members later signed on, bringing the total to 28).

These elected officials claim that by only picking one winning bidder for the franchise, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), the agency tasked with issuing the RFP and awarding the contract, is creating a telecommunications monopoly. DoITT argues it is not a monopoly because it is a non-exclusive contract. Companies can team up in their bid and the City has the right to add an additional franchisee at any point.

In addition, electeds claim that the de Blasio administration circumvented the Council by not going to them for a new authorizing resolution (AR), something required of all franchise agreements. DoITT has met this criteria by choosing to use two existing ARs instead of going to the Council for a new one. The electeds argue the existing ARs don't allow for monopolies, something DoITT claims is not being allowed.

"The de Blasio Administration is committed to equitably expanding access to free WiFi, and this RFP allows us to do so by inviting innovative proposals to replace largely unused, old payphone infrastructure with new public communications structures," Nicholas Sbordone, a spokesman for DoITT, said by email. "We look forward to our continued collaboration with the Council to expand free broadband to New Yorkers all across the five boroughs."

DoITT argues it is technically playing within the law, although it remains to be seen if its interpretation of the laws will hold up in court if they are sued by a non-winning bidder. The City took a calculated risk in choosing to use existing ARs. If the gamble fails, it could push the start date for this groundbreaking project months, possibly years down the road.

The two existing ARs used in the RFP are AR 2309 of 2009 which covers the payphone franchises and AR 191 of 2010 which cover wireless franchises. When the Council approves ARs, it approves them for five years. The payphone AR will expire on December 21 of this year.

This date is of significance because the City must select a winner, negotiate the contract, and get the Franchise and Concession Review Committee (FCRC) to sign off on the deal before Dec 21. If it doesn't, the contract will fail to meet the legal requirements of having an AR and be null and void.

At that point, the City would have to go back to the Council to get a new AR, which could be a time consuming process. That new ask would allow the Council opportunity to press for stronger language that would prevent just one winner from being selected. The City would open itself up to scrutiny over using the term "non-exclusive" in the AR: the elected officials who wrote the recent letters argue that selecting one winner breaks the "non-exclusive" clause. The Council could potentially tie up the AR for months over that term and its application.

There is no indication that the City won't meet the deadline, but legal action could make it a closer call than it hopes.

Weprin, who has been an outspoken critic of the potential for a monopoly resulting from this RFP, says the use of existing ARs should be examined because it was not the original intent of of those council members who signed the legislation.

"We gave enabling legislation before we knew it was going to be a monopoly and one company being selected," Weprin said in a recent phone interview. "We feel like now that they have gone down this route, they should come back to us again."

At the time the AR was voted on in 2009 there were more than 10 payphone service providers and no indication that the City would move to choose only one provider for the Wi-Fi overhaul. But with time still left on the AR, the City has the right to use it.

City officials defended their decision to use existing ARs, noting DoITT staff met with council staff in June 2013 and met with Council Members Weprin and Vacca prior to the release of the RFP in April 2014. At both meetings, the plan to use two existing ARs was brought up. Both Vacca and Weprin lent their support in the press release that was sent out when the RFP was issued on May 1.

The City is eyeing another deadline, too, although it has a little more wiggle room. On October 15, the current franchise agreement will run out. There is a holdover provision which will allow for companies who currently run payphones to keep them and continue operating them with no changes until a new franchisee has been selected.

Once a new franchise has been selected, the old companies can chose to remove their equipment or can sell to the winning bidder. The price is supposed to be negotiated, but some in the industry fear they will be forced to sell for pennies on the dollar and given no choice.

It doesn't appear the Council has much room for legislative recourse at this point, but that would certainly not prevent any backdoor lobbying to get the City to select more than one winning franchise. When asked about the letters her members sent to the mayor, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who did not sign on to Weprin's letter, said she was aware of the issue but had not had a formal conversation with anyone yet.

"Whatever concerns members have will be concerns I have as well," Mark-Viverito said at a recent press conference. "But we will look into that further."

by Kristen Meriwether, Gotham Gazette

Categories: State/Local

Veteran Democrats Avella, Liu Vie for Senate Seat, Party Soul

Gotham Gazette - Tue, 08/26/2014 - 1:00am

John Liu campaigns for State Senate (photo: Uli Seit/NY Times)

Queens voters may be appropriately impressed by the political portfolios of the two candidates squaring off in the Democratic Primary in the 11th State Senate District - incumbent Sen. Tony Avella and former Comptroller John Liu have taken similar career paths in lives dedicated to civil service.

However, several state legislators are somewhat less impressed and say they aren't exactly excited about working with either one.

A number of Senate Democrats want to see Avella punished because of his abrupt exit from the party's legislative conference. They have labeled him a complainer who relied on others to push his legislation.

Several say they aren't thrilled about the prospect of a Liu victory because of the potential baggage left over from the fundraising scandal linked to his recent mayoral campaign in New York City. Additionally, some say Liu is known to be a "personality" -- one with bigger things and higher offices in mind.

"Tony deserves to be taught a lesson," grumbled one Senate Democrat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "You don't just walk out on the leader without giving her a call. (And) honestly, I don't know how Liu fits in with the new issue-free conference. He has his own stuff to deal with."

In some ways the race is an embarrassment of riches for a Senate district that includes Bay Terrace, Willets Point, College Point, Little Neck and Fresh Meadows: Both candidates are former city council members and former mayoral candidates and both have served at the top of the city Democratic Party ranks.

Avella served eight years on the City Council before running for mayor in 2009. He lost to Bill Thompson in the primary, but then challenged and defeated incumbent Republican state Sen. Frank Padavan to join the Legislature.

Liu has taken a similar career path. He served on the City Council from 2002 to 2008 and in 2009 ran successfully for Comptroller. Last year, Liu ran in the Democratic Primary for Mayor as the most progressive candidate, but lost after being dogged by investigations into his campaign's fundraising practices, which included straw donors and their bundling. Liu was denied matching funds by the Campaign Finance Board, which he and others claimed crippled his campaign and led to Bill de Blasio's ability to avoid a run-off.

Both Avella and Liu are now looking to prove who is the better Democrat.

Avella wants to return to Albany after abandoning the Democratic Conference to caucus with the Independent Democratic Conference. His departure was abrupt and without warning, according to Senate Democrats, and left members there with a lot of bad feelings. Avella wants to demonstrate that he is both an effective Democrat and that his choice to join the IDC wasn't a cynical one.

"It was really a combination of factors that led me to leave the Democratic Conference," said Avella in an interview with Gotham Gazette. "The most prominent one is that the Democratic Conference is dysfunctional -- they have no power, but they argue over everything. Plus, the fact that the IDC/Republican Conference, whether you like it or not, was working. I had things to do."

One of those things was stopping the closure of three senior centers that were going to be shuttered because of a lack of funding, Avella said. His concerns about the centers were dismissed by Senate Democrats, but as a member of the IDC he was involved in budget discussions and was able to provide funding to the centers, he said.

However, only months after Avella split from the Democratic Conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was forced into a deal with the Working Families Party to help Democrats gain control of the Senate and pressure the IDC to cut a power-sharing deal with the conference they left.

The progressive surge that put de Blasio into the mayor's office seemed to have united voters, unions, and advocates in scorn of the IDC.

After much backroom haggling, de Blasio himself organized the IDC agreement to caucus with Senate Democrats next year.

In turn, he has endorsed Avella and the other IDC members. Now, though, Avella has to deal with advocates and voters who were not satisfied by the pledge for a power-sharing agreement and want retribution for his defection - as well as the popularity of John Liu.

Liu may be responsible for some of the progressive winds that filled de Blasio's sails as he cruised to victory last year. Liu's progressive policies were extremely popular with voters. Avella's decision to join the IDC gave Liu an opening into the Queens race as Avella's credentials as a progressive have been damaged in the eyes of many legislators, voters, and advocates.

Liu's greatest liability - the shadow of the investigation into his fundraising practices - is a companion to his greatest asset: his ability to raise small amounts of cash from a myriad of donors. "The reality of our campaign is that we always start with the grassroots donors. We don't call them small donors because they are significant donors. I'm proud of that," Liu told Gotham Gazette. Liu says that the amount of small donors to his campaign surprised him given that his campaign came together only three months ago.

Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG) provided analysis to Gotham Gazette that shows that from January to July of this year Liu received donations from 1,598 individuals, making him the Senate candidate with the most contributions from individuals by far. The Senate candidate with the second most contributions from individuals is Sen. George Latimer with 244 from January to July of this year, according to Mahoney. In fact, Liu had more individuals contribute to his campaign than the Senate candidates who are ranked 2-8 behind him on that list.

Liu has made waves in Albany with his fundraising numbers where most campaigns have a few big real estate, union, and corporate donors that keep them afloat. Liu's campaign has $487,222 on hand according to 32-day pre-primary filings. Avella meanwhile has only $126,381 on hand according to his 32-day filing. Avella's numbers have increased lately and regular Cuomo donor Leonard Litwin gave the incumbent $20,000.

Avella has argued that Liu's coffers should be smaller given that his campaign for Comptroller still owes the city $525,000 in fines for illegally hanging flyers around the city. Liu's current campaign is not liable for the fine and he is in talks with the City about repaying the debt. "Think about how many firemen, how many police that could pay for," said Avella.

Over the years both men have developed a reputation for how they deal with their constituents and the kind of representatives they are. Liu is the big thinker who attracts constituents who want to work and campaign for him. As the first Asian-American elected to city-wide office, Liu serves as an inspiration to an entire community. His big-ticket items should he be elected include The Dream Act, The Women's Equality Agenda, and raising the minimum wage. Liu was ahead of the game when it comes to a number of these issues as he championed a progressive agenda during his time on the Council, and during his stint as Comptroller and his mayoral campaign.

"Its about drawing people into the process, first-time volunteers who want to make an impact. I bring a skill set that is not necessarily up there yet (in Albany)." Liu notes that he was treated as "crazy" for some of his positions on wage equality and workforce issues but now those positions are being carried by Democrats across the state.

"I'm gratified many points of my campaign last year have seen the light of day. Because it's not just about the candidate, but about the ideas." Liu says that if elected one of his personal quests will be to focus on restructuring the tax burden on businesses so that small businesses get a break while larger ones "pay their fair share."

While Liu is larger than life, Avella is the head down public servant. His first newsletter as a council member was a checklist where constituents could check off problems they have like potholes, cracks in the sidewalk, overgrown trees, and more. He sent out a similar mailer as his first official Senate newsletter. Avella has won the support of environmental groups including the New York League of Conservation Voters for his work on their issues and his steadfast stance against hydrofracking.

Avella has also waged a campaign to reduce noise pollution from aircraft in his district and has taken credit for the Port Authority's new community roundtable dedicated to addressing airplane noise over Queens.

"I always believed in a hands-on approach," Avella said. "I see every correspondence that goes in and out of this office. I see every single complaint so that I know that it is handled in the best way."

So how would each man interact with colleagues as part of the new Democratic/IDC coalition if everything goes as expected this November?

Avella said he hopes that the Senate Democrats elect more members who "are truly progressive." He blames "two Democrats" for voting to block the Dream Act and says they would also block campaign finance reform. By inference, he would appear to be referring to Sen. Ruben Diaz, who has actually been rather friendly with the IDC, and Sen. Simcha Felder, who caucuses with Republicans and who the IDC has worked with as part of its coalition.

Avella stresses that the IDC is not going to give up any power. "The deal is not that we go back, but that we will form a Democratic Majority Coalition that will be a mirror of the one that the IDC has with Republicans right now."

Liu said that while he thinks his ability to marshall the grassroots on issues like immigration and minimum wage will be an asset to the new coalition he also says he knows how to work as a member of a larger body. "I am proud to have the support of all the state senators whose support I have asked for," Liu said, noting that he didn't talk to upstate members because he doesn't know them. "I realize unlike my opponent that one Senator can't get anything done alone. You can't be a lone gun, you can't go it alone."

Both men acknowledge that on primary day winning and losing will come down to turnout - one that is expected to be particularly small. They've seen labor fairly split in endorsements between them and both say they are certain their loyal constituents will see them through. The two are expected to appear on Tuesday evening at a Bay Terrace candidates forum and on NY1's Inside City Hall on Wednesday night.

by David King, Albany Editor, Gotham Gazette

Categories: State/Local

State's wineries get OK to blend grapes

Albany Times/Union - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 8:07am

ALBANY — New York authorities will allow wineries to buy grapes and juice from out of state to make up shortages after a harvest expected to be well below normal because of last winters' harsh weather.

Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said Monday the law requires all wines produced on New York farms must contain only grapes, fruit and other products grown in the state.

But a provision of the law allows for using California and other outside grape products if more than 40 percent of a crop is lost to damage.

Ball said 15 grape varieties met that requirement. The wines affected include Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and eight others.

— Associated Press

Categories: State/Local

Campuses to get heroin OD antidote

Albany Times/Union - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 1:07am

ALBANY — Grants from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office will allow 11 SUNY campuses, including the University at Albany, to provide some 28,000 campus police officers with naloxone, an antidote that can fight the potentially fatal effects of an heroin overdose.

The grants come from the attorney general's Community Overdose Prevention program, which has also made grants to local law enforcement entities.

"In just the past year, we've seen multiple students overdose on SUNY campuses — a tragic reminder that the crisis we've seen in the news is not so far from our students' dorm rooms," Schneiderman said in a statement.

In addition to Albany, SUNY campuses that applied for and will receive the funding are Purchase, Potsdam, Buffalo, Cortlandt, Oswego, Geneseo, Adirondack, Canton, Utica/Rome and New Paltz.

— Casey Seiler

Categories: State/Local

Expert on the details of death

Albany Times/Union - Mon, 08/25/2014 - 1:07am


It's been said that we are all equal in the presence of death. But among those who investigate its causes, few can equal the stature of Dr. Michael Baden.

The forensic pathologist and former head of the State Police "medicolegal unit" has been a national figure for decades — from his 1970s reappraisals of the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. to his role as a defense expert in the 1995 murder trial of O.J. Simpson. Baden was back in the news this week after the family of Michael Brown, the black teenager whose shooting by a police officer has inflamed the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., asked him to perform a private autopsy. (A third autopsy was subsequently performed at the request of the federal Justice Department, which has launched its own investigation into Brown's death.)

In a Monday news conference, Baden kept his comments restricted to what the medical evidence said about the cause of death. The preliminary findings from his three- to four-hour examination found evidence that Brown was shot at least six times, including one trajectory that went from the top of the youth's head to his jawline; Baden said he uncovered no sign of a struggle.

While the Brown family's attorneys opened the news conference with comments arguing that the youth received the downward head shot while surrendering, Baden told reporters the wounds could be consistent with either a move to surrender or an aggressive effort to charge Darren Wilson, the officer identified by Ferguson police as the shooter.

He added that the initial forensic findings could neither confirm nor disprove any of the conflicting eyewitness accounts that have been reported by the public or offered by law enforcement.

"From the scientist's point of view, we can't determine which witness ... is most consistent with all of the forensic findings," Baden said.

Baden sticks to the science, said Capital Region journalist and author Marion Roach, who spent two years working with him on the 2001 nonfiction account "Dead Reckoning: The New Science of Catching Killers." (Roach is married to Times Union Editor Rex Smith.)

Although Baden can seem ubiquitous on TV — he hosted HBO's "Autopsy" series for 14 years and is a regular contributor to Fox News — Roach bridled at the idea that his influence is the product of his high profile.

"Celebrity has nothing to do with it," said Roach. "The reason he's on TV and sought after for his opinion is because he gets it right."

Baden's primary motivation, she said, was the conviction that science offers a powerful tool to achieve justice: "He believes it's his moral obligation to look at everything. ... He doesn't do this because he's camera-happy."

Baden worked for 25 years in the office of the Chief Medical Examiner for New York City, sometimes earning the ire of leaders including Mayor Ed Koch — "He was constantly getting fired and rehired," Roach said. In 1986, he was picked to head the State Police Forensic Consultant Unit, a new entity that brought together a broad range of experts. (It's now known as the Medicolegal Investigation Unit.)

In that capacity, Baden consulted on scores of significant regional cases, including the case of Marybeth Tinning, the Schenectady mother convicted in 1987 of murdering her young daughter — one of the nine Tinning children to have died under mysterious circumstances.

The Ferguson shooting isn't the first racially charged case to tap Baden's skills. He chaired the forensics panel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, convened in 1976 to reassess the killings of Kennedy and King. The panel's report ultimately concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray, respectively, were responsible — though it found the likelihood that conspiracies were at work in both killings.

In 1991, Baden took part in an autopsy of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, whose remains were brought to Albany Medical Center from Arlington National Cemetery in the hopes that new information would assist in the prosecution of Byron De La Beckwith, the white supremacist who was ultimately convicted in Evers' 1963 murder.

Speaking in Missouri on Monday, Baden said his tenure as a medical examiner in New York City involved him in a number of police shootings, and offered a hint of what he felt had gone wrong in the aftermath of Brown's killing.

"What we found in New York City was that the sooner the information goes out, the sooner the family is talked to," Baden said. "This calms community and family concerns over (the possibility of) cover-up, or not getting told the truth."


Categories: State/Local

Split over ballot on voting lines

Albany Times/Union - Sun, 08/24/2014 - 10:07pm


The divide between New York's good-government groups over a proposed change to the redistricting system came into stark focus on Tuesday: One announced a lawsuit opposing the language of the ballot measure that will be put before voters this fall; the other held a teleconference to build support for its approval.

The compromise proposal was worked out two years ago by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislative leaders who control the current once-a-decade process of redrawing the state's political districts. Critics say the system results in gerrymandering that, in effect, allows elected officials to pick their voters, and all but guarantees incumbency.

The proposed new system would hand the work off to a 10-member panel — eight appointed by leaders of the majority and minority conferences in each legislative chamber, plus two selected by the panel. Politicians would, however, retain the privilege of drawing their own maps in the event that the panel's more independent designs are rejected twice by the Legislature.

Many good-government groups view the proposal as an unworthy half-a-loaf stand-in for more comprehensive changes. But others, including Citizens Union and the League of Women Voters, say that it offers the best chance in decades to achieve real improvements.

Advocates held a Tuesday news conference to pitch their effort to build public momentum for a yes vote — dubbed "Vote YES for Progress." Dick Dadey of Citizens Union described the new panel as "a politically balanced and independent commission that limits the ability of legislators to draw their own maps."

Critics of the proposal, meanwhile, are determined not to allow a reprise of last fall's casino expansion vote, where the Cuomo administration submitted ballot language to the state Board of Elections that was viewed as wildly promotional of voter approval. On Tuesday, these opponents said they filed a lawsuit objecting to the ballot item's use of the adjective "independent" to describe the appointed panel.

In a statement, Susan Lerner of Common Cause — one of four individual plaintiffs in the action — said the language approved two weeks ago by the board was "intentionally confusing, misleading voters to think that the amendment would create an impartial and independent redistricting process."

Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the League of Women Voters, defended the language.

"'Independence' has a strange meaning here in Albany," she said, and usually requires several degrees of removal from political power. " ... As independence goes, this is one of the better constructed commissions."

If approved, the new system would go into effect in 2022.


Categories: State/Local

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, August 24

Gotham Gazette - Sun, 08/24/2014 - 1:00am

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

After a weekend that featured the Rev. Al Sharpton's "We Will Not Go Back" march to protest the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner during an arrest by the New York Police Department, the focus this week looks to change to the Sept. 9 primary. Thousands marched peacefully on Staten Island on Friday despite the concerns of local politicians that tension over events in Ferguson, Mo., might spark violence here. There was a large NYPD presence for the march but generally allowed protesters leeway. Labor unions that participated in the march went to great lengths to make sure anti-NYPD signs were replaced with friendlier messages as they faced backlash from police unions and others.

No arrests were made, according to the NYPD. Perhaps at next month's Stated meeting, you can expect the City Council to introduce various bills dealing with chokeholds in general, as well as use of force by the NYPD. The City Council has no public committee or whole body meetings this week, though.

Sorry kids, but summer is coming to an end and that means it's time to head back to school. This could be good news for Mayor Bill de Blasio as we will see a massive pre-k rollout, though the logistics involved are formidable. De Blasio's signature initiative will surely be the source of much scrutiny in the coming weeks and months.

With the primary only days away, Gov. Andrew Cuomo may finally be forced to leave "the New York City area," which is where his official schedule has placed him on most days of late.

Expect pressure to continue to build on Cuomo to accept a debate with his Democratic opponent, Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout. Cuomo has been absent from the campaign trail while his lawyers attempted to have Teachout kicked off the ballot.

Time Warner Cable and NY1 have invited Cuomo to debate Teachout on an hour-long program on Sept. 2. They would also host a debate between Cuomo's choice for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, and Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu, who is running with Teachout. Cuomo told reporters who caught up with him at the New York State Fair that he would "leave that to the campaigns to work out, whatever they decide" -- as if Cuomo has no direct influence over whether the debate happens and Teachout's campaign would not relish the chance to debate.

A number of pundits, including Christina Greer from Fordham University, say Cuomo could have a difficult time debating Teachout because he would have to be careful how he comes off sparring with a strong woman opponent. "Powerful men generally have a hard time debating educated women," Greer told Gotham Gazette. "It's very easy for men to come across as dismissive or generally unpleasant in that situation."

The state chapter of the National Organization For Women (NOW) endorsed Teachout over the weekend. Cuomo reportedly pursued the endorsement and his failure to earn it would seem to weaken his Women's Equality Party ballot line.

Teachout's grassroots campaign has focused on personal appearances and word of mouth. Hochul has done most of the campaigning for Team Cuomo as she pushes the Women's Equality Party. Teachout's campaign has received a wealth of media attention in the last few days.

Teachout and Wu will hold a teleconference at 1 p.m. on Monday to announce the launch of their campaign to "expose Kathy Hochul's congressional record."

Elections approaching
Tuesday marks two weeks until primary day for the 2014 New York State elections. This week will feature several debates, including a showdown between Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein and his challenger, Oliver Koppell, on BronxTalk.

On Sunday evening, The Manhattan Neighborhood Network's "Represent NYC" began airing a series of debates hosted by our Ben Max and Marlene Peralta of El Diario. Debates include candidates from the 31st Senate District Primary and the 72nd and 76th Assembly District Primaries, among others. Watch them online here.

NY1 is also hosting a debate on Inside City Hall almost every night this week, including Klein-Koppell on Tuesday evening and incumbent state Sen. and IDC member Tony Avella versus challenger John Liu on Wednesday evening.

Here's a bit more to watch for day-by-day this week:

According to his public schedule, de Blasio will spend most of his day in Queens. He will address the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation's professional training for SONYC program staff members at 12:15 p.m. in Queens. At 6:15 p.m., the mayor will speak at the Jewish Community Council's testimonial dinner, which is also in Queens, and he will cap it all off by speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2014 U.S. Open at 7:50 p.m.

From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Council Member Daneek Miller will host extended office hours with pre-k enrollment experts. 172-12 Linden Blvd, St. Albans.

At 6 p.m., the New York County Democratic Committee will hold a cocktail reception fundraiser hosted by Assemblyman and County Leader Keith Wright at AFSCME DC 1707 at 420 West 45th Street.

At 7:30 p.m., Council Member Donovan Richards will hold an information session on participatory budgeting in his district at the Herbert G Birch Early Childhood Center in Springfield Gardens.

As we mentioned, Tuesday marks just two weeks until primary day! Get up to speed on the 2014 New York State elections through our Gotham Gazette Election Center.

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Teachout will be among the candidates receiving the endorsement of the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group (BAAG), at an event taking place at Diversity Plaza, Jackson Heights, Queens.

At 11 a.m. on Tuesday on the steps of City Hall, "Women activists and elected officials will "Take the Pledge" on Women's Equality Day, August 26, to register women voters." Leaders participating will include Manhattan BP Gale A. Brewer, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, State Sen. Liz Krueger, Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Linda Rosenthal, and Nily Rozic, and Amy Loprest, Executive Director, Campaign Finance Board, parent of the NYC Voter Assistance Advisory Committee.

Also at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Brooklyn BP Eric Adams "will announce the details of his parks capital budget for Fiscal Year 2015, a $5,200,000 investment that represents an increase of almost ten percent compared to the previous year's total. He will make this announcement at Heckscher Playground in Bushwick."

At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Teachout will celebrate another endorsement, this from the National Organization of Women (NOW) of New York, who will be represented by Zenaida Mendez, NYS NOW Chapter President. The formal announcement will be held at the Eleanor Roosevelt Statue, 72nd St and Riverside Drive.

At 7 p.m., the Bay Terrace Community Alliance hosts a candidate forum with candidates for all statewide offices and the 11th Senate and 26th Assembly districts at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center at 1300 209th Street in Bay Terrace.

At 7 and 10 p.m. Inside City Hall will feature the aforementioned debate between Jeff Klein and Oliver Koppell.

City & State NY will hold its 4th annual energy conference at BNY Mellon-101 Barclay Street, West Assembly, 10th Floor. Registration starts at 8 a.m. with opening remarks at 8:45 a.m.

The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council will host a candidates forum for the 52d Assembly District and the 20th Senate District at 7:30 p.m.

Council Member Ritchie Torres will talk with DL21C about his legislative victory in expanding services for LGBT seniors throughout his district from 7 to 8 p.m.

At 7 and 10 p.m. NY1 will feature the aforementioned debate between Tony Avella and John Liu.

City & State NY hosts its 4th annual education conference. The event takes place from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at The CUNY Graduate Center's Proshanky Auditorium. New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will be the featured speaker. Panelists include United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, state education commissioner John King and Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the NYS Board of Regents.

Thursday is also the RSVP deadline that NY1 gave to the Cuomo-Hochul and Teachout-Wu campaigns for the debates that the network has invited the candidates to participate in.

On Thursday evening itself, NY1 will feature a debate between candidates running in the 19th State Senate District.

Friday and the weekend
It's Labor Day weekend, enjoy it.

Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? Email Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Kristen Meriwether, Katrina Shakarian, and Ben Max in New York City and David King in Albany

Categories: State/Local
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