Council to Vote on Bill to Bring Clean Elections to New York

City Hall – The New York City Council on Thursday will vote on a bill to establish a full public match finance system, which will make it easier for candidates to run for office without having to rely on large donations.

The Council will also vote on two bills related to art on city-owned property. The first would create a task force to study and make recommendations regarding monuments, statues, public art, and historical markers. The second would require the Public Design Commission (PDC) to foster diversity in city art work, including a goal that at least 50 percent of the nonfictional persons represented in new works of art be women.

Additionally, the Council will vote on four bills related to incarcerated individuals. Three of the four make the grievance process more efficient. Another requires reporting on health services and sick calls.

Additionally, the Council will vote on a bill to require extra safety reporting by the New York City Fire Department and one that protects individuals from retaliation who request a reasonable accommodation under the City’s human rights laws.

Finally, the Council will vote on several finance and land use items.

Creating a Task Force to Examine the Monuments, Statues, Public Art and Historical Markers on City-Owned Property

Introduction 1114-A, sponsored by Council Member Inez Barron, would create a task force to study and make recommendations regarding monuments, statues, public art, and historical markers on city-owned property, placing special emphasis on those that have been subject to sustained negative attention or may be viewed as inconsistent with the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. This bill implements recommendation number nine of the January 2018 Report by the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markets.

Requiring the Art Commission to Foster Diversity Among the Subjects and Themes Depicted in Works of Art Belonging to the City 

Introduction 1439-A, sponsored by Council Member Rafael Salamanca, would require the Public Design Commission (PDC) to establish a goal that at least 50 percent of the nonfictional persons represented in new works of art be women. It would also require the PDC to advise and provide strategies to city agencies on how to increase diversity of representation in city art work.

“Looking at the city’s artwork, it is clear the contributions of women are not represented appropriately. Of the 150 statues on city-owned property, only five depict non-fictional women. This lack of diversity sends the wrong message to our younger female generation who continuously see the contributions of men portrayed across the city’s landscape. This is what inspired me to introduce Introduction 1439, which would require the NYC Public Design Commission to establish a goal that at least 50 percent of all future works of art on city property that depict a non-fictional person be of women. Furthermore, the commission would be required to work with city agencies to develop strategies to increase the diversity and representation of women in city artwork. I look forward to working with the administration to ensure that the women who served as the pillars of our city’s history receive their long overdue honor,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca.

The Grievance Process for Incarcerated Individuals

Introduction 1340-A, sponsored by Council Member Diana Ayala, would make the grievance process more efficient by requiring the Department of Correction to create a central system where it can track all complaints and appeals, and give regular access to the Board to such a system. It also will ensure greater access to the grievance process by requiring at least one grievance box to be placed in each facility and by requiring caseload guidelines for grievance coordinators. The law will also require the DOC to install electronic complaint kiosks by 2026.

“Incarcerated individuals are currently subjected to an antiquated and ineffective grievance process. The changes mandated by Introduction 1340-A will address many of the concerns expressed by the Board of Correction and advocates — and will collectively transform this process into one that is more efficient and accessible. I thank my colleagues for supporting this legislation and look forward to its passage,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.

Requiring the Board of Correction to Report on the Department of Correction’s Grievance Process

Introduction 1334-A, sponsored by Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel, would require the Board of Correction to issue a report, at least every three years, on issues related to the department’s grievance process. This report will incorporate direct feedback from incarcerated individuals and proposed recommendations for relevant improvements. The bill requires the report to include a section of recommendations on how to improve the grievance process for vulnerable populations, including incarcerated individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming.

“After visits to Riker’s Island, oversight hearings and testimony from advocates, clearly missing from our policies is Transparency and Accountability! Statistics show that people in custody have unequal access to complaint systems. Intro 1334-A deals with the ‘what happens next,’ and will incorporate feedback from people who have been directly impacted by the grievance process in order to improve it. It will hold the Department of Correction accountable and require the Board of Correction to report on the grievance policies and recommendations,” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel.

In Relations to 311 Complaints Made by Incarcerated Individuals and Informing Incarcerated Individuals of the Protections Against Retaliation for Filing a Grievance

Introduction 1370-A, sponsored by Council Member Keith Powers, would streamline the intake process for grievances and improve access. It would ensure that all complaints made to 311 and third-party complaints be addressed through the grievance process. It would also require that the Department of Correction include all grievance forms, including appeals forms, on its website, and informs every incarcerated individual in writing about the grievance process, and about protections against retaliation.

“I am proud to pass two bills today that will have a direct impact on the criminal justice system. Intro. 1236 will help to streamline and improve how incarcerated individuals access healthcare in jail. Intro. 1370 addresses how complaints are processed. Filing a 311 complaint can be complicated, and when made within a jail facility it can often go unanswered. Intro. 1370 will allow incarcerated individuals to file 311 complaints with the assurance they will be reviewed and addressed. Thank you to my colleagues for their support,” said Council Member Keith Powers.

Requiring the Department of Corrections to Report on Information Relating to Health Services for Incarcerated Individuals

Introduction 1236-A, sponsored by Council Member Keith Powers, would require the Department of Correction to track data pertaining to clinical production in greater detail, and to share such information with the Board of Correction and Correctional Health Services. Additionally, the bill would require Correctional Health Services to provide recommendations to the Department regarding appointment-scheduling. It would also require the Department to retain all records having to do with sick call for the Board’s review, and would codify the Board’s requirements to make sick call available 5 days per week, excluding holidays.

Prohibiting Retaliation Against Individuals Who Request a Reasonable Accommodation Under the City’s Human Rights Law

Introduction 799, sponsored by the Public Advocate (Mr. Williams), would protect individuals from retaliation when making requests for reasonable accommodations. Currently, the City’s human rights law does not specify that requests for reasonable accommodations are protected activities for the purposes of a retaliation claim. As such, the courts have denied claims of retaliation by employees who faced negative employment actions as a result of a request for a reasonable accommodation. Int. No. 799 clarifies that retaliation is prohibited where an individual requests a reasonable accommodation.

“Rights which can be met with retaliation are not truly protected rights at all. That an employee could face employer backlash and consequences simply for requesting a reasonable, legal accommodation in the workplace is absurd, and I’m glad that we will finally be able to enshrine this protection today by passing Intro 799. Whether because of one’s religious observance, disability, pregnancy, childbirth, medical condition, or their status as a victim of domestic violence, or any other protected status, exercising the right to a reasonable accommodation should not be something to fear, but a basic human right of any employee,” said the Public Advocate Mr. Williams

Establishing a Full Public Match Campaign Finance System

Introduction 732-B, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, which would establish what is often referred to as a ‘full public match,’ wherein all participating candidates could reach their expenditure limit using only matchable contributions and public funds. This full public match would be available to participating candidates who select ‘Option A’ for the 2021 elections. And, starting in 2022, would be available to all participating candidates. Additionally, the bill amends the Act to incorporate relevant portions of Ballot Question #1, as approved by the voters in 2018, by moving them out of the Charter and into the Administrative Code. It would also adjust dates, deadlines and requirements within the Act to reflect the earlier June primary date established by State law in 2019. Finally, it removes language that has previously sunset or otherwise been mooted.

“Over 1.2 million voters demanded fewer big dollars in New York City elections. We did just that with the Special Election for Public Advocate and flipped how campaigns are financed upside down, electing the first city-wide candidate without big money from real estate developers and replacing them with small dollars and the voices of everyday New Yorkers. This is legislation I have been working to get passed here in New York City for over a decade. It will ensure the voices of everyday New Yorkers are heard and prevent lobbyists and the real estate industry from being able to buy candidates with large donations to campaigns. Thank you to Governmental Operations Chair Cabrera for being the co-prime sponsor and Speaker Corey Johnson for being a sponsor last term and continuing his support through today.” said Council Member Ben Kallos.

Requiring the Fire Department to Report on the Use of Smoke Alarms and the Existence of Fire Sprinklers

Introduction 826-A, sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan, would expand reporting requirements to provide the public with more information related to the presence and operations of life saving technologies in serious fires. First, the bill would expand existing reporting requirements related to smoke alarms or detectors to now include reporting following all fires that cause a civilian fatality or a life-threatening injury. Additionally, the bill requires new reporting on the presence and activation of automatic sprinkler systems at the location of each “serious fire incident” where the department deploys greater than three fire engines.

The Council will also vote on 20 Article XI property tax exemptions approved by the Committee on Finance:

Stagg 1 (Amanda’s Cove), in Council Member Torres and King’s districts in the Bronx, will receive a partial, 40-year property tax exemption to preserve 157 units of affordable housing.

Stagg 2 (Justin’s Corner), in Council Member Torres, Gjnoaj, Cohen, and King’s districts in the Bronx, will receive a partial, 40-year property tax exemption to preserve 114 units of affordable housing.

Stagg 3 (Mickey’s Corner), in Council Member Cohen and King’s districts in the Bronx, will receive a partial, 40-year property tax exemption to preserve 43 units of affordable housing.

Stagg 4 (Tyler’s Corner), in Council Member Torres and King’s districts in the Bronx, will receive a partial, 40-year property tax exemption to preserve 90 units of affordable housing.

1520 Sedwick Avenue, in Council Member Gibson’s district in the Bronx, will receive a full, 40-year property tax exemption to preserve 102 units of affordable housing.

Highbridge House, in Council Member Gibson’s district in the Bronx, will receive a partial, 40-year property tax exemption to preserve 399 units of affordable housing.

Capitol Apartments, in Speaker Johnson’s district in Manhattan, will receive a partial, 30-year property tax exemption to preserve 278 units of affordable housing.

311 Tenth Avenue, in the Speaker Johnson’s district in Manhattan, will receive a full, 40-year property tax exemption to construct four units of affordable housing.

Andrews Avenue North, in Council Member Cabrera’s district in the Bronx, will receive a partial, 30-year property tax exemption to preserve 41 units of affordable housing.

Taino Towers, a portfolio of four buildings in Council Member Ayala’s district in Manhattan, will each receive a partial, 10-year property tax exemption, plus a retroactive 40-year full tax exemption, to preserve 656 units of affordable housing.

West Harlem Community Organization, in Council Member Perkins’ district in Manhattan, will receive a full, 40-year property tax exemption to preserve 96 units and create seven units of affordable housing.

293 and 301 Hooper Street, in Council Member Reynoso’s district in Brooklyn, will receive a partial, 40-year property tax exemption to preserve 72 units of affordable housing.

The Council will also vote on the site selection of four new schools:

A 650- Seat Intermediate School in Council Member Carlos Menchaca’s district.

A 458- Seat Primary School in Council Member Rafael Salamanca’s district.

A 458 Seat Primary School in Council Member Vanessa Gibson’s district. 

A 592-Seat Intermediate School in Council Member Justin Brannan’s district.

The Council will also vote on the following additional land use items:

Manhattanville Walkway: The Council will vote to approve the acquisition and disposition of property in Council Member Levine’s district to facilitate the development of an open, landscaped walkway.

Brownsville North-Ocean Hill NCP Cluster in Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel’s district will facilitate the transformation of two city-owned vacant lots into two four-story buildings with 32 units of affordable housing.

And at the JFK North Site in Council Member Donovan Richard’s district, there is an application to facilitate the construction of a new Bartlett Dairy Distribution Center.

Finally, the council will vote on the following affordable housing preservation projects:

Lenox Avenue Cluster to facilitate the preservation of 53 affordable homeownership units in Council Member Bill Perkins’ district.

East Harlem El Barrio CLT will facilitate the preservation of 4 buildings with 36 units of affordable housing in Council Members Ayala and Perkins’ districts.

MMN 1802 CLOTH Cluster will facilitate the preservation 74 units of affordable housing in Council Member Levine, Perkins, and Rodriguez’s districts.