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News from BALCONY

Melissa Mark-Viverto & Ron Deutsch on BALCONY COMMON GROUND radio show, Feb. 26 at 5 PM

February 24th, 2017

Energy Efficiency Could Offset Indian Point Shutdown, Report Says

February 24th, 2017


New York could do without the power generated by the Indian Point nuclear plant, but making up for the loss of all that cheap electricity would be much easier if state officials changed their energy-efficiency policies.

That is a conclusion of a report issued on Thursday by two environmental groups on the implications of the long-running campaign to shut down Indian Point. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last month that the two reactors at the plant in Buchanan, about 30 miles north of Manhattan, would cease operating by 2021.

NYC Construction Starts Reached $32.2 Billion in 2016

February 23rd, 2017




Despite Year-Over-Year Decline, Value of Construction Starts

Exceeded Previous Five-Year Average by Nearly 34 Percent


The value of New York City construction starts reached $32.2 billion in 2016, a decline of 22 percent from 2015, according to a New York Building Congress analysis of construction data from Dodge Data & Analytics.

Alan Lubin thoughts on Democratic and liberal groups

February 22nd, 2017

February 17, 2017

Too Many Friends

by Alan Lubin

Disclaimer: This paper does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any of the organizations I belong to or work with. It contains my thoughts on Democratic and liberal groups comprised of people that I hold in high esteem but disagree with as to the role they believe they should play in dealing with a tough National situation.

Bill de Blasio Is in a Bind When it Comes to Unions and Affordable Housing

February 22nd, 2017

By Terence Cullen

There is a progressive dilemma out there with no easy solution: How does one be both pro-labor and pro-affordable housing, when one comes at the expense of the other?

This is a problem that Mayor Bill de Blasio has gracefully sidestepped during his tenure—until last week.

Delaying supportive housing funding a luxury New York’s homeless don’t have

February 22nd, 2017

By Peter Cook

Sometimes Mother Nature has an interesting way of getting her point across. Last week, members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration were scheduled to testify before state legislators about the impact of the governor’s budget proposal on the homelessness crisis gripping our state. The night before the hearing, with a major winter storm approaching, lawmakers agreed to postpone the hearing.

NY Advocates Alarmed By Trump Deportation Plan

February 21st, 2017

Memorandums released Tuesday by President Donald Trump’s administration outlining tighter rules for the deportation of undocumented immigrants has unnerved New York advocates.

The memos outline plans by the Department of Homeland Security that would cast a wider of sphere of people who would be subject to deportation, drawing in nearly every undocumented person living in the Unite States. At the same time, federal officials may subject more people to an expedited removal process.

Report shows boost in New York State funds for affordable housing improves the economy

February 17th, 2017

By Kenneth Lovett

At a time when New York City is facing a homeless crisis, a new report to be released Friday says that increasing state investment in affordable housing not only will benefit the needy but the entire economy.

The report done by HR&A Advisors for the New York State Association For Affordable Housing found that statewide affordable housing efforts between 2011 and 2015 generated $54.5 billion in total economic impact.

That includes construction-related spending and the local economic activity it generated.

The bulk of the impact — $45.9 billion — was seen in New York City, the report says.
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News From and About Our Members

As Con Con Debate Heats Up, Heastie Declares Opposition

February 22nd, 2017

By Rachel Silberstein

Speaker Heastie, right, & Gov. Cuomo (photo: The Governor's Office)

While it will be several months before the airwaves are flooded with special interest-backed ad campaigns warning of the potential “dangers” of a constitutional convention, in Albany, legislative leaders are beginning to speak out on the issue.

On Saturday, February 18, at Black and Latino Caucus weekend, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, had one message for labor union leaders: make sure your members vote “no” on the upcoming ballot question. This November, New Yorkers will vote on a referendum whether to call a constitutional convention -- an opportunity for the public to “take back state government” and update the antiquated state constitution that occurs once every 20 years.

Carlo Scissura Named President and CEO of New York Building Congress

November 18th, 2016

Succeeds Richard T. Anderson Who Expertly Guided the Building Congress for More Than Two Decades

Carlo A. Scissura, a lifelong New Yorker and veteran of Brooklyn politics, business, and economic development, has been named President and CEO of the New York Building Congress.

He will succeed Richard T. Anderson, who has served as President of the New York Building Congress for the past 23 years. Mr. Scissura, who has served as President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce since 2012, will take over on January 1, 2017. At that time, Mr. Anderson will assume the title of President Emeritus and continue to serve the Building Congress as a consultant.

President-elect Trump needs a partner in Congress

November 13th, 2016

by Jeffrey Lewis

Given the historic election of Donald Trump, it’s easy to miss the true message sent by the electorate. With Republicans winning control of the presidency and Congress, voters signaled a desire for leaders to work together to solve the nation’s most difficult domestic policy problems. That requires Republican leadership in Congress that is serious, focused on action not rhetoric, and understands this historical moment. The first step: the re-election of Paul Ryan as Speaker.

At Trader Joe’s, Good Cheer May Hide Complaints

November 4th, 2016


To explain their infatuation with Trader Joe’s, fans of the offbeat grocery chain typically cite three factors: low prices, an appealing selection of high-end products and, perhaps above all, irrepressibly friendly employees.

Teachers union says new federal regulations are not a 'real partnership'

July 20th, 2016

By Keshia Clukey

ALBANY - Federal regulations tied to the new Every Student Succeeds Act are a "top-down, federally driven" approach, not a "real partnership," as was intended, the state's largest teachers union says.

On Tuesday, New York State United Teachers submitted comments to the U.S. Education Department on the draft regulations in the hope that the department will make changes. The submission deadline is Aug. 1.

ESSA, passed in December, replaced the broad federal No Child Left Behind Act and was initially seen as providing states more flexibility regarding assessments and accountability.
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BALCONY Issues in the News (Related Articles)

New Union Contract for New York City Area Airports Does Not Cover Wages

December 16th, 2016


After seven months of negotiations, thousands of airport workers in New York and New Jersey have come to terms on their first union contract. But it does not address an impending anomaly that will leave workers on opposite sides of the Hudson River earning different pay for doing the same work.

A pro-music coalition calls for state to pass industry tax credit

November 24th, 2016

Governor has until Nov. 28 to sign the Empire State Music Production Tax Credit into law

by Addie Morfoot

A coalition of music businesses called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a music tax credit into law before a Nov. 28 deadline. Its effort was partly a response to a letter to Cuomo from a policy watchdog a week earlier questioning the benefit to the state of the tax break.

DC37 membership ratifies CUNY contract

July 18th, 2016

By Conor Skelding

The City University of New York employees represented by District Council 37 have voted to approve a contract deal with the university, the union announced Monday.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association et al.

July 1st, 2016

Supreme Court Denies Friedrichs Petition for Rehearing

On June 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition from nine California public school teachers to rehear their First Amendment challenge to mandatory union fees. The plaintiffs petitioned the Court to rehear their case after a 4-4 decision was issued in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death. When the split decision was issued, it was not accompanied by an opinion on the merits of the argument. All that was issued was a one-line statement that the decision was split 4-4. Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, the non-profit public interest law firm representing the teachers issued the following statement about today’s decision:

“We are greatly disappointed in today’s decision denying our petition for rehearing in Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association. Today’s decision was not a decision on the merits of our case nor was it accompanied by an opinion. We continue to believe that forcing individuals to subsidize political speech with which they disagree violates the First Amendment. We will look for opportunities to challenge compulsory union dues laws in other cases and continue our efforts to stand up for the rights of of teachers and public sector workers across the country.”

Housing activists ramp up campaign against affordable housing developers

June 24th, 2016

By Sally Goldenberg

An activist group that has long criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan is targeting an affordable housing association with a barrage of attacks and a call for all elected officials not to accept campaign contributions from the association.
BALCONY Issues in the News Archives