BALCONY - Business and Labor Coalition of New York

LOU GORDON

April 19th, 2017

Dear BALCONY Members and Friends,

It is with great sorrow that we write to you about the sudden loss of a dear friend and associate. Today, Wednesday, April 19th, we learned of the passing of Lou Gordon, the Executive Director of BALCONY. Lou died at home sitting in his chair. His loss will be felt for a very long time. We will miss his tenacity and strength in bringing our issues to both the business and the labor groups in our organization. Lou stepped on many toes in his pursuit of fairness for both workers and businesses. However, he often found the common ground to resolve issues from Healthcare to Social Justice. Lou brought government officials to the table and gave voice to the people on the street in many different arenas. His many breakfast sessions brought issues to the forefront to give us a better understanding of problems facing New York — from water tables and urban flooding to Presidential campaign issues. Most importantly, with a heart as big as gold, Lou was a caring friend, seriously concerned for the rights and health of everyone he knew. Rest in Peace dear friend.

If there are public funeral services we will notify all of you.

Alan Lubin, Andrew Pallotta, Kevin Weaver, and the rest of the BALCONY board and team members

Rodriguez, Jenkins, Lentol, Kramer on April 16 @ 5 pm BALCONY Common Ground Radio Show on WOR 710 am

April 14th, 2017







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With federal funding dicey, officials explore private investment in cross-Hudson tunnel

April 12th, 2017


While the Obama administration was a staunch supporter of building a new cross-Hudson tunnel, President Donald Trump’s proposed executive budget cuts funding programs on which tunnel builders expected to rely. | AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

By Dana Rubinstein

With President Donald Trump proposing dramatic cuts to transportation funding, the officials charged with building a multi-billion-dollar, nationally important rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River have begun to explore private funding mechanisms.

A public-private partnership is “certainly one of the things that we want to explore,” said Richard Bagger, chairman of the Gateway Development Corporation, the entity tasked with building the tunnel.

A “public-private partnership” is an ill-defined term that, broadly speaking, refers to governments enlisting private sector help on big initiatives, in exchange for the private sector getting a cut of the pie.

That the Gateway Development Corporation is exploring that sort of arrangement is a testament to the new reality in Washington.

While the Obama administration was a staunch supporter of building a new cross-Hudson tunnel, Trump’s proposed executive budget cuts funding programs on which tunnel builders expected to rely.

Publicly, the president has equivocated about his intentions, vis-a-vis the tunnel project.

“Well, I may support them,” Trump said recently, referring to the tunnel and to the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway. “I’m going to look at them.”

The so-called Gateway Program would, among other things, build a new tunnel beneath the Hudson to relieve pressure on the existing, more-than-century-old one that’s both at capacity and falling apart. It’s the successor project to Access to the Region’s Core, another funded cross-Hudson tunnel project that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie unilaterally killed, citing cost concerns.

Amtrak controls the existing tunnel, but NJ Transit relies on it. Two recent derailments at Penn Station, to which the tunnel connects, underscored the fragility of the system. With eight of 21 Penn Station tracks out of service, and no tunnel redundancy, hundreds of thousands of riders saw their commutes thrown into disarray for nearly a week.

Given the current condition of the tunnel, experts say commuters should expect more of the same for years to come.

In Washington, Trump administration officials have talked about public-private partnerships as an element of the president’s yet-to-be-released $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

“Everybody wants a better transportation system, but very few people want to pay for it,” Trump transportation secretary Elaine Chao said in February. “But as we go forward, we do look forward to, for example, public-private partnerships. That is not the answer for everything, because there is a cost to that.”

How viable a public-private partnership might prove for the cross-Hudson tunnel remains to be seen.

“They would need a certain repayment stream,” said Nicole Gelinas, a transportation expert at the Manhattan Institute. That, she says, means “ working out a schedule of guaranteed fees from Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the LIRR for a good 30 to 50 years, at rates much higher than any of these users are accustomed to paying.”

Funding mechanisms aside, officials at Tuesday’s Gateway Development Corporation board meeting expressed confidence the Trump administration would in some way fund the mega project, if only because it’s so important.

“These are programs of national significance that are fundamental to the economy of the region as well as of the country and enjoy strong bipartisan congressional support, strong support from both of our states and the work needs to get done,” said Bagger, who served on Trump’s transition team.

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This city needs Fair Fares now more than ever

April 12th, 2017

By City & State

Imagine you are a single adult raising two kids in New York City while living below the federal poverty line – under $20,000 in annual income for a family of three. Your job barely enables you to afford rent in a gentrifying neighborhood like, say, Brooklyn’s Crown Heights or Mott Haven in the Bronx.

Now imagine losing your job, which is unfortunately a fairly common occurrence in the unstable low-wage job market. Every personal expense suddenly falls on the chopping block – routine costs like groceries or paying your phone bill become a burden. You’re forced to postpone buying any new school clothes for your two children, let alone notebooks and pencils.

Your personal budget audit now turns to traveling anywhere in New York City. A single ride on the subway, your primary mode of transportation, costs $2.75. That new job you’re interviewing for? It will cost you $5.50 round trip just to get to the interview, before tacking on the extra fares for stops in between – including picking up your children from school.

In a city that depends on public transportation, residents should not have to choose between going to work and eating dinner. They should not be stranded until the person holding the household’s one MetroCard returns home, or forced to walk such long distances that they are sore to the point of tears the next day.

And yet these are the stories organizations like the Riders Alliance and Community Service Society of New York are hearing on a regular basis. Those are our neighbors begging for swipes or risking a $100 fine for jumping a turnstile because $2.75 is too much to pay.

There is nary a more populist issue in New York City than public transportation. Subways and buses are truly the connective tissue that binds our city. They are among the only conduits for breaking down the barriers of both class and ethnic segregation that are, unfortunately, still prevalent.

Over the next five weeks, City & State’s editorial board will be partnering with the Community Service Society of New York and Riders Alliance to support their Fair Fares campaign – a proposal we cited in our “Best Ideas of 2016” editorial in December. The goal of Fair Fares is to convince the mayor and City Council to fund subsidized MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers, at a cost of roughly $212 million – a mere 0.25 percent of the city’s $84.7 billion preliminary budget. For our part in this campaign, City & State will be publishing op-eds from experts in various fields to make the case for why this initiative deserves full funding. These op-eds will focus on the economic benefits of funding Fair Fares, but also consider peripheral angles, such as its positive impact on the criminal justice system and undocumented immigrant communities.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio talks about bridging the equality gap in New York City, public transportation is too often a footnote in that rhetoric. He has doubled down on his plans for a citywide ferry system, which won’t do much for the low-income commuters from the Bronx that live miles from the East River. And his plans for a light rail connector from Astoria to Sunset Park will do wonders for waterfront property values, but won’t help the single mother of three get from central Brooklyn to her job in northern Manhattan.

Besides the narrow populations each proposal would serve, another thing the ferry system and light rail connector have in common is that both would operate entirely outside of the rest of New York City’s transportation system. Neither proposal envisions making use of the same MetroCard that all New Yorkers swipe for buses and subways, but rather creates an even more complicated network of transportation that, for low-income families that choose to take the ferry or BQX, could necessitate an entirely separate personal budget.

There is nary a more populist issue in New York City than public transportation. Subways and buses are truly the connective tissue that binds our city. They are among the only conduits for breaking down the barriers of both class and ethnic segregation that are, unfortunately, still prevalent. Metropolitan Transportation Authority fare hikes are increasingly putting this vital public service out of reach for our lowest-income neighbors. If we are to live up to our reputation as a progressive city, we must ensure that we are not inadvertently crippling the mobility of low-income New Yorkers.

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Facing a threat from Republicans, will public and private sector unions unite?

April 12th, 2017

by By Bob Hennelly

In recent months, the labor movement had been on the winning side of the news cycle. First, President Donald Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, fast food executive Andrew Puzder, was withdrawn. Then the push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act collapsed.

But on closer examination, both the Puzder flameout and the health care meltdown were mostly due to self-inflicted wounds. The disclosure of Puzder’s domestic violence history and upstate Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso’s attempt to shift county Medicaid costs to their home state exacted a heavy price for Republicans.

In reality, these labor “wins” were rearguard actions by a union movement with fractures between its leadership and its rank and file that Trump, much like former President Ronald Reagan, has already exploited. Trump’s path to the White House was paved when he flipped 200 counties in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania that voted for former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Trump did that by winning hundreds of thousands of votes from union members whose leaders had bet big on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

John Samuelsen, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100 and who backed U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in last year’s presidential race, said he believes the Democratic Party has lost touch with its blue-collar working-class voters – and Trump has cashed in. Now, Samuuelsen said, Trump is courting private sector unions while his budget would lay off thousands of unionized federal workers.

“There is a playbook and it belongs to the illustrious governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker and that playbook was to go after the public sector and sort of tell the uniforms and the trades that everything would be OK and then after he got done gutting the public sector, he gutted everybody else as well,” Samuelsen said. “Walker has had meetings with Trump since the election and hopefully organized labor is not going to be deluded into thinking that can’t happen nationally the way it happened in Wisconsin.”

“(Wisconsin Gov. Scott) Walker has had meetings with Trump since the election and hopefully organized labor is not going to be deluded into thinking that can’t happen nationally the way it happened in Wisconsin.” – John Samuelsen, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100

In 2011, Walker and the Wisconsin state Legislature dismantled decades of labor protections, ending collective bargaining for public unions and requiring them to pay more for their health care and pension benefits. Walker withstood a recall election and went on to win re-election.

Since 2011, union membership has dropped by 40 percent in Wisconsin with just 8 percent of the state’s workers now in a union, well below the national average of 11 percent. During his own short-lived presidential bid, Walker pledged to eliminate the National Labor Relations Board and end union representation for federal workers. “If you’re a big-government union boss in Washington, this is a threat to you and to all of the politicians that you have under your control in our nation’s capital,” Walker said at a Nevada campaign rally, according to Reuters.

Wisconsin passed a right-to-work law, a measure that historically had traction only in the South and West, but in 2012 a similar measure was enacted in Indiana and Michigan. As early as 1995, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing think tank supported by the Koch brothers, had been pushing state legislatures to adopt the anti-union measure.

By contrast, New York has the highest percentage of unionized workers in the country, at a time when unions are in a precipitous decline nationally. Between 2000 and 2016, New York’s percentage of workers in a union only fell from 25.5 percent to 23.6 percent and New York is now the only state in the nation where more than 20 percent of the workforce belongs to a union.

RELATED: Why “states’ rights” only matter to the party not in charge

Not since the 1920s has the Republican Party, traditionally anti-union, so totally dominated state capitals. As a consequence, both New York’s public and private unions are in the national labor union vanguard, to staunch the bleeding from a movement that began here. Now, activists say distinctions between private and public sector unions have to fall away as they face a battle for survival.

With Congress and the White House in Republican hands, Samuelsen said unions have to anticipate that a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court could make a union comeback an even steeper climb. “Everything is an organizing challenge, whether it be a Supreme Court decision that impacts us negatively in terms of our ability to function and our ability to collect dues or national right-to-work legislation, we can’t just put our heads in the sand,” he said. “We have to get out in front of it.”

A key part of TWU’s strategy is to look for organizing opportunities. “In the private sector, we organize anything that moves, like the tour bus operations and bike share workers here in New York, Philadelphia and out in San Francisco,” he said.

Arthur Cheliotes, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1180, which represents New York City’s supervisory and administrative employees, says his union has expanded into nonprofits. It now represents workers with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Planned Parenthood and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Cheliotes said successful unions today have to not only organize in the workplace but also in the wider community. “It means a grass-roots approach to connect with their members making sure that at the front lines the members understand the value of a union and probably more importantly bring about more militancy,” he said. “Ultimately it should be organized people fighting organized money.”

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Posted under News from BALCONY

EffectiveNY Ad Calls For ‘Equality For All’ Amendment

April 11th, 2017

EffectiveNY, the government reform formed by businessman and Democratic activist Bill Samuels, has released an ad this week calling for the passage of an Equality for All Amendment, enshrining the rights of women, the LGBT community and disabled people in the state’s constitution.

“EffectiveNY is committed to ending the dysfunction in Albany and making New York’s Constitution and our state government a proud model for the rest of the nation to follow,” Samuels said in a statement.

“It is shocking and appalling that New York’s Constitution does not grant women, LGBT people and the disabled equal rights. The time for our state to pass an Equality for All amendment is now.”

The ad features a man-on-the-street approach, with New Yorkers expressing surprise at the lack of an amendment in the constitution guaranteeing equal protections.

The ad is called “Shocking” and also comes as Tuesday is recognized as Equal Pay Day — designating how far into the calendar year a woman on average would have to work to make the same as a man doing the same job the prior year.

“At this critical moment when civil rights are under attack by the federal government, it is imperative that New York step up and be a leader for the nation in equal rights,” said Heidi Sieck, CEO of #VOTEPROCHOICE and a national leader in the fight for women’s rights.

“Passing an Equality for All amendment to New York State’s Constitution isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s an absolute necessity in this day and age. I strongly believe that when New Yorkers realize that well over 51 percent of us don’t have equal rights, we will rise up and demand an immediate end to this injustice.”

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Posted under News from BALCONY

FPI Releases 2017 NYS Budget Statement

April 11th, 2017

There’s no question the newly-minted state budget contains some important public policy issues that should be lauded. However, given the governor’s very vocal concerns about funding threats from Washington, we sadly missed an opportunity to be proactive in protecting New York from potential federal budget cuts, and to provide funding streams to allow flexibility in making adjustments as needed.

While the budget extends the millionaires’ tax in its current form for two years, it fails to adopt the assembly’s proposal to expand the tax further by increasing the number of top-end brackets and making the new structure permanent. The assembly expansion proposal would have generated an additional $2 billion in revenue that could have provided the financial cushion necessary to address potential federal funding losses in 2018. Moreover, passage of the assembly’s proposal would have resulted in a more progressive state income tax structure that could have balanced out the current regressivity of New York’s overall state and local tax structure.

The governor’s “Federal Funding Response Plan,” which was tempered with “dose of democracy” thanks to push-back from the senate and assembly, will not allow the governor to unilaterally determine how to address federal funding gaps. In the event of federal funding cuts, the governor would release a detailed plan on how to close the gap. The legislature would then have 90 days to come up with their own plan, or choose to accept the governor’s plan. This provides the checks and balances needed to ensure a measured response that not only considers state budget cuts, but revenue enhancements as well.

While FPI applauds the recognition of the need for checks and balances regarding unexpected budget considerations, New York fell short in recognizing that same need for economic development spending. Despite multiple federal indictments, poor program audits and lackluster annual reports, the state continues to move full steam ahead on economic development efforts without having in place reasonable accountability and transparency measures to ensure the state is spending this money wisely. The budget contains a new, regrettably misnamed, Comprehensive Economic Development Report that requires the state to only report limited aggregate data. FPI continues to call upon Empire State Development Corporation to create a comprehensive, online “Database of Deals” which would show all of the economic development benefits received by individual companies, and to enact real, common sense procurement and contracting reforms.

On immigration, the final budget agreement represents some important steps forward, but also some real missed opportunities.

We are particularly pleased to see $2 million included to support the work of refugee resettlement agencies. This is a small number in the context of the New York State budget, but it is a huge help at a time when refugees are under attack, and when the federal government is an unreliable partner to the resettlement agencies that serve them. It is also a good news for upstate New York cities, where the overwhelming majority of the state’s refugees live. Those cities rely on resettlement agencies as anchor institutions in their communities, and they depend on refugees and other immigrants to help stem population decline and revitalize the local economy.

The governor made some bold promises around immigrant legal services in the past months, but didn’t include funding to make good on them in his executive budget. It is encouraging to see that the governor, senate, and assembly included in the final budget $10 million for legal services, and potentially for related services such as English language instruction or job training. This is not enough to fully make good on the promise, but it is a real step in the right direction.

There were also, however, some important opportunities that were missed in the budget negotiations. For too many years, the governor and the legislature have been playing games around the New York State DREAM Act. A year when the state is investing in making college affordable for middle-income students would have been an obvious moment to finally pass this long-stalled bill. A targeted expansion of support to English language instruction would seem like a no-brainer, supporting immigrants while helping improve social conditions and economic productivity. The budget did not do anything to increase funding to the Department of Labor to strengthen worker protections, though the department lacks the resources to fully do its job. Discussions about providing health care for New Yorkers who are excluded from existing programs did not get resolved in this budget, representing another important missed opportunity.

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Think New York Transit Is Bad? Just Wait

April 11th, 2017

By CHARLES E. SCHUMER, KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, ROBERT MENENDEZ and CORY A. BOOKER

In the past few weeks, commuters in New York and New Jersey have been dealing with the chaos caused by the derailments of an Amtrak train and a New Jersey Transit train in New York’s Penn Station. While the accidents themselves were minor, by closing down tracks, they provided a stark preview for what life could soon be like if we don’t follow through with critical investments to improve our infrastructure.

Alarmingly, if we don’t act soon to repair the two tunnels under the Hudson River, that same reduction in service our region experienced last week will become a permanent reality.

The current tunnels under the Hudson River were built in 1908 and are rapidly deteriorating. This problem was exacerbated by Hurricane Sandy, which filled the tunnels with corrosive salt water, and engineers now estimate that without major overhauls the tunnels are likely to fail within the next 10 years. The closing of either tunnel would be devastating because it would essentially shut down the Northeast Corridor, the transit route from Boston to Washington that produces over $3 trillion in economic output — a full 20 percent of the national gross domestic product.

Over the last year and a half Amtrak, along with New York and New Jersey, has been advancing a project called Gateway that would address this impending crisis. Gateway would update and increase the number of tracks at Penn Station and build a new tunnel under the Hudson River. That new tunnel would allow the existing tunnels to be closed and repaired, and after the completion of both projects, train service into New York would be doubled.

Last year the federal government, along with New York and New Jersey, agreed to split the cost of Gateway evenly, and engineering and permitting are now underway; construction on the next phase was set to begin later this year. But in his budget proposal, President Trump proposed slashing the two funding sources — federal transit dollars and Amtrak — that are the key to building Gateway and the new tunnel.

Time is running out to replace the existing crumbling tunnels, and our region cannot afford setbacks to this project like the one President Trump’s budget would impose. Over the past few weeks Penn Station commuters have gotten a taste of what it will be like if just one of those tunnels fails before the new tunnel is constructed.

The Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak were all forced to cancel trains. As a result of the first derailment alone, over 300,000 New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road passengers were delayed, and the second caused eight of the 21 tracks under Penn Station to be shut down for days. Our regional economy paid a price: The Partnership for New York City estimates that every hour train commuters from New Jersey and Long Island are delayed costs Manhattan employers alone over $14.5 million.

If an entire tunnel crumbled and needed to be closed for repair, a reality that engineers agree is closing in on our region, the suffering and delays would last well over a year.

By building the new tunnel, we will have the flexibility to make the years’ worth of repairs that are needed to the existing tunnels without reducing service. Additionally, once the new tunnel is done and the existing tunnels are repaired, the increased capacity will mean that even when there is a shutdown, problem or derailment, service can continue with only minor delays because trains will be able to pass the derailed or broken locomotive.

Gateway is important in itself, but it is also an illustration of the country’s immense need for infrastructure investments. Senate Democrats understand the challenge and have put forward a real plan to make game-changing investments across the country, including Gateway.

However, despite the president’s campaign rhetoric and his continued promise to deliver major infrastructure investments, to date the administration has gone the opposite direction and proposed major cuts in infrastructure spending.

We’ll fight to restore these funds for Gateway and other projects, increase overall investments in infrastructure and continue to work with our state and local partners to make progress on this important project. But the past two weeks should serve as a cautionary tale for what will happen if proposals like those put forth in the president’s budget ever become reality. Like Scrooge meeting the Ghost of Christmas Future, transit riders were given a glimpse of the hair-pulling transit apocalypse to come if we do not make major investments in our infrastructure now.

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Affordable Housing Program Gives City Tax Break to Developers

April 11th, 2017

By CHARLES V. BAGLI

A building in progress this year at 210 Livingston Street in Brooklyn was to include 368 units,
with 74 designated as affordable. Credit George Etheredge for The New York Times

It took nearly two years, but Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday reached an agreement with the New York State Legislature to put back together a long-running affordable housing program, known as 421-a, that gives developers a city tax break in return for building lower-price rental units.

Just do not call it 421-a.

The newly named Affordable New York Housing Program, announced at a news conference in Albany, will annually generate 2,500 units of housing affordable to poor, working-class and middle-class New Yorkers, Mr. Cuomo said. In a change to the nearly 50-year-old program, developers will be required to pay a “fair wage” to construction workers to qualify for the city tax benefits.

At a time when housing costs have escalated well beyond the means of many New Yorkers, the program was a subject of contention between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Cuomo. Both have made affordable housing a hallmark of their administrations.

But some housing groups and budget watchdogs said that the new version of the program will be more expensive than past versions and that it was overly generous to developers.

“It’s very expensive,” said Carol Kellerman, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, a private watchdog group. “It could’ve been a lot worse. But it’s clear that we need some kind of tax abatement or tax credit to create a climate in which it is viable to build rental housing, especially at the lower end of the scale.”

Ms. Kellerman also criticized the governor and the Legislature for “deciding what to do with the city’s tax money.”

Developers have long argued that the high costs of land, construction materials and taxes make it nearly impossible to build rental housing in the city without some form of subsidy.

Under the updated program, developers of market-rate rental buildings of 300 units or more in certain neighborhoods can get a full property tax exemption for 35 years if they set aside 25 to 30 percent of the units for low- and moderate-income tenants. Earlier versions of the program had shorter exemption periods.

The program is to remain in effect until at least 2022.

Additionally, the program requires developers to pay construction workers an average of $60 an hour in wages, benefits and payroll taxes at projects below 96th Street in Manhattan, and $45 an hour at projects within a mile of the East River waterfront, an area gentrifying rapidly.

Projects outside those zones can “opt in” to the program if they fulfill the requirements.

The city comptroller will determine whether developers have complied with the minimum-wage standards — a challenge given that wages during a typical two-year construction period can vary widely depending on who is on site, such as high-paid crane operators or electricians, or lower-wage laborers.

The State Assembly, Mr. Cuomo and the de Blasio administration defeated a push by Senate Republicans to make luxury condominiums eligible for tax breaks, a provision that by some estimates would have raised the cost of the program by $1 billion over 10 years.

The city hailed the deal, even as the program’s cost per unit of affordable housing rose above the levels estimated under the de Blasio administration’s 2015 proposal for changing the 421-a.

The city plan, the result of long negotiations with the Real Estate Board of New York, the development industry’s powerful lobbying arm, was scuttled by the governor, in part because it did not have a requirement to pay union wages.

At a news conference on Staten Island on Monday, Mr. de Blasio said the new plan was “certainly an outcome we can live with,” although he said it was not as good as his earlier proposal. He criticized the old 421-a as “a giveaway to developers.”

The city estimates that the housing program will cost $82 million a year more in unrealized taxes than it would have under the 2015 proposal.

Currently, the 421-a tax breaks cost the city about $1.4 billion a year in forgiven taxes.

The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, an advocacy group that has long called 421-a a giveaway to developers, condemned the new version, saying that it “does little to actually create affordable housing, with 79 cents of every 421-a dollar spent going to luxury development and only 11 cents going to support affordability.”

The group predicted a “rush of developers” applying for the new program, both those with new projects and those seeking to gain benefits for buildings started 18 months ago.

But the agreement last week also unlocked $2.5 billion for a state program intended to build 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 units of supportive housing throughout the state. Given the anticipated cuts to federal housing programs, Rafael E. Cestero, president of the Community Preservation Corporation and a former city housing commissioner, said the money could not have come at a better time.

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Posted under Housing, News from BALCONY

Delegates elect Andrew Pallotta as NYSUT president

April 10th, 2017

NEW YORK, N.Y. April 8, 2017 — Delegates to New York State United Teachers’ annual Representative Assembly today elected Andrew Pallotta to a three-year term as president of the more than 600,000-member statewide union.

A former elementary teacher in the Bronx, Pallotta is an experienced union leader who previously served as NYSUT executive vice president, overseeing the union’s legislative and political action program. He succeeds Karen E. Magee, who opted not to seek a second term.

Under Pallotta’s leadership, NYSUT expanded grassroots member engagement and ramped up its political activism, setting new records for member donations to VOTE-COPE, the union’s political action fund.

“I believe in being relevant, resilient and, above all, relentless,” Pallotta said in a speech to delegates. “We will never quit fighting for those we serve, or for each other.”

Outlining a vision that emphasizes unity and activism, Pallotta said NYSUT will “move forward, speaking with one voice — a voice that raises up the concerns of working people everywhere.”

L-R: Abraham, DiBrango, Pallotta, Messner, Pecorale.

    Pallotta’s slate of officers also won election:

  • Sixth-grade teacher Jolene T. DiBrango, president of the Pittsford District Teachers Association and a trustee of the New York State Teachers Retirement System board, was elected executive vice president.
  • J. Philippe Abraham, past director of Career Services at the University of Albany and chief negotiator for United University Professions, was elected first vice president, becoming the first higher education member to serve as a NYSUT officer.
  • Paul Pecorale, a teacher from Patchogue-Medford on Long Island, was re-elected second vice president.
  • Martin Messner, a teacher from Schoharie, was re-elected as secretary-treasurer.

 

Delegates also elected more than 70 members to the NYSUT Board of Directors.

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

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Posted under News from BALCONY