About Democracy for NYC

Democracy for NYC (DFNYC) is committed to the ideals espoused by Democracy for America, the organization founded by Howard Dean, and the national network of local coalition groups dedicated to the same.

EndorsedLogo PlasticWe work both locally and nationally to ensure that fiscally responsible and socially progressive candidates are elected at all levels of government. We develop innovative ways to advocate for the issues that matter to our members and support legislation which has a positive effect in our communities.  We promote transparency and ethical practices in government.  We engage people in the political process and give them the tools to organize, communicate, mobilize, and enact change on the local, state, and national level.

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About Democracy for New York City



Gale Brewer Answers to DFNYC 2013 Candidate Questionnaire

Gale Brewer, currently a NYC Councilmember from the 6th District (UWS) is running for Manhattan Borough President.  www.GaleBrewer.com

1. Money in NYC Politics. Large donors, specifically real estate developers and landlords, have a huge amount of influence in NYC politics due to their campaign contributions. While NYC’s matching funds programs is seen as one of the most innovative public funding campaigns in the country, many DFNYC members feel that big money donors still have too much influence and candidates still spend too much time fundraising. Would you support a change to full public financing of campaigns, similar to the Clean Money Clean Elections programs in Arizona, Connecticut and Maine?

I support the movement towards public financing of campaigns. I helped write many of the laws that effect public funding in New York City and would want to see public funding continue on a local, state and federal level.

2. Tenant Protection & Cost of Housing. Do you support rent stabilization and rent control laws? What will you do to crack down on landlords that break the law? Would you call on the state legislature to repeal vacancy decontrol and more generally, the Urstadt Law, so that New York City – and not Albany – can enact its own housing laws?

I support rent stabilization and rent control. As for landlords, they should be held accountable to the fullest extent of violations, slum lords and repeat offenders. I would call on Albany to repeal the Urstadt law. New York City should have the ability to manage directly it's rent pricing and laws.

3. Paid Sick Leave. There is currently a bill in the city council that would require companies in NYC with 5 or more employees to give 5 paid sick days per year to each employee (if they do not already). While many councilmembers support this, it has not been brought to a vote. Supporters feel this is much needed public health legislation that would only minimally raise labor costs, while opponents say that it would be an unfair financial burden to small business. Do you support the bill and will you actively work to get it passed? Sources: ~For: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/labor/news/2012/11/16/45152/myth-vs-fact-paid-sick-days/ ~Against: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/why_we_reject_sick_leave_bill_03pE50CZMFiHFhXzasDMLL

I wrote the bill, and have been the leading proponent for its passage for over three years now. It should finally pass later in April.

4. Fair Police Practices & Occupy Wall Street. The New York City Police Department has been highly criticized for its Stop & Frisk policy, which disproportionally affects racial minorities and poor and working class New Yorkers. The NYPD has also been criticized for its treatment of activists in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Do you support ending or modifying Stop & Frisk? If running for mayor, will you keep Ray Kelly or appoint a new police commissioner? Do you think Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD should have handled events in the OWS movement differently and what measures will you take to protect political demonstrations?

I have introduced a bill into the City Council called the Community Safety Act, the legislation would require officers to obtain consent before frisking suspects without probable cause and to identify themselves as part of the NYPD while carrying out “law-enforcement activity.” It would also create an inspector-general for the NYPD. I have often said that people have the right to assemble and protest. The government should never limit our ability to do so. Finally, I have spoken out against the Police's continued attitude of belligerence towards citizens. These actions must end.

5. Mayoral Control of Education. Mayoral Control of NYC schools is set to expire in 2016, but the state legislature can renew it. If elected to city government, you will not directly vote on mayoral control, but you will have a ‘bully pulpit’ as renewal is discussed in the next 3 years. Do you support keeping Mayoral Control as is, letting it expire, or making changes, for example to the hearing process for controversial decisions? (Examples: Co-locations of multiple schools in one building, providing district school space to charter schools, phasing out schools that have been labeled as “failing” due to high dropout rates, low test scores, or other factors.)

I initiated a lawsuit to stop a charter school from co-locating with a high school in my district. NYC public school space should be for public schools only. We should keep mayoral control, but there must be changes and make it a more democratic process so communities have a say on what decisions are made on schools in their neighborhoods. We must hold hearings before any decisions are made to a school or neighborhood.

6. Teacher Evaluation. A key area where the mayor has influence in public education is in the negotiation of a contract with NYC’s public school teachers. Please give your opinion on the following proposed ways to evaluate teachers for the purpose of tenure, salary and other job benefits: Improvement in student test scores, observations by other teachers, student surveys, whether the teacher has an advanced degree, a principal’s evaluation of a teacher. Should principals be allowed to do unannounced observations of teachers? Do you have any experience negotiating labor union contracts?

No test scores. There are too many variables, students could have come from a failing school and that should not dictate what a current school should be judged on. All other evaluations should be up for negotiation. It should be a fair process for the teacher and the school. As for negotiating labor contracts, I am experienced in getting two groups together to find a common ground on their needs. For example with Paid Sick leave I have met with unions and employers to work out a process to make sure both happy, or at least can come to a fair agreement.

7. Co-location of charter schools. City officials do not decide how many charter schools can exist, or grant requests to be a charter school. However, the Department of Education - currently controlled by the Mayor - may decide to provide charter schools with space, usually by "co-location" with district public schools. While more than half of NYC schools (not just charters) are co-located, it is a controversial topic when a charter school is involved. Critics argue that cash-strapped district schools should not be forced to share resources with charter schools and that co-location creates a morale problem when students and parents see the contrast. Co-location advocates argue that charter schools are public schools and should have an equal right to publicly owned resources such as buildings, charter schools do not receive funding for space and therefore operate at a severe financial disadvantage if they have to find private space, and that differences between co-located schools result from decisions the principals make about how to spend their per-pupil funding. Do you support the DOE giving public school space to charter schools? Sources: ~ Against - funding and space arguments: http://www.classsizematters.org/our-lawsuit-vs-the-doe-regarding-charter-co-locations/ ~In Favor: Funding: http://www.nyccharterschools.org/resources/school-funding-comparisons-nyc-independent-budget-office-ibo-2010-11 Space (pdf): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/87134745/media/nyccsc_colocation.pdf

Against. As I have said before NYC public school space should be for NYC schools only. The DOE should not give public school space to Charter Schools. Period.

8. The City Wage Tax. New York City’s budget depends in large part on the city wage tax, which is only paid by residents, not everyone who works in NYC. Would you call on the state legislature to allow NYC to collect the tax from people from the suburbs who work in NYC and benefit from our services (police, fire, etc.)? Would you support efforts to collect the tax from people who actually live in New York City but use a second home (a loophole not available to middle class New Yorkers with just one home) to avoid the city wage tax? If these efforts work, would you be willing to reduce the city wage tax so that workers would have more take home pay, and there would be less incentive for people to move to the suburbs, reducing our tax base?

People should pay the taxes of the residence they live in. We should close the loophole that allows people with two residences to avoid NYC Taxes. If we can reduce the city wage tax in a way that does not make us sacrifice on the services it funds I would be for reducing the tax.

9. Other Taxes. Do you support progressive taxation? Do you support Governor Cuomo’s approach to the marginal tax rate on high incomes? What is your opinion on the current property tax in NYC? Would you support a federal financial transaction tax to either raise revenue, reduce the practice of high frequency trading, or both?

I support property tax reform in New York City. Our city needs a healthy middle class, with mom and pop businesses. If property taxes are too high, New York quickly becomes a haven for the rich and large corporations. We need a tax system that is fair to those who cannot afford to pay as much as those that make more money and can pay into the system.

10. Poverty & the Social Safety Net. According to a 2012 report by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, many struggling New Yorkers are eligible for welfare, but have not been able to obtain it due to onerous application requirements, and the excessive and arbitrary use of “sanctions” by the City’s Human Resources Administration (HRA). These obstacles have caused very little increase in welfare cases during the recent recession, as contrasted with large increases in Food Stamps and Medicaid. Would you change HRA to make it easier for eligible families to obtain cash assistance, connect them to jobs or meaningful job training, and reform the improper use of sanctions? How would you manage New York City's social safety net programs to ensure that people get the help they need, while at the same time preventing fraud? Report: http:/www.fpwa.org/cgi-bin/iowa/policy/article/218.html

HRA is there to help working families. It should be reformed to make sure that eligible families get the support and funds they need and deserve. HRA can make it easier for families to obtain cash, connect them with jobs etc, by using technology, advertising and PSA's to reach those in need. It is important that those that need the information get the information. I would manage the social safety net programs by making sure they are disseminating information while at the same time having workable hours of operations so those that work long hours and still need help can visit with someone one on one to ensure they get the help they need.

11. Homelessness. When Mayor Bloomberg first ran, he promised to introduce policies to drastically reduce the numbers of people who are homeless in our city. But during the twelve years of his administration, the numbers of homeless have increased dramatically each year. This is in addition to the approximately 50,000 people sleeping in shelters on an average night, according to a recent report by the Coalition for the Homeless. What would you do to deal with this sad situation? Sources: http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/pages/state-of-the-homeless-2013 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/20/nyregion/20homeless.html

Many of the city’s homeless do not know what options they have to help them deal with being homeless or how to get help with finding temporary housing. Since many of the homeless do go to shelters, that gives us the opportunity to reach the homeless and inform them of their options to help them with their situation. Again, we have information, they need it, we should run an open and accessible government.

12. Hurricane Sandy & Environmental Protection. The devastating impact that Hurricane Sandy had on New York City poses short term and long term challenges: immediate support for those who lost their homes and businesses, and climate change, respectively. What measures do you support for helping Sandy recovery efforts, as well as energy conservation and reducing the carbon footprint of New York City? What is your position on hydraulic fracturing and the Spectra pipeline?

Sandy victims should get as much federal and state assistance as possible to help rebuild their lives and homes. But we should do so in a way that will protected them from future sea level rise and storms. We need to rebuild and rebuild smart. New York needs to lower its carbon footprint. One place to start is with the legislation I have proposed that would grant J-51 tax incentives for energy conservation, electric sub-metering and load control equipment for certain housing developments. That is a start, but we have to give incentives for all developers, owners, and renters to be more energy efficient and green. We must start with education and access to information.

13. Gun Control. While DFNYC members have long supported gun control, the December 14th shooting in Newtown, Connecticut seems to have changed the debate on the national level. Do you support the proposals President Obama made to (a) renew and fix the assault weapons ban, (b) ban high capacity magazines (limit the number of bullets that can be shot before reloading), and (c) improve the background check system? Please indicate any other methods you would support to reduce gun violence, including how you would implement them, for example: gun buy-back programs, training programs for gun owners, improved access to mental health care, and involving the business community in gun safety.

A) Renew and fix the assault weapons ban. B) Ban high capacity magazines C) We need to improve background checks. Those that have committed felonies or have a history of mental illness should not be able to own weapons.

14. Choice & Marriage Equality. Please briefly state your position on the following three issues: marriage equality for gays & lesbians, a woman's right to choose, and access to birth control. (25 words or less)

I support marriage equality, a women's right to choose and full access to birth control. These are all simple positions, and ones that should not have to be discussed anymore in our society.

~ Gale Brewer, current NYC Councilmember for the 6th District (UWS) and candidate for Manhattan Borough President.  www.GaleBrewer.com

Contact Information

Email: info -at- dfnyc.org


A local coalition group of Democracy for America since 2004

Democracy for NYC (DFNYC) is committed to the ideals espoused by Democracy for America, the organization founded by Howard Dean, and the national network of local coalition groups dedicated to the same.