Pot Charges, Free Lunch and Debate Highlights: Campaign Headlines for Sept. 7

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“Clearly his plan has been an unmitigated disaster because people are revolting all over the city.”

Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese at the September 6 debate, discussing Mayor de Blasio’s rezoning and housing plan

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Brooklyn DA’s Pledge to Reduce Marijuana Arrests Makes Little Difference

WNYC

“In 2014, Brooklyn’s new District Attorney Ken Thompson made national headlines when he said his office would decline to prosecute low-level marijuana cases, so long as the defendant had no serious criminal record and wasn’t selling the drug. … But according to WNYC’s analysis, this supposedly groundbreaking change had less impact than many expected. Using data from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, WNYC found the Brooklyn DA was only slightly less likely to prosecute people for marijuana possession after Thompson took office in 2014. In 2010, almost 90 percent of arrests were prosecuted. That figure fell to almost 78 percent in 2014, and in 2016 roughly 82 percent of arrests were prosecuted. In other words, most people are still going to court because the Brooklyn DA only throws out about one out of every five low-level marijuana arrests.”

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Housing Critique is Sharpest Moment for Albanese in Second Debate

PoliticoNY

“Albanese embraced a common refrain among some left-leaning housing groups that the mayor’s housing plan does not adequately provide for the city’s poorest residents, and he pledged to “basically scrap all of the mayor’s rezoning proposals,” saying they are making neighborhoods more expensive, forcing people to move and, in turn, contributing to the high homeless population in the city. ‘The developers who contributed a lot of money to Bill are doing very, very well. The people are not,’ Albanese said. … The mayor defended his plan to build and preserve 200,000 units of low- to moderate-income housing as far-reaching, and touted the Rent Guidelines Board’s rulings in 2015 and 2016 to freeze one-year leases for rent-stabilized tenants.”

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Bronx Case Highlights Continuing Concerns About Policing

The New York Times

“The Bronx district attorney on Wednesday asked a judge to dismiss gun and assault charges against a teenager in a case that had become a rallying point for critics of the criminal justice system, saying a crucial witness had disappeared. The teenager, Pedro Hernandez, had refused a plea deal, then sued the city, alleging that police detectives in the 42nd Precinct framed him. The district attorney, Darcel D. Clark, said in a statement that her office was investigating the actions of the police and prosecutors who obtained the indictment against Mr. Hernandez; she promised to “go wherever the evidence leads.”

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Who Has Endorsed Whom … and Who Cares?

Gotham Gazette

“Do endorsements matter in elections? In short, yes. How much they matter depends on who is endorsing whom, amid many factors. As candidates run for office they almost always seek as many endorsements as they can get from elected officials, labor unions, newspaper editorial boards, political clubs, advocacy groups, and others. These endorsements can help give candidates more caché — something to boast about as they seek other endorsements or votes or funds — and can lead to important help with leafletting, door-knocking, and getting out the vote.”

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At Last, Free Lunch for All in NYC Schools

DNAinfo

“For years, hunger advocates have been urging the city to implement universal school lunch, and Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged during his mayoral campaign four years ago that he supported free lunch for all. Making the meals free for all students, rather than just those who are low-income, helps break down the ‘poor kid’ stigma and negative associations attached to school food, advocates believe. It will also help reduce the shame and bullying some kids experience when they are identified as getting free or reduced lunch, or when they can’t cover the costs of the meals, many said.”

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