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Nomiki Konst Will NEVER Accept Real Estate Money in NYC Public Advocate Race

Nomiki Kont, candidate for NYC Public Advocate

The New York City Public Advocate race grows more crowded by the week as Melissa Mark-Viverito has joined the growing candidate list that includes Council Member Jumaane Williams. The race was triggered after current Public Advocate Letitia James’ 2018 midterm election victory to become New York’s next Attorney General. An election date to elect the next NYC Public Advocate has yet to be announced, but the date will be set for sometime in early 2019 after James is sworn in as NY Attorney General.

Nomiki Konst is one of the NYC Public Advocate candidates that local media like to paint as an outsider despite her history of taking on corruption as an investigative journalist and as a member of the Democratic National Committee’s Unity Reform Commission.

Konst sets herself apart from the other Public Advocate candidates by pushing a progressive agenda that includes not accepting real estate lobby donations and committing to staying educated on city business deals prior to endorsing them. With the recent victories of other NYC progressives who also denied real estate money like Congresswoman-elect Alexandira Ocasio-Cortez and incoming New York State Senator Julia Salazar, Konst is running for local office at a time when the awareness of corporate influence on political decisions is elevated. Greenpointers reached out to Konst to find out what her policy positions are on current hot button issues in NYC like Amazon HQ2. Full disclosure: Nomiki Konst and I worked together briefly at the political news outlet TYT Network over the past year.

You have a long history as a watchdog, not only working as an investigative journalist, but as a Bernie Sanders surrogate during the 2016 campaign, and as a representative in the Democratic National Committee’s Unity Reform Commision. How would you utilize your experience investigating national issues to bring more accountability to New York City?

NK: The Public Advocate’s office has the unique ability to investigate separately from the Comptroller, for instance, to investigate conflicts of interest, to figure out where local sources of corruption are coming. And not just advocate for the city and New Yorkers, but specifically to be a check on the City Council, on the agencies as well as the Mayor’s office. So my experience on the Unity Reform Commission was incredibly powerful in that just like the Public Advocate’s office we didn’t have litigation power or the ability to subpoena, or present legislation really, but that’s a separate issue. So what I had to do was I had to be very creative about how we figured out where the corruption was coming from. And of course, being an investigative reporter I was probably a little bit more familiar with those strategies. So I first went to the budget and started looking through the budget, and I started figuring out what sort of conflicts of interests there were.

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Will Newtown Creek Be Renamed To Amazon Creek?

Boat enjoying Newton Creek on a lovely day.
A non-Amazon-owned boat on Newtown Creek

Two weeks ago at their annual fundraiser, the North Brooklyn Parks Alliance (formerly Open Space Alliance) announced that Amazon Fashion donated $100,000 to the organization focused on bringing more recreational greenspace to the neighborhood.

Now, in a bid to lure Amazon HQ2 to the industrial shores of the East River, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered to rename Newtown Creek to Amazon Creek, and is throwing in hundreds of millions of dollars in state subsidies to sweeten the deal, the New York Daily News reports. Continue reading

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An Art Heist, An Environmental Vision and Another Hit and Run — The Hook-Up (3/16)

One of the paintings stolen from the Crozier Fine Arts Warehouse in Williamsburg
One of the paintings stolen from the Crozier Fine Arts Warehouse in Williamsburg via Brooklyn Paper

Happy Friday, Greenpoint, and welcome to the Da Vinci Code. There’s been an art heist on Bayard Street, and the NYPD has made an appeal for information from the public. The thief broke into the Crozier Fine Arts Warehouse in Williamsburg, and made off 6 Hudson River School landscape paintings worth a combined 1.7 million dollars.

Speaking of the River, this week, local community advocacy groups Riverkeeper,  Newtown Creek Alliance, Guardians of Flushing Bay and Perkins+Will teamed up to launch their Vision Plan for Newtown Creek and Flushing Waterways.

Newtown Creek Alliance is also part of a coalition of nearly 200 environmental groups that staged a rally this week to pressure Gov. Cuomo to ban single-use plastic shopping bags in New York State.  Continue reading

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Speed Cameras Nixed From NYC Budget

Earlier this week, much to our dismay, Governor Cuomo and the state legislature denied a request from Mayor de Blasio for 160 new speed cameras, which were an important part of eliminating traffic deaths via the Vision Zero plan.

A source told the Daily News that Cuomo didn’t want to give another budget victory to Mayor de Blasio (i.e. political squabbling replacing ACTUAL need for safety). Right now, according to Capital New York, NYC has a measly 20 speed cameras.

Courtesy of Vision Zero

On Monday, Right of Way, a safe-streets group, demanded immediate legislative action to get even more speed cameras. They would ideally like 1,000 to be installed on NYC streets, which was the recipe for success in Washington, D.C.

“Earlier this month, legislative leaders promised grieving parents organized by Families for Safe Streets that the new state budget would at least double the number of speed cameras in New York City,” said a representative from Right of Way. ” Instead, we got zero.”

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