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"Improving Albany" Takes Center Stage at NYU Wagner Forum

"Improving Albany" Takes Center Stage at NYU Wagner Forum

Richard Ravitch

The question of what to do about New York’s indictment-prone State Legisature took center stage at an all-day conference at NYU Wagner on April 30 entitled “Improving Albany: A Path to Greater Effectiveness.”

The forum's galaxy of participants — Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, former Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch, New Yorker writer Ken Auletta, and many others — discussed the legal, electoral, budgetary, and political reforms required to enable the Legislature to regain public confidence and tackle policies and issues that matter in the lives of millions of New Yorkers.

Richard Brodsky, who served in the State Assembly and is a Visiting Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Wagner, hosted the conference along with Wagner’s Dean Sherry Glied and Richard Ravitch.

The morning panel included: Columbia law professor Richard Briffault, chair of the NYC Conflict of Interest Board and a former member of the state Moreland Act Commission to Investigate Public Corruption (2013-14); Peter Goldmark, a veteran state government executive and most recently Director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s climate and air program; Common Cause's Executive Director Susan Lerner; and Vance. Dean Glied was the moderator.

For the afternoon panel, Auletta of the New Yorker was joined by Mayor Miner, who described the frustrations posed by the state’s “opaque” budget approval process;  Mary Louise Mallick, a former senior policy maker with the New York State Senate Finance Committee; and former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, who is now Chairman of the New York State Housing Finance Committee and the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA).  Brodsky moderated the discussion.

Both conversations were lively, showing the complexities of preventing public corruption and what approaches are possible. Recommendations ranged from drawing clearer lines between legal and illegal conduct to requiring greater transparency, along with passing public campaign finance reform and — at least in the view of some of the speakers — setting term limits for legislators.

Some of the panelists said it's up to the Legislature's leadership and its younger members to improve accountability, raise the bar for impact and effectiveness, and lead the way out of Albany’s "swamp." Since they haven’t acted so far, “they’ve made themselves an easy target,” said Susan Lerner.

"Portfolios of the Poor," co-authored by Prof. Jonathan Morduch, Helped Inspire a New App to Address Income Volatility: NY Times Magazine

"Portfolios of the Poor," co-authored by Prof. Jonathan Morduch, Helped Inspire a New App to Address Income Volatility: NY Times Magazine

“Want A Steady Income? There’s an App for That,” a piece published Sunday, May 3, in The New York Times Magazine, focuses on a Silicon Valley app-in-development partly inspired by Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day, the groundbreaking book (Princeton University Press, 2009) written by NYU Wagner Professor of Public Policy and Economics Jonathan Morduch, NYU Wagner PhD Daryl Collins, and two others. The anticipated app is designed to help households manage what has been called America's “hidden inequality” – the profound stresses and disruptions income volatility can cause.

Professor Morduch’s research centers on microfinance, social investment, and the economics of poverty. He is the Executive Director and Founder of the Financial Access Initiative (FAI). His current “U.S. Financial Diaries” project examines how income volatility affects low- and moderate-income U.S. families.

Alumnus an Honoree in Crain's "40 Under 40" List of Up and Comers

Alumnus an Honoree in Crain's "40 Under 40" List of Up and Comers

The annual “40 Under 40” issue of Crain’s New York for 2015 honors NYU Wagner alumnus Gary Rodney (MUP, 1999). As President of the New York City Housing Development Corp., Rodney is at the forefront of carrying out Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years. Don't miss the profile.

 

APA Blog Spotlights "The Color Bind" Co-Authored by Professor Erica Foldy

APA Blog Spotlights "The Color Bind" Co-Authored by Professor Erica Foldy

The American Psychological Association-sponsored blog PsyCRITIQUES has not only written a highly favorable review  of “The Color  Bind: Talking (and Not Talking) About Race at Work,” by Erica Gabrielle Foldy, Associate Professor of Public and Nonpublic Management, NYU Wagner, and Tamara R. Buckley, Associate Professor of Psychology and Counseling, CUNY, but the blog is also inviting readers currently to add their thoughts on the timely issues addressed by the book (published by Russell Sage Foundation, 2014).

Aruba's Prime Minister Mike Eman Shows Path to a Sustainable Future

Aruba's Prime Minister Mike Eman Shows Path to a Sustainable Future

NYU Wagner students were treated to a fascinating account of Aruba's efforts to link economic growth and social development in sustainable ways -- a presentation delivered at NYU Wagner by none other than the island's Prime Minister, Mike Eman.

Prime Minister Eman, who is serving his second term, noted that Aruba, with a population of 100,000, began to develop its structural reforms even before the worldwide financial bubble burst in 2007-'08. In the prior two decades, Aruba had struggled with socio-economic stressors of its own despite the tremendous growth of its tourism industry.

To address this striking disconnect, Mr. Eman and his political party initiated Social Dialogues to encourage greater public involvement across communities and sectors in government planning. These and other efforts brought about the reshaping of the streetscape, the refurbishment of older buildings, and renewed emphasis on strengthening schools, healthcare, and conditions for the elderly. Overall, the work-in-progress contributes to the island's general welfare and "happiness," even drawing praise from environmentalists Al Gore, Richard Branson, and many others. Mr. Eman went from his Wagner visit of March 26 to an engineering society gathering in Manhattan where he accepted an award on behalf of the new battery-fueled trolley system in Aruba -- a notable advance in clean, safe urban transit.

"In 2008, the world was surprised when in so many cases greed had taken over and the public interest was not taken into account," said Mr. Eman. However, he said, Aruba's experiences suggest that while economic growth is critical, it cannot be de-coupled from democratic values, the environment, and social development -- or the result will be a city, a country, or indeed a world which is neither truly happy nor sustainable.

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