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May 2002
Future CUNY Facility on Governors Island Announced by Governor and Mayor.
Student Media Conference Addresses "Attack Mentality" after 9/11
Baruch Orients City Council Freshmen
Turning "D"s into Degrees: A CUNY Student Tells How
Life Resumes 500 Feet from Ground Zero
A Diaspora of CUNY Students into Halls of Power
A View to a Krill: Antarctic Expedition by College of Staten Island Scientists
The City University Attracts Talent from Near and Far
CUNY, PSC Announce Agreement on a New Contract
Chancellor Goldstein Initiates New Efficiencies, Greater Student Access to Learning Technology
Pulitzer Prize to Louis Menand
Executive Leadership Program Inaugurated
First Betty Shabazz Chair Appointed at Medgar Evers College
City University Retains New Fundraising Consultant
Former Congressman Dellums to Speak on AIDS at CCNY
City Tech Scholarship For All Four Seasons
Major CCNY Grant for Remote Sensing

Student Development, Enrollment Conference by Mayor

ReBuilding New York

New City College Biomedical Engineering Department

"Trailer Heroes" of BMCC Build at CCNY

A Life of Laura Bridgman—Disabled Pioneer in Education

Exotic Bird Alights at The Graduate Center

 
 

Baruch Orients City Council Freshmen

Can you help us get badly needed repairs at our child’s school? How do we stop a restaurant owner in our community from adding a sidewalk café? What do I have to do to get my landlord to turn on the heat? What’s with these tour buses idling their engines in front of my apartment? Where do I get a flu shot? How can I get rid of my old refrigerator?

Answers to such questions—and many others asked of City Council members—were just part of the agenda at a three-day orientation seminar held by the Center for Transition and Leadership in Government at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs. The seminar was the result of an intensive two-year “Project on Transition and Leadership” initiated by the School’s Dean, Stan Altman, who recognized that the new term-limit law would create a huge class of freshman on the City Council. Of the 51 districts, 38 were slated to lose an incumbent. Many of their successors, Altman expected, would not have any prior legislative experience.

“This is a whole new world for New York City government and a truly critical time for New York City,” the Dean said prior to the seminar. “Faced with difficult budget choices in the days ahead, the city will be led by individuals with little or no prior government experience. The Transition Project has been specifically designed to provide the men and women elected to the City Council. . .with the tools and knowledge they need to carry out their critical roles governing the city.”

Project planners modeled the seminar after the annual briefings for newly-elected members of Congress run by the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass.

At the seminar, new legislators heard from former Council members Kenneth Fisher and Thomas Ognibene, as well as several prominent movers-and-shakers like Bill Rudin, president of the Association for a Better New York, Alair Townsend, publisher of Crain’s New York Business, and Eugene McGrath, chairman and CEO of ConEd.

Councilman Bill DiBlasio, left, speaking with Baruch College Professor Douglas Muzzio at a lunch-time forum; Councilman Kendall Stewart is at center rear.

Journalists offered a session on “Getting Noticed: Pointers from the Press.” Members had good reason to pay attention: they will have to run again in 2003, instead of holding office for the standard four-year term. This short term is mandated in the City Charter for alternate census years, so that New Yorkers do not have to wait five years after the census for reapportioned councilmanic districts.

Alair Townsend, also a former New York City Budget Director and Deputy Mayor, summed up the success of the project when she said that, “given the incredible turnover in city government, it was extremely important to have an orientation session that provided an overview and a fundamental understanding of how government works.”

In addition to the seminar, the Center for Transition and Leadership in Government—led by co-directors Barbara J. Fife, Director of External Affairs at the School of Public Affairs and a deputy mayor in the Dinkins administration, and Baruch political scientist Douglas Muzzio—also produced a publication titled Council Members’ Guide to New York City Government.

This valuable resource informs Council members of the many agencies that will help them respond to constituents’ requests, and also includes information about how to organize a staff and how to follow the intricacies of the budget- making process.

The Guide also lays out provisions of the City Charter, the rules of the Council, relations with the State Legislature, ethics guidelines, and the Council’s investigative and oversight responsibilities. Among several other chapters are reviews of land use, public safety, housing, and transportation issues.

Helen Sears, a community activist for many years who is now the Council member for District 25 in Queens, was very grateful for Baruch College’s multifaceted “heads up.” “The sessions were superb. They presented the most intensive and comprehensive highly specialized training, with top people explaining every aspect of government,” Sears said. “I constantly refer to the guide when dealing with the challenges and problems of the Council’s daily operations.”