Grassroots politics, from Brooklyn to the White House

No, Bill de Blasio hasn't announced his candidacy for president...yet. But the same type of grassroots politics that gave Mayor de Blasio his start and propelled him to the mayoralty helped turn a little-known, freshman senator from Chicago's South Side into the President of the United States. Learn how from Mitch Stewart, who, as Obama's 2008 Iowa caucus director and 2012 battleground states director, helped oversee the campaign's field operations in its most critical contests. Stewart will be joined by leading New York City strategists who are managing local efforts to achieve universal pre-kindergarten and public campaign financing.

A conversation with:

  • Mitch Stewart, founding partner, 270 Strategies
  • Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director, New York State Alliance for Quality Education
  • Michael Blake, principal, Atlas Strategy Group
  • Susan Lerner, executive director, Common Cause New York

Moderated by:

  • Jeff Smith, assistant professor of politics and advocacy, Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, The New School

Admission is free but you must RSVP.

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The Center’s public policy forums are made possible thanks to the generous support of the Milano Foundation.

The City & The State: Conflict or Collaboration?

empire state

Is tension inevitable between Albany and NYC? Or is it just that there’s a new mayoral administration and an election-year governor, and press and politicos shining the spotlight in search of every conflict? As Mayor de Blasio seeks to fulfill campaign promises and pursue the agenda that got him elected, a popular Governor Cuomo has his own program to fulfill. Will the city and state collaborate? Or will diverging fiscal and political priorities cause more conflict, more publicly than in the past?

With:

  • Michael Benjamin, political columnist, New York Post; former NYS Assemblyman (D-Bronx)
  • Bill Hammond, political columnist, New York Daily News
  • Thomas Kaplan, political reporter, The New York Times
  • Liz Krueger, New York State Senator (D-Manhattan)

Moderated by:

Admissions is free, but you must RSVP: thecityandthestate.eventbrite.com

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Public Advocate Campaign Roundtable

This year's tight and closely watched race for Public Advocate included a tough primary that necessitated a runoff. The result was the historic election of a female African American to city-wide office for the first time in New York’s history. Notwithstanding the competition and high stakes, key campaign strategists from the major campaigns lamented their difficulty attracting press coverage and public attention throughout the race, as voters and press alike were distracted by scandals and surprise candidacies in other city-wide races.

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Comptroller Campaign Roundtable

The last-minute surprise entry of former Governor Eliot Spitzer into the race for comptroller required rapid strategic restructuring for the other campaigns and led to an unexpectedly heated Democratic primary race. The discussion at the roundtable included reflections on the contrasts between and among three highly qualified candidates; the ups and downs of press coverage; the impact of name recognition and personal notoriety; the role of public campaign financing, and the impact of a well-executed earned-media strategy.

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Mayoral Campaign Roundtable

The 2013 race for mayor included over 10 major candidates, over 300 public forums, a few unexpected announcements that derailed candidacies, and resulted in the election of the first Democratic mayor in New York City in 24 years. The lively discussion included critiques of political journalism and New York City's Campaign Finance Board, strategic reflections about which advertisements were effective, the impact of independent expenditures, and much more.

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The 2013 Campaign Roundtable

Strategy, tactics, opportunity and chance: Join campaign leaders, pollsters, communications specialists, journalists and others for a debrief on the early plans, unforeseen twists and last minute sprints that led up to New York City’s 2013 primary and general elections. Every four years, we organize these sessions to hear the first-hand, behind-the-scenes stories direct from the campaign teams, observers and analysts.

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Food & Climate Change: Growing a Cultural Movement

Food has powerful cultural meaning, and has increasingly become part of the growing ideological and political discussions around the planet’s changing climate. Food can help communities develop, sustain, and increase their viability while helping mitigate negative impacts of climate change. This cross-disciplinary brainstorming and dialogue will examine how sustainable, locally designed and developed solutions can help communities respond to the challenges of climate change.

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The Future of Progressive States: Public Policies to Create Jobs and Expand Opportunity

Progressive state and local governments strive to build economies that create jobs, boost incomes, foster educational opportunity and strengthen government’s fiscal base. With continued congressional gridlock, the progressive agenda for these laboratories of democracy is more important than ever. Maryland Governor and former Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley discusses how states can secure the middle class and promote new and shared prosperity.

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Second Acts: Recovering from Scandal

Crisis management and scandal recovery have captured the moment, from big-league sports to New York City’s current political silly season. PR firms are rebranding themselves as crisis advisers. Ex-White House aides are peddling their bona fides. While the public sees scandal through a tabloid lens, at its heart are flawed human beings making mistakes, acting emotionally, and trying to preserve their reputations and careers.

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The Inside Story of Election 2012: Fast Politics and Faster Media Meet a Rapidly Changing Electorate

The 2012 election lacked the high drama of 2008, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama made history, Sarah Palin went meteoric, and the economy was in freefall. In contrast, the 2012 campaigns may be remembered as a succession of mini-gaffes and hourly skirmishes fueled by over-caffeinated operatives and reporters on Twitter. Was it all just "sound and fury… signifying nothing?"

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A Century of Social Justice: A Conversation with Peter Dreier

The American political and social landscape changed dramatically over the course of the 20th century. Social change did not happen as a natural course of history; countless individuals and groups labored to bring about the rights and privileges to which we’ve grown accustomed today. Some individuals stand above the rest and have become legends of social justice.

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Urban Policy in an Era of Fiscal Austerity - The 2012 Robert J. Milano Lecture

With the federal debt at $16 trillion, the fate of the nation's cities stands at a crossroads. While cities like New York appear to be doing better than ever, a rising tide of poverty and inequality threatens to undermine their progress. Meanwhile, a large group of second-tier cities, from Detroit and St. Louis to Stockton and San Bernardino, are besieged as never before.

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Creating College Ready Communities: Preparing NYC's Precarious New Generation of College Students

The good news is, New York City has seen dramatic increases in students graduating high school and applying to college. The bad news is, most will never get a college degree. This growing generation of college students is frequently stymied by poor academic preparation, financial aid issues or complicated personal lives. Observers say it is not enough to promote college.

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The Anatomy of Campaign Finance: Money's powerful influence on US politics and policy

The power of campaign donations to shape political decisions is front and center in the 2012 presidential election. Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations, mega- donors and unions to invest vast resources in candidates' campaigns, has been called an undemocratic giveaway to social and economic elites.

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Combating Youth Violence: Concrete Solutions for New York City

Youth violence has declined sharply over two decades--more than 70 percent in New York State, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention. Yet in some neighborhoods there are now increasing reports of gang activity and violence. Tensions and distrust remain high between law enforcement officials and community members - especially young people.

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The Detention Dilemma: Families, Security and Immigrant Rights

Recent reports draw attention to the continuing expansion and privatization of immigrant detention centers and the violation of immigrants’ rights throughout the process of detention and deportation. What are the effects of the current situation on individuals who spend months or years in detention, and on their families?

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Against the Falling Tide: Working Families and the Economy

As the impact of recession lingers, low-income and working-class Americans struggle against the economic tide. Wages are declining and employment is stagnant. The 2012 elections only add to the uncertainty. What are the economic prospects for working families in New York and around the country? An insider’s experience of White House strategy and policy debates helps us make sense of the last two years, the coming 12 months, and beyond.

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DREAM Activists and the Immigrant Rights Movement

Tens of thousands of youth graduate high school each year in the US with an inherited title: “undocumented immigrant.” Passage of the DREAM Act would make many undocumented young people legal residents, start them on a path to citizenship and make them eligible for financial aid if they finish college or serve in the military. While Congress considers—and delays—passage, legislators in states nationwide are debating and passing measures of their own.

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Community-Based Planning: The Future of Development in New York

For decades, deliberations over land use in New York City have included developers, community boards, elected officials, and city agencies such as the Department of City Planning. Do the people who live and work in city neighborhoods have a sufficient voice? Do residents improve the process or impede progress? Who is best positioned to determine a neighborhood’s needs, and what are the best structures for public participation?

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Cuomo and the Media: Managing the Message

Governor Andrew Cuomo has kept a tight rein on his public image and his administration’s agenda. His strategic successes in the legislature have been substantial, but critics say the popular governor is proving to be no great advocate of transparency in the executive branch. How has the governor sold his agenda to the legislature, the people, and the mass media?

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