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Borough president candidate Levine wants
to change how MWBEs are hired in NYC
BY MARK HALLUM
Councilman Mark Levine, as part of his
platform in the race for Manhattan borough
president, says he plans to use the position’s
“bully pulpit” to advocate for changes on how the
city hires minority and Women-owned Business
Enterprises (MWBEs) in the future.
While the city has committed to handing big
contracts to MWBEs, most agencies are not meeting
a requirement of 30% to these businesses because
many independent operations of that size do not
qualify for billion-dollar projects.
Levine told amNewYork that his solution is this:
break contracts into smaller pieces so a greater
range of contractors can benefi t from the jobs big
projects, such as East Side Coastal Resiliency Project
which has been undertaken by AECOM for initial
surveying thus far.
“Most agencies are not reaching the 30% goal, and a
big reason is just how big the contracts are. It just requires
enormous resources to apply for billion dollar contracts
which require to prove experience and even the compliance
needs can be overwhelming,” Levine said.
According to Levine, if these contracts were broken up
into sections that are about $5 million a piece, this will give
MWBEs a fi ghting chance in getting awarded.
Councilman and Manhattan Borough President
candidate Mark Levine at a 2018 rally in Queens.
With the borough president’s offi ce holding discretion
over $50 million, Levine says he will only invest that
money in agencies that have credible plans to hire more
MWBEs. But in the end, action will be required on the part
of the city council and whoever the next mayor may be.
“There’s also a real problem with the timeliness of
payment, which if you’re AECOM, you can handle
because he had big cash reserves,” Levine added.
“But, again, for smaller MWBEs, this can be really
an insurmountable challenge to getting city contracts
when they don’t have nine months of cash fl ow for a
big project. So more timely payment would also help
level the playing fi eld for MWBEs.”
MWBEs may not even stand a chance against costoverruns
that plague many contracts, Levine said.
“Well, often the project’s deviate from the expected
amount at the time of request for proposals,
and that is really the more accurate view of how
much of our city contracts are going to MWBEs,
but that’s not the number reported out, the data that
you’re looking at is based on the expected contracts
at the time of the RFP,” Levine said. “Often the value
and the cost of the contract can go up in time that
will go down but usually, it goes up. It can go up
substantially so if you don’t if you’re not seeing the amount
ultimately paid out you’re really, you’re potentially getting
a very skewed view.”
Levine faces a crowded fi eld of candidates in the Manhattan
borough president’s race, which include Lindsey
Boylan, Brad Hoylman, Ben Kallos, Elizabeth Caputo,
Guillermo Perez and Kimberly Watkins.
The Democratic primary is on June 22.
Yang proposes copy/pasting NYC Transit operations to city
BY MARK HALLUM
Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang
believes there is no reason why
the city cannot integrate NYC
Transit back into the fold of its responsibilities,
considering historical precedence,
to improve service and “unwind”
some of the bureaucracy.
If subways and buses being operated
by the city until the 1970s and mayoral
control of schools with funding from
the state are any example of precedence,
Yang believes an administration under his
leadership can bring NYC Transit under
the umbrella of the city Department of
But details for how exactly NYC Transit
could be spliced from the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority to DOT was not
an easy question for Yang to answer.
“Right now you have two agencies, one
that controls the bus lanes and the other
Mayoral Candidate Andrew Yang.
that controls the buses. Does that make
sense to anyone,” Yang said in front of
MTA headquarters on Wednesday. “It’s
not that one, the city has control over
something all of a sudden all of the
budgetary responsibility falls on New
York City, you could actually have city
control of our subways and buses through
New York City Transit. That would then
become part of our Department of Transportation
and the state would continue
to fi nance in the way that it currently
does. There is nothing stopping that from
being the case, that’s actually been the
Jamie Rubin, a campaign advisor for
Yang and a former NYS Director of
Operations, believes there is no reason
to believe the city could not fi nancially
take the reins despite a fi scal crisis being
the primary reason for operations shifting
to the state in the fi rst place.
“I fi nd it hard to believe that the New
York City, fi scal structure can withstand
at least the same amount of debt as the
as the MTA can today, which, you know,
by all accounts is over-levered,” Rubin
said. “Secondly, if we’re in the private
sector, you know, I’ve worked with lots
of companies in the private sector that
have extremely complicated fi nancial
structures, and, you know, the private
sector when faced with something like
this, hires the right people to come to the
table, spends whatever time is necessary
fi x, you know, fi gures out this, what is
the complicated solution, and just does
it because it’s the right thing to do for
Figuring out how exactly this would
be done is anyone’s guess until the MTA’s
fi nances can supposedly be analyzed, according
to Rubin. But if money continues
to fl ow from Albany as it has and debt
service remains the same, he sees no real
reason why not.
“Do we really expect that the MTA is
going to turn it around, but you know,
next year, like, do we really expect that
there’s going to be like a whole different
level of operating accountability and
coordination between the MTA and the
city’s agencies in housing and economic
development,” Yang added.
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Schneps Media May 20, 2021 11