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Dear Friend,

These last months, and specifically the past three weeks, are among the most challenging times that I can remember in New York City. Not only are we still battling the COVID-19 pandemic, but also the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks have led to large, daily demonstrations demanding (shamefully) long overdue reforms and justice for black communities.

The demonstrations have already begun to have an impact. The legislature and Governor Cuomo moved quickly to repeal Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, a law that shielded the disciplinary records of police officers from the public. As I wrote in an op-ed published in amNewYork, repealing 50-a will make law enforcement more transparent, and improve relations between police and the communities they serve.

Voting is another way we, as a City and a Nation, can create change. Next week, New Yorkers will vote in the Presidential primary, and primary elections for state and local offices. For many of us, this will be the first time we vote by absentee ballot. If you requested one, your absentee ballot should be arriving soon, if you haven’t already received it. If you have questions about the races or candidates in your neighborhood, be sure to read our online voter’s guide.
Thank you for all you do. Please stay healthy and safe, as we continue this struggle.

Betsy Gotbaum
Executive Director, Citizens Union/Citizens Union Foundation



Once you receive your absentee ballot, you must follow all the written instructions carefully, including:

  1. Complete the ballot using blue or black ink;
  2. Use the return envelope provided with the ballot;
  3. Sign back of the envelope as instructed;
  4. The ballot mailed to you by the Board of Elections will include pre-paid return postage. Ballots must be postmarked by June 23.

If you didn’t request an absentee ballot or have not received your ballot don’t worry! You can take advantage of Early Voting through Sunday, June 21, and polls will be open on Election Day (where very few people are present). Visit to find your Early Vote location and Election Day poll site.

The Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd had over 15 complaints against him in 19 years on the job. Had this horrific incident occurred in New York, this information never would have been made public due to Civil Rights Law, Section 50-a. Thankfully, this law has now been repealed.
It is important that all functions of government be transparent, including law enforcement. Prior to the repeal, New York was one of only two states that granted special protections shielding the disciplinary records of police officers. The public has the right to know whether or not the police officers patrolling their neighborhoods have a history of misconduct. Repealing 50-a will increase transparency and restore trust between police officers and the communities they serve.
We thank Assembly Member O’Donnell and Senator Bailey for spearheading this important legislation and Governor Cuomo for signing it into law.

Last week, we announced our candidate endorsements in 12 contested races for Assembly, State Senate and Queens Borough President. We are the only good government group to make recommendations for state offices.
Our preferences include Jason Salmon (Senate District 25- Brooklyn) Elvis Santana (Assembly District 79- Bronx), Justin Cohen (Assembly District 56- Brooklyn) and Khaleel Anderson (Assembly District 31- Queens), who are running for open seats, Emily Gallagher (Assembly District 50- Brooklyn), Jessica González-Rojas (Assembly District 34- Queens) and Jenifer Rajkumar (Assembly District 38- Queens), who are challenging incumbents, and incumbent Assembly Members Jeffrey Dinowitz (Assembly District 81- Bronx), Yuh-Line Niou (Assembly District-65), Robert Rodriguez (Assembly District 68- Manhattan) and Aravella Simotas (Assembly District 36- Queens). Donovan Richards is our preferred candidate for Queens Borough President.

We are proud to support a slate of candidates who have demonstrated a clear commitment to reforming our government so it is more transparent, accountable and accessible. It is more important than ever that we have strong representation in government. We encourage all New Yorkers to take a long, hard look at the candidates seeking their support, and please, remember to vote.



Citizens Union would like to thank the more than 125 individuals who supported Spring for Reform and helped to make the event such a success.  Together we raised nearly $40,000 to support the important legislative advocacy and candidate evaluation work of Citizens Union. In these times that are challenging in so many ways, your generosity means so much to us.  Now, more than ever, good government organizations like Citizens Union are necessary, you help us to be there.  
We’d also like to once again, thank our speakers Dr. Eitan Hersh, author of Politics is for Power; Rachel Konowitz, co-founder of Motivote; NY State Senator Zellnor Myrie; and our moderator John Avlon.  Our speakers provided an insightful, interesting and informative panel discussion for more than 100 viewers.  Additionally, if you missed it, the video of the event is on our website.
Thank you!


New York Daily News – 5/18/20
Last month, Citizens Union and Gotham Gazette launched “Citizens Union Speakers,” a regular series of op-eds written by members of the Citizens Union Foundation community. You can read the first entries in this series below:

Cuomo v. De Blasio: Who Has the Last Word on Reopening New York City?
Randy Mastro, Chair, Citizens Union & Citizens Union Foundation – Partner Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Key Constitutional Obstacles to Efficient Reopening of New York Courts
Michael Cardozo, Board Member, Citizens Union  – Partner, Proskauer Rose LLP

Voting in a Pandemic: How New York, and New Yorkers, Must Lead the Way
Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director Citizens Union, Citizens Union Foundation

The Time Has Come to Repeal Section 50-A of New York’s Civil Rights Law
Frederick Schaffer, Chair of New York City Campaign Finance Board




As always, Gotham Gazette is focused on informing the public and holding government officials accountable. With COVID-19 our reporting is more important than ever and your support is needed to make it happen.  On this #GivingTuesday, if you can make a gift of any amount today, please do so by clicking the button below. We thank you in advance.

Could a Public Works Program Save New York City’s Economy?
Samar Khursid
Muddled, Shifting Messages from De Blasio on Essential Metrics as City Nears ‘Reopening’
Samar Khurshid & Ben Max
Front-Line Workers Must Prove They Contracted Coronavirus on the Job to Receive Workers’ Comp
Ethan Geringer-Sameth
Max & Murphy Podcast: State Senator Brian Benjamin on Rescuing New York’s Finances & More


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