Archive for September, 2011
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Questioning Police Power
September 30th, 2011

Following a meeting with leaders of city civil rights groups and other organizations, City Councilmember Jumaane Williams and Kirsten John Foy, an aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, are still awaiting a public apology for their detention and handcuffing by police following the West Indian Day Parade earlier this month.

And Mayor Michael Bloomberg has apparently not responded to their proposal that he and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly meet with Williams, Foy and young black and Latino New Yorkers that have been affected by what Williams, Foy and may others see as unfair and discriminatory police tactics. Instead Bloomberg, calling the police action a “misunderstanding,” had suggested he and Williams sit down over a beer “and work it out.”

Williams and Foy have repeatedly said their arrest highlights the effects of police policies — most notably stops and frisks — widely used against young black and Latino men in the city. In their statement issued last night, the two said they plan to hold town-hall style meetings in all five boroughs where others stopped by police can tell their stories. And they want the city Department of Education to “mandate ‘Know Your Rights’ training in middle and high schools.”

The statement comes as police are under scrutiny for other alleged abuses of power — police surveillance of Muslim New Yorkers, unwarranted marijuana arrests, and the pepper spraying of Wall Street demonstrators last weekend. Police have reportedly begun probing the latter incident, which has been viewed by hundreds of thousands, if not millions on YouTube.

All of these occurrences come after years that saw a massive expansion of police powers in the city, as Jim Dwyer writes in today’s Times. The department, Dwyer says, “has done so in a bubble of isolation from ordinary democratic processes. It exists in a world apart. ”

In their statement, Williams and Foy expressed hope this might be change. “We are all excited that our communities are focused and working together,” they said. “This is a fight for civil rights, and we are hopeful that civil rights will ultimately prevail.”

By on September 30, 2011, 8:52 am
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Gotham City | 4 Comments »

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Bloomberg's Technology Pit
September 29th, 2011

Another day, another disturbing revelation about the city’s handling of its technology contracts.

This time it’s the latest chapter in the scandal involving computers at the Department of Education. The company the department paid $75 million to do technical work on its purchasing, payroll and finance systems Future Technology Associatesbilked the city out of at least $6.5 million, according to a report by Richard Condon, the city’s special commissioner of investigation.

Among other things, Future Tech set up shell companies and then vastly inflated its claims of how much those companies charged. So the Department of Education was being charged between $55 and $110 an hour for work that actually cost Future Tec $10 to $14 an hour.

Concerns about Future Technology have been circulating for some time.

According to a letter-report from the city comptroller’s Bureau of Audit, given to Gotham Gazette today (posted here), in 2005 the department submitted a request that Future Tech get a no-bid contract. (No-bid contracts at the Department of Education have raised concerns in the past.) “This request appears to have contained inaccurate and misleading statements from FTA, which, if DOE had known, should have precluded FTA from being awarded this contract,” says the report from the comptroller’s office, which went to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Condon’s office.
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By on September 29, 2011, 4:24 pm
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Education,Gotham City,Governing,Tech | 10 Comments »

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The Dicker Question
September 28th, 2011

The New York Post’s Fred Dicker was not (at least as far any any of us could tell) at the New School last night for the discussion on Cuomo and the Media. But his ears must have been burning anyway.

To the four journalists on the panel it was clear that in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the press, there’s Fred Dicker and then there’s the rest of us ink-stained wretches. (For more on that relationship, see Cuomo Cultivates His Media Messenger.)
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By on September 28, 2011, 6:47 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Discussing Cuomo's Glow
September 28th, 2011

Even on a day a public employee union dealt him a serious setback few would deny that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has emerged as an exceedingly adroit politician. And none of members of a panel on Cuomo and the Media at the New School last night even tried to.

If their assessments of the governor varied at all, they ranged from skilled to brilliant. And the four reporters, joined by one pollster, did differ on how long the governor could keep his glow.

“This is an administration incredibly interested in managing their message. They are enormously good at it. They are artists,” Liz Benjamin of State of Politics and the evening’s moderator said, setting the tone from the get-go.

To control his image and his message, the governor and his minions call and lobby reporters ceaselessly but rarely publicly. “He almost never goes on the record in a free setting,” said the New York Times‘ Nick Confessore.

The panelists seemed almost in awe of Cuomo’s skills — his ability to listen to people and engage with them, his focus on two or three key things and skill at avoiding distractions, his hard work, his smarts, his ease with “working a room.” (Panelists declined to discuss his capacity observed on at a lake in the Adirondacks last month, to walk on water)

“His job is to manage his positive image, and he’s doing an excellent job,” said Steve Greenberg, pollster with the Siena Research Institute.

So will his star ever fade?

Possible answers after the jump.
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By on September 28, 2011, 6:45 pm
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Eye on Albany,Gotham City,Governing | 2 Comments »

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What Happens in Bermuda Stays in Bermuda
September 28th, 2011

In case there ever was any doubt, the City Council will not require that Mayor Michael Bloomberg reveal his personal travels, the Wall Street Journal reports. And once again the mayor has City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to thank.

City Councilmember Peter Vallone has told the Journal’s Michael Howard Saul that Quinn will not allow a hearing to be held on his bill that would require travel disclosure. Vallone proposed the measure after the botched city response to the December blizzard. It later became known that, as snow pelted the city, Bloomberg was in Bermuda, then Deputy Mayor of Operation Stephen Goldsmith was in Washington, D.C. and Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris was somewhere.

Quinn, of course, has frequently pushed bill the mayor likes and blocked ones he doesn’t — though not usually ones where he has such a personal stake. Last year, for example she essentially killed a measure that would require paid sick leave for city workers.

And last week, Vallone, who seems to have an increasingly prickly relationship with Quinn, and the speaker clashed over a bill on homeless animals. With the city facing a lawsuit for not complying with city law on services for animals, the council bill, supported by Quinn (or else, of course, it never would have passed) was seen by Vallone and others as removing those laws and so letting the city renege on its obligations.

“I dont think you have to be smarter than Bonzo the chimp to figure out what’s going on,” Vallone said at the time.

By on September 28, 2011, 6:06 pm
In category: City Hall,Gotham City | 7 Comments »

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A Change on Marijuana Arrests
September 26th, 2011

With little fanfare, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has issued an “operation order” that could dramatically reduce the number of marijuana arrests in the city. The order, which appears on WNYC’s web site, says people can be charged with criminal possession of marijuana if they display the drug of their own volition.

Going black at least to 2005, many thousands of New Yorkers have been arrested for criminal possession of marijuana only after the drug was found during a police search. Under the law, people cannot be arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana — less than 25 grams — unless they publicly display it. Possession of such small quantities is punishable buy a fine of no more than $100. By all accounts, many people particularly young black and Latino men - publicly displayed a joint or two only after police asked them to empty their pockets or otherwise searched them. They then found themselves arrested, with a criminal record, and facing punishment or a rehab program they may not need.

This order would seem to end, or at least curtail, that. “A crime will not be charged to an individual who is requested or compelled to engage in the behavior that results in the public display of marijuana,” the order states.

Although the order is written almost as a clarification, the widespread marijuana arrests have almost certainly been a matter of city policy under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Ray Kelly.
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By on September 26, 2011, 3:37 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Gotham City,Law | 4 Comments »

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Duane Praises Cuomo
September 26th, 2011

Sen. Thomas Duane is congratulating Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signing a piece of legislation that will require the New York State Office of Aging to survey the needs of traditionally underserved elderly populations–including those in the lesbian, bay, bisexual and transgender communities.

The law also allows the director of office to make grants for purposes of training and education to organizations that provide services to the elderly lesbian and gay community. Duane sponsored the legislation in the Senate and Assemblymember Michah Kellner sponsored the legislation in the Assembly.

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By on September 26, 2011, 11:26 am
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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The Year's School Report Cards
September 23rd, 2011

In what has become an annual ritual, the Department of Education has today released its latest school progress reports, often called school report cards, today. (For links to summaries and individual school reports, go here.)

Today’s release covers only elementary and middle schools. The department will issue high school reports next month.

Once again the department has tweaked the oft-criticized annual reports. For one the grades seem to have stabilized somewhat from the time when the results would gyrate wildly from year to year, completely baffling parents. This year, according to the Times, 79 of the 1,219 schools dropped by two or more letter grades and 55 rose by two or more.

As part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’ s initiative on black and Latino males, a school now gets extra points for making significant progress with students in that group whose prior performance has put them in the lowest third academically. (A school, though, does not lose points if it fails miserably with black and Latino boys.)

The number of schools with low grades has increased again. Based on their 2010-11 performance, the department says, 25 percent of the schools received an A, 35 percent B, 30 percent C, 7 percent D and 3 percent flunked. This still might seem generous, but it certainly represents a change from 2009 when, in the midst of the mayor’s re-election campaign, his Department of Education decided 84 percent of elementary and middle schools deserved As and only two that’s two school, not 2 percent flunked.

This time around, according to Gotham Schools, the city decided in advance how many schools would get each grade.

The increase in schools getting D’s and F’s means more schools could be considering for closing, thought the departments says that that will not necessarily translate to more schools being shut down. Earlier this week, School Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he would look to close persistently failing middle schools as part of his efforts to bolster education in grades 6 through 8.

By on September 23, 2011, 3:02 pm
In category: Education,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Bloomberg's Record on Poverty
September 22nd, 2011

For many months, the Bloomberg administration has boasted that as poverty rose elsewhere in the country, it remained constant here, thanks in part to his policies.

Unfortunately, he can no longer say that.

New census figures, as reported in the Times this morning, show that poverty rose more rapidly in New York City by 1.4 percentage points — than in the nation as a whole from 2009 to 2010. This brought the number of people living in poverty in the city to 20.1 percent, the highest level since 2000. Child poverty rose even more by 3 percentage points leaving three out of every 10 city children in homes below the poverty level.

A report by Alliance for a Greater New York said the situation may be even worse than those numbers would indicate because of the high cost of living in New York a luxury brand, as the mayor has called it.

Incomes across the city fell by 5 percent. But some people continue to do very well. In Manhattan the county in the country with the biggest income gap the average earning of the top fifth of the population came to $371,754,

While deploring this high level of poverty, advocates quickly responded that the figures only confirm what they see every day an increasing level of need in the city. More homeless. Longer lines at soup kitchens and food pantries. People desperate for work.

More reaction and a review of Bloomberg administration poverty policies after the jump.
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By on September 22, 2011, 5:05 pm
In category: Demographics,Economy,Gotham City,Public Finance,Social Services | 5 Comments »

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Digging Into Cuomo's Schedule
September 22nd, 2011

As we reported in our exclusive this morning–Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched a new website called CitizenConnects that among other things has made is past and future schedules more available to the public and reporters. And reporters have wasted no time in digging into Cuomo’s past meetings.

Jimmy Vielkind, of the Times Union, notes that Cuomo’s schedules show that his daughters rode with him on state aircraft.

Ken Lovett of the Daily News discovered that Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ate together days before The Port Authority announced toll hikes.

Expect more news like this throughout the day as journos and good government types digest the wealth of information on the new site. I suggest everyone check it out. Don’t forget that Cuomo will be doing a virtual chat on the site on Saturday.

By on September 22, 2011, 1:21 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Tech | 2 Comments »

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Fracking With the Public
September 21st, 2011

A recently-released Quinnipiac University Poll is giving ammunition to both sides of the hydrofracking debate. Environmental Advocates of New York point to numbers that New Yorkers who live on shale formations are against fracking 47-43 percent.

“Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature should take note of todays Quinnipiac poll: 47 to 43, New Yorkers likely to be impacted by fracking dont want it due to concerns about drinking water quality and the industrialization of their communities with truck traffic and more,” reads the statement. “New Yorks voters havent made up their minds about fracking, and 51 percent know it will damage the environment. Thirty five percent dont know, and 13 percent disagree. Environmental Advocates of New York is confident that the more New Yorkers learn about fracking, the less they want it in their communities.”

Statewide New Yorkers support hydrofracking 45-41. There is stronger support in the suburbs and city residents are split 41-41 for and against fracking.

The Independent Oil and Gas Association seizes on the statewide support numbers:

Once again, a sampling of the public demonstrates that most New Yorkers favor increased natural gas development in the Southern Tier,” reads their release. “This is remarkable, given the tremendous amount of misinformation that has been issued about our industry in New York. We remain hopeful that New Yorkers are seeing through the distorted statements, myths and fictions, and instead will rely on science and record of performance to form their own opinions. As New York moves in the direction of expanded natural gas exploration, the industry looks forward to balancing the economic and the environmental needs of the state, just as we have done consistently since the 1800s.

By on September 21, 2011, 4:04 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Walcott Takes on Middle Schools
September 20th, 2011

It’s no secret to anyone who has spent time in city schools, had an adolescent or been one that middle school is where things begin to go awry for many students. Test scores fall, behavior problems develop and many students begin to fall so far behind that they never catch up and simply leave schools a few years later.

The city has mounted various, often half-hearted efforts to combat this and none have accomplished much.

In his first major policy speech as chancellor, given this morning at NYU, Dennis Walcott focused on the issues of middle schools, ticking off a panoply of problems in grade six through eight and acknowledging his department must do more to address them. (This post is based on the prepared text of Walcott’s speech, available here.) To do that, Walcott plans borrow a page from the Bloomberg administration approach to high schools by closing failing schools and opening new ones. The administration claims success with this, but the policy has been controversial and has many critics.

In his speech, Walcott vowed to open at least 50 new middle schools in the next two years. Some will be charter schools, Walcott said.

On the flip side closing schools Walcott said, “We will hold our middle schools to the same tough standards we hold our high schools. If a school is failing, we will phase it out.”

More on the plan after the jump.
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By on September 20, 2011, 12:15 pm
In category: Education,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Levy's Legacy at Bronx Science
September 16th, 2011

The Times yesterday had an interesting story on the exodus of teachers from the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. According to Anna Phillips, eight of the school’s 20 social studies teachers decided not to return this year, sending the turnover rate at what one would think would be a desirable to teach to 19 percent, five percentage points higher than for the city as a whole. Phillips traces the discontent back at least as far as 2005 but actually it dates before that to the pre-mayoral control days and the region of now largely forgotten Chancellor Harold Levy.

Back in the Giuliani administration in 1999, Stanley Blumenstein announced his retirement as principal of the selective public school. A search committee unanimously recommended William Stark, an administrator and social studies teacher serving as interim president, to fill the post.

Levy, a graduate of Bronx Science, balked, reportedly wanting a scientist to fill the post, not an educator — although there was never an indication that any top scientist even wanted the job. Levy asked the committee to find someone else.

Levy was a corporate lawyer when he was named chancellor and, like Cathie Black a decade later, needed a waiver to become chancellor. (He now works in finance and raised eyebrows in 2009 for a $500,000 contribution to Al Sharpton.)

To many observers his handling of the situation at Bronx Science was a classic indication of what can happen when people with little experience running schools control them. Faculty and parents disputed Levy’s notion that a scientist would be the best pick for the job. “Running a public high school, they say, is more like running a fine restaurant than a political campaign, a foundation or a college. At Bronx Science, they say, the importance of spin and public relations pales compared with the mundane ability to deal with cantankerous union officials, powerful custodians and 2,700 needy, if talented, adolescents,” the Times wrote.
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By on September 16, 2011, 3:19 pm
In category: Education,Gotham City | 8 Comments »

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Gillibrand Raises Off of 9th CD
September 16th, 2011

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is asking supporters for cash in the wake of Bob Turner’s upset victory over David Weprin in the 9th Congressional District. A mailing went out from the Gillibrand camp this morning capitalizing on recent Republican victories and saying “we need to show the naysayers the strength of this campaign by reaching our goal of $150,00 before the crucial September 30 filing deadline.”

The NY Post ran an editorial by John Podhoretz yesterday titled “Is Gillibrand the Next Weprin?”

“The NY-9 results suggest Gillibrand can be beaten by someone who runs a clever and well-wrought campaign,” wrote Podhoretz.

“Gillibrand hasnt made the sale with New Yorks voters despite having served in the Senate for nearly three years. She was appointed to the seat in 2009, and then won it herself last year against a comically hapless Republican. In last monthss Siena College poll, her approval rating was only 46 percent — and an incumbent running for re-election with an approval rating below 50 percent is generally deemed vulnerable to defeat. Even more important, and more threatening to her future, is this: An amazing 30 percent of New Yorkers have no opinion of her. That means, as the political consultants say, that she can still be defined — and defined negatively.”

He goes on to speculate that the usual Republican suspects could challenge Gillibrand–Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki or Rep. Peter King but recommends Randy Atschuler abandon his bid to challenge Rep. Steve Israel (although it looks like Podheretz confused Israel with Rep. Tim Bishop *Thanks Colin!*) and instead face Gillibrand, “in an anti incumbent year.”

Team Gillibrand seems to be taking the Weprin loss as a wake-up call or at least sees it as an opportunity to boost fundraising. Gillibrand has been prodigious fundraiser since she won election to congress in upstate New York in 2006.

“The recent loss in New York City’s 9th Congressional District is a major wake up call,” reads the fundraising message. “After a summer dominated by conservative talking points all over the airwaves, a Tea Party Republican was able to garner 55 percent of the vote in a Congressional District with a 3-to-1 Democratic registration advantage. If you weren’t concerned about losing progressive voices in the Senate before, you should be now.”

Having covered Gillibrand since her days as a Blue Dog Democrat in a very Conservative upstate district it is hard not to giggle a bit when she warns of Tea Partiers and losing a progressive seat. Nonetheless she has transformed herself into a progressive leader in the Senate. Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 16, 2011, 12:21 pm
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Eye on Albany | 2 Comments »

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Manhattan District Leader Results
September 15th, 2011

Must still be recovering from the late blogging Tuesday. Thanks to the readers who pointed out the mistakes in this post. The corrected copy is below.

Now that Bob Turner has been officially sworn in as a member of Congress, we can turn to some less heralded races: notably those for district leaders in Manhattan. As we have noted before, these contests often shape up as proxy battles for larger factional fights within a party.

Contests in districts 64 part C and 66 part B featured battles between the longtime party reform organization Lower Manhattan DemocratsDowntown Independent Democrats and the more recently formed Downtown Independent Democrats Lower Manhattan Democrats. In all three contests the newer older club won out, with Paul Newell and Jenifer Rajkumar besting Jeff Galloway and Linda Belfer in the 64th. John Scott defeated incumbent David Reck, one of the founders of Lower Manhattan Democrats, in the 66th by a wide margin.

UpdateNewell notes that the Lower Manhattan Democrats now have no district leaders.

The incumbents held on in district 64 part D in Chinatown where Herbert Kee and Jenny Low fended off Paul Lee and Jin Mei Chen.

Farther uptown, incumbent district leader John Ruiz held off a challenge from community organizer Edward Gibbs, a former convict who has also been a community organizer.

And in another battle reflecting party rifts, also in Harlem, this one in the 70th district part D Jamaal Nelson bested two other candidates, Brian Benjamin and Michael Adams. Benjamin had backing from Manhattan party chief Keith Wright and other area district leaders and State Sen. Bill Perkin was pushing for Adams, one of his aides. But the victor prove to be Nelson, who the Daily News reported recently, had support from former Mayor David Dinkins and some charter school supporters. Nelson also tried to capitalize on being the only one of the three to live in part D.

In other Manhattan contests in district 68 part A Diane Green bested Theresa Richardson and in district 70 part D Marisol Alcantara defeated April Tyler.

By on September 15, 2011, 3:00 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | 11 Comments »

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54th Post Mortem
September 14th, 2011

So Vito Lopez er — I mean Rafael Espinal won the 54th Assembly seat vacated by Darryl Towns by a pretty hefty margin.

Now that Espinal and I will be spending so much time together in Albany maybe he will answer basic questions about where he stands on the issues.

Being that he is safe in his seat and will likely hold the seat for years to come — barring some scandal –he really doesn’t have anything to lose by saying where he really stands. For those who don’t know, the Assemblyman-elect filled out questionnaires from the Working Families Party and Conservative Party in totally contradictory ways and tried to dictate terms of an interview with the Gazette before running out on a scheduled interview.

It may be safe to assume that Espinal will be toting the Assembly Democrats talking points — or at least Lopez’s — when he arrives in Albany.

So how did the race actually break down?

Unofficial results show that the Conservative Party line really did not put Espinal over the top in any sort of way. According to unofficial results from the Board of Elections, out of 5,900 votes cast Espinal received 2,226 votes or 37.73 percent of the total vote on the Democratic line. He received 321 votes or 5.44 percent of total votes on the Conservative Party line and 73 votes on the United We Can line. Unsurprisingly It was the Democratic line that did it plain and simple — and for that he has Lopez to thank.

Meanwhile, Jesus Gonzalez brought in 1,913 votes or 32.42 percent of the total vote on the Working Families Party Line. The WFP’s get-out-to vote efforts, the Daily News endorsement and Gonzalez’s organizational skills a helped him get over 30 percent of the vote–but it wasn’t enough.

Meanwhile, Deidra Towns brought in 1,367 votes or 23.17 percent of the total vote on the Community First line. Towns’ campaign relied heavily on her name recognition and did not stake out a strong policy platform but if she or Gonzalez had the Democratic line either of them would likely have been sitting pretty.

Would it have made a difference if either Gonzalez or Towns stood aside to make a two-way race? It seems that way. But would the establishment crowd have gone with Espinal if Towns left? And would as many people showed up to vote if Gonzalez, the young organizer, hadn’t stirred the pot? Who knows.

But this is what makes special elections so special — the party establishment almost always win.

By on September 14, 2011, 3:21 pm
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Message from the Ninth Congressional District
September 14th, 2011

With Republican Bob Turner preparing for his swearing in as the new representative from New York’s ninth district theories are flying as to how the Democrats managed to lose a seat they have held for 90 years and what, if anything, it means.

Turner, who hammered away at government spending during his campaign, told his victory party that he won because of Barack Obama, “We’ve been asked by people of this district to send a message to Washington and I hope they hear it loud and clear,” Turner said. “This message will resound for a whole year.”

The White House, not surprisingly begs to differ. Asked about the result, press secretary Jay Carney said, “Special elections are often unique and their outcomes dont tell you very much about future regularly scheduled elections You can make those predictions and look foolish in 14 months or not, I’m simply saying we do not view them that way [as a referendum].”

Overall Democrats tried to paint the outcome as the result of a number of largely local factors while Republicans and Conservatives saw it as a piece of a bigger picture. It’s the dance that takes place after almost every special election though the parties switch partners as circumstances change.

More comments and reactions after the jump.
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By on September 14, 2011, 2:45 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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The Organization Man
September 14th, 2011

At times he may have seemed like the candidate who couldn’t shoot straight but Rafael Espinal has emerged as the winner of a hotly contested three-way race for the Assembly seat from the 54th district in Bushwick. With some precincts still out, at midnight, Espinal had 42 percent of the vote versus 32 percent for Working Families Party candidate Jesus Gonzalez and 26 percent for Deirdra Towns, sister of the former Assembly member, Darryl Towns.

Espinal, an aide to City Councilmember Erik Dilan, did not run a terribly adroit campaign. He dodged interviews, boasted of his fealty to the party machine, gave conflicting answers to basic questions on candidate questionnaires and was lampooned for publishing a newspaper of his own when none of the real ones endorsed him.

His victory in a three-way race raises all kinds of questions about whose candidacy hurt and helped whom and there are other issues to ponder as well.

To wit, Espinal (a.k.a. Vito Lopez) forces claimed victory earlier in the evening with only 10 percent of the vote reporting on the sources most of us mortals see. According to Colin Campbell of BK Politics, Lopez has poll watchers who get the news before the rest of us do. If true, that seems to raise all kinds of tantalizing possibilities that almost certainly can’t be explored at midnight. (Update: We should have known that other candidates can have poll watchers too.)

In any event, aside from David Weprin’s defeat in the congressional race by Bob Turner, Lopez had a good night, with Espinal’s victory and the win by Sharen Hudson in the contest for Civl Court judge. And Weprin’s defeat was almost certainly more of a blow to Queens boss Joe Crowley (and maybe to Barack Obama) than it was to Lopez.

By on September 14, 2011, 12:19 am
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Eye on Albany,Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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Council and the Court
September 13th, 2011

Whatever his legal problems, Ruben Wills will remain on the City Council. Elected last year to fill the seat from the 28th district in south Queens after the death of Thomas White, the law requires Wills to go back to the voters this year. By a resounding margin, they let him keep the seat.

With almost all precincts reporting, Wills had 69 percent of the vote, compared to17 percent for former Councilmember Alan Jennings, 8 percent for Michael Duvalle and 6 percent for Clifton Stanley Diaz.

Since his election last year, the press unearthed some legal difficulties for Wills, including an unresolved misdemeanor case dating back to 1996 and open warrants for failing to pay more than $25,000 in child support payments.

That, though, may well have paled in voters’ eyes when compared with Jennings’ record. Accused of sexual harassment, he was censured by the City Council when he served on it, threw a metal object at a reporter and generally engaged in some fairly bizarre behavior.

In the two court contests yesterday — both for Civil Court — Sharen Hudson, reportedly the candidate of the party organization, holds a substantial edge over Cheryl Gonzalez, who was endorsed by the Times and some insurgent Democrats. In a Manhattan Civil Court contest, Tony Cannataro appears to have defeated Sabrina Kraus.

By on September 13, 2011, 11:55 pm
In category: City Hall,Electoral Politics,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Goldfeder Wins
September 13th, 2011

With 57 out of 90 precincts reporting, Democrat Phil Goldfeder has defeated Republican Jane Deacy for the Assembly seat from the 23rd district in the Rockaways. Goldfeder has 61 percent of the vote to Deacy’s 39 percent.

Goldfeder, who, though only 30 has already worked for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Charles Schumer and two City Council members, was heavily favored for the seat formerly held by Audrey Pheffer, who resigned to become Queens County clerk. He trounced Deacy in the fundraising race and had support from Pheffer. Despite that, Deacy, a former police officer, ran a spirited campaign.

By on September 13, 2011, 11:29 pm
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Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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