Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/427 Thu, 23 Nov 2017 20:05:31 +0000 en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Election Post-Mortem with Nicole Malliotakis’ Campaign Manager http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7316:election-post-mortem-with-malliotakis-campaign-manager http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7316:election-post-mortem-with-malliotakis-campaign-manager malliotakis with people and banner

Nicole Malliotakis and company (photo: @NMalliotakis)


“I targeted 750,000 votes,” said Leticia Remauro, campaign manager for Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis’ mayoral bid, “and broke them up into about 26 Assembly Districts we needed to target.”

“To win as a Republican in New York City, you have to win Queens, Staten Island, and the Upper East Side,” Remauro told Gotham Gazette in an election post-mortem interview, with the intensity of the campaign still evident.

While some absentee and other ballots are still being counted, Malliotakis, the Republican challenger to incumbent Democrat Bill de Blasio, received just under 304,000 votes, to de Blasio’s 726,000 and change. (Malliotakis also appeared on the Conservative and “Dump de Blasio” ballot lines, while the mayor also appeared on the Working Families Party line.)

The campaign did win convincingly in Malliotakis’ home borough of Staten Island, she got 74 percent of the vote there, and did very well on the Upper East Side, while Queens was more of a mixed bag, as de Blasio won 64 percent of the vote in the borough.

In the interview, Remauro explained the long odds the Malliotakis campaign faced from the get-go, and what needed to happen for her to pull off the upset that did not transpire. She admitted no mistakes in how the campaign was run -- “I don’t think that we could have run a better campaign.” -- but did express a few regrets, and she pointed the finger at several causes of the loss.

“The reason de Blasio has been reelected has a lot do with Eric Ulrich,” Remauro said, referring to the Republican City Council member from Queens who endorsed Bo Dietl, an independent mayoral candidate who tried to run in the Democratic, then Republican primaries, but was unsuccessful in both efforts and ran on his own ballot line. Dietl raised and spent over $1 million in the race, participated in the two televised debates alongside de Blasio and Malliotakis, was the subject of a good amount of media coverage, and ultimately received 1 percent of the vote (about 10,600 votes).

Other factors Remauro pointed to included Dietl’s inclusion in the televised debates (“Bo Dietl turned those debates into an entertainment circus. I believe voters were cheated”); the rain that came down around rush hour on Election Day and she believes led some people to stay home (“Had that rain decided not to let go as people were just coming home from work you would’ve seen a higher number”); how the news media covered Malliotakis’ candidacy and the race in general; and the presence of President Donald Trump atop the Republican Party. “He caused a lot of hurt to a lot of candidates and there’s nothing anyone could have done about that,” Remauro said of Trump.

When asked about mistakes or things she wishes the campaign had done differently, Remauro said, “I would have liked to have had more money sooner. If I could turn back time it would have been good to get into the race in February, not in May or June, when we really got into it.” With more money sooner and thus public matching funds earlier, “get on the air sooner, done more mail than we did, spend earlier.”

“A young Assemblywoman from Staten Island running in a 7-to-1 Democrat city” against an incumbent, Remauro explained of the tough odds. “We had Paul Massey who had taken millions out of New York City, real estate money...and we suffered for that,” she added, referring to the real estate executive who had been the Republican mayoral frontrunner until Malliotakis got in the race and who dropped out after their first side-by-side debate a few weeks later.

“She had every disadvantage that you could imagine, and she still managed to capture a higher vote total and a higher vote percentage than Joe Lhota,” Remauro said, referring to the 2013 Republican mayoral nominee. She also explained that Lhota was more well-known and connected than Malliotakis at the times of their mayoral campaigns, explaining, for example, that he had been a deputy mayor and MTA chair, and that he was well-connected in Manhattan and had been endorsed by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Remauro, who runs The Von Agency, a public relations firm, noted that she has known Malliotakis since the Assembly member was in college, and always thought highly of her.

As for Council Member Ulrich, who at one point flirted with his own mayoral bid, and “fractured” GOP support in Queens, Remauro gave Ulrich credit given that he won his reelection handily, but expressed frustration and confusion about why he continued to back Dietl. Ulrich maintained throughout the campaign that of any candidate in the race, Dietl had the best chance to defeat de Blasio in the general election. “If he had embraced her he could have been working with a Republican mayor,” Remauro said of Ulrich and Malliotakis.

Remauro said that support for Massey, then Dietl from some leaders in Queens held Malliotakis’ campaign back (Ulrich supported Dietl throughout the campaign). While Remauro said that many district leaders and other GOP officials in Queens were helpful, “we always had to overcome the Dietl factor.”

“She was out there repeatedly, but it’s difficult to be able to get in deep in a borough unless you have the support from the district leaders in that borough and the people who are organizing in the borough, and that never manifested itself,” Remauro said. Not getting Ulrich and a few others on board “was a killer,” she added.

She drew a comparison to the Bronx, the most Democratic borough, where the Republican county party had also endorsed Massey in the early going, but then quickly embraced Malliotakis when her path to the Republican nomination became clear. “We took 16 percent in the Bronx versus Lhota’s 7 percent,” Remauro said. In 2013, Lhota received about 23 percent of the overall vote to de Blasio’s 73 percent. Malliotakis received about 28 percent to de Blasio’s 66.5 percent.

“It was difficult for us to get into Queens the way we got into the Bronx,” Remauro said. She also criticized Dietl’s inclusion in the two debates, which was at the discretion of the lead sponsors, first NY1, then CBS.

“It was always my opinion that Bo Dietl and [Reform Party nominee] Sal Albanese would take votes away from Nicole and indeed we saw that on Staten Island and elsewhere,” Remauro said.

“Press conference after press conference she put out substantive issues,” Remauro said, when asked to elaborate more on comments she made about the media’s treatment of Malliotakis’ candidacy. She listed mental illness, homelessness, education, school safety, property taxes, illegal conversions. “She held at least two press conferences a week where she presented plans, and reporters had other things on their mind, and would ask questions and ask questions until they landed on an answer they enjoyed, and everyone would write about that.”

“Up until that first debate, for whatever reason, she would get at every single press conference a question about the president. Her issues got buried,” Remauro said.

“Shame on some of the reporters, because they could have done their homework. She was out there...Too often reporters are becoming commentators and not just being reporters. And that’s what I’d say to those who say we didn’t have new ideas,” Remauro said.

“Nobody in the fourth estate wanted to talk about rape being up,” she said, touching on one of Malliotakis’ main lines of attack against de Blasio (rape reports are up slightly under de Blasio, which the mayor and NYPD officials have said is likely due to more awareness, encouragement, and willingness to report, something Remauro acknowledged as plausible).

Remauro went on to say that she feels good about the fact that the Malliotakis campaign clearly got de Blasio’s attention and pushed him on issues like sex crimes against women, homelessness, and property taxes that he will have to continue to work to address, possibly collaborating with Malliotakis in some way, she said, referring to a phone call the two had on Wednesday. She praised de Blasio as being “a good guy, a nice guy -- he wants to help the city.”

Other than a potential Assembly reelection bid in 2018, Remauro did not have anything specific to say in terms of what Malliotakis might do next, but said “the world is her oyster.” Malliotakis is “so intelligent, and she has great communication skills -- she can do whatever she wants,” Remauro added.

“If anyone can become the Republican mayor in my lifetime, it would be her,” she said of Malliotakis. “She has a lot of opportunity ahead of her. Her phone has been ringing.”

As for this mayoral bid that just ended, Remauro ultimately noted that Malliotakis “took votes from the mayor...she damaged him.”

“What could we have done differently?” she said, “Nothing. We did exactly what we could do.”

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Note: this article has been corrected to reflect that Joe Lhota does not live in Manhattan, but is well-connected in the borough. Lhota lives in downtown Brooklyn.

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Election Post-Mortem with Nicole Malliotakis’ Campaign Manager Fri, 10 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Mapping the Mayoral: Where De Blasio and Malliotakis Each Did Well http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7313:mapping-the-mayoral-where-de-blasio-and-malliotakis-each-did-well http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7313:mapping-the-mayoral-where-de-blasio-and-malliotakis-each-did-well wnyc map interactive

image: WNYC Data News team map of the 2017 mayoral race


Mayor Bill de Blasio was reelected for a second term on Tuesday with two-thirds of the vote in a low turnout election that saw only about 22 percent of registered New Yorkers cast a ballot for mayor.

There were few surprises across the five boroughs, and voter behavior was largely consistent with the 2013 mayoral election, in which de Blasio beat Republican Joe Lhota, 73 percent to 24 percent. But in certain enclaves of the city, de Blasio’s main challenger, Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, built on Lhota’s vote share and cut into the mayor’s margin of victory. The neighborhood by neighborhood break down of the vote not only tracks similarly to 2013, it also shows racial and ethnic divisions that have been consistent throughout de Blasio’s term. Meanwhile, Malliotakis’ performance was buoyed by her home borough of Staten Island.

De Blasio received 66.16 percent of the vote, with Malliotakis pulling 27.67 percent, according to unofficial election night returns from the Board of Elections (absentee and affidavit ballots are still being counted). In absolute numbers, more New Yorkers voted on Tuesday -- 1.09 million -- than in 2013, when 1.08 million people cast ballots, which was 26 percent of registered voters at the time.

A glance at the CUNY mapping service electoral maps from 2013 and 2017 show that de Blasio did not manage to either keep or expand on his vote share in several parts of the city. Some neighborhoods in Staten Island that voted for him in 2013 went deep red on Tuesday to back his Republican challenger. Similarly, parts of southern Brooklyn flipped to Republican, as did a section of northeastern Queens. Locales that were already Republican went further that way to varying degrees.

mayoral election 2013v2017 large

“I think Malliotakis definitely did better in terms of vote share in most places” compared to Lhota, said Steve Romalewski, director of CUNY Graduate Center's mapping service. “The turnout is also higher than average in those areas, compared to the citywide average.”

As expected, Malliotakis’ strongest performance was on Staten Island, her home borough that she represents in the Assembly along with a sliver of Brooklyn. She won both the 50th and 51st Council districts, which cover the central and southern parts of the island. In the 49th Council district, represented by Debi Rose, a Democrat, de Blasio pulled votes along the northern shore. In total, Malliotakis received more than 67,000 votes on the island, while de Blasio got just over 24,000.

In southern Brooklyn, Malliotakis won more neighborhoods across four Council districts than Lhota did in 2013. “She did better there but voter turnout wasn’t that high,” Romalewski pointed out. Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay and Midwood all went for Malliotakis. Notably, although Malliotakis carried most of the areas covering City Council District 43, the competitive open seat in that district went to a Democrat, Justin Brannan. Brannan, a progressive who had worked under de Blasio at the Department of Education, distanced himself from the mayor publicly, though aides to de Blasio helped Brannan on the ground.

Other smaller pockets that skewed Republican were Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and some neighborhoods adjacent to Marine Park.  

Malliotakis also received significant support in Council District 32 in Queens, represented by Eric Ulrich, a moderate who is one of the three Republicans currently in the City Council. Breezy Point, Rockaway Park, Howard Beach, and Lindenwood chose Malliotakis, while the northern part of the district, including Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill, voted for de Blasio. Ulrich won reelection convincingly against a Democratic opponent.

District 30 in Queens saw the closest City Council race and is yet to be called in one candidate’s favor. Incumbent Democrat Elizabeth Crowley may be headed to a loss against challenger Robert Holden, a registered Democrat who lost the primary to Crowley but ran on multiple ballot lines, including Republican and Conservative, in the general. Holden has a 133 vote lead and Crowley has yet to concede the race as other ballots are counted and a potential recount looms. A similar dynamic played out on the mayoral level, with Malliotakis winning most of the district, which covers Glendale, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven and Woodside.

Wide swathes of northeastern Queens, including College Point, Whitestone, Bayside and Little Neck, voted for Malliotakis. The neighborhoods fall within Council Member Paul Vallone’s constituency, District 19. Yet Vallone, a moderate Democrat, was comfortably reelected.  

Malliotakis also made inroads in Schuylerville, south of Pelham Bay Park in the East Bronx, in outgoing Council Member James Vacca’s 13th Council District.  

Manhattan voted almost entirely for de Blasio, save for swaths of the 4th Council District on the East Side, where Malliotakis won stretches along Museum Mile, and miniscule pockets in the 5th Council District. District 4 was one of the few Council seats with an open race, and one of only a handful with a Republican candidate running an assertive campaign, in which Democrat Keith Powers defeated Republican Rebecca Harary. [See map below from the WNYC radio Data News team]

“I think de Blasio did more than well enough in pretty much all the areas where people supported him in 2013,” Romalewski noted. The areas Malliotakis won are those with high percentages of white residents, though de Blasio did well in parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan home to many white, liberal voters. Throughout the 2013 race and the mayor’s first term he has polled significantly higher among people of color than white people.

De Blasio did best on Tuesday in neighborhoods such as his home area of Park Slope, as well as in areas of central Brooklyn (Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, East Flatbush, and beyond), southeast Queens, the south and north Bronx, and upper Manhattan. These are the areas where his win was by the largest margins.

“The one thing I was surprised about was turnout,” Romalewski said, about the increase in the number of voters, if not the rate of voting. “That’s encouraging. It’s too early to say if it’s a trend but compared to going the other way, it’s good.” On Wednesday, de Blasio declared a “mandate” from the voters and said that a slight increase in overall turnout was indicative of a backlash against President Donald Trump.

“I don’t think you should get too hung up on percentage turnout,” Romalewski said, noting that the increase in the number of registered voters is affected by the Board of Election’s efforts to maintain the voter rolls and it’s hard to decipher truly how many new voters have been added. “I have more faith in looking at total voters as a measure of civic participation.”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Mapping the Mayoral: Where De Blasio and Malliotakis Each Did Well Thu, 09 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Bill De Blasio Easily Wins Reelection as Mayor of New York City http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7305:bill-de-blasio-easily-wins-reelection-as-mayor-of-new-york-city http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7305:bill-de-blasio-easily-wins-reelection-as-mayor-of-new-york-city de Blasio voting election

Mayor Bill de Blasio after casting his vote (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)


Mayor Bill de Blasio triumphed over his challengers on Tuesday to become the first Democrat to be reelected mayor of New York City since Ed Koch won a third term in 1985. De Blasio celebrated, promised more progress, and put his win into the context of a larger Democratic wave that took place on Tuesday in other places around the country. De Blasio declared a new goal for a second and final term: making New York City “the fairest big city in America.”

With 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, de Blasio had received 726,361 votes, or 66.5 percent, according to unofficial Board of Elections returns. He handily beat his Republican rival Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who received 303,742 votes, or 28 percent. Five other candidates were on the mayoral ballot, with Reform Party candidate Sal Albanese coming in third with 2 percent (22,891 votes).

“This is your city,” de Blasio said as he declared victory before 10 p.m., invoking his campaign slogan to hundreds of supporters at the Brooklyn Museum on Tuesday night, as First Lady Chirlane McCray and their son Dante stood by his side.

De Blasio, a progressive who championed policies for low-income and working New Yorkers in his first term, stood emboldened by the result and shot back at the detractors who predicted gloom-and-doom under his administration. “They said things were going in the wrong direction,” he said, “Well, they were wrong.”

After a largely lackluster mayoral race matched by low turnout, and the power of incumbency on his side, de Blasio easily bested his opponents, who struggled to garner name recognition throughout the campaign and overcome the mayor’s significant fundraising advantage. The mayor’s campaign employed an expansive ground game and digital strategy, spending more than $8 million by Election Day, eclipsing all his rivals.

De Blasio comfortably carried every borough but Staten Island, Malliotakis’ home turf and a Republican bastion in a city where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans six to one.

Touting his “historic” win Tuesday, de Blasio reiterated the measures his administration has taken to make the city more equitable, including implementing universal pre-kindergarten, creating affordable housing, and reducing crime. And, he promised more. “We’ve got to have a fairer city, we’ve got to do it soon, we’ve got to do it fast, we’ve got to put everything we’ve got into it,” he said. “You saw some important changes in the last four years but you ain’t seen nothin yet.”

The crowd cheered repeatedly as de Blasio floated his oft-stated ideas to make New York that “fairest big city in America,” including a millionaires tax to fund the subways and subsidized MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers; a mansion tax to help create more affordable housing for seniors; and a reformed voting and election system that encourages, instead of burdens, democratic participation. All three would require cooperation from legislators and the governor in Albany, and de Blasio promised he’d apply the pressure in the first month of his second term.

De Blasio also talked about big goals like instituting universal, free preschool for three-year-olds across the city; expanding his affordable housing plan; creating 100,000 good-paying jobs by through city intervention; and outfitting all patrol officers with police body cameras.

Tuesday also marked one year since the election of Donald Trump, and de Blasio did not miss his opportunity to mock the Republican president, a fellow New Yorker, while also promising to hold fast in his opposition to federal policies. “America got a little fairer tonight, America got a little bluer tonight,” he said, exhorting the audience to cheer for Democrats who emerged victorious in New Jersey and Virginia as well. “Tonight, New York City sends a message to the White House as well. You can’t take on New York values and win, Mr. President.”

De Blasio’s margin of victory Tuesday seemed to fall short of his vote share in the 2013 general election, when he received 72.1 percent over Republican Joe Lhota’s 24 percent. That year de Blasio had not met the challenges of governing a complex and vast city, he had not had to make difficult decisions, solve a homelessness crisis, or figure out how to build new affordable housing.

The relatively sleepy race drew about 1,092,746 voters who cast a ballot for mayor, only about 23 percent of the roughly 4.6 million registered voters in the city, compared to 1,102,400 voters or 24 percent who turned out to vote in the 2013 mayoral race, also a particularly low-turnout election in keeping with a downward trend over decades.

Fellow Democratic elected officials were enthusiastic about the notion of heading into another four years with de Blasio at the city’s helm. Public Advocate Letitia James, who resoundingly won reelection on Tuesday, said she looks forward to working with the mayor on addressing the city’s affordable housing and homelessness crises in his second term, with bolder and bigger ideas. “That should be our primary focus,” she said shortly after casting her vote in Clinton Hill. “For the administration’s second term, they should wake up each and every day focusing on how they are going to build more affordable housing for low-, moderate- and middle-income families.”

Comptroller Scott Stringer, also reelected Tuesday, simply said he was “excited” about the mayor’s second term. Stringer had for some time considered challenging de Blasio this year but chose not to run; he and James are among those expected to run for mayor in 2021 when de Blasio is term-limited.

Earlier in the day, Clinton Hill resident Roslyn Fleming, 63, said she intended to vote for de Blasio and Democrats down the ballot. The mayor, she said, needs another four years to bring his work to fruition. “You know what, he only had four years,” she said. “And sometimes when you implement programs, you need another four years to get it through...and I think in the second four years he’s gonna do a much better job because he’s already kinda laid the groundwork.”

Seventeen-year-old Marcel Martinez was too young to vote Tuesday but was thrilled after meeting de Blasio at an afternoon campaign stop near West 72nd Street and Broadway. “I love how he’s always kind of involved, he’s always around,” Martinez said, shortly after the mayor embraced him in a hug, to which he exclaimed, “Oh! You just made my whole day!”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Bill De Blasio Easily Wins Reelection as Mayor of New York City Tue, 07 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Malliotakis Comes Up Short in Long-shot Mayoral Bid http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7306:nicole-malliotakis-comes-up-short-in-long-shot-mayoral-bid http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7306:nicole-malliotakis-comes-up-short-in-long-shot-mayoral-bid malliotakis whitestone crop

Nicole Malliotakis (photo via @NMalliotakis)


Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican nominee for mayor, lost her long-shot bid on Tuesday to the incumbent, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat.

The election’s outcome never seemed to be in doubt, with de Blasio holding significant leads in all the polls, a fundraising advantage, labor support, and the city’s overwhelmingly party registration margin. Beyond being in a city where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 6-to-1, Malliotakis also had to contend with her vote for President Trump and her conservative stances on issues such as policing and immigration in a largely liberal city.

De Blasio won about 66% of the vote to Malliotakis’ 28%; a handful of other candidates received the remaining 6%.

At the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg, where Malliotakis held her election night party, the atmosphere was relaxed and the crowd fairly thin. The campaign, and its supporters, knew the moment was coming, it was only a matter of margin.

As returns started to pour in, Malliotakis supporters booed whenever de Blasio’s image popped up on the television screen, but otherwise, there was little negativity from the losing campaign, perhaps a sign of Republicans’ understanding that their chances in New York City mayoral elections are slim, especially when crime is low and jobs are up.

The room let out a resounding ‘boo’ as soon as de Blasio was declared the victor by NY1. Malliotakis, who had been at her last campaign stop in Brighton Beach just before the election party, arrived at around 9:45 p.m., surrounded by campaign aides, friends, and family, to give a concession speech.

“We were loud and clear in showing that the status quo must end and that there are many people, thousands of people across this city that deserve to be heard,” Malliotakis said.

Malliotakis hit on what had become the central themes of her campaign: the supposedly deteriorating quality of life in the city coupled with increasing unaffordability of both rent and property taxes, and the decline of ethics in City Hall.

Malliotakis also discussed her humble origins as the daughter of immigrants, a theme she repeatedly focused on in her campaign while she largely ignored the potentially historic nature of her candidacy: the chance to become the first female and first Latina mayor of New York.

“Today, I had the opportunity to go out and vote with my parents, who came here not knowing the language, not having any family, not having any friends,” she said. “And yet, in one generation, their daughter was running to be Mayor of the City of New York.”

“I’ve traveled the whole world in just these five boroughs,” she said. “And it has been the honor of a lifetime.”

Malliotakis did not specifically name or congratulate de Blasio, something she told reporters afterward was not intentional, she said she had just been caught up in the moment. The 36-year-old showed herself to be an energetic and intense campaigner who may have a bright future within the New York Republican Party.

The Assembly member, who will be up for reelection next year, earned around 300,000 votes citywide. She won her home borough of Staten Island with 71% of the vote, but did not break 35% in any other borough. Preliminary numbers show that in Queens she received 34% of the vote, in Brooklyn 21.5%, in Manhattan 20%, and in the Bronx just 16.5%.

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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Malliotakis Comes Up Short in Long-shot Mayoral Bid Tue, 07 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
2017 New York City General Election Results http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7307:2017-new-york-city-general-election-results http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7307:2017-new-york-city-general-election-results voting elections New York City

(photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)


Mayor Bill de Blasio won reelection on Tuesday, earning about two-thirds of the vote in another low-turnout election -- about 1,070,000 voters cast ballots in the mayoral race. De Blasio's fellow incumbent citywide Democrats, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James, also won reelection, each with about three-quarters of the vote.

Among the most notable other votes cast in New York this Election Day, the constitutional convention ballot question -- proposal one on the back of the ballot -- was resoundly defeated, with more than 83% voting "no" statewide. Proposition two, which would allow the stripping of pensions from elected officials convicted of corruption, passed, and proposition three, allowing some opening up of preserved upstate land for important infrastructure projects, also passed. All three were statewide referendums, as voters went to the polls across New York, including in some interesting mayoral and county executive contests.

In New York City, though, de Blasio defeated six other candidates on the ballot, receiving about 66% of the vote, with Republican Nicole Malliotakis coming in second, earning about 28% of the vote. The other candidates -- Sal Albanese (Reform), Akeem Browder (Green), Mike Tolkin (Smart Cities), Bo Dietl (Dump the Mayor), and Aaron Commey (Libertarian) -- all finished at 2% or lower. Dietl, who raised and spent over $1 million and was included in both televised debates, got just 1% of the vote.

Stringer's Republican opponent, Michel Faulkner, came in second in the comptroller race with nearly 20% of the vote. Green Party nominee Julia Willebrand and Libertarian Alex Merced came in distant third and fourth, respectively.

James' Republican opponent, J.C. Polanco, came in second in the public advocate race with about 16% of the vote. Michael O'Reilly, the Conservative Party nominee, got about 8%; Green Party nominee James Lane about 2%; and Libertarian Devin Balkind under 1%.

Democrats Eric Gonzalez and Cyrus Vance won their Brooklyn and Manhattan District Attorney races overwhelmingly.

All five borough presidents were easily reelected with at least 75% of the vote: Gale Brewer in Manhattan; Ruben Diaz, Jr. in the Bronx; Eric Adams in Brooklyn; Melinda Katz in Queens -- all Democrats -- and James Oddo, a Republican, on Staten Island.

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh won a special election to the state Senate, taking the Brooklyn and Manhattan seat vacated by Daniel Squadron earlier this year.

The following City Council results came in on Election Day -- it is worth noting that Council District 30, in Queens, appears headed to a recount after, in a bit of a surprise, incumbent Democrat City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley appers on the verge of losing to Robert Holden, who had lost the Democratic primary to Crowley but ran in the general on several ballot lines, including Republican.

Council District 1: Margaret Chin, a Democrat, will win with about 50% of the vote, with Christopher Marte coming in second with about 37%. This, after Marte lost the Democratic primary to Chin by just over 200 votes.

CD2: Carlina Rivera, Democrat, elected

CD3: Corey Johnson, Democrat, reelected

CD4: Keith Powers, Democrat, elected with 57% of the vote; Republican Rebecca Harary received about 31%; Liberal Party nominee Rachel Honig got 12%.

CD5: Ben Kallos, Democrat, reelected

CD6: Helen Rosenthal, Democrat, reelected

CD7: Mark Levine, Democrat, reelected

CD8: Diana Ayala, Democrat, elected

CD9: Bill Perkins, Democrat, reelected

CD10: Ydanis Rodriguez, Democrat, reelected

CD11: Andrew Cohen, Democrat, reelected

CD12: Andy King, Democrat, reelected

CD13: Mark Gjonaj, Democrat, elected with 49% of the vote; Republican John Cerini received 36%; and Working Families Party nominee Marjorie Velazquez, who did not campaign in the general, received 13%

CD14: Fernando Cabrera, Democrat, reelected

CD15: Ritchie Torres, Democrat, reelected

CD16: Vanessa Gibson, Democrat, reelected

CD17: Rafael Salamanca, Democrat, reelected

CD18: Ruben Diaz, Sr., Democrat, elected

CD19: Paul Vallone, Democrat, reelected with 56% of the vote; Republican Konstantinos Poulidis received 25%; and Reform Party nominee Paul Graziano received 18%

CD20: Peter Koo, Democrat, reelected

CD21: Francisco Moya, Democrat, elected

CD22: Costa Constantinides, Democrat, reelected

CD23: Barry Grodenchik, Democrat, reelected

CD24: Rory Lancman, Democrat, reelected

CD25: Danny Dromm, Democrat, reelected

CD26: Jimmy Van Bramer, Democrat, reelected

CD27: I. Daneek Miller, Democrat, reelected

CD28: Adrienne Adams, Democrat, elected

CD29: Karen Koslowitz, Democrat, reelected

CD30: TBD, either incumbent Elizabeth Crowley (Democrat) or challenger Robert Holden (Republican)

CD31: Donovan Richards, Democrat, reelected

CD32: Eric Ulrich, Republican, reelected with 66% of the vote; Democrat Mike Scala received about 34%

CD33: Stephen Levin, Democrat, reelected

CD34: Antonio Reynoso, Democrat, reelected

CD35: Laurie Cumbo, Democrat, reelected with 68% of the vote; Green Party nominee Jabari Brisport received about 29%

CD36: Robert Cornegy, Jr., Democrat, reelected, reelected

CD37: Rafael Espinal, Democrat, reelected

CD38: Carlos Menchaca, Democrat, reelected

CD39: Brad Lander, Democrat, reelected

CD40: Mathieu Eugene, Democrat, reelected with 60% of the vote; Reform Party nominee Brian Cunningham received about 36%

CD41: Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Democrat, elected

CD42: Inez Barron, Democrat, reelected

CD43: Justin Brannan, Democrat, elected with about 51% of the vote; Republican John Quaglione received about 47%

CD44: Kalman Yeger, Democrat, elected, with 67% of the vote; Yoni Hikind, running on the Our Community line, received about 29%

CD45: Jumaane Williams, Democrat, reelected

CD46: Alan Maisel, Democrat, reelected

CD47: Mark Treyger, Democrat, reelected

CD48: Chaim Deutsch, Democrat, reelected

CD49: Debroah Rose, Democrat, reelected

CD50: Steve Matteo, Republican, reelected

CD51: Joseph Borelli, Republican, reelected

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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2017 New York City General Election Results Tue, 07 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: 10 Things to Think About on Election Day http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7301:max-murphy-podcast-10-things-to-think-about-on-election-day http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7301:max-murphy-podcast-10-things-to-think-about-on-election-day

Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette


November 6, 2017 - Max & Murphy: Previewing the Election

mayor bdb nov277

On this pre-Election Day episode, we bring you a special video show, with Max & Murphy providing 10 things to think about as voters in New York City and across the state head to the polls on Tuesday. Watch the video below for the special show, or, if you prefer audio only, find that further down. (photo via Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)

Watch and/or listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @jarrettmurphy. You can watch or listen to the episode with embedded video and audio below, or download the audio wherever you get your podcasts. Video was shot by Marc Bussanich.

 

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Max & Murphy Podcast: 10 Things to Think About on Election Day Mon, 06 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Mayoral Candidates Make Closing Arguments in Frenetic Final Debate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7291:mayoral-candidates-make-closing-arguments-in-frenetic-final-debate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7291:mayoral-candidates-make-closing-arguments-in-frenetic-final-debate debate Dietl de Blasio Malliotakis mayor

Dietl, de Blasio & Malliotakis on CBS


The second and final mayoral debate of the general election, held Wednesday night, was largely a contest between Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat running for a second term, and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican nominee, as the third candidate on stage, independent Bo Dietl, often struggled to get a word in edgewise.

As the incumbent, de Blasio was put on the spot several times during the hour-long debate -- on public safety, on the city’s homelessness crisis, on his ethics record, on his relationship with the press -- and he drew upon tried-and-tested responses that he has given on the campaign trail and throughout much of his time in office. Malliotakis consistently tried to challenge the progressive Democrat, waiting impatiently to criticize his policies as he defended them.

And Dietl, who initially seemed more subdued than past public appearances, returned to form with nonlinear responses to questions and a more frantic pace as the debate grew increasingly frenetic and the three candidates fought to be heard. All three wound up speaking loudly and quickly, on several occasions talking over one another and arguing with the moderator, Maurice DuBois of CBS-2 New York, about opportunities to rebut claims made by others.

The debate, coming just six days before Election Day, November 7, covered some new ground but often saw the three candidates using lines of attack or defense those closely following the lackluster campaign have heard many times. De Blasio, who is heavily favored to win reelection and has large leads in the polls, did not appear to do anything to jeopardize his standing, while any hope Malliotakis had for further consolidating the anti-de Blasio vote was severely undercut by Dietl’s presence on stage. CBS exercised its discretion to include Dietl, who has not polled well, but declined to explain its decision when Gotham Gazette inquired.

Hosted at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, the debate began with a particular focus on the NYPD and anti-terrorism, just one day after a terror attack in lower Manhattan in which a man alleged to have been inspired by ISIS killed eight people and injured numerous others by driving a truck in a bike lane.

De Blasio immediately found himself defending his decision to close down an NYPD surveillance program that targeted Muslim communities and had led to a lawsuit over the racial profiling of Muslims. He insisted that intelligence gathering and improved police-community relationships were the solutions to preventing terrorism, and he touted his creation of a new terror response unit at the NYPD and the hiring of 1,300 more officers to the force. “We change constantly with the times,” he told DuBois, who asked why the mayor had not been proactive in preventing the type of attack seen Tuesday by installing more bollards, cement posts that disallow car travel, along the West Side bike route.

Malliotakis and Dietl have both have criticized de Blasio for what they see as his lack of support for the police department. The Assembly member said she would provide more resources to the NYPD to combat terror and said it was it important to not limit the police in their jobs, although she said she does not favor targeting specific groups or religions. She also supported installing traffic bollards where necessary to prevent vehicular terror attacks. “My administration will be proactive, not reactive,” she said. De Blasio insisted that he defers to NYPD experts about all matters of security, including anti-terrorism, and touted his two choices of police commissioner.

Dietl, asked if surveillance of Muslims was necessary, categorically said “yes.” “Just look at this terrorist. What did he look like? This is something we have to get past. Political correctness cannot be there all the time,” he said, adding that the man who committed the truck attack looked like the dictionary picture of a terrorist, referencing the man’s long beard in particular. Dietl’s insensitive stereotyping appeared in stark contrast to his two opponents, who took much more measured paths.

Asked to explain his qualifications for the daunting job of Mayor of New York City, Dietl recounted his entrepreneurial success as a private detective with a multi-million dollar security business and referenced his time as a member of the NYPD.

Malliotakis said she was proud of her record in the Assembly as a “fighter for taxpayers” who has seen the city’s quality of life deteriorate. She threw her typical punches at de Blasio, calling him inept at managing the city and in the pockets of his campaign donors.

The debate was not as instructive in terms of where the candidates would take the city as mayor as it was in relitigating de Blasio’s standing after nearly four years at the helm of a city largely doing well, but facing a number of significant challenges.

Numerous times the candidates quibbled, with each other and with DuBois. Malliotakis was asked about her oft-repeated claim that felony sex crimes have increased 25 percent in the city under de Blasio, with DuBois saying the number was only 4 percent and citing the NYPD. She did not concede the point, insisting that her statement was based on NYPD statistics. De Blasio was dubious of Malliotakis’ response, and pointed out that major crime has fallen consistently over the last four years, reaching historic lows. “The NYPD takes crime against women very, very seriously, constantly moving resources to address this problem” he responded.

Malliotakis appears to be correct in her assertion on broader sex crimes, while de Blasio is also right about the overall direction of major crimes, such as murder. Rape, the most serious of sex crime, is up slightly over de Blasio’s tenure, possibly the statistic DuBois was referring to. The mayor, NYPD officials, and other analysts agree that sex crimes are likely higher because of increased awareness, and encouragement and willingness to report.

The question that put the mayor in the most awkward position, one he has answered several times in the last few days, was about his relationship with Jona Rechnitz, a wealthy campaign donor who is currently a cooperating witness in a federal corruption trial against the former boss of the correction officers union. Rechnitz, who pleaded guilty to fraud himself, has testified that he had regular access to the mayor, which has yet again led to criticism from de Blasio’s opponents of a pay-to-pay culture at City Hall.

De Blasio, who again refused to release his phone records to refute Rechnitz’s allegations of how regularly they spoke in late 2013 and beyond, repeated the defense he has offered before, insisting that he did not have a close relationship with Rechnitz and that his ties to donors were thoroughly investigated with no charges filed by federal or state prosecutors. “He is a liar, he is a felon. Don’t believe anything he says,” de Blasio said.

“I think the question is for the public,” Malliotakis retorted, “if they want a mayor who looks for that little loophole, the way to skirt the law to get an intended outcome for himself and his friends.”

The candidates also argued over gentrification, traffic congestion, property taxes, and homelessness.

Malliotakis said gentrification is beneficial when it raises property values and brings economic activity to neighborhoods, but she decried the displacement of existing residents. She struggled to answer more specific questions about gentrification, but attacked de Blasio for not taking on property tax reform. De Blasio, who promised to tackle the issue if reelected, took to defending his affordable housing policy, the rent freezes his administration pushed two years in a row for rent-regulated tenants, and the implementation of free legal services in housing court for low-income New Yorkers.

On homelessness, de Blasio conceded that his administration failed to adequately address street homelessness as it focused on stemming the increase in the shelter population. He insisted that his administration is moving to end the use of commercial hotels to house homeless individuals and families, a practice that has become widespread and very costly.

Malliotakis said the crisis was a “mismanagement issue,” critiquing de Blasio for massively increasing spending on homelessness with little to show for it. She emphasized that she would work with the state to partner on building supportive housing and critiqued the administration’s use of hotels as temporary shelters. The mayor noted, in response, that the city is already committed to building thousands of new supportive housing units and slowly ending the use of hotel shelters.

Congestion pricing was one proposal that none of the candidates seemed to support, though de Blasio was the only one to directly say so. He yet again called it a “regressive tax,” though that claim has largely been debunked, and pushed his proposal to tax the highest-income New Yorkers to fund MTA subways and buses (on this he name-dropped Senator Bernie Sanders, who endorsed the mayor and the “fair fix” proposal earlier this week). De Blasio did seem to leave space to change his stance after the election, saying that he hadn’t seen a plan that he could support. Many New Yorkers are awaiting the expected congestion pricing plan that Governor Andrew Cuomo has empaneled a task force to come up with by January.

Malliotakis said unlike de Blasio, she would work with Cuomo, a Democrat, to fund fixes to mass transit, but did not provide a specific plan that she would implement.

In a brief lightning round near the end, the candidates seemed to find more common ground than could be expected. All three said they are opposed to holding a state constitutional convention, an option that will be presented in a ballot question to voters on Election Day. And none of them were willing to agree to daily press briefings as mayor. De Blasio, who has a famously antagonistic relationship with the press, said, “I’m not gonna have a blanket policy,” preferring to communicate with New Yorkers at town halls and through radio and television appearances. Malliotakis did not give a straight answer, pointing to the mayor and saying, “I’m gonna have to spend most of my time cleaning up his mess.” Dietl promised to post a deputy mayor in each borough that would hear and relay resident concerns.

In closing, de Blasio reiterated his call to voters that he would build on the successes of his first term, noting early childhood education, neighborhood policing, and affordable housing. “I ask for your help to keep this a city for everyone, to keep this a city that’s making progressive change, a city that you know belongs to you,” he said.

Malliotakis vowed to stand up for everyday New Yorkers. “I’m fighting for you because you need a lobbyist,” Malliotakis said, “you need a voice, you need someone who’s gonna put your interests in front of the powerful.”

Dietl, who closed out the debate, said the city was “at a crossroads” and that the only choice was between him and the mayor. Looking and pointing directly at de Blasio, he said, “As a detective, I know a criminal when I see one. Mr. Mayor, you’re a criminal with your corruption and your pay-for-play.”

The election is Tuesday. Along with de Blasio, Malliotakis, and Dietl, the mayoral choices include four other candidates: Sal Albanese, Mike Tolkin, Akeem Browder, and Aaron Commey.

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Mayoral Candidates Make Closing Arguments in Frenetic Final Debate Wed, 01 Nov 2017 04:00:00 +0000
Who will be at the second mayoral debate? http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7247:who-will-be-at-the-second-mayoral-debate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7247:who-will-be-at-the-second-mayoral-debate nyc votes errol and audience

Debate #1 (photo: @NYCVotes)


By most accounts, the first general election mayoral debate was at best minimally helpful in providing voters a substantive exchange of ideas among the three candidates on stage, each competing to lead the city of 8.5 million people and an $85 billion budget for the next four years.

Outbursts and interruptions by audience members and candidate Bo Dietl made for a raucous and rowdy atmosphere where the policy positions of Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat seeking reelection, and Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican nominee, were often drowned out, overshadowed, or truncated.

“It was a bit of a circus,” said debate panelist and WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer, “the crowd was rowdy, the mayor’s opponents aggressive.”

Still, there was some intelligence gleaned from the debate, both in terms of the personalities of the candidates and their policy positions. A good deal of substance was present if you were able to listen closely enough or catch the debate a second time, perhaps desensitized to the lack of decorum shown by Dietl and the crowd, where most of those interfering with the discussion on stage were anti-de Blasio -- either Dietl or Malliotakis supporters or there simply to jeer the mayor.

The three candidates -- seven names will be on the November mayoral ballot, but just these three qualified for the first of two official, televised debates -- did have opportunities to discuss issues like affordable housing, criminal justice, homelessness, the city budget, mass transit funding, street congestion, school segregation, and more.

In the aftermath of a debate that left many, including, apparently, moderator and NY1 anchor Errol Louis, exasperated and frustrated, one important question is who will be on stage for the second official debate, scheduled for Wednesday, November 1 at 7 p.m., televised on CBS.

In order to qualify for that contest, known by campaign finance law as the “leading contenders” debate, one of two sets of criteria will be at play. One is simply a fundraising and spending threshold of $1 million each. The other has a much lower financial threshold ($174,225) and includes candidates attaining at least 15% in a public opinion poll that includes all of the candidates on the ballot (there are a few other minor details to it, but those are the broad strokes).

In all likelihood, the first criteria will be used to determine eligibility, which will almost-certainly again limit the field to de Blasio, Malliotakis, and Dietl. However, because Dietl is not a participant in the Campaign Finance Board public matching program, rules state that the lead sponsor, in this case CBS, has discretion whether to invite him or not. Dietl’s inclusion, or lack thereof, would have significant impact on the debate, if not the outcome of the vote on November 7.

Neither Dietl nor Malliotakis has hit the $1 million raise and spend thresholds yet, though both are fairly close, and they have until October 27 to do so. Dietl told Gotham Gazette it will not be a problem, in part because he has deep personal resources to help his campaign if needed. Reached for comment about whether CBS plans to invite Dietl, a spokesperson said the station would not weigh in on a hypothetical.

"I think they're going to invite me,” Dietl told Gotham Gazette on Wednesday. “I don't think there's too much of a debate without me. There's no entertainment value, I bring out the real facts. CBS knows that, they'll invite me."

Asked if he felt OK with how he had handled himself at the first debate -- during which he spoke almost exclusively in a yell, grunted into his microphone repeatedly, interrupted, and had his mic cut off by Louis -- Dietl indicated no regrets.

“My passion showed,” he said on Wednesday. “I feel great. I thought last night went well. A little out of control…You had to get in to say what you want to say.”

"It’s important for people to see human beings,” Dietl said, “rather than robot politicians. I got a lot of my points out. A lot of people saw Bo could be mayor of New York City against a couple of politicians."

Dietl’s presence at the first debate -- and his potential presence at the second -- hurts Malliotakis’ chances of consolidating the anti-de Blasio vote and narrowing the 40-plus-point gap in the polls. While Dietl argues he has the better chance of the two to defeat de Blasio, Malliotakis appears a more cogent candidate and has her own lead on Dietl in polling.

Asked about the debate and Dietl’s presence at a Wednesday press conference in the Bronx, Malliotakis said, “Certainly I would prefer a one-on-one debate with the mayor. I believe that I am the clear alternative to Bill de Blasio being offered in November. I would love the opportunity to debate him one-on-one, and we’ll see, maybe November 1 -- I intend to make the threshold to qualify for the CBS debate, and we’ll see what happens there.”

She said one-on-one with de Blasio would let her better make her case and allow the candidates to drill down on the issues more. “I’m very pleased with the way the debate went,” she added, saying she thought she made many of her key points and held the mayor accountable.

Along with Dietl’s presence, or that of other mayoral candidates who are suing to get on stage, the other key question about the second debate is the live audience. The crowd at Symphony Space acted more like it was an NFL game than a political debate, leading to at least one ejection and several admonishments from Louis, the moderator.

The venue for the second debate is the smaller CUNY Graduate Center auditorium, and it is not yet clear how CBS and its co-sponsors will handle ticket dissemination. They may filter tickets through sponsor organizations, as well as CUNY faculty and students, and not through the candidate campaigns.

“[W]e are reviewing what happened last night and will do what we can to keep the focus of the Nov. 1 debate on the candidates,” the CBS New York spokesperson, Rachel Ferguson, told Gotham Gazette on Wednesday.

When asked for comment on the debate, the Campaign Finance Board gave credit to Louis and his fellow questioners and pointed to crowd behavior.

“A lot of interested voters showed up at last night’s debate determined to make their voices heard,” said Amy Loprest, Executive Director of the NYC Campaign Finance Board, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “While it is regrettable that the crowd reduced the amount of time available for questions, the debate moderator and panelists did their very best to ensure the candidates addressed a wide range of issues that directly affect New Yorkers. The [Campaign Finance] Act requires these debates so that all voters can hear directly from the candidates about the issues that matter to them. As a result, the New Yorkers who tuned in to last night’s debate are better equipped to cast an informed ballot for the city they want on November 7th.”

Asked about the debate at an unrelated Thursday press conference, de Blasio expressed his own dismay, but did not offer any specific prescriptions. “It was not what the people of New York City deserved,” de Blasio said. “It was a lost opportunity.”

While the mayor’s supporters often cheered his answers and chanted “four more years” to drown out boos or jeers from others in the crowd, they appeared to take the approach more reactively, responding to the tone set early on by de Blasio detractors who interrupted the mayor’s opening statement and repeatedly heckled during his answers to questions.

Asked about whether Dietl should be invited to the second debate, a spokesperson for the mayor’s campaign, Dan Levitan, said in a statement, "Under Mayor de Blasio crime is at record lows, jobs are at record highs, and New York City is building affordable housing at a record pace. We are happy for any opportunity to talk about the Mayor’s record and we look forward to debating whoever the CFB and debate sponsors decide to include.”

Another candidate, Michael Tolkin, has repeatedly met financial thresholds by giving his own campaign money and has not been invited to debate, either in the Democratic primary, where he came in a distant third to de Blasio and Sal Albanese, or in the general, where he is running on his self-created Smart Cities ballot line.

Albanese, too, is running again in the general, on the Reform Party line. He came in a distant second to de Blasio in the primary, but showed fairly well, at about 15%, given the substantial disadvantages he faced. Despite limited financial resources (Albanese barely qualified for the two primary debates where he faced de Blasio one-on-one), Albanese did poll better than Dietl in one recent general election survey, leading to cries of injustice from Albanese about his exclusion from the debate.

Both Albanese and Tolkin are suing to be included in the debate. Therefore, there’s a chance that the second debate, on CBS, could include up to five candidates.

The other two candidates who will be on the November ballot are Akeem Browder of the Green Party and Libertarian candidate Aaron Commey.

As for Dietl, he said he thinks the debate gave new life to his campaign, citing his performance, the overall response, and media interest the day after. Calling the debate “a real turning point,” Dietl said, "let's wait and see what the next poll says. I think you'll be surprised."

For her part, Malliotakis also said Wednesday that she believes the race is closer than the polls from Marist College and Quinnipiac University show, citing her campaign’s internal polling and the response she gets all over the city. “This is a race,” she said.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Who will be at the second mayoral debate? Thu, 12 Oct 2017 20:43:24 +0000
Debate Showcases Sharp Differences Among Mayoral Candidates on Transit, Congestion http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7245:mayoral-candidates-differ-sharply-on-fixing-transit-congestion http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7245:mayoral-candidates-differ-sharply-on-fixing-transit-congestion de Blasio subway

De Blasio on the subway (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


The first general election mayoral debate, held Tuesday, was often devoid of substance amid repeated interruptions of a restive audience and candidates who seemed more interested in scoring political points than talking policy. Mayor Bill de Blasio regularly retreated to stump speech talking points as his opponents, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and retired NYPD detective Bo Dietl, attacked him over and over again. Malliotakis offered up a few policy proposals while Dietl largely blustered and ranted through his time, at times overshadowing any policy ideas he was putting forth.

On the issues of mass transit and street congestion, however, none of the candidates, including de Blasio, seemed to have immediate solutions for the city’s problems with its deteriorating subways and clogged roadways.

Earlier this year, de Blasio faced ample criticism for a seemingly lax attitude over problems in the subway system, which cascaded into a full-blown crisis this summer with repeated train breakdowns, derailments, and unrelenting delays. He was dragged by transit activists and political opponents to ride the subways more and to use his bully pulpit to advocate for increased funding and immediate action by the state, which controls the MTA and bears most responsibility for the subways.

After MTA Chair Joe Lhota put forth an emergency subway action plan and asked the city and state to split the $836 million price tag, Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed and de Blasio balked, saying the city should not be on the hook for any more funds and insisting that the state repay money it had raided from the MTA -- ironically, the same $456 million figure now being asked of the city.

De Blasio pitched a millionaire’s tax proposal to fund MTA repairs as well as subsidized fares for low-income New Yorkers, addressing another area of significant criticism, his unwillingness to fund the “Fair Fares” campaign. His proposal was immediately panned as having little hope for passage in Albany and as lacking immediacy. The mayor pointed back to the state, and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

At Tuesday’s debate, both Malliotakis and Dietl agreed that the city bears significant responsibility for the MTA, where the mayor has four of 14 board appointees, and should contribute its fair share.

“If my kids are riding on a school bus and the school bus needs brakes and I have the money to fix that, I’m gonna fix it,” responded Dietl, to a question from debate panellist Gloria Pazmino, a Politico New York reporter, about whether the candidates would fund half the MTA emergency action plan and support a potential congestion pricing proposal. “This mayor over here says it’s not his responsibility. He’s the mayor of New York, it is his responsibility,” Dietl added, shouting. Dietl veered into incomprehension before seeming to say that regarding congestion, the de Blasio administration’s issuance of thousands of parking placards to “flunkies” is a major factor in the problem.

“I absolutely do believe that the city has a responsibility, the mayor has a responsibility to make sure that his constituents can get to and from work,” said a more measured Malliotakis. She emphasized the role the mayor’s appointees to the MTA board could play, in seeking more capital investment from the state for necessary infrastructure upgrades. And she vowed to work with the governor to solve the crisis, before snarkily turning to de Blasio and challenging him, “Are you afraid of Governor Cuomo?”

Although, Malliotakis did not directly answer either part of the question -- whether she would agree to fund half of the MTA emergency plan and whether she favors a congestion pricing scheme -- she has publicly said before that the city could use funds set aside in reserves for the MTA emergency action plan. "On congestion pricing she has said she likes the Sam Schwartz plan but, remains open minded regarding other plans,” campaign spokesperson Rob Ryan clarified in an email on Wednesday. Schwartz is a renowned traffic engineer and the proposal Ryan referenced is Move New York, which involves reducing tolls at bridges with less traffic and increasing them in higher traffic areas, variable pricing for peak and off-peak hours, and adding tolls to the East River bridges, among other ideas. It is a popular plan aimed at both fighting congestion and raising revenue to create a city with improved mass transit and better flowing roads. 

Malliotakis has also supported converting all traffic signals into Smart Lights that use sensors and artificial intelligence to control the flow of traffic and reduce congestion, while also preventing accidents and cutting down on vehicle emissions. The assemblymember's plan would prioritize communities with high vehicle ownership in Queens and Staten Island, and envisions a total cost of about $1 billion to replace every traffic light in the city.   

De Blasio does not support the Move New York plan, and has called congestion pricing a “regressive tax,” instead proposing his own tax on wealthy New Yorkers. “The solution is a millionaires tax...Millionaires and billionaires can pay a little more in this city so the rest of us can get around,” he said at the debate.

The mayor did not acknowledge the existence of the Move New York plan, instead appearing to again reference the fact that Cuomo -- who has said it is time to reconsider congestion pricing and is expected to unveil his own proposal in January -- has not yet outlined his own proposal.

De Blasio repeated his assertion that the state should bear the costs of MTA fixes, pointing out as he has done before that the state diverted about $456 million in city money away from the transit authority. “That was earmarked money for the MTA that the governor and the Legislature diverted away from the MTA that would be right now available,” he said. “It is right now available in state surplus to address the problems of the MTA. By the way, the Assembly member voted to divert those funds away.”

What de Blasio did not fully acknowledge, even when pushed by Pazmino, was the timeline for his proposed millionaire’s tax. The tax must be approved by the state Legislature, which will not meet until next year, and there is already opposition to it, particularly from Republicans who control the state Senate. “The millionaires tax is very, very popular,” de Blasio insisted, pointing to support in a recent public poll. “If Governor Cuomo would support it and put the energy you’ve seen put into some other things, it could be achieved in Albany. We don’t have an alternative plan right now.”

De Blasio offered no plans or ideas for reducing street congestion.

Malliotakis rebutted the mayor, insisting that she had supported lockbox legislation to preserve the MTA’s budget, and she was quick to pounce on the mayor’s omission of a plan to address current needs. The millionaire’s tax is a “cockamamie plan,” she said.

“It’s an emergency plan,” she said of the MTA’s current strategy. “It needs to be done now.”

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Note - This article has been updated.

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Debate Showcases Sharp Differences Among Mayoral Candidates on Transit, Congestion Wed, 11 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: Analyzing the First General Election Mayoral Debate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7243:max-murphy-analyzing-the-first-general-election-mayoral-debate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7243:max-murphy-analyzing-the-first-general-election-mayoral-debate

Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette


October 11, 2017 - Max & Murphy: Analyzing the First General Election Mayoral Debate

debate stage277The morning after the first mayoral debate of the general election -- featuring candidates Bill de Blasio, Nicole Malliotakis, and Bo Dietl -- Max & Murphy discuss how each candidate performed, the issues discussed, answers, non-answers, strategy, and more.

Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @jarrettmurphy. You can hear the episode through the embedded audio below or download it wherever you get your podcasts.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Max & Murphy Podcast: Analyzing the First General Election Mayoral Debate Wed, 11 Oct 2017 04:00:23 +0000