Gotham Gazette

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Citizens Union

Gotham Votes 2013

GOP Comptroller Candidate Welcomes Spitzer Challenge

All eyes are on Eliot Spitzer today, but Republican candidate John Burnett chided the former governor and current media darling’s last-minute jump into the comptroller race.

"The comptroller’s office is too important to be used to rehabilitate a political career," Burnett wrote today. “In America, anyone can run for public office, it is part of democracy, but today’s news about a disgraced former Governor is the latest example of why the public is disappointed by politicians."

A career businessman and longtime Wall Street executive with Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, Burnett has long lauded his own qualifications as an outsider to city politics.

"Nobody has their hands in my pocket, unlike other politicians that are career politicians, everyone has their hands in their pockets," Burnett told reporters at a press conference two weeks ago when he announced his campaign.

Spitzer is challenging current Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in the Democratic primary.

Spitzer and Burnett in the fray brings a new level of intrigue to what was once thought of as a one-horse race — especially after the months lead time Stringer had to build a long list of supporters and endorsements.

John Liu, the sitting comptroller, is a Democratic candidate for mayor.

—Daniel Stein-Sayles

Event Of The Day: Queens Borough President Candidates

All of the candidates for Queens Borough President are expected to attend a forum tonight to answer questions about post-Hurricane Sandy rebuilding and sustainability issues.

The New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, a group that engages and educates New Yorkers on environmental issues, is sponsoring the forum. It is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

The sponsor has confirmed the following attendees: Democrats Peter Vallone Jr., Melinda Katz, Tony Avella, Everly Brown and Leroy Comrie; and Republican Tony Arcabascio.

The event will be held at Community Methodist Church located at 81-10 35th Avenue, Jackson Heights. Admission is free.

For more mayoral forums and other events visit Gotham Gazette’s calendar.

—Daniel Stein-Sayles

Election Roundup: Spitzer Running For Comptroller; Stringer Responds; Thompson’s Donors

Eliot Spitzer wants to get back into the political game. The former governor made the surprise announcement yesterday that he is running to be the city’s chief financial officer. Spitzer made his announcement to the The New York Times. He told the paper he hoped the public would forgive him for the prostitution scandal that lend him to exit politics in 2008. “I love public service," he told the Daily News in a separate interview. “I believe in it and hope I will be given a second chance."

Scott Stringer, who until now was expected to walk away with the comptroller seat, is expecting a fierce fight for the job now that Spitzer has entered the race. Stringer spokesman George Arzt tells The Wall Street Journal that he doesn’t think the Spitzer run “will fly." “All the people he’s ever worked with don’t like him. Probably that’s an understatement. And there’s a reason for that. He just can’t get along with anyone," Arzt continued. 

The Daily News reports that mayoral candidate Bill Thompson is receiving candidate donations from a financier linked to Bernie Madoff. The News reported yesterday that Seymour Zises has given $3,000 to Thompson for his 2013 bid for mayor.

Front page from Capital New York.

Elections Roundup: Quinn on the Attack; ‘Slush Fund’ Redux; Breaking Down the Democratic Field

Surprising most onlookers, Christine Quinn rolled up her sleeves and knocked around some of her Democratic rivals last night on NY1’s “Road to City Hall" with Errol Louis. Politicker’s Colin Campbell reports:

The fireworks began when, during an interview on NY1′s Road to City Hall, Ms. Quinn was presented with rival Bill de Blasio’s argument today that the City Council “has been manipulated by the mayor, especially via Speaker Quinn,” and thus can’t be tasked with reforming the city’s embattled 911 system. 

"Bill de Blasio is desperate," Ms. Quinn shot back. “He is stuck in the bottom of the polls and he’s desperately, and quite frankly, sadly attacking an institution I’m incredibly proud of — an institution he was a member of and in the leadership of for eight years."

On the heels of Quinn’s slams against Thompson and de Blasio, the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Howard Saul explores if Quinn’s ‘slush fund’ scandal is coming back to bite her. 

The so-called “slush fund" scandal resulted in a federal investigation after allegations emerged in the spring of 2008 that the council for years had assigned millions of dollars to fictitious organizations, such as the curiously named “Coalition of Informed Individuals." In fact, the money that was allocated to these fake groups—known as member items or discretionary funds—was used as a reserve fund and distributed to legitimate organizations later in the fiscal year.

The morning after, NY1 Political Director Bob Hardtbroke down the Democratic mayoral candidates’ pros and cons — at least where they stand before the long holiday weekend and after Quinn’s “major bomb" last night.

Amazingly, this could really be the first time they win a mayoral election since 1989 — unless they form a circular firing squad and start shooting like crazy. Which is already sort of happening.

Elections Roundup: Ex-Schools Chief On Mayoral Candidates; Is De Blasio Too Tall?

Former city schools chief Joel Klein takes mayoral candidates to task on education in a big speech earlier today. GothamSchools reports:

In a speech in Washington, D.C. to charter school supporters this morning, Klein plans to criticize what he calls “a complete lack of courage among most of the candidates” for statements they’ve made during the campaign to replace Mayor Bloomberg, according to a copy of the speech provided to GothamSchools in advance. In the speech, Klein praises the reforms that took place during his eight-year tenure at the Department of Education, listing the growth of charter schools in Harlem as a crowning achievement.

New York Magazine explores whether Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has a shot at becoming the next mayor — or whether he is too tall at 6 foot 5 inches:

De Blasio’s campaign is a test of just how liberal New York Democrats really are. The key question isn’t about the big cultural political issues—abortion, gay rights, gun control. The city is solidly in favor of all of them, and so are its Democratic mayoral candidates. The new, unsettled battleground is economic liberalism. His campaign is easily the most intellectually coherent and focused when it comes to inequality. Everything from his proposal for beefing up bus service to his plan for restructuring development subsidies extends from his central premise: that New York has become dangerously split between rich and poor, and the ­disparities in government priorities and services need to be closed.

For more on De Blasio’s positions on everything from the city budget to education, check out Gotham Gazette’s one-on-one interview with the candidate published yesterday.

Crain’s Insider reports that an internal struggle within the Independence Party could result in a primary for the ballot line, which was until now expected to go to Adolfo Carrión. Crain’s reminds us why we should even care:

The Independence Party line proved crucial during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s three runs for mayor in Democrat-heavy New York City because it provided another line for Democrats to cast a vote for Mr. Bloomberg besides the Republican one.

Elections Roundup: Thompson And CityTime; Weiner Among Jewish Voters; Quinn’s Term-Limit Burden

In a front-page story in today’s paper, the Daily News finds that Democratic mayoral candidate William Thompson “ignored red flags" about the growing CityTime scandal over the eight years that he was comptroller.

"Of the 626 audits Thompson’s office conducted in his eight years as controller, none looked at CityTime," the News reports. Thompson has been touting his tenure as the city’s top financial watchdog on the campaign trail. His spokesman, John Collins, said Thompson could have done more but that others including the mayor and the city’s budget director share the responsibility. Some $500 million spent on the CityTime project disappeared, the newspaper writes.


Former Congressman Anthony Weiner may be surging ahead in the polls, but the only Jewish candidate in the mayoral race isn’t seeing a lot of support from Jewish voters.

The Forward reports that Weiner "has lower favorable ratings among Jews than he does among any other religious group, according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC New York/Marist poll."

Last week, the Jewish Weekly took a look at whether Israeli politics may become an issue in the mayor’s race, after Weiner had a “testy exchange" about the Israeli territories.



The Wall Street Journal reports that “lingering anger" over mayoral candidate Christine Quinn’s decision to back a change to city law extending term limits so that Mayor Michael Bloomberg could serve a third term is costing her support in the election.

In two dozen interviews with registered Democrats, the Journal found that “her handling of the term-limits issue led them to rule her out" of their choice in the mayoral race.

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