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Gotham Votes 2013

Council Vote On Paid Sick Leave Could Give Brewer


Last night’s City Council vote overriding the mayor’s veto of a paid sick leave bill couldn’t come at a better time for the legislation’s lead sponsor.

Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the sponsor of the bill, is running for Manhattan borough president — but needed a boost in a race where about 48 percent of voters remain undecided. Now she can tout how she championed the bill starting back in 2010.

Workers were almost crying today,” Brewer said to the New York Daily News. “They will now be the beneficiaries of what all workers should have, which is the ability to stay home if you’re sick.”

After Council Speaker Christine Quinn initially blocked the bill in 2010, Brewer told The New York Daily News that it was not dead, saying she was not going to stop her fight and that she had “a long-term view."

The Manhattan borough president hopeful did just that — fighting to the very end as she led a rally on the steps of City Hall just hours before lawmakers voted in favor of the bill 47-to-4.

After the veto was overridden, Council members and politicians from around the state echoed their congratulations for Brewer through Twitter and various social media outlets.

While Brewer is seen as the frontrunner in the Manhattan borough president’s race, one poll showed she remains only 5 percent ahead of challenger and District 7 Councilman Robert Jackson — who was also a sponsor of the bill — and just 8 percent ahead of District 5 Councilwoman Jessica Lappin.

The poll also found that Brewer had the highest name recognition among her opponents, which is expected to receive a boost as a result of the attention being given to paid sick leave.

The bill, Intro 0097, would “guarantee paid sick time to nearly one million New Yorkers,” Quinn said in a press release.

The legislation allows five days of paid said leave per year for companies with 20 employees. This number is expected to shrink down to 15 after the bill has been implemented for a year.

The New York Daily News reported that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has not ruled out suing to block the law as he has done with other legislation in the past.

—Maya Miller

Event Of The Day: Mayoral Forum On Sandy Recovery


Many of the mayoral candidates are expected to attend a mayoral forum tonight in Brooklyn about Hurricane Sandy relief and the future of New York City’s flood zones.

The forum is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Shorefront YM-YWHA.

Organizer Jamie Kemmerer has confirmed Democrats John Liu, Bill de Blasio, Sal Albanese and Erick Salgado; Republicans John Catsimatidis and George McDonald; and Independent Adolfo Carrion Jr. will be attending. Democrat Anthony Weiner may also attend, but is not confirmed.

Groups working on storm relief, as well as community organizations, are sponsoring the free event.

 

The Shorefront YM-YWHA is at 3300 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn.

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

—Daniel Stein-Sayles

Elections Roundup: Quinn’s Lead Erodes; Lhota’s New Fundraising Tactic


Political observers and rival campaigns tell The Wall Street Journal that Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn’s bid for City Hall may be in trouble.

Recent polls have shown that her lead eroded after former Congressman Anthony Weiner got into the race. The latest, by Quinnipiac University, shows a three-way tie among Quinn, Weiner and former comptroller Bill Thompson.

"There’s been a steady erosion in the level of support for her candidacy as other candidates, or the possibility of other candidacies, have emerged," Costas Panagopoulos, director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University, told the WSJ. "And, so, it seems to me that New York City voters are looking for an alternative to Christine Quinn."

On the plus side for Quinn, Edie Windsor, the lead plaintiff in the case that led the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, has endorsed the speaker for mayor. If elected, Quinn would be the first openly gay mayor.

Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota is using the surging popularity of Weiner to raise money. The Daily News reports that the Lhota campaign fired off a fundraising appeal yesterday referencing the disgraced congressman with the line: “It’s up to us to stop him.” The letter continues:

“Like me, I’m sure that you had hoped to have seen the last of Anthony Weiner when he resigned from Congress following an illicit sexual Twitter scandal and botched coverup, but he’s back and desperate for political redemption."

District Council 37, the largest public employee union, has endorsed candidates throughout the city for the upcoming elections.

The union has endorsed Councilwoman Letitia James for Public Advocate. This endorsement comes immediately after she was named the frontrunner in the race in a new poll.

For borough president, DC37 endorsed incumbent Ruban Diaz Jr. in the Bronx; Councilwoman Gale Brewer in Manhattan; and Councilman Leroy Comrie in Queens.

"The DC 37 Delegates endorsed this list of very qualified candidates because of their proven record in support of fight against privatization and in support of public education, housing, health care and other issues important to the men and women we represent,” DC37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said in a statement yesterday.

They have also endorsed various candidates for City Council races throughout the city. The primary is set for September 10.

 

Event of the Day: Art and Public Policy Forum With 2013 Candidates


Candidates from several key races are expected to discuss the role of public policy in the arts at a forum tonight.

The forum will be moderated by journalist and Futuro Media Group Founder Maria Hinojosa, and sponsored by various small cultural organizations. Service Employees International Union Local 1199 is hosting the event in their midtown auditorium.

Forum spokeswoman Silvia Alvarez says candidates expected to attend include mayoral hopefuls John Liu, Bill de Blasio — who was recently endorsed by SEIU 1199 — Adolfo Carrion Jr. and Erick Salgado; Manhattan borough president candidates Julie Menin, Gale Brewer and Robert Jackson; public advocate candidates Daniel Squadron and Letitia James; and comptroller candidate Scott Stringer.

The mayoral forum is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by half an hour for the borough president candidates, and the remaining candidates from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. A short Q & A is scheduled to follow.

The event is free to attend, but RSVP is required.

SEIU 1199’s auditorium is located at 310 W. 43rd St.

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

– Maya Miller

Quinn Picks Up Vaunted 32BJ Endorsement


Dressed from head to toe in purple, Christine Quinn picked up a long-awaited endorsement from 32BJ today.

Union members rallied behind Quinn and 32BJ President Hector Figueroa in a sea of purple shirts at the unions headquarters in lower Manhattan as they broke out into chants of all in for Quinn."

"Having worked with her side by side for so many years," Figueroa said, I like to tell you that she is not only a good manager, but a great human being and somebody who sincerely believes in our families, our children, our workers."

Full of allusions to glass ceilings and calling Quinn a sister to the cause, Figueroa said that Quinns record on living wage as well as stop-and-frisk helped make her the best City Council speaker."

He praised her willingness to engage with labor on the issue — a quality he said Mayor Michael Bloomberg lacked.

When a reporter asked if the union would have supported Quinn if she hadnt supported paid sick day legislation in April after three years of blocking it from a vote, Figueroa said that 32BJ might have reevaluated but that they were already looking at Quinns campaign long before her sudden shift.

For Figueroa, the next mayor doesnt have to agree with everything his members want.

While Figueroa and Quinn dismissed the notion that the citys labor unions are divided, todays endorsement further highlights a lack of unity within the movement. 

Just last week, former Comptroller Bill Thompson got a nod from the United Federation of Teachers. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio enjoyed support from healthcare union SEIU 1199, and Comptroller John Liu was endorsed by public employee union DC-37. 

And while Quinns received support from many smaller groups, todays announcements marks her biggest union endorsement to date. 32BJ boast some 70,000 members from New York Citys various service sectors, which Figueroa promised would be mobilized soon.

Last week, rumors began to swirl that 32BJs endorsement might have landed on de Blasio because of his more progressive agenda and unwavering support of paid sick leave.

However when asked if he intended to be at 32BJ headquarters at an earlier, unrelated press conference, de Blasio told press, we have no such plan at this moment."

Despite not getting the 32BJ endorsement, Figueroa still spoke highly of the Public Advocate.

"He was a strong choice for 32BJ," he told reporters after todays press conference. We love de Blasio. We wish him well. Hes a brother."

— Daniel Stein-Sayles

Elections Roundup: de Blasio on After School; Thompson’s Swindling Bundler; Weiner’s Apology Redux


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Democratic candidate for mayor Bill de Blasio attacked City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for “undermining the after school system in this city."

"We’re not going to be able to fix our school system, we’re not going to be able to make sure our kids are safe without sufficient after school seats," said de Blasio on the City Hall steps before advocating his own plan to tax the rich in order to fund these programs.

"For this administration to systematically cut these seats, aided and abetted by speaker Quinn at every turn, has undercut the ability of our schools to do their job," the public advocate added.

 One of mayoral candidate Bill Thompson’s biggest fund-raisers has a questionable past according to the New York Times.

Jacob Brach, has raised upwards of $30,000 for the Thompson campaign. Brach has a history of crime, from 1988 to 1990 he conned two Canadian companies and a small Wisconsin village out of a combined $550,000 in two separate schemes. After being sent to prison for his crimes, he escaped a year into his sentence.

Anthony Weiner’s decision to run for mayor has affected more than just himself. After holding the story until Buzzfeed pieced it together from Google searches, the New York Times published interviews with the women on the other side of the former congressman’s explicit tweets. 

In an on-camera interview with City & State, Weiner conveyed his apologies for what the women have gone through.

"I have deep regret for the women’s lives who were turned upside down by their unwitting involvement in all of this.”

— Daniel Stein-Sayles

Thompson Stays On Endorsement Roll, Shores Up More Latino Support


Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson’s string of endorsements after Wednesday’s nod from the United Federation of Teachers continued well into the weekend.

The former comptroller picked up support from Councilman Erik Martin Dilan, state Sen. Martin Malave Dilan and Assemblyman Rafael Espinal, as well as from police group the Dominican Officers Organization.

"I am proud to stand with Bill Thompson," Espinal said in a statement. “He’s a leader who will listen to our communities’ needs and bring people together on the issues we care about — safe streets, strong schools and good paying jobs."

Espinal himself is currently in the running to replace Councilman Dilan, who is term-limited this year.

Edward Rodriguez, president of the Dominican Officers Organization said that the group is behind Thompson largely because of his plans to add 2,000 new police officers to the force.

"He recognizes the need to nurture effective police community relations, maintain low crime rates so our citizens continue to feel safe and small businesses can grow," Rodriguez said.

These weekend endorsements follow up a growing coalition of Latino leaders supporting Thompson’s second bid for the mayorship, one that includes former Congressman Herman Badillo, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and both Congressman Jose Serrano and his son state Sen. Jose Marco Serrano.

—Daniel Stein-Sayles.

Elections Roundup: Lever Machines; Weiner On Health Care; Lhota On Education


State lawmakers voted last night to allow the city to use the old lever voting machines for the primary on Sept 10 and any potential run-off. A run-off would be held on Oct. 1. The city Board of Elections has argued that the old machines were necessary because the new electronic voting machines could not be set up quickly enough for the run-off. Good government groups have criticized the proposal.

Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner is calling for the city to be the “laboratory" for a single-payer health care system. In a speech yesterday, he said the plan could help control the rise of city spending on health care.

Under his proposal, city workers and retirees would have to pay 10 percent toward insurance premiums — and 25 percent if they smoke.

Weiner was one of the strongest advocates for a national single-payer health care system when he was in Congress.

Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota said in a major policy speech yesterday that he was willing to “cooperate" with the teachers union if he is elected to City Hall, Crain’s New York Business reports. But he said he was “not going to give them a back rub in the election year like so many other candidates" — an apparent dig at Democratic candidates who were angling for the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers.

Earlier this week, the UFT endorsed former comptroller Bill Thompson, a Democrat, for mayor.

On education issues, Lhota praised mayoral control over the schools and said that he would not “demonize" teachers. He also called pre-kindergarten education in the city “glorified babysitting."

Weiner Shies Away As Quinn, de Blasio Duke It Out


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PHOTO: Latima Stephens/Gotham Gazette

A crowded stage of Democratic candidates for mayor laid low as Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio jabbed at each other during tonight’s mayoral forum.

The second televised mayoral debate was hosted by NY1 and it’s sister Spanish-language station NY1 Noticias at Hunter College. The Democratic field was invited to talk issues important to the Latino community — namely public health, policing and education.

Instead, the forum became a rehash of confrontations between the same candidates.

Audience members witnessed a familiar back and forth between Public Advocate De Blasio and City Council Speaker Quinn in which de Blasio accused Quinn of having delivered not to New Yorkers but to the real estate industry and Mayor Michael Bloomberg on term limits.

The audience at Hunter College cheered on De Blasio’s attacks and often took to booing Quinn, especially at her willingness to keep New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in her administration as long as he committed to reforming stop-and-frisk. 

Quinn also said she wouldn’t be opposed to federal intervention on stop-and-frisk, and that an independent monitor could be reconciled with the Council’s inspector general bill that she has long supported.

Comptroller John Liu echoed Quinn’s support for the Department of Justice’s stepping in, calling the DOJ’s position “a terrible indictment" of the Bloomberg administration.

Boos and hisses resurfaced when Quinn tried to respond to De Blasio’s attack on Quinn’s record, which she said included decreasing deportations by the city’s police and the Department of Corrections.

"It’s easy for the public advocate to take shots but when I supported a living wage law and prevailing wage law," Quinn said," and got sued by the real estate industry and the mayor, I stood up for New Yorkers."

Harkening back to her speech earlier this week in which she tried to differentiate herself from the rest of the Democratic candidates, Quinn relied on what’s become her new tagline: “Talk is cheap."

The feud between De Blasio and Quinn has become a staple of the Democratic forums, as have former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s emphatic displays.

However, Weiner’s debut on the televised forum circuit showed a much more restrained candidate, ignoring the feuding candidates and a now routine jab from former Councilman Sal Albanese on Weiner’s Congressional vote in support of the Iraq War. 

Former Comptroller Bill Thompson, fresh off his endorsement from the United Federation of Teachers, received ringing applause for his support of bilingual education and English as a second language programs. Like Weiner, however, Thompson mostly laid low.

During a question that referenced increased asthma rates near waste transfer stations in heavily Latino communities, only Quinn brought up the 91st Street station. She said some of her rivals would rather stand with campaign donors.

Thompson dodged the question, but revived his attack on what he described as the Bloomberg’s administration poor handling of public housing. He again called for the firing of Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea.

"Thank goodness they’re out at the end of this year," Thompson said. 

Conservative Democratic candidate Erick Salgado appeared to be a crowd favorite, especially whenever he showed off his fluent Spanish on the panel. 

"I’m Hispanic, I eat like a Hispanic, I dress like a Hispanic," Salgado said in Spanish, and shouted his support for a major league soccer field in Flushing Meadows Park with a resounding, “Gooooooooool."

When the candidates were asked why Latinos should vote for them instead of Salgado as the only Latino in the Democratic primary, the Bensonhurst minister drew more laughs.

Yes, that’s a good question," he said.

During a lightning round, Salgado also became the only candidate to speak out against state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in light of former Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s scandal.

The same lightning round did reveal a few new things: de Blasio is the only candidate to travel to Cuba; Weiner has yet to eat any cuchifritos; nobody wants to intervene on Puerto Rican statehood; and all of them have used Goya brand products.



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