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Gotham Votes 2013

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.

Ideas Roundup: Setting The Agenda For The Next Mayor


It seems that nearly every organization in the city is putting forth their priorities for the next mayor.

Just in the past few days, we’ve heard from park advocates, transportation advocates and urbanists (for lack of a better word). Here are the latest to come to our attention, with links to their proposals.

The Center for an Urban Future, in conjunction with New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, compiled 15 policy ideas from around the world and presented them in a report last Friday. The proposals include a kindergarten-to-college program modeled after a San Fransisco initiative that helps fund a universal college savings account program for all of its public school kindergartners; and the Immigrant Export Initiative, seeded in Los Angeles and Chicago, which aims to boost economic growth through immigrant entrepreneurship.

New Yorkers For Parks wants the next mayor to overhaul the funding of the Parks Department, restrict the privatization of parkland and integrate parks into local planning efforts. “The Bloomberg Administration has done an extraordinary job expanding and improving the city’s parkland, and we hope the next mayor will build on that momentum to address remaining challenges,” New Yorkers For Parks’ Executive Director Holly Leicht said in a statement. Their proposal is here.

Not to be left out of the conversation, a coalition of transportation advocates has come up with its own laundry list of priorities. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign wants the next mayor to take a “data-driven approach" to reducing traffic deaths; support bikes, bike share and bicycling; increase transparency of the operations of the Department of Transportation; and encourage the use of mass transit.

We’ll post more of these “priorities for the next mayor" as they come to us. If you or your organization would like us to highlight them, please email us at info@gothamgazette.com.

—Daniel Stein-Sayles and Cristian Salazar

Elections Roundup: De Blasio’s Vision; Weiner On Business; UFT


Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has released a 71-page policy book titled “One New York, Rising Together" that outlines dozens of ideas on everything from job creation to the humane treatment of animals. In the introduction, De Blasio once again strikes his campaign theme of New York City as two cities: one for the wealthy and one for the poor.

As mayor, I’ll spend every waking moment fighting to bring opportunity to every New Yorker — with a plan to create jobs in all five boroughs; a dramatic expansion of affordable housing and accessible health care; increasing taxes on the wealthy to fund early childhood and after-school programs; and building police-community relations that keep everyone safer.

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, one of De Blasio’s rivals for the Democratic nomination, tried to sell himself to the business community yesterday. At a meeting of an Upper West Side business improvement district, he pitched his own policy book, "Keys To The City." Crain’s New York Business reports that Weiner:

… said he wants to make it easier for small business owners to pay citations with his “mobile adjudicator" van initiative, he wants to streamline the process of forming a business improvement district and a launch website he would call ShopNYC.com, which would promote neighborhood businesses by pointing online consumers to a local option for shopping.

Meanwhile, the United Federation of Teachers is expected to announce its endorsement in the mayoral race later this afternoon. The New York Daily News is betting that former Comptroller Bill Thompson will get the highly coveted endorsement. The New York Times takes a look at the union’s muscle in the mayoral race.

Event Of The Day: Mayoral Forum On Latino Issues


All Democratic mayoral candidates are expected to attend a mayoral debate tonight in Manhattan about Latino community issues and concerns.

The debate is being held by the Latino Leadership Institute and will be televised on NY1 News and NY1 Noticias. The forum is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Kaye Playhouse at CUNY Hunter College.

The debate is only for the Democratic primary.

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

The Kaye Playhouse is located at 695 Park Ave.

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

—Daniel Stein-Sayles

Elections Roundup: Quinn Gets Headlines; Thompson May Get UFT


Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn got a couple big headlines this morning.

Michael Howard Saul of The Wall Street Journal takes a look at Quinn’s strategy of running on her record as City Council speaker:

History shows that it can be a risky move to tie a run to a record of legislative achievement. The last legislative leader to become mayor was Vincent Impellitteri, the president of the City Council when William O’Dwyer stepped down in 1950 amid a corruption scandal to become ambassador to Mexico. Named acting mayor, Impelliteri ran in a special election and won.

Michael Grynbaum of The New York Times looks back at Quinn’s early career as an activist and how she honed her game as an insider:

But a review of Ms. Quinn’s early career in the city suggests that she has preferred the insiders’ game from the start. During her first decade after college, when she worked as an advocate on housing and gay rights issues and as an aide to the city’s first openly gay councilman, she honed the work-the-system strategy that has brought her both criticism and praise in more recent years.

Meanwhile, Erin Durkin of The Daily News reports that Quinn’s memoir has fallen on the best-seller list to 224,525 on Amazon.com.

BILL THOMPSON AND THE UFT

The Daily News also reports that “there was a growing consensus" on Monday that Quinn rival and former Comptroller Bill Thompson is expected to get the much-coveted endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers.

Quinn On The Attack


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 By Gotham Gazette City Government Reporter Chester Soria.

"Talk is cheap," Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said today during what was billed as a major speech. "Voters will decide based on actions. The greatest indication of what someone will be able to achieve can be found in what they’ve already accomplished. The record speaks for itself."

The speech, delivered at the East Harlem Center for Asthma, was noteworthy for Quinn’s attacks on rivals and her emphatic support of the nearby East 91st Street waste transfer station.

In an attempt to create contrasts between her and the other Democrats up to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Quinn said she was the only candidate with a record on the city budget as well as on the issues that New Yorkers need to grapple with the most: affordable housing, education reform, unemployment and income inequality.

"A record of results, and a vision for the future — that’s what I’ve been out here talking about for the last six months, and it’s what I’ll be talking about all the way to November," Quinn said. “That’s what we need from the next mayor. Not just empty promises, silly press stunts, or nonstop criticism, but a real plan on how to deliver for New Yorkers."

Continue reading at the Gotham Gazette.

Photo of Quinn at an unrelated rally by Azi Paybarah, used under Creative Commons license.



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