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Gotham Votes 2013

Event Of The Day: Mayoral Forum On Technology And Innovation

Several mayoral candidates are expected to attend a forum tonight in Queens that will address technology and innovation in New York City.

The forum is being held by the Coalition for Queens, a group that encourages technology growth in Queens. The forum is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens.

The sponsor has confirmed that Democrats Anthony Weiner, Bill Thompson, John Liu and Sal Albanese; and Independent Adolfo Carrion Jr. will be attending.

Anjali Athavaley, of The Wall Street Journal, and Nilay Patel, of The Verge, will moderate tonight’s event.

The event is free to attend.

The Museum of the Moving Image is located at 36-01 35th Ave., Astoria.

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

Daniel Stein-Sayles

Housing Coalition Releases Plan for Next Mayor

A coalition of the city’s largest housing groups has partnered with unlikely allies to demand that the next mayor create and preserve 150,000 units of affordable housing and address homelessness.

Housing First released its agenda for the next mayor earlier today, saying their plan would cost $8 billion over eight years. The report was developed with contributions from businesses, financial institutions, developers and nonprofits.

"What we’d like to see from the candidates is for someone to come out with a real plan and a real commitment," Martin Dunn, a developer and member of Housing First, told the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

The plan comes in a tidy seven-point package touching on everything from affordable housing development and preservation to rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy and strengthening the city’s public housing agency.

"One-third of New Yorkers are now paying more than half of their incomes on rent," Housing First’s 31-page report states. “Six percent of the city’s homeowners behind on their mortgages, the threat of foreclosure is surpassed in urgency only by the 50,000 New Yorkers seeking refuge in the City’s homeless shelters each night."

Daniel Stein-Sayles

Elections Roundup: Weiner As Coiner Of 'Obamacare' Term; Shores Up More Latino Support

Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony D. Weiner told The New York Times recently that he coined the term “Obamacare." But, yesterday, after the claim was roundly criticized, a spokeswoman for Weiner told the Times that the candidate “did not mean that he was the first person to use the term — only the first not he left to embrace it unapologetically."

Two mayoral candidates like the idea of an R train to Staten Island: Capital New York reports that Democrat Erick Salgado and Republican Joe Lhota back the idea of extending the train across the Narrows to Staten Island.

"When my father was very ill in the Bronx, it cost me $59 to see my father, from Staten Island to the Bronx," Salgado, an evangelical minister, told reporter Dana Rubinstein. “So we have to make sure that we extend the R train."

Lhota, who was the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority before he left to run for mayor, said the idea should be considered. “We need to make sure that this island is not the forgotten borough. It is equal to all of the other boroughs and you need to have your fair share of mass transit."

Three Democratic mayoral candidates waded into the politics of rent control yesterday. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Comptroller John C. Liu called for a rent freeze, which did not make property owners so happy.

Event Of The Day: Mayoral Forum On Education [UPDATED]

UPDATE: Organizers say de Blasio, Liu, Carrión, Albanese, Salgado and Gronowicz have confirmed they will attend.

Several mayoral candidates are invited to participate in a Manhattan forum on education issues tonight hosted by a parents’ advocacy organization.

New York City Parents Union is holding the forum from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Murry Bergtraum High School in Lower Manhattan.

The following candidates have been invited to participate: Christine Quinn, Anthony Weiner, Bill De Blasio, Bill Thompson, John Liu and Sal Albanese; Republican candidates Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis; independent candidate Adolfo Carrion; and Green Party candidate Anthony Gronowicz.

The sponsor has not confirmed who will be there.

Daily News columnist and investigative reporter Juan Gonzalez will moderate the panel.

Tickets to the forum are free, but in order to attend you must register by 5 p.m. tonight.

The high school is located at 411 Pearl St., Manhattan.

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

Daniel Stein-Sayles

Common Cause Wants Cuomo to Say ‘No’ To Lever Voting Machines


Common Cause says Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to get his veto pen ready to stop the city from bringing back its old-school lever voting machines for this year’s elections.

Both houses of the state Legislature are working on bills to allow the city’s Board of Elections to delay a runoff in the mayoral primary and allow the city to use the lever machines.

The Senate version, sponsored by Republican Sen. Marty Golden of Brooklyn, would allow New York City to use lever machines in all non-federal elections. It would delay the runoff to three weeks after the election. 

The Assembly version, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Michael Cusick of Staten Island, would only allow use of the antiquated machines for the runoff. The delay of the runoff would be the same as Golden’s bill. 

Common Cause refers to Cusick’s legislation as “the less of two evils." Most good government groups oppose the use of lever machines at all and say the BOE should get its act together. 

"It would be both a waste of tax payer money and an epic failure of government if after all our efforts to bring New York City’s elections into the 21st century we reverted back to the 19th century for fear of progress," Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner said in a statement.

"The new technology is perfectly up to the task of administering the runoff as experts have acknowledged," Lerner continued. “It is the Board’s continued unwillingness to get up to speed with modern technology which is truly at issue. Common Cause/NY urges the two houses of the Legislature to drop the lever machines out of these two bills and agree to move the run-off date back." 

Common Cause’s release says that lever machines are “inadequate" for runoff elections because: 

They have 28,000 moving parts and break down constantly, with replacement parts limited, making them unreliable

They cannot be audited which is a violation of the spirit of Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

David Howard King

Photo of voting machines in storage in Brooklyn by Latima Stephens.

Schedule Of Official NYC Debate Program For Citywide Offices

From the press release:

Today, the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) announced the sponsors and schedule for the New York City Debate Program for the 2013 elections. The CFB has administered the Debate Program in every citywide election since 1997. The debates are a core component of NYC Votes, the CFB’s nonpartisan voter engagement campaign.


Queens Election Roundup: Katz Gets WFP Endorsement; Vallone Family Matters

Rounding up Queens election news so far this week:

The Working Families Party has endorsed Democrat Melinda Katz in the highly contested Queens Borough President race.

“If you’re fighting for good jobs, affordable housing and quality schools, there’s no better ally for working families in Queens than Melinda Katz,” Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor told the Daily News in yesterday’s edition.

The endorsement could mean a lot for Katz since an increasing number of New Yorkers are voting along the Working Families Party line. The third party claims on its website that 240,000 New Yorkers voted for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand along the party line in the November 2012 election — a record number for the WFP.

This news, along with the Queens Democrats’ endorsement of Katz in May, strengthen her bid to replace the term-limited current Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

Democratic Councilmen Leroy Comrie and Peter Vallone Jr. are also running for borough president, along with fellow Democrat State Senator Tony Avella and Republican Tony Arcabascio.

The Vallone name is becoming synonymous with Queens politics.

The bi-partisan Italian American Political Action Committee endorsed Italian American candidate Paul Vallone (brother of Peter) in his bid for the 19th City Council District, the Queens Gazette reported on Monday.

The 19th district in northeast Queens — which was reworked during the districting process last year — was held by Republican Daniel Halloran, who announced in May that he wouldn’t be running for re-election following being charged in a corruption case.

The crowded race for the City Council seat includes Democrats John Duane, Paul Graziano, Austin Shafran, Chrissy Voskerichian, Hank Yeh and Republican Dennis Saffran.

Meanwhile, Peter Vallone Jr.’s seat is up for grabs as he eyes the borough presidency.

Constantinos “Gus” Prentzas has declared he’s officially running for the 22nd City Council District.

Prentzas is a Community Board member and small business owner who will be vying for the City Council seat that encompasses Astoria against a number of rivals.

"Many in the community have been urging me to run to replace him (Vallone Jr.) to continue the progress of our community and build on his successful record,” Prentzas told the Queens Gazette in yesterday’s edition.

The other contenders for Vallone Jr.’s seat are Democrat Costa Constantinides, Independent Danielle De Stefano, Republican Daniel Peterson, and Green Party member Lynne Serpe.

—By Daniel Stein-Sayles

A Guide To City Council Candidates In The 36th District

Haven’t had the time to tune into the upcoming City Council elections?

Well, if you’re in Council District 36, which encompasses Brooklyn’s Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, The Power Lever Project by the Brooklyn Movement Center has your answers.

The Center has compiled a site that has a list of the candidates running with a bio, the issues they stand for and the campaign money raised.

“We want to shine a bright spotlight on our Council candidates who routinely struggle to be heard above the press buzz of the mayoral campaign,” James Subudhi, the political engagement fellow at the Center, said in an email.

The district’s current Council member, Albert Vann, is term-limited this year, and so the cup of candidates runneth over.

The candidates include Robert Waterman, Conrad Tillard, Akiel Taylor, Kristen John Foy and Robert Cornegy, Jr.

“The online voter guide is about bringing transparency to the local electoral process and deepening the voters’ understanding of their political choices,” Subudhi said.


The site allows for comments and, so far, residents in the district have responded very well to having all the candidate information in one place, Subudhi said.

In case you are not sure if you fall within the district, there is also an embedded map on the page with clear district lines drawn. The primary for all the elections is on September 10.

— By Latima Stephens

Endorsement Watch: Schumer Endorses Squadron For Public Advocate

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has endorsed Daniel Squadron for public advocate, giving the state senator’s campaign a boost in the packed Democratic primary.

This is the first time Schumer has endorsed in the city’s pivotal elections, and his support for Squadron carries considerable weight among fellow Democrats.

"Daniel has a proven record of getting results for everyday New Yorkers. From passing landmark new gun laws to rolling up his sleeves to help New Yorkers impacted by Sandy, he knows how to deliver,” Schumer said in a statement earlier today.

Squadron is up against Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, City Councilwoman Letitia James and former teacher Catherine Guerriero for the Democratic nomination. Others registered for the race with the city’s Campaign Finance Board include police community affairs liaison Sidique Wai.

While the office of public advocate is sometimes maligned for being a powerless position, it is a citywide office and can bring the officeholder name recognition. The public advocate’s main responsibility is serving as a watchdog for residents in city government, but also can introduce legislation and weigh in on matters of the budget. The current officeholder is Bill de Blasio, who is running for mayor.

Squadron also received the endorsement of fellow state Sen. Adriano Espaillat yesterday. Espaillat represents Northern Manhattan and the Bronx. Espaillat highlighted Squadron’s support of the DREAM Act in his endorsement.

"Daniel is committed to passing the DREAM Act, so all New Yorkers have the opportunity to go to college,” Espaillat said in a statement.

By Daniel Stein-Sayles


Elections Roundup: Mayoral Candidates Respond to Bloomberg Climate Plan

Rounding up the #NYC2013 news from around the Internet:

Mayoral candidates responded to the wide-ranging climate change adaptation plan unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday. Politicker has most of them here. But of particular interest are the comments from Democrats Anthony Weiner, who was gracious (“There is usually little reward in politics for thinking big thoughts about the distant future.") and Christine Quinn:

"As I’ve said before, strengthening our City against future climate risks, such as the devastation we experienced after Sandy, is this is the single most important infrastructure challenge of our time."

Former subways chief Joe Lhota, the Republican frontrunner, said this:

I commend Mayor Bloomberg for putting in place a roadmap for dealing with the realities of climate change and the impact it will have on our communities. The mayor laid out an ambitious plan that will proactively protect the city in the event of future natural disasters.

See more reactions to Bloomberg’s plan at AdaptNY.com, a project of Gotham Gazette, veteran journalist A. Adam Glenn and DocumentCloud.

The New York Times looks at the re-election campaign of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes and finds that, in spite of bad publicity, the incumbent seems to be gaining momentum:

Mr. Hynes has appeared increasingly confident on the campaign trail, racking up endorsements, trumpeting his accomplishments and offering well-honed rejoinders to the criticisms. And, at 78, he has used his longevity to his advantage, frequently noting Brooklyn’s 80 percent decrease in crime since he took office in 1990.

Hynes is facing two competitors in the Democratic primary: Abe George, a former assistant district attorney from Manhattan; and Kenneth P. Thompson, a former federal prosecutor. But the Times reports that both Hynes’ rivals have “have so far struggled to capitalize on his apparent vulnerabilities."

The New York City Campaign Finance Board has a new YouTube channel with video clips from past mayoral debates going back to 1997.

Send tips, questions and updates to info@gothamgazette.com.

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