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Thompson Faces Pressure to Bow Out
New York City's Democratic power brokers moved quickly after Tuesday's primary to pressure second-place finisher Bill Thompson to avoid a runoff with first-place finisher Bill de Blasio. “I don’t think there’s much appetite within the Democratic Party to have a fight here,” Merryl Tisch, Thompson's campaign chair, told The New York Times. Rev. Al Sharpton also encouraged Thompson to abandon his bid. De Blasio finished election night with 40.3 percent of the vote--just over the threshold to avoid a runoff but paper ballots have yet to be tallied. Thompson has said he wants to make sure every vote is counted but the city's board of election won't begin counting paper ballots until next week. Labor groups quickly moved to consolidate their support around de Blasio on Wednesday. Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota would likely benefit from a bruising runoff battle between Thompson and de Blasio.
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Brooklyn DA Loses Despite Legacy (NY Times)
NYPD Secretly Labeled Mosques As Terrorist Organizations
The New York Police Department has secretly been labeling mosques as terrorist organizations to allow it to spy on imams and have informants record sermons; in many cases without any evidence a crime had been committed according to a report from The Associated Press. The NYPD has labeled at least a dozen mosques this way to investigate them for terrorism. The investigations can last for years even without proof a crime has been committed and without any charges being brought. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Ray Kelly defended their actions. "What we do is we try to keep this city safe, totally consistent with what the laws require,” Bloomberg said. "We believe that we are compliant with those laws.” Arab American groups and civil liberties groups said they were horrified by the news and some have called for a federal investigation into the practice.
Poll Shows De Blasio With BIg Lead (NY Times)
The City Council is scheduled to vote today on overriding Mayor Michael Bloomberg's vetoes of two bills designed to restrict the New York Police Department's use of stop-and-frisk. A bill that would create an inspector general to oversee the New York Police Department is expected to be enacted today but the second measure that would increase the ability to sue the NYPD for racial profiling is less likely to become law. The second bill initially passed with 34 vote--the minimum number needed to override a veto. If one council member is convinced not to vote to override the veto will stand. Members have been targeted by Bloomberg and police unions on the issue. Council President Christine Quinn said at a mayoral debate last night that she expects both overrides to succeed.
Family Trust Offers Possible Clues to How Spitzer Would Invest Funds (NY Times)
De Blasio Target at Mayoral Debate (NY Times)
Union Works Around Campaign Laws For Liu Ads (Daily News)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s legacy on education is facing new scrutiny as the state prepares to release new test scores later today that are expected to be significantly lower than in previous years.
Over the weekend, the city acknowledged there would be a dramatic decline in this year’s test scores due to new Common Core standard — with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott predicting a 30 percent drop.
Bloomberg has pinned his reputation, in part, on his success at being the education mayor.
Democratic candidates hoping to be the next mayor have taken the release of the new test scores as an opportunity to criticize Bloomberg.
“The current administration has forced teachers to implement new standards without giving them the curriculum they need to do it successfully,” said Bill Thompson, a former Board of Education president who has been endorsed by the United Federation of Teachers.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Police Department say that 90 percent of all guns used in crimes in the city in 2011 came from another state. Bloomberg vowed to continue to fight the influx of out-of-state guns despite protests from lawmakers. "To those who say, 'Stay out of our state,' our answer is: We'd love to," said Bloomberg, "Just as soon as you stop letting guns seep into the black market, land in the hands of criminals and be used to murder our citizens." Bloomberg issued a list of the top out-of-state sources for guns. Virginia tops the list, followed by North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Georgia. GOTHAMVOTES: 2013 CITY COUNCIL RACES TO WATCHThe debate over what to do to prepare for the next big storm is shaping a fierce City Council race in southern Brooklyn. Six contenders are vying to replace term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson in the 48th district. By Latima Stephens. CONTINUE READING
Group Finds Rents Have Risen For Sandy Victims in Staten Island (Staten Island Advance)
Mayoral Race Enters Negative Phase (NY Times)
Pataki Cleared in Lawsuit Over Sex Offenders' Rights (NY Times)
Yesterday a state appeals court unanimously upheld a lower court decision from last year blocking the Bloomberg Administration's ban on large sugary drinks. The First Department of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled the Board of Health overstepped their authority and that a ban should be left to lawmakers. The four-judge panel said since sugary drinks aren't harmful in moderation, they don't fall under the category of "inherently harmful" foods the board can ban. They also found the rule "manipulates choices to try to change consumer norms” through various exceptions and carve-outs and so went beyond the board's core mission to improve public health. The administration plans an appeal to the state's highest court.
Ethics Panel To Study Application Process For Donor Secrecy Shield (Albany Times Union)
State Comptroller Warns Of Long-Term Fiscal Concerns (Associated Press)
City Elections Board Without Executive Director For Three Years (Daily News)
Bloomberg announced yesterday that the city would expand its voluntary composting program to Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn and four areas in the Bronx after successful pilot programs in some city schools, a few residential Manhattan buildings, and a neighborhood in Staten Island. Next spring it will grow to include parts of Queens and more locations in Brooklyn and Staten Island, as long as the next mayor continues the program. Organic waste accounts for 35 percent of the city's landfill-bound garbage, and officials estimate it can save as much as $60 million a year through the composting program. Cities like San Francisco could be a model for New York as it tries to reduce waste.
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Election Board Pick Could Help Bloomberg Kill NYPD Bill (Daily News)
Bronx Courts Trim Big Backlog, With Outside Judge At Helm (NY Times)
Officer’s Claim Of Quotas Isn’t Protected, Judge Rules (NY Times)
Bloomberg Administration Looks to Block Police Bills
The office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg is moving to stoptwo bills passed by the council yesterday that would make it easier to sue the New York Police Department over profiling and one that would create more oversight for the agency. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have characterized the bills as undermining of the NYPD. The Mayor’s office hopes to veto the profiling legislation that passed with only the minimum votes required to override a veto. The bill creating an NYPD inspector general passed by what seems an insurmountable number for the Bloomberg administration. The Bloomberg administration will put its influence to the test over the next few weeks as Bloomberg serves out the end of his term.
Some See Conspiracy in Number of Minority Lawmakers Caught up in Scandal (NY Times)
De Blasio Faces Major Setback With Hotel Trade Endorsement (Daily News)
Weiner Challenging Quinn For Gay Vote (Daily News)
NEW YORK — Legendary former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau recalled yesterday how in the 1960s and 1970s police avoided making stops of potential suspects out of fear of retribution.
"That's where we were," he said as he stood with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and a bevy of law enforcement leaders who had gathered at One Police Plaza. They had gathered to voice their opposition to a package of City Council bills aimed, in part, at reining in the New York Police Department's use of stop-and-frisk.
Morgenthau, who was the city's top prosecutor for more than three decades until his retirement in 2009, praised the NYPD's record and said that, instead of pursuing the legislation, the Council should tackle what he called the disproportionate deaths of black men by gun violence.
"What's the City Council going to do about that?" he asked. "If City Council wants to do something that's important, let see how they can reduce or propose a reduction of the murder of African American men."
It was an argument that echoed defenses of stop-and-frisk put forth in the past by Bloomberg and Kelly.
Cuomo's Women's Agenda Stalls
In an attempt to gain support from Senate Republicans Gov. Andrew Cuomo and women's advocates offered an amendment to the abortion plank of his 10-point women's agenda yesterday. The amendment made it clear that the bill that creates an affirmative right to abortion "as established by the United States Supreme Court in the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade" would not allow for partial-birth abortions or interfere with the federal ban on them. Cuomo and advocates have insisted that all 10 points must be voted on as a whole. Republicans and members of the Senate's Independent Democratic Conference have said they would vote on 9 of the points that include measures to assure pay equity, tough penalties for sexual harassment and domestic violence. The amendment was dismissed by Republicans on Thursday who have insisted the bill will not come to a vote.
Candidates Support Staten Island R Train (Capital)
Weiner Claims he Coined 'Obamacare' (NY Times)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a victory in the state Legislature today after a measure to reform the New York City Housing Authority was sent to the governor for his signature.
The legislation does away with the $186,00 annual salaries they receive and adds three new members to the board. Three members will now be required to be residents of public housing. Board members will also no longer enjoy having a driver on call at all times as they do now.
“Across the country, cities have abandoned public housing, but we refused to do that," Bloomberg said in a statement. "We continued to invest and support our public housing system, and these reforms will help us continue to improve it — in spite of a decade cutbacks by Congress."
Bloomberg thanked Assemblyman Keith Wright and Sen. Marty Golden for their help moving the bill.
NYCHA is expected to go forward with layoffs, a hiring freeze and the closure of community centers as well as youth and senior programs because of the federal sequester. Almost 100,000 residents who receive reduced rent through a federal program will see their rent increase by up to $72 a month.
Thousands of union workers rallied yesterday at City Hall Park to demonstrate their frustration over the lack of contract negotiations between Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration and city employees.
"The people united will not be defeated," unionized teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and police officers continuously chanted, their words echoing through the park as giant screens showed images of the protest.
The rally, coordinated by the Municipal Labor Committee, was touted by organizers as a vigorous response to Bloomberg's decision to allow city unions' contracts to expire, leaving over 300,000 employees without labor agreements.
Bloomberg presented his final $70 billion budget plan in early May, which marks his 12th budget in his 11-and-a-half years in office. Under the proposal, 20 fire companies would be closed and $135 million cut from afterschool and early-childhood education programs.
The budget also has no money allocated for city employees' backpay in case renegotiating contracts results in salary increases. The cumulative price of paying the city's workforce retroactively could be over $7 billion.
Two female Assembly staffers have filed federal and state lawsuits against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Assemblyman Vito Lopez. The women allege that Lopez repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances. In one case Lopez reportedly told a staffer she should have sex with a Cuomo administration official to get a housing bill passed. The lawsuits allege that Silver provided "assistance" to Lopez that allowed him to continue harassing the women. Silver came to a secret settlement with two other women who Lopez harassed and allowed Lopez to hire the two staffers who have since brought other sexual harassment claims and these two lawsuits. The incidents have shined a spotlight on the culture of sexual harassment in Albany. Lopez resigned his seat after intense pressure and facing a vote that would have expelled him. He is still likely to face over $300,000 in fines from the legislative ethics board. Silver has apologized for his handling of the incident but has brushed off calls for his resignation.
Council Bill Would Cut Down on Adult Day Care Centers (NY Times)
Report: Pot Arrests in New York Vary By Race (Democrat and Chronicle)
Finger-Pointing On Stalled BIlls (Albany Times Union)
A group of corporate leaders and real estate executives, concerned about the departure of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, plan to spend up to $10 million in City Council races this year to make sure electeds are business friendly. The Jobs For New York political action committee will direct donations to pro-business Council candidates from both parties because the City Council has major sway over development but also because the mayoral race is so uncertain. The Council will have 21 open seats this year mostly due to term limits. Good government advocates say the group could change the way Council campaigns are run. “The entire point of a City Council race is to reflect the needs of the neighborhoods in a district,” Susan Lerner of Common Cause told The New York Times. “This undercuts the neighborhood-based nature of a district and replaces neighborhood concerns with industry concerns.”
Bloomberg's Gun Stance Makes Him Lightning Rod (NY Times)
Mayoral Candidates Clash Over Transfer Station (Daily News)
Quinn Says City Workers Need Help WIth Health Care Costs (Daily News)
The City's plan for spending federal disaster recovery aid has been approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The first $1.7 billion in federal funding will be released this summer. Most of the funds, $648 million, will go to repairing homes and strengthening them against future flooding. There is also funding for low income rentals subsidies, city infrastructure and loans for businesses. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and HUD secretary Shaun Donovan are scheduled to announce the plan's approval today at City Hall. Those looking for grants will be able to apply by calling the city's 311 help line or by going to nyc.gov.
Peralta Won't Comment on Legal Fees (Crain's)
State Senator Huntley Sentenced to a Year For Corruption (NY Times)
In Wake of Scandals, Cuomo Defends His Ethics Agency (Capital Tonight)
The campaign manager and a fundraiser of New York City comptroller John Liu were found guilty yesterday in a trial over illegal contributions to Liu's campaign. Jia Hou, Liu's campaign manager and Xing Wu Pan a fundraiser were found guilty in a scheme to use straw donors to with thousands of dollars in matching funds from the city for Liu's campaign. Hou and Pan were found guilty of wire fraud while Hou was also found guilty of obstruction of justice and making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Both face up to 20 years in prison and will be sentenced after the mayoral primary. Their attorney's say they plan to appeal. Liu is currenly running a campaign for mayor. Prosecutors portrayed the Liu campaign as condoing the behavior of Hou and Pan. Liu held an emergency press conference last night. Liu noted the investigation has been going on for 4 years and that his phones have been tapped. “They can look at anything and everything they want," Liu said. "I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve got a clear conscious. And we are gong to present a very strong case directly to the voters of New York City.”
Bloomberg Unveils His Last City Budget Amid Race to Succeed Him (NY Times)
Business Owners Take Aim At Proposed Smoking Laws (NY Times)
Grieving Mother Tells of Son's Police Stop (NY Times)
The state has reimbursed New York City $47 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency-approved funds for the costs of a program that helped homeowners recover from Hurricane Sandy.
The Rapid Repairs program assessed damage to properties and provided eligible repairs such as restoring heat, hot water and electricity.
"I am pleased to direct these funds back to the Department of Environment Protection for the work that was carried out under the Rapid Repair Program, which was then developed by the State and FEMA into the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Pilot Program for similar needs beyond New York City," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg used his statement on the reimbursement to rebuff criticism that the city should have provided temporary housing for people whose homes were too devastated to live in or whose homes were infested with mold. Rapid Repairs did not deal with mold infestation.
“Rapid Repairs – which restored heat, hot water and electricity free-of-charge – provided homeowners with an important head-start in the recovery process, which is still far from over," Bloomberg said in a statement. "As we continue the hard work of recovery and rebuilding, there is no doubt that helping people get back into their housing via Rapid Repairs was a better use of taxpayer money than a massive temporary housing program. I want to thank the entire team at FEMA who worked with us to make the program possible, and these reimbursements, along with the first round of Federal aid, will ensure the City can continue to address housing, business and infrastructure needs in the hardest hit communities.”
The federal government has approved the state's plan for spending $1.7 billion in funds to help communities rebuild from Superstorm Sandy.
New York City is covered by a separate plan that officials say was submitted this week and will be approved soon.
Congress approved a plan setting aside $50.5 billion in Sandy relief for all impacted states. New York is expected to get around $30 billion of those funds eventually.
The state's plan provides block grant funds that are designed to be more flexible than other FEMA loans and insurance plans. "We got to communities and we say, 'You tell us what you need to restore your community,'" Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference earlier today announcing the federal government's approval of the state plan.
He was joined at the press conference by Shaun Donovan, the secretaroy of Housing and Urban Development, and Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and his conference presented a package of reform legislation last week that includes creating a system to recall state officials. One thing that is not on the Republican's to-do list is public financing of campaigns.
"It is the same old, same old public financing pitch" Kolb said of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's plan for a public campaign finance system. "That idea is not going to happen upstate beause people don't want tax dollars going to campaigns."
Senate Republicans are also against public funding of campaigns and are holding a hearing in New York City in May to look at corruption in the system. The city's public finance system has been held up as a more ideal system by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democrats.
When asked if he expected to hear stories about political corruption, Kolb responded: "I would hope so. This keeps being used as a model for reform, but we've seen that there have been problems. Look at John Liu and the irregularities with his fundraising, and he is using the public system. You also have the problem of having only rich people being able to run for public office. Bloomberg can write a check and go after a legisaltor who did something he didn't like. He can take the regular guy right out of the mix. So, I think we should have public hearings."
As for a recall system, Kolb says he does not think being able to recall officials will create instability in Albany or the need for more campaign cash. Kolb points out that 19 other states have the ability to recall officials, and around 12 legislators have been recalled in 36 recall elections that have taken place. The New York law would require a pettition with signatures equaling 20 percent of the voters in the official's last election.
The long-vacant Kingsbrige Armory is again the focus of a redevelopment project designed to bring much-needed jobs and economic stimulus to the Bronx. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bronx officials announced yesterday that they have a deal with a developer to turn the massive ice center with 9 regulation ice rinks for skating and hockey and a 5,000 seat arena. The $275 million deal is expected to create 267 permanent jobs and 890 construction jobs. The plan will need approval by the City Council before moving forward. In 2009 Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. clashed over a proposal to turn the site into a shopping complex. Diaz and Bronx residents were concerned the project would create low-paying jobs and conflict with local businesses. The fight eventually spawned the city-wide push for the living wage. The developers of the ice center have signed an agreement promising to pay workers $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 an hour without, as well as giving Bronx residents hiring preference.
Cancer Rate 15% Higher Than Normal For 9/11 Responders (Daily News)
Petraeus to Join CUNY as Visiting Professor (NY Times)
New York City Storm Victims May Get Federal Reimbursement For Repairs (NY Times)