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Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Citizens Union

The Eye-Opener

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About to lose a major ally in Mayor Michael Bloomberg a group of business leaders and real estate groups have poured nearly $7 million into city council races. The Jobs For New York political action committee has spent $275,000 per council race on average in an effort to extend Bloomberg's pro-business policies past his term. The group has changed the dynamic of races that are normally based on community issues and connections. The PAC is organized by the Real Estate Board of New York that counts developers such as Larry Silverstein and Daniel Tishman as its members. Union's that would benefit from development projects are also part of the group. Tenants PAC, a group that represents tenant interests, has refused to endorse any candidate who refuses to condemn Jobs For New York.

CIty Dismisses Criticism of New 911 System (NY Times)

DOE Survey Finds High Approval For City Schools (Daily News)

De Blasio Warns Lhota Not to Run a Racially Divisive Campaign (NY Observer)

Bill De Blasio and Joe Lhota do Ferry Face Off (NY Observer)

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Forgotten Coney Island

Only a few blocks down from the amusement district, where the sounds of the frolicking beachgoers and carnival games have come back with renewed vigor after the seashore neighborhood's near-cataclysmic meeting with Hurricane Sandy, there is a different Coney Island that most tourists and beach goers don’t see.

This is the Coney Island that continues to struggle to return to normalcy nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy came ashore. The Coney Island where parks and playgrounds remain fenced off because of sinkholes or other damage done by last year’s storm.

“They say Coney Island is open for business. Sure, the entertainment district is, but no one talks about the parts of Coney Island where people actually live. They don’t talk about the neighborhoods,” said Ed Cosme, a resident who formed The People’s Coalition of Coney Island to raise awareness about the problems in the parts of the neighborhood that don’t normally draw tourists and bathers.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg has lashed out at critics of the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk tactics, including mayoral candidates, who he said are playing politics and undermining law enforcement.

During a speech to an audience of NYPD leaders today, Bloomberg took umbrage at two bills proposed by City Council members that seek to increase oversight of stop, question and frisk, directly tying the program to the city's record-low crime rates and ongoing counterterrorism efforts.

The outgoing mayor also took grave offense with some of his potential successors and their willingness to make the city less safe by supporting "politically driven legislation."

"My message is simple: stop playing politics with public safety," Bloomberg said to an audience of NYPD leaders. "Look at what’s happened in Boston. Remember what happened here on 9/11. Remember all of those who’ve been killed by gun violence — and the families they left behind. We owe it to all of them to give our officers the tools they need to protect innocent lives or people will needlessly die and we’ll all be responsible."

Calling the police department officers "first preventers," the mayor argued that the numbers used to argue against stop-and-frisk prove the need for the practice. Bloomberg defended the program as a deterrence against gun possession and crime, and that the movement to end stop-and-frisk would turn the clock back on the city's low crime rates.

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In his third press conference on the subject in recent weeks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will speak to leadership from the New York Police Department on public safety today.

Bloomberg's speech follows last week's address from City Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn's speech on the same subject.

Bloomberg has now held multiple press conferences with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly on the heels of Boston marathon attacks, often discussing increased surveillance and opposition to what he calls "special interests" looking to change the Police Department's current practices.

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New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants the police department to be bigger than it is under Mayor Michael Bloomberg — and to better relate with the people that it protects.

The Democratic candidate for mayor defended most of Bloomberg's current policing strategy anc called for an additional 1,600 uniformed officers, but tried to reach a middle ground on the city's stop, question and frisk policy.

While she reiterated her support for an independent police monitor to oversee the department, Quinn distanced herself from a proposed law that would expand the city's law against racial profiling.

"We need to sustain the progress we've made over the past 12 years, fix what hasn't worked and build a stronger bond between police and the communities they serve," she said.

Quinn also defended Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who Quinn has previously lauded despite disagreement on the stop-and-frisk policy. She called his work "incredible" and said that anyone who fails to recognize his work "is simply out of touch with the reality of life in New York City."

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Lawmakers want New York City to be the first city in the U.S. to raise the legal smoking age to 21 from 18.

The law would make ban vendors from selling any tobacco products to New Yorkers under the age of 21, which Council Speaker Christine Quinn cautiously likened to the sale of alcoholic drinks.

She pointed to an 80 percent decline in drunk driving deaths after the drinking age increased in the 1980s.

Quinn stood alongside Health Department Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, fellow council memebers and anti-smoking advocates when she unveiled the new legislation today. The bill would join a group of bills also recently endorsed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg aimed at curbing New Yorkers' smoking habits.

"This can work," Quinn said during a press event at City Hall.

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The National Rifle Association proposed a plan today to position armed men around schools in reaction to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. New York officials are not pleased with the proposal, judging from their reactions:

The NRA's Washington leadership has long been out of step with its members, and never has that been so apparent as this morning. Their press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country. Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe. Leadership is about taking responsibility, especially in times of crisis. Today the NRA's lobbyists blamed everyone but themselves for the crisis of gun violence. While they promote armed guards, they continue to oppose the most basic and common sense steps we can take to save lives - not only in schools, but in our movie theaters, malls, and streets. Enough. As a country, we must rise above special interest politics. Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns. That's why 74 percent of NRA members support common sense restrictions like criminal background checks for anyone buying a gun. It is time for Americans who care about the Second Amendment and reasonable gun restrictions to join together to work with the President and Congress to stop the gun violence in this country. Demand a plan. — Mayor Michael Bloomberg

The NRA’s response to the tragic events in Newtown is deeply disturbing and underscores just how far out of touch they are from reality and the concerns of most Americans. The answer to gun violence on our street corners, in our shopping centers and in our schools is not more guns. The answer is stronger gun laws and a dramatic expansion of mental health services.

New York can and must be a leader in developing a solution. I am hopeful in the coming weeks the Senate will join together with the Assembly and Governor Cuomo to pass meaningful legislation that will begin to change the culture of gun violence in our society. — Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

Seven days after those teachers and children were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut the NRA has broken their silence. I wish they had kept their mouths shut. All they did today was add more pain and heartache to those Newtown families. Their remarks are some of the most stupid, asinine, insensitive, ridiculous comments I have ever heard made in the public arena. All these remarks tell us is that the NRA does not seem to care about protecting our children. I do not understand how even with all of those little coffins being rolled out in Newtown, that the NRA believes the answer is more guns. All that would have happened if there were armed guards in Sandy Hook Elementary is that we would now have dead armed guards. Why do we need an army style gun in that school, a gun we send to Afghanistan? I think the NRA’s comments today were a clear and blatant attempt to throw salt in the wounds of families who lost their loved ones. As a human being, I am surprised and tremendously disappointed in what the NRA did today. — Council Speaker Christine Quinn

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City Comptroller John Liu has issued this statement on his support of holding the New York City Marathon this weekend:

Earlier this week, I stated support for keeping the New York City Marathon, which is a huge economic generator for the City, on schedule assuming that the City’s infrastructure would be able to support the race and New Yorkers’ safety can be ensured. Unfortunately, it has become apparent over the last couple of days that there are still large parts of the City where recovery efforts are falling short, where fellow New Yorkers remain hungry and cold, and where there is now more and more looting. As I have traveled throughout the boroughs since Sandy struck, it has become clear that the Marathon would compromise the City’s ability to protect and provide for the residents most affected by the hurricane. Recovery efforts must come before the Marathon and it's time to re-evaluate whether the resources needed for the Marathon can really be spared on Sunday.”

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Julie Menin have both come out against holding the marathon this weekend. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended it.

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Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Julie Menin who is expected to run for Manhattan Borough President in 2013 have both joined the chorus of voices decrying Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decison to hold the New York City Marathon despite the fact that a great number of city residents are still without, power, food, water and the ability to get to work.

Bloomberg has defended the decision saying that police and other city workers will be available because there will be no work-week traffic to contend with. “This city is a city where we have to go on,” he said.

Here is Stringer's statement:

First of all, I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo for their strong leadership in helping our City recover from a devastating storm. And I certainly understand and respect the mayor’s desire to show that we are a resilient City.

But New York has experienced a tragedy of historic proportions. New Yorkers in Staten Island, the Rockaways, Coney Island and Lower Manhattan are struggling to keep body and soul together, deprived of basic essentials as temperatures drop.

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In "A Daily Show Tribute to Institutional Competance" John Stewart highlighted the fast reaction, bipartisanship and quirks of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Stewart sends out a special love note to Bloomberg's sign language interpreter Lydia Callis. This video could in fact brighten up your Sandy-tainted week.

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Mayor Bloomberg yesterday announced his plans to spend between $10 million and $15 million through a "super PAC" he will spearhead. It's named Independence USA PAC and has a goal of supporting candidates across party lines who pledge to work in a bipartisan fashion. It will spend money on highly competitive state, local and Congressional races this year and back candidates who support legalizing same-sex marriage, enacting tougher gun laws, and education reform.

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What do you do if you are a billionaire mayor who is about to be term limited out of office, and you've already extended term limits once?

You start putting your money to use across the country to make sure your voice is still heard.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today that he will spend "eight figures" to influence gun laws and education policy across the country. The money will be spent to support moderates and independents around the country.

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson will oversee the venture. Bloomberg said in a statement:

It's critically important that we have elected officials in Washington, Albany, and around the nation who are willing to work across party lines to achieve real results. I’ve always believed in the need for more independent leadership, and this new effort will support candidates and causes that will help protect Americans from the scourge of gun violence, improve our schools, and advance our freedoms

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