Author Archive

Dealing With Hevesi
November 9th, 2006

Eliot Spitzer was given virtually no grace period before being hounded about what he plans to do about embattled state comptroller Alan Hevesi.

In the New York Sun, Thomas Carroll of CHANGE-NY provides a list of candidates he thinks would do a good job.

By on November 9, 2006, 8:00 am
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Hillary Clinton After the Victory
November 8th, 2006

To no one’s surprise, Senator Hillary Clinton was among last night’s electoral winners. Political writers immediately began discussing how Clinton will leverage the results to give herself the best chance of becoming president in two years’ time. She certainly seems to have momentum — and money — to spare after her landslide victory yesterday. And some are predicting that her unofficial presidential campaign will become official pretty soon.

“Clinton needs to set up a presidential exploratory committee before she can spend a penny of the $15 million sitting in her Senate campaign account on anything remotely presidential,” writes Glenn Thrush in Newsday. “When Clinton files the papers, it’s likely to generate about as much buzz as if she rented Madison Square Garden and literally threw some kind of a hat into some kind of a ring.”

Clinton’s current job, meanwhile, has yet to be defined. If the Democratic candidates for Senate in Montana and Virginia end up winning — and their party is already claiming victory — then Clinton will be in the majority in the Senate. During the campaign, Clinton claimed that Republican control of the presidency and both houses of Congress had kept her from installing her plans to improve New York’s economy.

The Daily Politics has a post discussing how this might also affect the state’s other senator, who was in charge of the Democrats campaign this fall:

“If they pull it off, Chuck [Schumer] will — depending on which Democrat you talk to — either be a national hero, or totally impossible to take. Or both.”

By on November 8, 2006, 12:53 pm
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Election Day Already?
November 6th, 2006

It’s Election Day Eve, and everyone is getting ready in their own little ways:

Room 8 looks at what may be in store for Democratic Congressmen if their party takes the house.

The Daily Politics is giving away a “snazzy News hat” to whoever can guess Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory

And the Urban Elephants have announced the winners of their hard fought Chris Callaghan Limerick Contest

If you haven’t thought about voting since last November, and you need some 11th-hour voting advice, check out Gotham Gazette’s Guide for the Last Minute Voter — it will give you a primer on the candidates and some practical information so you’ll be ready to pull the lever.

By on November 6, 2006, 5:15 pm
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Searching for Remains at Ground Zero
November 3rd, 2006

The recent discovery of more remains of 9/11 victims has fueled debate over whether the city’s efforts to find such remains is sufficient. Yesterday, families of 9/11 victims held a rally criticizing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, saying that the military should be brought in to search for remains near Ground Zero and more should be done to sift through debris at Fresh Kills. In an editorial this morning, the New York Times defends the city, saying that Bloomberg has found the correct balance between looking for undiscovered remains and guaranteeing that the redevelopment of Ground Zero continues unhindered.

By on November 3, 2006, 8:39 am
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Wall Street Showdown: Bloomberg v. Spitzer?
November 2nd, 2006

New York is in danger of no longer being the financial capital of the world, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Charles Schumer write in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Bloomberg and Schumer argue that globalization, overregulation, frivolous lawsuits, and incompatible accounting standards are making New York less competitive vis a vis London and Hong Kong. The city will publish a report this month outlining a plan of action, they say.

The New York Sun interprets the article as a tacit attack on gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer. As attorney general, Spitzer has made a name for himself policing Wall Street or, in the Sun’s words, “trying to kill New York’s golden goose” — exactly the kind of counterproductive “compet[ition] to be the toughest cop on the street” that Bloomberg and Schumer are criticizing.

There’s more than just the future of New York’s financial industry at stake, though. Bloomberg’s attack, the Sun continues, is a political one. After all, this is “a Republican mayor who is crafting a platform on which to make a run for the presidency that may yet pit him against none other than a new an exceptionally ambitious governor.”

By on November 2, 2006, 7:51 am
In category: Gotham City,Public Finance | 1 Comment »

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The Other Shoe Dropping on Hevesi?
October 23rd, 2006

The controversy surrounding Alan Hevesi is heating up after a State Ethics Commission found that the State Comptroller’s transgressions were worse than originally thought. (link in pdf format).

And everyone’s talking about it.

Republicans are lamenting their party’s failure to take advantage of the situation, Democrats are castigating their leadership for not dealing more aggressively with Hevesi, and calls for his resignation abound.

And the predictions, of course: Thompson will take over, Pataki will get to pick a replacement, Spitzer will get to pick a replacement, Silver will pick a replacement and Spitzer will change the replacement …

By on October 23, 2006, 5:01 pm
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Housing Costs are High, But ...
October 3rd, 2006

The New York Times has an article today about “the crushing combination of escalating real estate prices and largely stagnant incomes” shown in new Census data.

The Gothamist message board is buzzing with discussion, and not only to admonish the Times for telling us what we already know.

WT Economist claims that “you can read essentially the same article from the Times at the end of the 1980s” when the housing bubble was inflated to capacity — then argues that a similar fate is looming.

Amy Phillips, though, offers some brighter news: it’s expensive to live here, but cheap to get aound. New Yorkers pay a smaller proportion of their income on combined housing and transportation costs than do Miamians, Atlantans, or Clevelanders.

By on October 3, 2006, 2:59 pm
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Politics, Marriage, the Pirros, and the Hevesis
September 29th, 2006

The recent hoopla over Jeanine Pirro’s turbulent marriage has shined the light on what happens when you pick the wrong people to place your trust in, writes John Podhoretz of the New York Post.

“How on earth did we get to a point when the wife of an ex-con — an ex-con with a love child and a record of driving a thousand miles an hour through a known speed trap — is the best and most solid candidate that the Republican Party can field in a state where it was once a powerful force?” he writes in his column about the “Party in Ruins.”

Poderhoretz’s piece is one of many grabbing what seems to be the first event of interest in this fall’s campaign. Pirro’s marriage isn’t the only one that has the potential to be a political liability, however.

A New York Times editorial argues that “a second campaign scandal , involving Alan Hevesi, the state comptroller, deserves more attention.” (It should be noted that it does this only after spending well over half of its space kicking Pirro).

Hevesi recently admitted to having the state pay for his wife’s chauffeur. After being called out on it, he agreed to pay back the $82,000 that this had cost the state. The Times doesn’t think that’s enough: “He is going to have to explain to the voters how he can continue telling officials around the state that there is no tolerance for mishandling public money when he has broken the rules so egregiously himself.”

The fact that Hevesi, and not his opponent, Chris Callaghan, is the one explaining the situation to voters is only more evidence of the Republican ineptitude, says Podhoretz.

“How … did the GOP fall into such disrepair that it can’t capitalize on – well, on anything?” asks Podhoretz.

He gives the answer at the end, and it has to do with someone who just opened an office in Iowa, George Elmer Pataki.

By on September 29, 2006, 7:19 am
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | 3 Comments »

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If Only Rudy Were Here ...
September 29th, 2006

In today’s New York Sun, James Coll finds a way of combining two of New Yorkers’ favorite activities — hand-wringing over the lack of progress at Ground Zero and making emphatic arguments about former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

If only we had forgotten about term limits and kept Giuliani in office, he says, Ground Zero would be built up by now.

By on September 29, 2006, 6:48 am
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We'll Help You With Guns, But ...
September 28th, 2006

A reader of a Poconos newspaper bristles at the idea of New York officials seeking to monitor who buys guns in others states, but finds some inspiration in the idea. New York, writes Robert Basile Sr., sends something to the Poconos that Pennsylvanians don’t want:

“I think that we should send a ‘monitor’ to New York, to inspect each and every trash hauler leaving New York for Pennsylvania, just to keep illegal drivers, illegal loads and non compliant vehicles off of our roads.

“It might also be time that Pennsylvania “seize” illegal vehicles entering our state. If they have brakes that don’t work or if the driver doesn’t have the proper documents, seize the vehicle.”

By on September 28, 2006, 6:25 am
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Where Your Money Goes (An Itemized List)
September 14th, 2006

The State Assembly released information on $52 million it is spending in member items yesterday, spread over 2,675 pages of pdf file. Good government group Common Cause compressed the file into a spreadsheet to make it easier (read: possible) to make sense of. The average grant was $19,500, with the maximum being $4,912,000.

“Sadly, despite the obvious inadequacies and deficiencies of this most recent release, it actually represents more information than the public typically receives about this type of spending,” Common Cause writes on its blog.

The Village Voice blog lists the top ten recipients and shows much pork ended up in the city.

For more on this subject, see the Albany Matters blog post from this morning, Who’s Giving $170 Million To What? Can’t Tell You!

By on September 14, 2006, 3:35 pm
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Public Finance | 3 Comments »

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Election Observations
September 14th, 2006

The city’s newspapers and blogs have had a day to digest the primary results and a day of general election campaigning to observe. Here’s some of what they noticed:

The New York Sun reaches several conclusions from the primary results: “The New York Times matters less than it did. Democrats are moving to the center. And homeowners are voting their economic interests. And we don’t doubt that the last trend is a cause contributing to the first two.”

On Room 8, Jerry Skurnik advises readers that Tuesday’s results are unofficial — and so those unhappy with the results of very close races should wait for the official count before demanding a recount.

‘In the next week or two, the Board of Elections will conduct the official count by recording the numbers off the machines and counting the paper ballots,” he writes. “Nobody has to demand this.”

The immediate nastiness in the races for governor and attorney general didn’t go unnoticed. Apparently Attorney General candidates Andrew Cuomo and Jeanine Pirro want to shred each other, and
the families of gubernatorial candidates Eliot Spitzer and John Faso are already fair game.

Really, men, settle down!” Gothamist urges after a day of negative campaigning.

By on September 14, 2006, 8:31 am
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The Little Races
September 13th, 2006

The result of yesterday’s primary between John Sabini and Hiram Monserrate to become the State Senator for the 13th Senate District in Queens seems too close to call. But Monserrate is guaranteed victory regardless: he crushed Edgar Moya in the race to become the male District Leader for the Democratic Leadership District 39 Part B.

If Monserrate ends up conceding defeat in the senate race, this will probably be a small consolation. It is a victory that will go almost completely unnoticed, securing him a job that few people understand or care about. As district leader, Monserrate will serve as the contact person for the Democratic Party in his district; one of his major responsibilities will be to recruit poll workers to work the next election.

While the big news yesterday was the race for federal and statewide offices, primary day is also time for the little races. Aside from district leaders, parties also chose their Delegates for Judicial Conventions (they’ll be in charge of formally choosing judges) and State Committee Members (who will vote at the party’s statewide political conventions).

You can find the results here.

By on September 13, 2006, 5:01 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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Thanking Suozzi
September 13th, 2006

On Room 8, Larry Littlefield thanks Tom Suozzi for his unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign against Eliot Spitzer.

“Thank you for turning your back on the safe path of careerism, trading favors, waiting for the death or indictment of an incumbent, and occupying a seat,” he writes. “Thanks even more for taking on the disgrace our state government, once one of the best in the nation, has become. That was even harder, because it required that you not only call out the other side, but also your own side and its supporters. It made a lot of enemies, which has cost you. But from my point of view, they include many of the right enemies.”

By on September 13, 2006, 10:11 am
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Looking to November
September 13th, 2006

Primary day has come and gone (see the results here), and that means looking towards the general election. The Times Empire Zone blog has a post examing the compelling storylines that may develop — and decides that there is enough negative stuff floating around about Jeanine Pirro and Andrew Cuomo that the Attorney General’s race could get spicy quickly:

“Probably the most intriguing political question today, and probably in the days to come, centers on the most competitive of the races: How quickly will the Cuomo-Pirro battle for A.G. turn personal and nasty? Well have a good idea by mid-afternoon, it seems.”

By on September 13, 2006, 9:43 am
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Where Were You on 9/11?
September 7th, 2006

This morning the New York Times runs an article about the emotional gap between New Yorkers who were here on 9/11 and those who weren’t. Gothamist offers its take on this idea.

“One small thing we regret is that new New Yorkers never knew what it was like to stand on the Avenue [of the] Americas and see the World Trade Center and know that was south – small, simple moments like that. It’s certainly not about street cred,” writes the blog.

By midafternoon, over twenty people had responded to the post. Some excerpts:

* “This seems like one of the more pointless things to argue about.”

* People who weren’t here may have a more melodramatic view of the event because they experienced 9/11 through television, and were thus affected by the “creepy overwraught way that cable TV news channels interpret events”.

* “It’s not so much about having been here when the actual attack took place that morning, I think it’s more of a matter of who was here in the days that followed. That is not a superficial pride. The feeling in the city then was beyond belief, and you had to be here to know it.”

* People from elsewhere were very angry after 9/11; people in New York were sad.

By on September 7, 2006, 1:58 pm
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The Poor: Still With Us
August 31st, 2006

The Census released its poverty data earlier this week, showing no real change in the level of poverty in the country or New York City. Yesterday the Daily News wrote that the numbers “show what a disaster the economic policies of the Bush administration have been for middle-class, working-class and poor Americans.”

DMI Blog argued that the
official poverty line means little
. Besides being too low, using a simple income level as the sole indicator of poverty misses the complexity of being poor, the blog argues.

“The criteria should be unabashedly popular and not mathematical. It should be determined by what most people think are the necessary things to have a minimally decent standard of living: food, clothes, housing, healthcare, and education – to name more than a few. That would be the “new” poverty level in public and political discourse.”

In an editorial it runs this morning, the New York Post sees things … differently.

“Let’s clear things up right now: There is no widespread, worsening poverty crisis in New York City,” the Post writes. “None.”

The editorial claims that New Yorkers living below the poverty line are mostly immigrants or young people who have moved to the city from elsewhere. Individuals from both groups, it argues, will soon move out of poverty. But because more people move in, the absolute poverty rate doesn’t change.

Arguments claiming otherwise are just “distortions proliferated by folks intent on promoting class warfare or otherwise haranguing the Bush administration.”

By on August 31, 2006, 7:05 am
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Buzzing Over the Times' Endorsement of Green
August 28th, 2006

The New York Times issued its endorsements for Albany’s primaries over the weekend.

It has officially joined the chorus of Spitzer supporters. The paper’s strongly worded endorsement of Mark Green for Attorney General has generated much more interest among the political bloggers, however.

The Times writes that Green is “prickly”, but that he has an “impressive record of protecting consumers.” Cuomo, in the Times’ view, has a mixed record that leaves some concern that he could turn the attorney general’s office back into “a nesting place for political hacks” if elected.

The Politicker tried to get Cuomo’s perspective, and seemed amused when Cuomo first told Azi Paybarah that he hadn’t read the endorsement, and was unavailable when Paybarah called back.

The Daily Politics points out that the Westchester and Long Island versions of the editorial were even harsher, and reports that “Green headquarters are abuzz with a first round of Times mailings to 4,500 donors, supplementing a blast email to 60,000 people.”

The Daily Gotham sums up its reason for agreeing with the Times:

In short, [Green] may be an S.O.B., but he’s damn good at what he does. [The Times is] right; you only have to compare Green’s tenure to that of Betsy Gotbaum – yes, I know, Betsy who? – to get a measure of what he could do as Attorney General. Arguably, Cuomo would do a better job than Gotbaum (faint praise indeed), but Green would keep the office sexy and relevant. So what if he pisses people off? isn’t that what we want from the next AG?

There has been little talk, however, about the various state senate and assembly races going on, probably because there isn’t much happening. But Gotham Gazette has been summing up what few open seats and competitive races exist — check our home page for a list of articles.

By on August 28, 2006, 12:16 pm
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Giuliani: Hero or Knave (Part 1,385)
August 25th, 2006

Everyone loves to argue about Rudy Giuliani’s legacy, and Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins have likely set off the latest round with their new book, Grand Illusion.

Azi Paybarah of the Politicker interviewed Barrett about the book, where he and Collins examine Giuliani’s reputation as a 9/11 hero — which they say is undeserved. The Politicker has excerpts of the interview; we excerpt the excerpts:

“He said all the rights things but I think we prove in the book he did all the wrong things. That’s before 9/11, after 9/11 and even on that day.”

“[Terrorism] was never an issue [Giuliani] discussed with his police commissioners. The overall terrorist threat was something that basically receded into the background for years.”

“The cases about the toxins in lower Manhattan are going to haunt him. Those cases will proceed when he hits the campaign trail…Some of the families are outraged at the notion that he can run for president of the United States on the strength of what he did on 9/11. I think many families are outraged by that notion. And I expect some of them to be on the campaign trail with him.”

Errol Louis of the Daily News and Kit Roane of the LA Times have given Grand Illusion positive reviews.

Roane writes that “[t]he tone of ‘Grand Illusion’ is often prosecutorial. But the writers’ extensive research results in a convincing indictment of Giuliani’s priorities as mayor and his later self-promotion as a terrorism expert.”

Louis writes that it is “time to downsize [the] Rudy 9/11 myth.”

By on August 25, 2006, 12:26 pm
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"Dwarf Planets" and Con Ed's "Customers"
August 25th, 2006

At first, one might think that Pluto being stripped of its planetary status has little to do with New York City. (Okay, he or she would probably be right). But Clyde Haberman uses the shift in the semantics of the cosmos to remind us that changing how something is classified doesn’t really mean changing anything.

We are no strangers to the meaningless reclassification, Haberman writes today in his column in the TImes. Fire response times have been tinkered with to make the fire department seem quicker; Con Edison classifies the word “customer” in a radically different way than most New Yorkers would, making the Queens blackout seem insignificant; the New York Knicks long used an optimistic definition of “sold out”, that includes half-full arenas. And so on.

“But as with Plutos journey through the cosmos, we slog on, knowing that the revisions rarely change a thing,” writes Haberman. The now-dwarf planet will continue its “odd, oblong orbits” — and we should continue to take those stats about the speed of our elevators, the amount of housing being produced, and the health of the city’s pensions with a grain of salt.

By on August 25, 2006, 9:42 am
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Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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