Gotham Gazette

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Gotham Votes 2013

Gotham Votes

Elections Roundup: Quinn on the Attack; ‘Slush Fund’ Redux; Breaking Down the Democratic Field

Surprising most onlookers, Christine Quinn rolled up her sleeves and knocked around some of her Democratic rivals last night on NY1’s “Road to City Hall" with Errol Louis. Politicker’s Colin Campbell reports:

The fireworks began when, during an interview on NY1′s Road to City Hall, Ms. Quinn was presented with rival Bill de Blasio’s argument today that the City Council “has been manipulated by the mayor, especially via Speaker Quinn,” and thus can’t be tasked with reforming the city’s embattled 911 system. 

"Bill de Blasio is desperate," Ms. Quinn shot back. “He is stuck in the bottom of the polls and he’s desperately, and quite frankly, sadly attacking an institution I’m incredibly proud of — an institution he was a member of and in the leadership of for eight years."

On the heels of Quinn’s slams against Thompson and de Blasio, the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Howard Saul explores if Quinn’s ‘slush fund’ scandal is coming back to bite her. 

The so-called “slush fund" scandal resulted in a federal investigation after allegations emerged in the spring of 2008 that the council for years had assigned millions of dollars to fictitious organizations, such as the curiously named “Coalition of Informed Individuals." In fact, the money that was allocated to these fake groups—known as member items or discretionary funds—was used as a reserve fund and distributed to legitimate organizations later in the fiscal year.

The morning after, NY1 Political Director Bob Hardtbroke down the Democratic mayoral candidates’ pros and cons — at least where they stand before the long holiday weekend and after Quinn’s “major bomb" last night.

Amazingly, this could really be the first time they win a mayoral election since 1989 — unless they form a circular firing squad and start shooting like crazy. Which is already sort of happening.

Elections Roundup: Ex-Schools Chief On Mayoral Candidates; Is De Blasio Too Tall?

Former city schools chief Joel Klein takes mayoral candidates to task on education in a big speech earlier today. GothamSchools reports:

In a speech in Washington, D.C. to charter school supporters this morning, Klein plans to criticize what he calls “a complete lack of courage among most of the candidates” for statements they’ve made during the campaign to replace Mayor Bloomberg, according to a copy of the speech provided to GothamSchools in advance. In the speech, Klein praises the reforms that took place during his eight-year tenure at the Department of Education, listing the growth of charter schools in Harlem as a crowning achievement.

New York Magazine explores whether Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has a shot at becoming the next mayor — or whether he is too tall at 6 foot 5 inches:

De Blasio’s campaign is a test of just how liberal New York Democrats really are. The key question isn’t about the big cultural political issues—abortion, gay rights, gun control. The city is solidly in favor of all of them, and so are its Democratic mayoral candidates. The new, unsettled battleground is economic liberalism. His campaign is easily the most intellectually coherent and focused when it comes to inequality. Everything from his proposal for beefing up bus service to his plan for restructuring development subsidies extends from his central premise: that New York has become dangerously split between rich and poor, and the ­disparities in government priorities and services need to be closed.

For more on De Blasio’s positions on everything from the city budget to education, check out Gotham Gazette’s one-on-one interview with the candidate published yesterday.

Crain’s Insider reports that an internal struggle within the Independence Party could result in a primary for the ballot line, which was until now expected to go to Adolfo Carrión. Crain’s reminds us why we should even care:

The Independence Party line proved crucial during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s three runs for mayor in Democrat-heavy New York City because it provided another line for Democrats to cast a vote for Mr. Bloomberg besides the Republican one.

Elections Roundup: Thompson And CityTime; Weiner Among Jewish Voters; Quinn’s Term-Limit Burden

In a front-page story in today’s paper, the Daily News finds that Democratic mayoral candidate William Thompson “ignored red flags" about the growing CityTime scandal over the eight years that he was comptroller.

"Of the 626 audits Thompson’s office conducted in his eight years as controller, none looked at CityTime," the News reports. Thompson has been touting his tenure as the city’s top financial watchdog on the campaign trail. His spokesman, John Collins, said Thompson could have done more but that others including the mayor and the city’s budget director share the responsibility. Some $500 million spent on the CityTime project disappeared, the newspaper writes.


Former Congressman Anthony Weiner may be surging ahead in the polls, but the only Jewish candidate in the mayoral race isn’t seeing a lot of support from Jewish voters.

The Forward reports that Weiner "has lower favorable ratings among Jews than he does among any other religious group, according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC New York/Marist poll."

Last week, the Jewish Weekly took a look at whether Israeli politics may become an issue in the mayor’s race, after Weiner had a “testy exchange" about the Israeli territories.



The Wall Street Journal reports that “lingering anger" over mayoral candidate Christine Quinn’s decision to back a change to city law extending term limits so that Mayor Michael Bloomberg could serve a third term is costing her support in the election.

In two dozen interviews with registered Democrats, the Journal found that “her handling of the term-limits issue led them to rule her out" of their choice in the mayoral race.

Thompson Says He's Got A Housing Plan

Democratic candidate for mayor Bill Thompson announced his affordable housing plan while speaking in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn earlier today.

Thompson’s four-point plan aims to create and preserve over 120,000 units of affordable housing for working families over the next eight years.

The former comptroller didn’t mention how much his plan will cost, but he did touch on how his administration would pay for it.

"We will use low-income housing tax credits, resources from various federal programs as well as state incentives and state initiatives,” he said. “Together with other federal, state and city resources, we will maximize more than five billion dollars in funding."

Like Thompson, the Democratic mayoral field has prioritized the affordable housing issue during debates and campaign stops.

"Affordable housing is a crisis — and the reality is that many working families are getting priced out of the city they love," Thompson said. “Our city cannot thrive by only meeting the needs of the very wealthy few; we’ve got to create a city for all New Yorkers."

Earlier this month, a coalition of the city’s largest housing groups partnered with local businesses and developers on a plan they want the next mayor to adopt to create and preserve 150,000 units of affordable housing.

—Daniel Stein-Sayles

Council Vote On Paid Sick Leave Could Give Brewer

Last night’s City Council vote overriding the mayor’s veto of a paid sick leave bill couldn’t come at a better time for the legislation’s lead sponsor.

Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the sponsor of the bill, is running for Manhattan borough president — but needed a boost in a race where about 48 percent of voters remain undecided. Now she can tout how she championed the bill starting back in 2010.

Workers were almost crying today,” Brewer said to the New York Daily News. “They will now be the beneficiaries of what all workers should have, which is the ability to stay home if you’re sick.”

After Council Speaker Christine Quinn initially blocked the bill in 2010, Brewer told The New York Daily News that it was not dead, saying she was not going to stop her fight and that she had “a long-term view."

The Manhattan borough president hopeful did just that — fighting to the very end as she led a rally on the steps of City Hall just hours before lawmakers voted in favor of the bill 47-to-4.

After the veto was overridden, Council members and politicians from around the state echoed their congratulations for Brewer through Twitter and various social media outlets.

While Brewer is seen as the frontrunner in the Manhattan borough president’s race, one poll showed she remains only 5 percent ahead of challenger and District 7 Councilman Robert Jackson — who was also a sponsor of the bill — and just 8 percent ahead of District 5 Councilwoman Jessica Lappin.

The poll also found that Brewer had the highest name recognition among her opponents, which is expected to receive a boost as a result of the attention being given to paid sick leave.

The bill, Intro 0097, would “guarantee paid sick time to nearly one million New Yorkers,” Quinn said in a press release.

The legislation allows five days of paid said leave per year for companies with 20 employees. This number is expected to shrink down to 15 after the bill has been implemented for a year.

The New York Daily News reported that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has not ruled out suing to block the law as he has done with other legislation in the past.

—Maya Miller

Event Of The Day: Mayoral Forum On Sandy Recovery

Many of the mayoral candidates are expected to attend a mayoral forum tonight in Brooklyn about Hurricane Sandy relief and the future of New York City’s flood zones.

The forum is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Shorefront YM-YWHA.

Organizer Jamie Kemmerer has confirmed Democrats John Liu, Bill de Blasio, Sal Albanese and Erick Salgado; Republicans John Catsimatidis and George McDonald; and Independent Adolfo Carrion Jr. will be attending. Democrat Anthony Weiner may also attend, but is not confirmed.

Groups working on storm relief, as well as community organizations, are sponsoring the free event.


The Shorefront YM-YWHA is at 3300 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn.

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

—Daniel Stein-Sayles

Elections Roundup: Quinn’s Lead Erodes; Lhota’s New Fundraising Tactic

Political observers and rival campaigns tell The Wall Street Journal that Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn’s bid for City Hall may be in trouble.

Recent polls have shown that her lead eroded after former Congressman Anthony Weiner got into the race. The latest, by Quinnipiac University, shows a three-way tie among Quinn, Weiner and former comptroller Bill Thompson.

"There’s been a steady erosion in the level of support for her candidacy as other candidates, or the possibility of other candidacies, have emerged," Costas Panagopoulos, director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University, told the WSJ. "And, so, it seems to me that New York City voters are looking for an alternative to Christine Quinn."

On the plus side for Quinn, Edie Windsor, the lead plaintiff in the case that led the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, has endorsed the speaker for mayor. If elected, Quinn would be the first openly gay mayor.

Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota is using the surging popularity of Weiner to raise money. The Daily News reports that the Lhota campaign fired off a fundraising appeal yesterday referencing the disgraced congressman with the line: “It’s up to us to stop him.” The letter continues:

“Like me, I’m sure that you had hoped to have seen the last of Anthony Weiner when he resigned from Congress following an illicit sexual Twitter scandal and botched coverup, but he’s back and desperate for political redemption."

District Council 37, the largest public employee union, has endorsed candidates throughout the city for the upcoming elections.

The union has endorsed Councilwoman Letitia James for Public Advocate. This endorsement comes immediately after she was named the frontrunner in the race in a new poll.

For borough president, DC37 endorsed incumbent Ruban Diaz Jr. in the Bronx; Councilwoman Gale Brewer in Manhattan; and Councilman Leroy Comrie in Queens.

"The DC 37 Delegates endorsed this list of very qualified candidates because of their proven record in support of fight against privatization and in support of public education, housing, health care and other issues important to the men and women we represent,” DC37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said in a statement yesterday.

They have also endorsed various candidates for City Council races throughout the city. The primary is set for September 10.


Event of the Day: Art and Public Policy Forum With 2013 Candidates

Candidates from several key races are expected to discuss the role of public policy in the arts at a forum tonight.

The forum will be moderated by journalist and Futuro Media Group Founder Maria Hinojosa, and sponsored by various small cultural organizations. Service Employees International Union Local 1199 is hosting the event in their midtown auditorium.

Forum spokeswoman Silvia Alvarez says candidates expected to attend include mayoral hopefuls John Liu, Bill de Blasio — who was recently endorsed by SEIU 1199 — Adolfo Carrion Jr. and Erick Salgado; Manhattan borough president candidates Julie Menin, Gale Brewer and Robert Jackson; public advocate candidates Daniel Squadron and Letitia James; and comptroller candidate Scott Stringer.

The mayoral forum is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by half an hour for the borough president candidates, and the remaining candidates from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. A short Q & A is scheduled to follow.

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

SEIU 1199’s auditorium is located at 310 W. 43rd St.

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

– Maya Miller

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