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Posts by Josh Robin
Mar 10th - 3:19 pm
That’s what one New York City congressman is proposing — a farfetched, but intriguing idea that could unite two candidates tangling in what could become an increasingly close race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“It probably won’t happen because of the politics being what it is,” Congressman José Serrano told me this morning, outside a Manhattan event promoting paid family leave with Governor Cuomo and Former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “It’s a perfect match for me, but maybe not for the rest of the country. Because I’m a liberal.”
Serrano added that while he is endorsing New York’s former Senator for her experience, he still likes Sanders — and on the issue of immigration, adds he still trusts Sanders to overhaul laws, even if the Vermont Senator opposed a past measure almost a decade ago, as Clinton pointedly noted in their debate last night.
“Many people who might have voted one way or another in the past understand the importance of immigration now. So I don’t have a problem”, Serrano said. “Even people who in the past have made a mistake on voting understand now that immigration has to happen – so I don’t have any fears that a President Sanders would not push immigration reform.”
As for the Clinton-Sanders team, Serrano isn’t the first to float it. In fact, referring to Clinton’s team, Sanders’ top strategist recently told Politico’s Glenn Thrush: “Maybe they’re going to put him on the ticket.”
Though any decision is long off, this is a fun exercise in procrastination and punditry, so I’ll close with a couple of points, for and against this theory. For: It could excite the party, joining two sides that are increasingly splintered. Against: Clinton and Sanders are roughly the same age (he is 74, she is 68), and they come from the same region.
Just to be sure, I asked Serrano if Clinton topped this ticket in his dream. Yes, he said… although others certainly would prefer the order is reversed.
Dec 12th - 1:49 pm
After rolling out his personal housing plans, NYC’s incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking a quick trip. He’s headed Friday to the White House for a meeting with President Obama.
Several other mayors and mayors-elect are expected to be there, too, including Lovely Warren, who is taking over the helm of Rochester. Per the White house the meeting is “to discuss the ways in which the Obama Administration can serve as an active partner on job creation and ensuring middle class families have a pathway to opportunity.”
Meanwhile, de Blasio is rounding out his team. As we first reported, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli will be deputy mayor for Health and Human Services. A longtime government official, Barrios-Paoli is Mayor Bloomberg’s Aging Commissioner, known for some innovative ideas — like starting a senior center geared towards those who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered.
In 1997, she was famously ousted from the Giuliani administration for apparently criticizing his team too openly.
Dec 11th - 11:48 am
After thinking over the decision for more than a month, NYC’s incoming First Family has decided where to live. The de Blasios are leaving Park Slope and moving into Gracie Mansion.
A statement from de Blasio’s transition office is reporting that they’re leaving their beloved neighborhood row house for fancier digs. Gracie Mansion which has served as the official home for the city’s mayors since 1942.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg never moved in, preferring his own elegant townhouse off Fifth Avenue to Gracie Mansion, an 18th Century former country house, which was built in the Federal Style at a bend in the East River. The Bloomberg administration has frequently used Gracie Mansion for receptions and meetings.
Here’s part of the statement from de blasio:
For a variety of reasons, like logistical and security concerns, we’ve decided to move to Gracie Mansion. It’s a practical choice but one that we make with respect and gratitude for the people of New York City.
While this is a temporary move for us, it is one that we are very proud to make. It’s also one that we will phase in over the next few months.
De Blasio said the choice wasn’t easy… in part because his teenage son Dante now has an easy commute to Brooklyn Tech high school in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene section. That’s going to be a longer ride now, although presumably he can catch a ride in a city car.
The incoming first family also says they’re keeping their Brooklyn home, and stopping by Park Slope favorites like The Purity Diner and Bar Toto as often as they can.
And they add: don’t bet against seeing them at the Park Slope YMCA occasionally.
Sep 20th - 5:07 pm
It’s not that Mayor Bloomberg is lonely. It’s that he sees the whole city benefiting if even more rich people moved to new york.
He said on his radio show this morning: “If we could get every billionaire around the world to move here, it would be a godsend.”
Some beg to differ.
They think New York has become too rarified. And they found their disgust validated this week with word that of the biggest U-S cities, none has a wider income gap than New York.
Narrowing that gulf is at the center of Bill de Blasio’s campaign for mayor.
He told me this morning: “We want every kind of person in new york city. we certainly appreciate if people come here and help build our economy, but the mayor needs to understand that beyond his social circle are millions of new yorkers who are struggling.”
Even if Bloomberg may not ooze empathy, hizzoner says it’s his policies that matter: policies, he adds that help poor people through services funded by the high tax rates levied on the wealthy…hence his call for more of them to move here.
Republican candidate Joe Lhota says he hadn’t heard the mayor…but he’s criticizing de Blasio. he says the Democrat’s plan only aids those with a job…not those looking for work.
The former MTA chief said: “That’s how you deal with income inequality. you don’t deal with it around the margins. you’re talking about paid sick leave. paid sick leave helps the people who are employed today – what about the people who are at the core problem of income inequality who are unemployed. I want them all employed.”
De blasio was endorsed by senator charles schumer…no surprise considering they’re both Democrats.
The candidate says he also wants more jobs. he says a better city university, universal pre-k and afterschool programs advances the city’s workforce. He plans to fund it with higher taxes on those making upwards of half a million dollars a year.
Schumer wouldn’t take a position on de Blasio’s tax plan. But he did note that he did back a rise in federal income taxes.
Sep 16th - 4:30 pm
1990 was the last time a Democrat was sworn in at City Hall.
Almost 24 years after David Dinkins’ inaugural, some recalling that day were again at City Hall Monday for a Democratic unity rally. They seemed downright giddy at the prospect they’d at last be swearing in one of their own, Bill de Blasio.
“It’s been so long, that I have to pinch myself and wait until it’s all over,” said U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan and The Bronx).
Ballots remained to be counted, but Bill Thompson has now been sidelined. The primary is over, and focus turned to the general election against Republican Joe Lhota.
Another former rival wasn’t there Monday. But expect Christine Quinn to stump with de Blasio Tuesday.
Democrat strategists — as well as the party’s most powerful elected official — hope they’ve read their last story about a divided party.
“I wanted to be here to support Bill,” said Governor Cuomo. “I think it now enters into a new stage. We’re really headed towards the general election. And I wanted to be a part of that.”
Added political consultant Evan Stavisky: “Mike Bloomberg is as close to a non-partisan mayor as you could have, but I think it’s been a long time in the wilderness, and Democrats are excited for the opportunity for a victory in November.”
Speaking of Hizzoner, Mayor Bloomberg says he isn’t going to endorse in this race, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to keep quiet. He’s expected to keep defending his legacy as it’s attacked.
He did as much Monday, as Democrats promised change.
“We have worked as hard as we can for 12 years,” he said at an unrelated news conference. “The vote that matters to me is the vote of people moving into the city, versus out, for the first time since the 50s more people are moving into New York City than out of New York City.”
Democrats see in de blasio, and his family, a new face, reflective of a new city.
This even as he has been a player in city and state politics for almost two decades.
Sep 11th - 8:48 pm
Two items are on the City Council agenda Wednesday: transparency in New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner collection and composting of organic waste in the five borough.
Not the stuff that makes breaking news. Still, it’s a meaningful event if only because overseeing the bills is the Council Speaker Christine Quinn. There aren’t many more of these events she’s going to do.
Quinn, as you probably know, is now an also-ran in her years-long quest to become New York’s first woman mayor. She placed third in the Democratic primary, too distant for a run-off. I went to her vote party last night in a Chelsea Hotel, and hours later offer these observations.
A lot of people are feeling sorry for Quinn. She seemed to ooze a particular vulnerability in the waning weeks of her campaign. Earlier this year, she unveiled a personal history battling alcoholism and an eating disorder in a memoir. The book, With Patience and Fortitude, lacked candor when describing her official dealings. But she bared her tortured childhood, including the death of her mother at a young age.
Additionally, it will be strange to have a City Council without her, after she leaves at the end of the year. She is credited for organizing an institution that had been unfocused. And many would say that working with a chief executive at times — (even if some felt it was too much, or too little) — is an admirable record, given the level of dysfunction elsewhere.
Lastly, Quinn was the frontrunner for many weeks of this contest. While much of this had to do with name recognition, the lead was hers. And now it’s gone.
Sep 9th - 4:44 pm
Before tomorrow’s primary, I covered the final day of campaigning for the city comptroller’s race. Something said in Chinatown by Former Governor Eliot Spitzer has caught some attention. He was asked about polls that show a very tight race, with rival Scott Stringer ahead in one survey, and another that show Spitzer with a lead that is within the margin of error.
“I did not do a poll before I got in. I know all the pundits said “Oh my goodness, how much polling have you done?” I don’t do polls. You’re in this business, you gotta understand what the public thinks. Gotta understand what the public needs. The problem with our politicians is they take polls. They don’t take positions because they’re gutless, they’re spineless. I’m not a voice of the establishment. I’m the voice of the people. And the people have been with me since the very beginning of this campaign. They’re gonna be with me tomorrow. They’re gonna turn out and vote. And they’re gonna say “We want somebody back who’s independent, who has fortitude, who has backbone, who stands up for us… Those for whom politics is a profession, all they worry about is getting the next job. Those are the ones who gave us a third term – directly contrary to the desires of a public that twice voted against it. I said that’s wrong, that’s not the way politics is supposed to be run. Those are the same people who are supporting my opponent. He was the one who testified in favor of a third term. Those are the folks who do polls. Those are the folks who are gutless, spineless, devoid of the backbone that our politicians should be demonstrating. I stand up for people. I stand up for what I believe is right.”
The audience of several dozen applauded.
I think it’s only fair to note that Spitzer’s campaign filings show he has spent $60,300 on polling to the firm of Joel Benenson, who has done President Obama’s polling.
Sep 3rd - 5:08 pm
Candidate for City Comptroller Eliot Spitzer is attacking his rival Scott Stringer for a vote he made in the State Assembly to maintain the tax-exempt status of an association that promotes sex between men and boys.
In the mid-1990s, the North American Man/Boy Love Association reportedly registered as a non-profit group under a different name. After state officials determined who was behind it, the legislature overwhelmingly voted to strip the group of its status.
But 19 Assemblymembers voted no, including Stringer, who was then representing Manhattan. He says it was to protect the group’s civil liberties.
He told reporters Tuesday: “We made it clear that this kind of action was intolerable, so obviously when you have to use a vote like this to protect the constitution it’s unpleasant, but that is what you do when you are reform minded, progressive legislature.”
Stringer, now the Manhattan Borough President, is running against Spitzer for the post, and often brings up the prostitution scandal that forced Spitzer to resign as governor.
A Spitzer spokesman says “Scott Stringer has tried to make this race about judgment. He’ll have to explain to the voters of New York what his willingness to defend the tax-free status of NAMBLA says about his.”
A NAMBLA representative tells us the story quote “just indicates an obsession with us, and the really misunderstanding of what we’re about.”
The vote was first reported in the Daily News Tuesday.
Sep 3rd - 7:14 am
I spent hours Saturday with Christine Quinn, who could very well be watching her political future flash before her eyes. Polls in the NYC Democratic mayoral primary have her lagging Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and roughly tied with Bill Thompson, the 2009 nominee. The link for the story is here: http://bit.ly/1ag0qub. Here are some takeaways:
-Quinn has moved onto getting out the vote. We spent much of the day in Northeast Queens, where she is popular. Residents there see her as a continuation of Mayor Bloomberg.
-She turns many questions into an attack on de Blasio — a signal she sees the polls as real, and not a fleeting bump.
-Her wife, Kim Catullo, plays a visible role in the campaign. When Quinn was ahead, her presence was minimal.
Sep 1st - 4:32 pm
Just over a week to go before the Democratic primary means no beach break for those wanting to spend the next four years in Gracie Mansion. They’re fanning out across the city in a bid for support.
Let’s start with Council Speaker Christine Quinn. She is announcing a court brief opposing the Bloomberg administration. She wants an immediate start to court-ordered policies like an outside monitor over the police department. It comes after a federal judge recently found the stop and frisk practice unconstitutional. Bloomberg wants those policies stayed pending appeal.
Quinn told a City Hall news conference Sunday afternoon: “Too many innocent New Yorkers – hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers — are getting stopped, where there’s no evidence they did anything wrong. and then when they’re stopped, they’re not arrested. there’s no gun, there’s no knife, there’s no contraband.”
She says the filing was timed only to the court decision – not to garner Democratic votes in the primary in a bit over a week.
But rival Bill de Blasio countered her move is “a desperate attempt to distract attention from her eight year record of standing with Mayor Bloomberg and Ray Kelly.”
He visited a Brooklyn church Sunday, family in tow.
Outside de Blasio told me: “People are looking for consistency, and people all over the city want the stop and frisk era to end. And I have proposed I think the only way to really fundamentally change the situation -a new police commissioner, strong implementation of the racial profiling ban, and an independent inspector general.”
Not, so according to the third of the trio at the top of recent polls.
Bill Thompson also visited churches Sunday.
“I am confident that in the end that black voters are going to support my candidacy and do that strongly — not based on the fact that I’m black – but based on the fact that I’ve been there on the issues — issues of employment, issues of job creation, issues of safety, issues of education.”
One final note, back to de Blasio. By now, you must know that his son’s hairdo is getting a lot of (positive) attention. And as Dante de Blasio exited the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, Rev. Daryl G. Bloodsaw called out: “Brother Dante! Keep wearing that Afro, man!”
After the laughter died down, Bloodsaw rubbed his own (bald) head and said, “I’m gonna grow mine on the inside.”
Kudos to Chris Smith of New York Magazine for help on the transcription on that one. I was schlepping out the camera at the time.