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Posts by Zack Fink
Nov 20th - 1:38 pm
Earlier this month, Lobbyist Brian Meara testified for the government in the federal corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Meara has known Silver for more than 40 years. He was compelled to testify by trial subpoena. At one point Meara was asked if he remembered the 1997 fight over the rent laws. Meara claimed he did not. Tenant Advocate Michael McKee ( who was right in the middle of that fight ) calls Meara’s assertion “absurd.”
Let’s go back in time.
1997 was the year a newly minted Joe Bruno as Majority Leader declared that the rent protection laws should be permitted to sunset. It was a very contentious session. And on Sunday, June 15th at midnight, the laws expired. Two hours later Sheldon Silver and Governor George Pataki issued a joint press release saying they had reached an agreement in principle. This being Albany of course ( some things never change ), the bill language had yet to be finalized which led to days of advocates on both sides of the issue shuttling between Silver’s outer office off the floor and the Senate lobby where the real estate lobbyists hung out.
The way McKee describes it, that was the year “Silver gave away the store,” and essentially “gutted the system.” In exchange for a 6-year extension, Silver agreed to a number of provisions that greatly weakened the rent laws and tenant rights. That included requiring tenants to pay rent into an escrow account during disputes with landlords, making it easier for tenants to get evicted and perhaps most significantly enshrining into State law vacancy deregulation. That was what one Democrat once described as the “original sin.” While it’s true vacancy decontrol actually began in 1993 ( before Silver was Speaker ), 1997 made it a permanent state of mind. Rent protections would eventually be phased out, it was just a matter of how quickly. Even when Democrats took control of the Senate in 2009, that was not something they rolled back.
Meara was lobbying at the time for the Rent Stabilization Association, which wanted the laws weakened. And according to McKee, he counted Meara walk between Silver’s office and the Senate lobby 17 times to make sure Silver’s proposal would be palatable to the real estate industry. In the end, the deal was cut. The advocates were never shown bill language before the bill went to print. “Silver,” McKee says, “sold us out.”
Supporters of the former Speaker remember it differently. For starters, you had a Republican Governor and a Republican Senate. So, “all hopes were pinned on Shelly.” At the end of the day, he had to cut a deal, despite the loud kicking and screaming from pro-tenant advocates who were “not living in reality.”
I’m not generally someone who likes to poke at old wounds. But some of these older battles may need to be revisited as Silver’s fate goes to the jury. If that jury fails to come back with a conviction ( which I think is possible ), one Albany insider explained that the government is going to try to get him again. That means more pressure on the same witnesses to recall things a little bit more clearly so they can be put back on the stand for a second trial.
It really could go either way for Silver, but what this trial seems to have demonstrated, regardless of Silver’s guilt or innocence, is that he had longstanding relationships with developers. He back channeled with those interests over critical pieces of legislation like the rent protections and 421-a while claiming publicly to be 100% pro-tenant. He also collected referral fees for bringing Glenwood Management’s business to a downtown law firm, Goldberg and Iryami. Silver doesn’t even deny this fact, which is at the heart of the government’s case that Silver engaged in illegal kickback schemes for personal gain. The trial may determine guilt, or it may not. But what it has succeeded in doing is showing where Silver was compromised, making it very tough for him to ever go back and try to be part of leadership in the Assembly. And it might even portend the end of his time as an elected official.
Nov 16th - 8:48 am
From the Morning Memo:
As the cases in the Bridgegate matter move forward on the other side of the Hudson River, more information is becoming available about who knew what about the scandal and when they knew it.
While the focus understandably has been on the actions of New Jersey Chris Christie, the legal digging may also reveal how much Gov. Andrew Cuomo knew about the scandal before the average New Yorker.
After all, it was Cuomo’s hand-picked executive director at the Port Authority, Pat Foye, who first recognized what a disaster deliberate lane closures were on the Fort Lee side of the George Washington Bridge in September of 2013.
This week even more evidence became available that suggests that some on the New York side were not only aware of what was going on, but also taking pains to avoid fanning the flames or exposing the matter publicly. Attorneys for former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, who is under indictment for the lane closures and is expected to stand trial next year, have filed discovery motions that resulted in hundreds of pages of documents being made public.
As Brian Murphy reports, there is information in those documents about discussions that took place among Cuomo’s appointees including Commissioner and Vice Chairman Scott Rechler.
According to an e-mail written by David Garten, a former staffer for the late New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg and now Chief of Staff for Rechler, there was at least a discussion about trying to avoid a subpoena with the internal inquiry they were conducting on the lane closures. Garten writes to Rechler on Oct. 22, 2013,
“I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to talk to Pat yet, but if he is so focused on documenting everything then how about the following – he types a detailed memo that he produces on his home computer, gives a hard copy to the 2nd floor to keep and use, and then type up a general memo for his files at the PA.”
The email then spells out the reason for proposing creating two memos when Garten writes,
“…in case we get subpoenaed.”
“Pat” in this email is a reference to Pat Foye. And the “2nd floor” is a reference to Cuomo’s office on the second floor of the State Capitol. Rechler then responds to the e-mail a couple of hours later writing,
“I spoke to pat this evening and gave him my thoughts on the memo as we discussed earlier. He seemed to agree with the same. I am going to call HG to make sure he is on the same page ( Pat said he didn’t speak to HG about the memo yet ).” More >
Nov 11th - 3:23 pm
During Sheldon Silver’s federal corruption trial, defense attorneys have now tried at least twice to suggest heavy handed tactics on the part of prosecutors to cajole witnesses into cooperating with their case. It fits in with overall defense narrative that there is just no case here and prosecutors have bent the rules and overreached. Practically speaking, the defense has not denied any of the facts laid out by the government. Silver’s team has disputed the government’s presentation of the facts, but not the basic facts that Silver steered public money to cancer research, and received referral fees for cancer patients. The defense simply maintains that all of that is legal, if unseemly. And none of it rises to the level of a federal crime.
At the heart of the government’s case is Dr. Robert Taub who received $500,000 from Silver in taxpayer money for his Mesothelioma Center at Columbia University. Taub then referred cancer patients to Silver who passed along their potentially lucrative cases to Weitz and Luxenberg where Silver served as “Of Counsel.” Quid-pro-Quo, Clarice. Or so say prosecutors.
During cross examination Taub was asked about when federal prosecutors first came to see him in 2014. Taub recalled on the witness stand that investigators showed up at his apartment unannounced at 6am. Taub said that he panicked and initially denied referring patients to Silver at all. Taub sheepishly recounted,
I initially minimized the extent of my involvement.
Taub eventually reached a non-prosecution agreement with the government in exchange for his testimony ( perhaps further proof that everything in life comes down to mutually beneficial relationships ) but not before Taub rejected the original draft of the agreement suggesting he referred patients “in exchange” for money.
Now, there is a new kerfuffle over the same defense tactic. Yesterday, US Attorney Preet Bharara wrote a sharply worded letter to District Judge Valerie Caproni ( the Judge in the Silver case ) which read,
The Government respectfully submits this letter to address repeated improper questioning by defense counsel that potentially gave the jury the mistaken impression that approaches of witnesses by law enforcement were somehow unlawful or inappropriate. As defense counsel is well aware, however, such approaches are entirely lawful and proper, and the Court should issue a curative instruction to correct the misimpressions that may have arisen from defense counsel’s questioning.
Bharara’s letter was in response to this exchange between Silver defense Attorney Justin Shur and the mild mannered Stephen August who handled member items in the Assembly for Silver and the Democrats until his retirement. He currently lives in Maine. Here is part of the exchange between Shur and August:
Q: When was the very first time you met with the prosecutors? Tell us how that came about.
A: I don’t know the date. It was January of this year. They came up to Maine, and requested that I speak with them.
Q: And they called you first before doing that?
A: They did not, no.
Q: They didn’t make an appointment to see you?
Q: They just showed up?
A: They did.
Q: This is in Bath, Maine?
A: It is. Q: Where is Bath, Maine?
A: We’re about 35 miles north of Portland. . . .
Q: Were you home? Did they knock on the door?
A: My wife and I were out for a walk. I recall it was mid-afternoon. They were in the driveway when we returned home.
Q: Had you ever had that happen before? Where criminal investigators came to your house?
Q: Were you surprised to see them there?
A: I was.
Bharara’s letter goes on to say,
As the defendant is well aware, it is entirely lawful for law enforcement to attempt to talk to individuals at their residences with their consent, including early in the morning. Yet defense counsel’s improper questioning, some of which is described above, may well have left the jury with the opposite impression.
Nov 11th - 11:09 am
Ever since Rob Astorino won more than 50,000 votes on the Stop Common Core ballot line, a new opportunity for a possible 2018 “Re-Rob” emerged. In the business world the opportunity could be defined by what is known as “White Space,” or “Competitive White Space.” Naturally, this concept has been interpreted multiple different ways by people, but the broad gist is that White Space is a place where a company ( or in this case candidate or brand ) might have room to maneuver in a crowded playing field. Some see it as an entirely new market, others as a market opportunity one may need or wish to pursue but cannot address it without a new model.
Enter the Reform Party. The Astorino team renamed Stop Common Core by calling it the party of “Reform.” As the former leader of the New York State Assembly is currently on trial for his life, and a second former State leader is expected to begin his corruption trial next week, I probably don’t need to tell you that frustration with the current state of affairs could encourage moderate and independent voters to embrace a party promising – well, reform.
Astorino won the vast majority of counties statewide, but lost those critically densely populated ones in New York City and beyond. Is there opportunity to pick up votes there? Andrew Cuomo won the State with roughly 1.9 million votes to Astorino’s 1.4 million. In a State where voter registration is about 11.5 million, there is clearly an untapped potential – or white space – there. To make the difference only 600,000 votes would be needed out of an available 7.5 million. And that only represents those who sat things out in 2014. It’s also assuming people who voted in 2014 vote the same way again.
The 2015 local elections had decent results for the Reform party. Obviously the much bigger test will be the 2016 State elections.
In short, “white space” is a metaphor for “opportunity.”
Heard any wild conspiracy theories lately? Because I bet mine will top yours. Ready? There was much speculation about why top Cuomo Aide Joe Percoco announced he would depart the Administration by the end of the year. Well, one explanation for me jumps to the top. According to Gerson Borerro, a long-time political observer and commentator now with City & State Magazine, Percoco is leaving to set up a shadow campaign. Cuomo and company have decided that they cannot work with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and they need to take him out in a Democratic Primary in 2017. The feud between the two top Democrats has been well documented, but this move, if true, would take trench warfare to a whole other level.
One thing we do know about Percoco…he can organize and run a campaign. He is connected to the various groups and leaders who would be needed to launch a citywide effort. As for who the candidate would be – with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries on the fence about running – the most obvious choice would be Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Cuomo and Diaz enjoy a close relationship, and have found themselves on the same side during some of de Blasio’s darkest moments.
As for how Percoco and the Governor might do this…they could simply work through the five county/borough chairs. With Diaz as the candidate they have already locked up the Bronx. Manhattan was lost by the current Mayor a while back, meaning they would just have to bring in Chairman Joe Crowley and crew in Queens, who seem to have no love for the Mayor going back to the City Council Speaker race. Brooklyn’s Frank Seddio can likely be persuaded if there is enough in it for him. And Forget Staten Island where Joe would simply go native.
So, is it true? Maybe not. But it’s a plausible a theory as any I have heard. Thanks for playing.
Cuomo Spox Rich Azzopardi says in response to the Percoco shadow campaign theory,
To be clear, there is no truth to this rumor. That’s an insane theory that had to be the result of a gas leak.
Oct 28th - 3:24 pm
It seems like there are an awful lot of newly minted Mets fans out there lately.
Although the truth is, it’s hard not to get caught up in Mets fever. And in full disclosure this Mets fan didn’t exactly sit and watch ( 9 innings X 162 games = ) 1,458 innings of baseball during those losing seasons when the Mets were mathematically eliminated by June 3rd. I did spent countless hours in bars over the years watching the Mets well, mostly lose. But during this historic run I’ve watched most of the games from the safety of my couch. Fortunately in 2015 you’ve got company for the game in the Twitter universe. And here is a sample of those tweets from last night from people you probably know. Funniest tweets win.
— Rory Lancman (@RoryLancman) October 28, 2015
.@pfvjr Fun-fact: Moustakas roughly translates to mustached one
— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) October 28, 2015
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) October 28, 2015
Michael Cuddyer: Smart guy, good quote, was excellent hitter. But this season, his bat done died …
— Michael Powell (@powellnyt) October 28, 2015
I got a feeling I am gonna be extra cranky tomorrow. #mets
— Mike Durant (@MPDurant) October 28, 2015
joe buck: “this is when the game of baseball is at it’s best.” yeah, 12:39 a.m.
— ken lovett (@klnynews) October 28, 2015
Could we please NOT see Cuddyer again this series.
— Deborah J. Glick (@DeborahJGlick) October 28, 2015
“My son Cy is talented, but you should my other boy Chris pitch.” — Mrs Young
— Jimmy Oddo (@HeyNowJO) October 28, 2015
— Joseph Spector (@GannettAlbany) October 28, 2015
I’m concerned that extra innings will put too much strain on the Fox truck.
— Bill Hammond (@NYHammond) October 28, 2015
Oct 23rd - 11:51 am
Sometimes we construct our own narrative. And sometimes that narrative is based on a very subjective interpretation of the facts. Like that guy in college who tried to convince me that he liked the “The Barenaked Ladies” before they were cool. Uh, actually dude “The Barenaked Ladies” were never cool. They are a lot of things…”cool” is not one of them.
In December, Mayor de Blasio is holding a Presidential forum in Iowa. A deadline for candidates to respond to that invitation came and went this week without many takers. According to Laura Nahmias and Dana Rubinstein, some candidates have no intention of attending, others say they cannot find their invites. People close to the Mayor argue that no one should have to respond yet because no formal invitations have been sent. I am not gonna play referee on this one, because I simply do not know the answer. What’s clear is that Mayor de Blasio is trying to position himself as a national progressive leader. But critics believe he may have put himself “in a box.”
By withholding his endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier this year, The Mayor seemed to be trying to act as progressive kingmaker. But as some have pointed out, Clinton has had the same positions for 20 years. In fact, one could argue her biggest shortcoming as a candidate is that she is too establishment. What is going to change about her positions? And by holding out on endorsing her and inviting her to a forum, it’s like de Blasio is trying to call the tune. And some are doubtful Clinton will dance. Besides, with all the talk of progressivism, doersn’t it seem more logical for de Blasio to endorse Bernie Sanders? The Vermont Senator has been drawing tens of thousands of people to his rallies organically because some within the party believe he is “the only true progressive” in the race.
Ultimately, people close to the Mayor believe he will end up endorsing Clinton regardless of whether she attends his forum. If he does, de Blasio will likely demonstrate his pragmatism by arguing Clinton is a progressive “who can get things done.” Most voters think automatic endorsements are “strange,” and they want to see a real debate among the candidates. The Iowa forum is about raising important issues. Even if the forum never materializes, a strong conversation has been started. For example, Democrats are now suggesting looking to Socialist Countries as a potential model on certain issues. Granted, it was Sanders who brought that up, but the whole idea of moving the conversation to the left is the result of progressive leadership. And no doubt about it, mayor de Blasio is one of the key voices in the public discussion currently taking place. As a supporter of the Mayor rightly points out, “he didn’t endorse Zephyr Teachout either.” So, there is precedent for him waiting, and ultimately going with the proven leader.
Republicans view this whole mess as an utter amusement. as one GOP insider put it, “de Blasio hasn’t figured out how to handle Albany, but he is trying to wade into national politics?” The Mayor not only upset Cuomo earlier this year with the broadside heard ’round the world, but now he has upset the Clintons, and “Lord knows, they don’t have short memories.” To date, the Mayor has gotten one signature progressive policy idea passed in Albany during year one. And that is universal pre-K, a huge accomplishment by anybody’s standards. But most everything else he sought this past year has been stymied ( and that was before he publicly attacked Cuomo ). Including a change to a developer tax break known as 421-a which would have allowed for more affordable housing. Even Mayoral control of schools was put into a state of suspended animation instead of receiving a strong extension. That issue will be revisited this coming year, and the Mayor may be forced to use whatever political capital he has left convicing a hostile State Senate that he deserves full control of New York City schools. Critics say The Mayor cannot be taken seriously by national political leaders when he can’t even navigate his own state to get things done. or as one person put it, “Clinton shouldn’t take him seriously if State leaders don’t.”
In short, claiming the mantle of progressivism must come through demonstrable accomplishments. And for better or worse – New York State is structured in such a way that the city of New York must rely on it’s Albany representatives to deliver big policy ideas. At the end of the day leaders are judged by what they did, not whether they influenced the conversation.
“Hootie and the Blowfish” were never cool either, btw. It’s not related to anything we’ve discussed, but I Just wanted to make that point.
Oct 19th - 5:26 pm
Starting this weekend, Effective NY’s Bill Samuels will be hitting the airwaves. The professional agitator will host an hour-long radio show on Sundays at 11:00 am on AM970 in New York City. Samuels’ show will be a mixture of opinion, news and interviews. And it will follow the Sunday morning radio show hosted by businessman and former Mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis on the same station.
Morgan Pehme, former Editor-in-Chief of City and State Magazine will serve as co-host and produce the radio program, which will be titled “Effective Radio with Bill Samuels.”
Samuels has a long history of activism in progressive politics, including organizing against the Vietnam War in the 1970s. In his business career he built ACTV which produced patents for interactive television. Eventually those patents were sold to an affiliate of Liberty Media for a hefty sum, allowing Samuels to use his windfall to run for office, flirt with running for office, and help shape the debate from the left by speaking out on issues and challenging candidates to adopt policies he advocates for. One of Samuels’ key issues is campaign finance reform. In 2010, Samuels ran for Lieutenant Governor independent of Andrew Cuomo who was mounting his first successful campaign for Governor. According to Samuels ( and this is a matter of some dispute ), Cuomo promised to enact campaign finance reform at the State level in exchange for Bill dropping out. Ultimately Cuomo failed to deliver. The Governor blamed divided government, but Samuels was disappointed Cuomo didn’t use his clout to push it through like he did on say, Gay Marriage.
The two men were officially at loggerheads.
In 2014, Samuels floated his name as a potential Lieutenant Governor candidate once again, but ultimately decided not to run. Beyond just campaign finance, throughout Cuomo’s tenure as Governor, Samuels has been a consistent critic, claiming Cuomo has not embraced the progressive ideals he espouses.
Asked about the new radio venture, and his previous criticisms of the Cuomo Administration, Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for the Governor said, “We have no comment on anything Samuels has to say.”
Like the Cuomo’s, there is a history of activism and politics in the Samuels family. Bill’s father, Howard served as U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce under President Lyndon Johnson. And the ties go even deeper here…Howard then ran for Governor with Mario Cuomo as his Lieutenant Governor Candidate in 1974. Howard was defeated by Hugh Carey.
“Effective Radio with Bill Samuels” has it’s first broadcast this Sunday, the 25th.
Oct 13th - 4:26 pm
The office of State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has agreed to get out of the private, for-profit prison business. While the Comptroller’s office does not characterize the move as a “divestment,” to the common investor it looks an awful lot like precisely that.
Specifically, New York State’s Common Retirement fund has placed GEO Group on it’s restricted list for active management. GEO Group is the largest private corrections company in the world, according to it’s website. The Comptroller says they are directing active managers to no longer purchase shares in the company. DiNapoli is also directing all actively managed shares of GEO Group to be sold by the end of the year. The holding is currently 43,220 shares worth about $1.5 Million.
All other shares of GEO Group, and Corrections Corp of America ( which does exactly what it’s name would suggest ) held by the Common Retirement Fund, which amount to about $10.6 Million, are in what is known as passive index funds. In other words, it’s not a direct investment by the State. Money managers are hired by New York to buy lots of different shares of lots of different companies and hold them together as part of a larger fund. Managers are given broad discretion to buy and sell as they so choose, and the State takes no role in those decisions.
To put things in perspective, the State’s retirement fund is worth roughly $184.5 Billion. It’s the third largest in the nation. So, divesting a a couple million bucks isn’t necessarily going to make or break performance. But by taking money out of for-profit prisons, the State is sending a strong, symbolic message. New York State wants no part of private prisons, which have had all sorts of problems with abuse, and other issues.
The move comes after comedian, activist and perennial candidate for public office Randy Credico launched a group with the help of Effective NY’s Bill Samuels called “End the Prison Industrial Complex Now,” or “EPIC.” Randy ( who’s father served time in prison ), has also been dressing up in fake prison garb and holding protests outside the offices of State leaders, including Governor Andrew Cuomo. Joe Percoco from the Governor’s office apparently handed Credico a fancy cigar the last time he was perched outside the Third Avenue office, while also chastising Randy for failing to garner any press attention. In a statement, Credico said,
It’s a significant and welcome development. The implications are profound, and I am extremely encouraged by the Comtroller’s actions. However, I am not suprised. Mr. Dinapoli is an extremely ethical public official. And this is the stuff that makes statesman. This action serves notice to the practice of human beings exploited for profit’s days are numbered. We have our work cut out still, but this removes a huge load. Indeed, one giant step for humankind.
DiNapoli was unavailable for comment, but his Spokesman Matthew Sweeney said,
After a review, Comptroller DiNapoli and the Common Retirement Fund are taking steps to reduce and restrict the Fund’s investment in these companies.
Sep 30th - 11:34 am
SolarCity is an enormous project. It’s the anchor of Governor Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” announced during the 2012 State of the State address where Cuomo said,
We are ready to invest one billion in an economic development package for the City of Buffalo!
Turns out, $750 million worth of State money is going to SolarCity to build solar panels, which will presumably be in high demand as the nation transfers away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources. How quickly that transition will be however, is anybody’s guess. But a simple rule in business is that you don’t build supply when there isn’t sufficient demand. I can make all the widgets I want, but if no one wants to buy them I’m gonna end up broke and throwing those widgets at the people who stop to laugh at me in my dumpster.
Under the arrangement for the SolarCity economic development plan at RiverBend, the State will own the building, and own the specialized manufacturing equipment that will supposedly be able to churn out 10,000 solar panels per day. As one Republican insider puts it, the concept of solar panels may poll well among Democrats, but that’s an extraordinary risk to put on taxpayers should this business fail to meet expectations. Democrats tend to believe in public investment to spur economic growth. Sometimes that can work. But bigger isn’t necessarily better. Especially if a burgeoning market is only just developing. Maybe one day there will be demand for thousands of solar panels every day, but some might argue the lobbies for more traditional fuel sources aren’t going allow that transition to happen overnight. Going forward energy will likely be drawn from multiple sources. Think of our energy as a big pool, which connects to the grid. One needs multiple sources of energy constantly feeding into that pool, at least for the foreseeable. Solar may very well be the long term answer to our energy needs. But it’s unclear if it will be the answer in 2016 when the plant will be up in running ( 2016 is in three months, btw ).
The man with the plan to build SolarCity is Lou Ciminelli, a big donor to Governor Cuomo. How big, you ask? It appears as though Lou and his wife AnnLouise have given the Cuomo Campaign roughly $96,500 over the years. And now this relationship appears to be the subject of a federal inquiry. But that doesn’t include money given through a Limited Liability Company or LLC, known as Highland Park Village. Stay with me now, because this gets complicated. Jon Reznick of Competitive Advantage Research gets credit for finding this connection.
The City of Buffalo issued this press release in May 2012, referring to Strickler Development Group, an LLC owned by Ciminelli. But as it turns out, Strickler had already filed to change it’s name to Highland Park Village. And Highland Park Village contributed yet another $25,000 donation to Cuomo/Hochul in May 2014.
So, here is the timeline…Ciminelli and his wife contribute more than $25,000 to Cuomo in January 2014. It’s over the limit and some of the money has to go back as a refund. Ciminelli gets selected as the developer for SolarCity shortly thereafter, and then in May Highland Park Village gives another $25,000, which in Reznick’s words makes both contributions nice “bookends for both before and after the SolarCity contract was awarded.”
So, if you are keeping track at home, Ciminelli and his wife have contributed $123,850 to Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaigns. And that doesn’t count the other half of the Ciminelli family, including Paul, which would bring the total closer to $128,000.
Investing a billion dollars in Buffalo may be just the prescription the doctor ordered. Nobody disputes that the economy in Buffalo needs a shot in the arm, and already there are signs that construction needs are pushing down the unemployment rate. But when subpoenas start to fly over the manner in which public contracts were awarded, it starts to give off a stink. And that stink could persuade additional private investors to stay away. There may be absolutely no merit to any of the inquiries, but this project probably doesn’t need a taint this early in the game. Especially since it’s roughly a billion dollars worth of taxpayer money.
Aug 21st - 8:36 am
Few would dispute that it’s been a tough summer for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.
From the ill-advised fight with Uber, to accusations of mishandling the critical outreach portion of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx, to his high profile spat with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to his misadventures at the Park Slope YMCA while a deadly standoff unfolded on Staten Island.
The headlines have been brutal, and now some believe the political winds have begun to blow in a decidedly new direction.
Few potential challengers would ever openly commit to launching a primary challenge against a sitting mayor – especially this early in the game. But ‘lo and behold over the last few days, potential names have begun to surface as trial balloons. And many of those whose names have been floated are doing very little to tamp down the public chatter.
The bottom line is this: some potential challengers smell blood in the water.
Then there are those whom the political consultants call “the real players” – Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. (Interestingly, all three are former state lawmakers).
But sources say the strongest potential candidate is the one guy who has ruled it out publicly, and that is Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a former assemblyman who told Errol Louis during an “Inside City Hall” interview on Aug. 5th: “I’ve got no interest in running for mayor or holding any other job other than the one I have now.” More >