Bill de Blasio

De Blasio, Gloves Off, Blasts Cuomo

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an exclusive interview with NY1’s Errol Louis, blasting the governor he says is consumed with “transactional” politics.

“What I found was he engaged in his own sense of strategies, his own political machinations and what we’ve often seen is if someone disagrees with him openly, some kind of revenge or vendetta follows,” de Blasio said of the governor.

The broadsides against Cuomo are the culmination of an increasingly tenuous relationship between the state’s top elected official and the more liberal Democrat who was elected with a wave of progressive support in the city.

The relationship between Cuomo and de Blasio publicly had been one in which the two men carefully sought to avoid any on-the-record critiques, even as the governor was seen as purposefully undermining the mayor on key issues such as an Atlantic Yards land deal, the terms of extending the 421a tax abatement, mayoral control of New York City schools, universal pre-Kindergarten and a city-wide increase in the minimum wage.

De Blasio was likely venting both exasperation with his fellow Democrat, but also demonstrated a willingness to critique a governor who has fallen out of favor with liberal advocates, especially when it comes to economic issues and elected a Democratic-controlled state Senate.

In the interview, de Blasio knocked Cuomo for working to closely with Republican-led Senate at the expense of the Assembly, which is dominated by Democrats from New York City.

“I don’t believe the Assembly had a real working partner in the governor or the Senate in terms of getting things done for the people of this city and in many cases the people of this state,” de Blasio said.

In one stinging rejoinder during the interview, de Blasio took aim at the Cuomo administration’s habit of conducting background briefings and providing anonymous jabs at the mayor and his policies.

“And I want to hasten to say there was some interesting back and forth last week and some unnamed sources well-placed in the Cuomo administration had a few things to say. I’m here in front of you on record saying what I believe,” he said.

De Blasio vented that policy proposals are undermined or in some cases “rejected or manipulated” when he tries to find common ground with the Cuomo.

“I find that to be a lack of leadership because here was an opportunity actually to get something done for people,” de Blasio said.

The mayor is hardly the first Democrat this year to criticize Cuomo, who has been knocked by state lawmakers and city council members for the better part of the year following his re-election last November. But de Blasio is also the most prominent elected Democrat to do so, representing a broader falling out between a governor who is moderate on fiscal issues and a liberal wing of the party that sees itself ascending ahead of the 2016 elections.

Mayors and governors of New York over the last half-century have always had contentious relationships, dating back to Nelson Rockefeller and John Linsday, Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo and George Pataki and Rudy Giuliani.

But both Cuomo and de Blasio insisted they would be different, emphasizing their history together at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and ties to the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party.

In the early days of the de Blasio administration, the mayor sought to carefully cultivate Cuomo as a potentially ally in Albany, where Senate Republicans have been especially hostile to his proposals even before he sought to actively campaign for a Democratic-led majority in the chamber.

De Blasio personally vouched for Cuomo with the labor-backed and liberal Working Families Party, which only 13 months ago openly considered not giving the centrist governor its ballot line. Weeks after the WFP fight, de Blasio endorsed Cuomo for a second term as governor and introduced him as the state Democratic Convention in Suffolk County.

But the era of good feelings do not last, nor did it truly materialize for Cuomo and de Blasio.

This year, Cuomo pushed back against efforts to allow local governments to set their own minimum wage after pledging to back some version of municipal control.

He rejected de Blasio’s call for a permanent extension of mayoral control of New York City schools and initially supported three years before settling on 12 months with the Legislature.

At the same time, Cuomo distanced himself from the mayor’s push to expand affordable housing opportunities under the 421a tax abatement extension, frequently citing the AFL-CIO’s concerns about the lack of a prevailing wage provision for the construction sector.

The mayor was not without his own faults: De Blasio, in turn, had been increasingly frustrated with the byzantine politics of Albany, which he found difficult to navigate.

Adding to the tensions, de Blasio was said to have hired Karen Hinton, the wife of former top Cuomo aide Howard Glaser, without giving the governor a heads up on the appointment.

The bad blood culminated last week, when a Cuomo administration official — who appeared in direct quotes to speak in the recognizable cadence and syntax of the governor himself — blasted the mayor in a background briefing.

“He is more politically oriented in terms of his approach … and then he makes it almost impossible for him to achieve success,” the Cuomo official said, according to The Daily News.

The interview comes just as de Blasio is about to leave the city for a summer vacation through the west and southwest. It airs tonight on NY1’s Inside City Hall at 7 p.m.

Updated: Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa responded in a statement.

“For those new to the process, it takes coalition building and compromise to get things done in government,” she said. “We wish the Mayor well on his vacation.”

Senate Holds Up de Blasio, Cuomo MTA Appointees

In yet another “screw you” to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Republican-controlled Senate departed Albany without acting on the mayor’s appointees to the MTA Board, multiple sources confirm.

De Blasio had three nominees pending with the Senate to serve on the state-run authority, which manages transit – buses, subways, trains, bridges and tunnels – in New York City and surrounding areas including, Long Island: David Jones, a leader with the nonprofit Community Service Society who has advocated reduced transit fares for low-income New Yorkers; Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the chamber’s Transportation Committee; and Veronica Vanterpool, director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and a member of the MTA’s “reinvention” commission.

The trio would bring some diversity to the Board. Jones is black, and Vanterpool and Rodriguez are Latino. The mayor’s decision to tap the councilman did raise some eyebrows, with questions about whether him doing double-duty as both a board member and chair of the committee that oversees the MTA would present a conflict of interest.

The mayor’s appointees were supposed to replace two holdovers from the Bloomberg administration – John Banks and Jeffrey Kay – and give de Blasio control of the four seats on the MTA Board that are afforded to City Hall.

A Senate spokesman said members of the majority are “performing our due diligence on the mayor’s selections.” He did not confirm or deny that the majority’s decision not to act on the mayor’s appointees was born of the Republicans’ ongoing anger with de Blasio for his failed effort to assist the Senate Democrats in taking back the majority during last year’s elections. The bad blood between the conference and the mayor (not to mention the difficult relationship between Cuomo and the mayor) made this an unusually difficult session for de Blasio in Albany.

The Senate did not hold up everything having to do with the MTA, which is always a bit of a sticky wicket – especially for the downstate members – due to its long-running financial issues. (The authority a $14 billion funding gap in its five-year capital plan, which Albany did not address before the session ended).

MTA Chairman Tom Predergast was confirmed earlier this week for a new six-year term. During his confirmation hearing, he warned that if lawmakers don’t do something about the capital plan gap by the end of the year, the agency might have to delay contracts for some projects.

The Senate also confirmed one of Cuomo’s two MTA Board nominees – Larry Schwartz, a former top aide to the governor who is now working in the private sector for an airport services company called OTG Management, to replace Republican Andrew Saul. Schwartz could not travel to Albany to attend his confirmation hearing in person, and so participated via video conference.

Cuomo’s other nominee, Peter Ward, president of the small (but growing in both numbers and clout) New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council. Ward was supposed to replace Allen Cappelli, a Democratic operative from Staten Island who was selected to serve on the board by former Gov. David Paterson in 2008.

News of Cuomo’s decision not to reappoint Cappelli, who has demonstrated an independent streak during his time on the board, angered both Staten Islanders and transit advocates. Cappelli himself expressed disappointment about his imminent removal.

The Senate could not immediately provide an answer as to why Ward was not confirmed, but Schwartz was. (I’m told a few other gubernatorial appointees were also held up due to the fact that they could not appear in person before the Health Committee, as desired by its chairman, Sen. Kemp Hannon). Sen. Diane Savino, an IDC member from Staten Island, said she had not pushed for the delay, saying she believes the “clock just ran down.”

Cappelli said he has no idea why he was spared – at least in the short term – and believes he will continue to serve on the board until the Senate confirms a replacement. At the moment, lawmakers have no plans to return to Albany before next year’s session, which begins in January.

“At least I can continue to serve and fight for capital projects and service enhancements for a period of time,” Cappelli said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Cuomo Queried on Relationship With de Blasio

Governor Cuomo took shots from the press, Thursday, over a “personal friend” of his, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio butted heads this session over New York City’s decades-old tax abatement program, 421-a.

The Mayor’s plan placed an increase in affordable housing as the top priority, while the Governor wanted changes to wages earned by workers involved in those projects.

“There’s no doubt we had a difference of opinion on this package of bills and how it was handled and the proposal for 421-a’s renewal,” Cuomo said “I did not support the mayor’s 421-a renewal. I don’t believe it could have passed.”

The tumultuous relationship between the governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio has been a famous one in Albany this year. A Cuomo administration official was even quoted in The Daily News Wednesday criticizing the mayor. At a press conference Thursday, Cuomo was asked directly if he was the source of that criticism.

“I said a lot of things, I don’t know exactly which one you’re referring to,” Cuomo said.

When pressed on why he’s chosen to speak out against the mayor’s plan – privately or not – Cuomo said that’s just what he prefers.

“If I don’t believe a proposal makes sense, I say that it doesn’t make sense,” Cuomo said. “I think it’s better to be clear upfront about a situation rather than let it develop and then you say down the road ‘well how did this happen?’ 421-a was not going to happen.”

Cuomo went on to publicly criticize the mayor’s proposal for 421-a, saying the program is now “not only renewed, it’s improved.”

“It is a better bill than the proposal we received, and the proposal we received, I don’t think it was viable from a legislative point of view,” Cuomo said. “You need a good idea that can also be accepted as a good idea.”

Mayor de blasio also fell short on control of New York City schools. The final deal includes a one-year extension.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said that short-term extender is due, in part, to a lack of cooperation on the mayor’s part.

“Earlier in the year, we had endeavored to set up some hearings, and we didn’t really have any cooperation,” Flanagan said. “So, I think a year’s time will allow everyone to have more in-depth discussions. I think doing it for a year is a good thing to do, and I expect that we will have very intense discussions.”

Needless to say, Mayor Bill de Blasio may have gotten less than what he wanted this time around. But Cuomo says the final deal appropriately addresses the needs of New York City.

“I think the city of New York does very, very well in this package. You look at what the city asked for – that’s what the city received,” Cuomo said. “The mayor of the city of New York controls the education system and continues to control the education system. The rent reform package is the best rent reform package in history. Well, some people say it’s still not enough – it’s the best in history.”

Heastie: de Blasio “Okay” With One-Year Extension

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was “okay” with a one-year extension to mayoral control of city schools.

The final deal between legislative leaders and Governor Andrew Cuomo includes a one-year extension for the mayor, two years short of what the Assembly was seeking.

The Assembly had already passed a three-year extension earlier this session. The Senate came back earlier this month with a one-year extension, which ultimately won out in the final deal.

Despite approving the three-year extension, Heastie says his members ultimately agreed to just one year.

“Members were fine giving mayor three years, but again, this is not a unicameral legislature and the Senate would only want to give one year,” Heastie said. “I spoke to the mayor, he said ‘we’ll live to fight another day’. He was okay with one year.”

That means Mayor Bill de Blasio will be back in Albany next year to seek another extension to mayoral control. That could prove tricky for some downstate lawmakers during an election year.

But Speaker Carl Heastie says the Senate wasn’t willing to compromise.

“There comes a point that the other house refuses for whatever reason,” Heastie said “I think it is wrong to not want to give stability to New York City schools and you’d have to ask Senator Flanagan why they refused to move.”

If the legislature ultimately approves another one-year extension for Mayor de Blasio next year, he’ll be stuck lobbying Albany during his own election year in 2017.

De Blasio Holding Out Hope on Rent, 421a

There’s a general consensus around Albany that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio got the short end of the stick in the so-called framework deal announced yesterday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders, but the mayor is trying to put a positive spin on things, saying today there’s still time for things to change while the deal remains open.

Speaking to reporters earlier today, de Blasio heaped praise on the Assembly Democrats, (even though his support among conference members has reportedly been eroding steadily over the past several weeks), saying they have been “consistently responsive to the city’s concerns,” and adding: “They’ve been serious, they’ve been resolute, and they’ve gotten a lot done, particularly on issues like rent regulation.”

De Blasio went out of his way to thank Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who stressed during his own chat with reporters that the framework deal is just that – a framework – and nothing has been nailed done just yet.

The mayor said there are “very promising signs” at the Capitol when it comes to rent regulation, and that 421a is “very much on the table.”

“There’s a real dialogue happening on that right now,” de Blasio continued. “So I think we all need to step back and see where this process is leading us…And, you know, we don’t know if the session is going to end today, tomorrow, or some other day, but, you know, we’re focused right now on what’s going on with both the rent issue and the 421-a issue.”

De Blasio was asked whether it was a mistake for him to campaign on behalf of, and raise money for, the Senate Democrats in their failed effort to re-take the majority, given the fact that it angered the Republicans and made them predisposed against his Albany agenda. His response? “No.”

(It should be noted that the Senate Republicans aren’t the mayor’s only problem – or even his biggest problem – at the Capitol these days. His on-again, off-again relationship with the governor appears to be very much off, and some Democratic lawmakers who are disappointed with the rent deal as it currently stands are accusing Cuomo of siding with the Senate GOP against the Assembly Democrats during negotiations in large part to spite the mayor).

The mayor was also asked about the fate of his affordable housing plan if the 421a tax abatement program for real estate developers lapses. (The framework deal includes a four-year extension, but the whole thing will expire if the labor unions and real estate industry fail to reach a prevailing wage agreement within six months). Again, de Blasio was reluctant to accept that the framework is the final word on this issue, saying:

“There’s a real dialogue going on right now on 421-a. Our focus is on greatly intensifying the affordability that can be achieved through 421-a. I’ve spoken to this issue many times, as to the vision we have for making 421-a a real vehicle for greater affordability for New Yorkers. Some very serious discussions are happening right now and we have to see where that leads us.”

Capital NY’s Laura Nahmias reported earlier this afternoon that some Assembly Democrats are pushing for changes to the rent agreement, including an increase in the threshold for vacancy decontrol, though the governor’s office denied that was the case.

AQE Apologizes For Misattributed Quote

The union-backed advocacy group Alliance for Quality Education on Thursday apologized after incorrectly attributing a quote to Senate Majority Leader John Flanangan that was actually uttered by the Senate GOP’s political nemesis, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“We wish to extend our apologies to Senator Flanagan for misattributing a quote to him that was not his regarding charter schools in an email and twitter post earlier today,” said Billy Easton, the group’s executive director. “The quote came from an article focused on Senator Flanagan’s position on the charter cap, but it was not a quote from him. This is a mistake for which we are sincerely sorry. We are taking all of the posts down and issuing this correction. Further we will not be undertaking the planned social media campaign.”

The group had hinged its campaign on a bill introduced by Flanagan this month that would have raised the statewide cap on charter schools by 100 and linked it to a 12-month extension for mayoral control of New York City schools.

AQE had initially today planned a social media campaign knocking Flanagan for an apparent “flip flop” based on a quote given to Capital New York in November that was critical of increasing the number of charter schools: “Why don’t we go to the root of the problem and fix traditional public education? That’s where our energy should go, not in an ever-increasing number of charters.”

The quote was actually said by de Blasio, who is still seeking an extension of mayoral control, which is due to lapse later this month.

Despite the mix up, AQE says it still has concerns with Flanagan’s legislation.

“However, we still have concerns about the inconsistencies of Senator Flanagan’s position and the policy implication of his efforts to expand the number of charter schools. In November he did speak against raising the charter cap, yet just a few weeks ago he put in a bill to expand the cap by 100 charter schools,” the group said.

In a separate quote, AQE pointed to a previous Flanagan statement that they said demonstrated less enthusiasm for raising the charter cap.

“That certainly has come up,” Flanagan said, referring to the cap. “There’s been a discussion about it. But I think it somewhat begs the question—if you look right now, the cap is at 460, and I may be off by one or two, but there’s still like 160 slots available. So if you told me, ‘Hey listen, we’re bumping up against the cap. We have 452. We have applications pending. We have to do something.’ That’s a lot different.”

De Blasio: Albany Had Ample Time To Consider 421a

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier on Wednesday effectively backed a straight extension of the 421a tax abatement without any changes to the current structure, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio disputed the contention he didn’t present his proposal in time.

De Blasio, speaking with reporters in the Bronx following Cuomo’s comments outside of the Capitol building in Albany, said Albany had “plenty of notice” and had a lot of backing.

De Blasio wants to extend 421a by expanding affordable housing under the abatement, which was part of an agreement struck with the real-estate developers, normally allied with Cuomo.

“I think we cut a great deal,” de Blasio said. “I think we demanded of developers what should have been demanded of them long ago. We would no longer provide tax breaks for condos, you know, luxury condos – imagine, right? Luxury condos getting a tax break in New York City. That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

But the mayor’s proposal ran afoul of the AFL-CIO, which sought a prevailing wage for construction workers, not just service workers, as de Blasio supported.

Cuomo had not laid out specifically what he would do with 421a, but he had sounded sympathetic to the arguments being raised by the AFL-CIO.

On Wednesday, Cuomo for the first time tamped down talk of changes to the abatement, adding that de Blasio didn’t give state officials enough time to put together an agreement at the state level.

De Blasio disagrees.

“We gave all of the different elements in Albany plenty of notice of the vision,” he said. “Obviously it had a lot of support. So, I’ve never bought into the notion there wasn’t time to get to the larger plan. But I have said, if they don’t’ want to get to a larger plan and they don’t want to get to the larger reform, then we should just go ahead and end the 421-a program once and for all.”

Still, Cuomo could be posturing in the final days of the legislative session as state lawmakers express little willingness to reach broad agreements beyond deal with the “have-tos” of straight extensions be it either the real-estate abatement, rent control or mayoral control of New York City schools.

Cuomo has been known to re-ignite negotiations at the last minute in the past and some lawmakers have not ruled that happening this year.

De Blasio Leaves Albany, Sans Commitments On Key Issues (Updated)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a flurry of meetings with state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on key issues facing the city ranging from education to affordable.

He left town, by his own admission, without any commitments for agreements as the legislative session starts to wind down.

The mayor also admitted he was “frustrated” by a seeming inertia on rent control regulations and mayoral control of schools in the city, both of which are due to expire next month.

“We obviously have a number of meetings ahead, but no commitments yet today,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “I’m quite frustrated that issues of such great importance to millions of New Yorkers still have not been addressed.”

The Democratic-led Assembly approved a three-year extension for mayoral control, while Senate Republicans have held out for unspecified changes. De Blasio wants a strengthening of rent control regulations as well as changes to the 421a tax abatement program that expands affordable housing.

“I think if there isn’t action on mayoral control of education or if there isn’t action on rent regulation, people all over the city and all over the state would look at Albany and once again conclude Albany is not meeting the needs of the people,” de Blasio said.

And in a not-so-veiled swipe at Cuomo, de Blasio called for leadership at the Capitol on those issues.

“I think leadership requires taking responsibility,” he said. “I think the notion that there’s not an appetite is something I reject.”

He added: “In particular, we need the governor to act.”

De Blasio met with Cuomo for about an hour.

The governor himself also huddled in an unannounced meeting with legislative leaders in his office for more than an hour. Both Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan left the meeting in the governor’s office without addressing reporters.

De Blasio’s appearance in Albany comes at a particularly fraught time for the Capitol, which has been rocked by corruption scandals in both chambers.

Both de Blasio and Cuomo have insisted there is no rivalry between the two, even as the governor has in the past seemingly sought to attract attention from the mayor as well as outmaneuver him on policy issues.

At the same time, de Blasio has had an uneasy relationship with Senate Republicans. De Blasio made little secret of his effort to flip the state Senate to Democratic control last year, only to have the GOP gain a full majority.

After meeting with Flanagan, the newly elected majority leader in the Senate, de Blasio said the meeting was a productive one. The issue of the election was not raised.

“The tone has been collegial and substantive,” he said. “It was a very good meeting. it was a very respectful meeting. I think it was a productive conversation.”

Updated: Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif released a statement on de Blasio’s trip to Albany.

“Every outstanding issue, including those raised by the Mayor, will be considered on the merits during the remaining three weeks of the legislative session,” he said.

De Blasio Call Permanent Mayoral Control ‘Logical Solution’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated his support for a permanent extension of mayoral control of city schools in Albany on Wednesday, but acknowledged at the same time a three-year extension is more likely.

“It’s the only logical solution — clearly it should be made permanent,” de Blasio said after meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning.

The Democratic-led Assembly last week approved an extension of mayoral control that is due to expire in 2018. The legislation makes few changes to the program, though is a far shorter amount of time than given de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.

Senate Republicans have called for unspecified changes to mayoral control, though at least one GOP lawmaker — Brooklyn Sen. Marty Golden — backs its continuation.

“If three years is the practical possibility right now, that will at least help us try to move forward and make the changes in our schools,” de Blasio said.

Cuomo and de Blasio huddled privately for about an hour earlier this morning as the mayor seeks extensions not just for mayoral control, but also for rent control, due to sunset next month. At the same time, de Blasio wants to alter the 421a tax abatement program to include more affordable housing options.

“These are priorities for us,” de Blasio said. “They’re going to have huge impact on our people and they are things we expect Albany to be responsible on and to act on.”

Not changing 421a — as some state lawmakers said is most likely — would be “irresponsible” of the Legislature, de Blasio said.

“You can’t simply extend 421a without reforming it,” he said. “If you extend it, it just constitutes more giveaways to developers and less ability to create affordable housing.”

Counting today, there are 12 session days remaining on the calendar.

“In Albany terms,” de Blasio said, “there’s a lot of time left on the clock.”

Meetings with the Mayor

Mayor de Blasio met with a host of prominent New Yorkers over the last six months of 2014 – but only once with Governor Cuomo. That’s according to his official schedule, released today through a Freedom of Information Act request. The mayor and Governor sat down together at Casa Lever, an Italian restaurant in Midtown, on July 11. He also dined with former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on September 30 at Prime Grill, a kosher steakhouse in Manhattan.
While the mayor says he is fighting to close the gap between wealthy and poor New Yorkers, his schedule shows he’s made time for some of the city’s biggest leaders in finance and media. He spoke on the phone with Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase and met with Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs, for 45 minutes at City Hall in July. De Blasio also met with Les Moonves, the President and CEO of CBS in August and had a phone call with him in November. All three ended up serving on the mayor’s host committee as part of the city’s push to win the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Opponents of the horse-drawn carriage industry also got an audience with the mayor. He hosted a meeting with two prominent opponents at Gracie Mansion in September. Steven Nislick and Wendy Neu got an hour of his time, according to his schedule. Both were big donors to the anti-Christine Quinn group “New York City Is Not For Sale” during the 2013 mayor’s race.
Also invited to Gracie Mansion? Lobbyists Harold Ickes and Janine Enright. They came for dinner with the mayor and his wife. Ickes, a former Clinton administration official, is also an adviser to the mayor.
There was some time for celebrating, the mayor’s schedule shows. He attended a reunion with his campaign staff at a rooftop bar on September 10th, exactly a year after he won the Democratic primary. The views from the top of 230 Fifth Avenue are impressive. The mayor and his aides could take a good look at the city they had won.