Bill de Blasio

De Blasio Endorses Sampson Foe Smitherman

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday endorsed Democratic Senate candidate Dell Smitherman, the primary opponent to Brooklyn Sen. John Sampson — a nod that follows the endorsement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Dell has been a dedicated organizer and activist for years, and he’s been a steadfast ally in my fight to make life better for working families in New York,” de Blasio said in a statement released by Smitherman’s campaign. “From fighting for a higher minimum wage to expanding healthcare access and public transit, Dell’s priorities are the priorities of working New Yorkers. I’m proud to endorse his campaign for Senate, and look forward to doing my part to ensure he wins on Primary Day.”

Over the weekend, Smitherman was endorsed by Cuomo, who praised the labor advocate for “fight for working and middle class New Yorkers.”

“I am proud to endorse Dell Smitherman for State Senate,” Cuomo said. “Dell is a lifelong Brooklyn resident who has dedicated his career to fighting for working and middle class New Yorkers. He helped rally community support for our successful effort to raise the minimum wage and I look forward to working together in Albany next year to build on that progress and pass the Dream Act and the Women’s Equality Act.”

Both Cuomo and de Blasio have pledged to help Democrats regain full control of the Senate, helping broker a new coalition agreement with the mainline conference and the Independent Democratic Conference.

A Sampson defeat next Tuesday would be an important piece of that puzzle falling into place, considering the lawmaker is technically not part of any legislative conference in the chamber.

Sampson is facing charges of embezzling from an escrow account he managed in order to fund his campaign for district attorney in Brooklyn. The one-time Senate leader was indicted again earlier this year for lying to federal law enforcement.

Smitherman has been endorsed by the Working Families Party as well as a host of key labor groups: AFL-CIO, 1199 SEIU, 32 BJ SEIU, Hotel and Motel Trades Council, Communication Workers of America 1180, Communication Workers of America District 1, UAW, Transport Workers Union, Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, United Food and Commercial Workers.

Smitherman is also the preferred candidate of the good-government organization Citizens Union in the primary race.

De Blasio Endorses IDC’s Klein And Avella

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday endorsed two members of the Independent Democratic Conference who face primary challenges this September.

The endorsements from de Blasio to Sens. Jeff Klein of the Bronx and Tony Avella of Queens come the same day as the labor-aligned Working Families Party, close allies for the mayor, has decided to stay neutral in those primaries.

“Throughout this past session, Sen. Jeff Klein and Sen. Tony Avella worked tirelessly on behalf of the residents of New York City and helped make progress on issues that had been stalled for far too long,” de Blasio said in a statement. “With their leadership, we secured a record increase in funding for universal Pre-K, a fair budget for New York City, needed property tax relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy, and the changes we need to save lives and improve street safety.”

Klein has worked especially closely with de Blasio, who took office this year, and has helped to usher through the rookie mayor’s legislative agenda in Albany, most recently a proposal to lower the speed limit in New York City to 25 mph.

De Blasio, along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, helped broker an agreement that led to the IDC ending its coalition agreement in the state Senate with the Republican conference.

Klein faces a primary challenge from former city Councilman Oliver Koppell; Avella faces former city Comptroller John Liu.

De Blasio Hosts GOTV Tele Town Hall for WFP

The Working Families Party just sent out a blast email announcing that its leaders and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will host a tele town hall this Thursday night focused on the party’s recent endorsement deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and its effort to “get a bigger-than-ever vote” on Row D for the governor this fall.

The news comes just 24 hours after the candidate the WFP recruited to pressure Cuomo into accepting its endorsement conditions, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout, formally announced her plan to mount a primary challenge against Cuomo for the Democratic line. Teachout, as you’ll recall, failed to receive sufficient support at the WFP’s May 31 convention to get onto the ballot, but she did get 41.3 percent of the weighted convention vote to Cuomo’s 58.7 percent.

De Blasio, who was instrumental in brokering the endorsement agreement between the WFP and Cuomo, will host the call at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. That also just so happens to be the final scheduled day of the 2014 legislative session, during which none of the WFP’s top policy agenda items – the DREAM Act, creation of a statewide public campaign finance system, the full 10-point Women’s Equality Act, decriminalization of possession of sall amounts of marijuana and a $10.10 minimum wage/local control over hourly wage icnreases – are likely to be passed by the Legislature.

The WFP has blamed the failure of its agenda squarely on the Senate GOP-IDC coalition, and for that reason is pushing for full control of the chamber by the Democrats.

Cuomo and the WFP’s major labor union partners all signed on to that effort, though exactly what Cuomo will be doing to achieve that goal has yet to be worked out. Also, a number of unions continue to support IDC Leader Jeff Klein in his primary battle with former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell, though they are supporting – or at least promising to support – primary challengers to other IDC members, including former NYC Comptroller John Liu, who is running against the IDC’s newest member, Queens Sen. Tony Avella.

In the email announcing Thursday’s tele town hall, WFP State Director Bill Lipton admitted the party’s legislative agenda is “a big vision and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

“This November, we’ll need a bigger than ever vote on our ballot line than ever – voting on the WFP line for Governor Cuomo means voting for that progressive vision,” Lipton continued. “We believe we can do it – with your help. This campaign for a progressive future starts now.”

 

De Blasio Enlists Hasidic Leaders To Pressure Carlucci (Updated)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently enlisted ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders in Sen. David Carlucci’s district in the effort to get the Hudson Valley lawmaker to abandon the IDC and re-join the regular Democratic conference, a source familiar with the mayor’s actions confirmed.

While de Blasio did not reach out to the leaders himself, he did ask people affiliated with him to do so on his behalf. A second source confirmed that leaders in New Square, the all-Hasidic village in the town of Ramapo, Rockland County, were contacted.

However, Carlucci said today (through a spokeswoman) that he has not been contacted by any Jewish leaders and was not aware of de Blasio’s ask.

“There’s a lot of important work to accomplish during this final week of session, and I’m focused on getting things done for my constituents and the people of New York State,” Carlucci said in a statement. “I look forward to running on my record of accomplishments as a member of the Independent Democratic Conference.”

The source familiar with de Blasio’s effort said the mayor is very committed to trying to bring the IDC back into the Democratic fold – a requirement in order to achieve the goal of a Democrat-controlled Senate, which was part of the endorsement deal de Blasio helped broker between the Working Families Party and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The reunification effort is multifaceted and involves threatening IDC members with primary challenges (some of which are further along than others) if they don’t agree to end their power-sharing deal with the Republicans.

While IDC Leader Jeff Klein and the conference’s newest member, Queens Sen. Tony Avella, already have announced challengers with well-established campaigns and supporters – former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell and former NYC Comptroller John Liu, respectively – primary challengers to the other three members have only just recently started to emerge.

On Staten Island, MTA Board member Allen Cappelli has confirmed he’s mulling a challenge to Sen. Diane Savino. In Syracuse, Common Councilor-a-Large Jean Kessner said today that she’s starting to circulate petitions for a potential run against Sen. David Valesky, and called on the senator to agree to return to the traditional Democratic conference within the next 24 hours. (Valesky rejected this call, saying he would not engage in “extortion politics”).

Earlier this week, Democatic activist and Clarkstown Town Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner said she’s eyeing a primary challenge to Carlucci, and union officials have increased their pressure on the senator to abandon his fellow breakaway Democrats. Carlucci has since said he has no immediate plans to leave the IDC, and will make decisions about his political future after the legislative session ends next Thursday.

Carlucci’s home Democratic organization, the Rockland County party, has declined to endorse him for re-election. The DN’s Ken Lovett reported that Carlucci has urged his fellow IDC members to negotiate some sort of deal with the regular Democrats, but at least one other IDC member – Savino – denied that claim.

UPDATE: Several readers with intimate knowledge of the complexities of Orthodox Jewish politics called in to comment on this post.

One said the community is “beyond pissed” with the governor for calling for more oversight of the troubled East Ramapo School district, leading to the appointment by the state Education Department of a fiscal monitor. So, the idea that New Square leaders would do anything at this moment that might help the governor – like pressure an IDC member to return back to the Democrats and perhaps hasten the Democratic takeover of the Senate – is not realistic.

London: It’s Cuomo vs. de Blasio, Not Astorino

Conservative Herb London, who once almost caused the demise of the state GOP, believes Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s main rival this fall isn’t Rob Astorino, but rather his fellow Democrat, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“He’s not running against Rob Astorino, he’s running against Mr. de Blasio, London said during an interview on AM 970 THE ANSWER this morning.

“Every single comment he’s made has challenged the mayor of New York. He’s been very clever in organizing his campaign around what de Blasio is doing.”

“…he doesn’t mention Rob Astorino. He’s not running against Rob Astorino. He pretends Rob Astorino does not exist, and from the point of view of Cuomo that is correct,” London continued.

“But the rhetoric is not at all consistent with the actions. Rob Astorino is a good candidate. He has something to say.”

London, who is not attending the GOP convention in Rye Brook today, echoed comments made here earlier this afternoon by economist Larry Kudlow, suggesting Astorino’s strongest case in this campaign is on the economy and continued lack of growth in New York on Cuomo’s watch.

London said Astorino has his own “tale of two cities” (a Mario Cuomo reference) – the tale of Chautauqua, NY, where there are “tumbleweeds” on Main Street, and nearby Erie, PA, which is booming, thanks to fracking.

London, like Kudlow, accused Gov. Cuomo of “playing up to the environmental movement” by refusing to green light fracking in the Marcellus.

London, as you may recall, was the Conservative Party candidate for governor in 1990 – the year Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo was seeking his second four-year term to office.

That year, the Conservatives declined to cross-endorse the GOP gubernatorial candidate, the little-known Canadian-born businessman Pierre Rinfret, deeming him too liberal to support.

Cuomo was re-elected in a landslide with 53 percent of the vote, while Rinfret received just over 21 percent and London got slightly more than 20 percent.

Had London managed to finish just a bit more strongly, the GOP would have lost its ballot line and been relegated to minor party status – an incident that haunts party members (those with long memories, anyway) to this very day.

It’s notable that London is raising the specter of de Blasio in connection with the governor’s race. The mayor and the governor spent much of the budget battle at odds over a host of issues – most prominently how to pay for universal pre-K.

As the latest liberal darling, de Blasio has become a new target of the national Republicans, who are reportedly alarmed by the the increasingly clout of left-wing activists.

Moody’s: Jury’s Out On UFT Contract Deal

Moody’s Investors Service weighed in today on the nine-year contract deal reached by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYC teachers union, the UFT, saying that while the agreement “could eliminate” fiscal uncertainty by paving the way for other outstanding labor contracts, it also comes at a “large” cost and relies on assumptions that may or may not come to pass.

Without the offset of the 18 percent wage hike included in the deal realized through health care savings negotiated by the administration with the UFT and Municipal Labor Council, which represents all city employees, this agreement “could increase future budget gaps to levels that would be more difficult for the city to deal with, especially during another downturn,” Moody’s warned.

The comments, which appear in full below, are Moody’s first blush reaction to the UFT deal. The service noted that the administration still hasn’t released all the details of the agreement, which has been approved by the union’s executive board and is scheduled to be voted on later this afternoon at a UFT general assembly meeting.

Moody’s will have more to say on the agreement when the next update to the city’s financial plan is released, providing more details on the “budgetary and investment impact of the proposal.”

Moody’s comments on UFT-NYC labor agreement. by liz_benjamin6490

De Blasio’s Victory Lap

From the morning memo, the second item:

A memo from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s director of intergovernmental affairs, Emma Wolfe, takes something of a victory lap on the state budget.

De Blasio and his team have been pointing to the $300 million in funding for universal pre-K in this year’s state budget as a major win for the rookie mayor.

De Blasio had campaigned on the push for a tax hike for those earning $500,000 and more a year in order to fund the program.

The mayor had later said he would support $540 million in funding from the state without the tax. Essentially, de Blasio said, he wanted a secured, dedicated funding stream.

And in the memo from Wolfe — who has served as de Blasio’s emissary to the Capitol — it’s pointed out that skepticism ruled the day as the mayor stumbled out of the gate and appeared to be outplayed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“The Mayor’s fight for universal pre-K and afterschool was not without its fair share of detractors,” Wolfe wrote. “For months, opponents and naysayers cast doubt on the viability and wisdom of the plan, arguing that the Mayor should aim lower and not base his signature issue on Albany’s whims.”

She added, “Skepticism was high, but the Mayor kept his eye on the prize.”

UPK Interested Parties Memo by Nick Reisman

Buscemi Trains de Blasio For Inner Circle

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is getting some help — sort of — from Broadwalk Empire star and Brooklyn resident Steve Buscemi to get into shape for the rookie mayor’s first Inner Circle Show.

In the video, de Blasio and Buscemi in matching sweatsuits go through some acting drills and pump some iron — in between the mayor signs labor contracts.

“You are in crisis mode, my friend,” the actor tells him.

“Who do you think got Dinkins to sing? Who do you think got Bloomberg to dance? Who do you think got Rudy in that dress?”

This year’s Inner Circle Show is March 22.

DiNapoli: Pre-K Funding, Labor Contracts ‘Uncertainties’ In NYC Budget

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli gave NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget proposal a thumbs up for the short term, saying he made appropriate use of higher than expected tax revenues to reduce out-year budget gaps and to
replenish reserves.

But the comptroller also warned that the potential cost of labor negotiations on some 150 outstanding municipal contracts “casts a shadow of uncertainty on the city’s finances.

“While strong economic growth has boosted city revenues, Mayor de Blasio continues to grapple with ongoing structural deficits and labor contracts that have remained unsettled for far too long,” DiNapoli said.

“The final cost and structure of these agreements may not be known for some time. This plan is a strong starting point for the mayor and I urge him to remain cautious and look at the long-term picture.”

That concern echoes the assessment of DiNapoli’s New York City counterpart, Comptroller Scott Stringer, who recently called the contracts the “Achilles heel” of the de Blasio administration, and said budget chaos will ensue if the mayor doesn’t reach agreements with the city’s labor unions by the end of June.

DiNapoli’s analysis suggests that revenues could be higher than what the de Blasio administration has forecast, but found it still faces a number of large budget risks.

Besides the outcome of collective bargaining, other risks include the anticipated receipt of $1.2 billion from the planned sale of taxi medallions during fiscal years 2015 through 2017 and whether the Health and Hospitals Corporation will require additional financial assistance from the city. It is also unclear if federal aid for Sandy recovery will fall short of the city’s expectations.

DiNapoli left a blank when it comes to the question of funding for universal pre-K. De Blasio says his tax-the-rich plan would generate about $340 million to $350 million a year to enroll all the city’s four year olds, which is considerably more than the $100 million Cuomo has allocated in his 2014-15 budget proposal for pre-K statewide.

Another concern flagged by the state comptroller is the city’s projected growth in debt service and health insurance costs. Together they are expected to grow by $4.6 billion – or 47 percent – between FY 2013 through FY 2018, and to consume 24 percent of city fund revenue by FY 2018.

In recent years, DiNapoli notes the city has relied heavily on nonrecurring resources to balance the budget. The budgets for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 each count on about $2.5 billion in nonrecurring resources.

You can read DiNapoli’s entire report on the NYC budget here.

UPKNYC Comes Armed With Stats

In lobbying individual members of the state Legislature, the coalition supporting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push for universal pre-Kindergarten is coming prepared with district-by-district statistics breaking down who benefits.

The stat-fact sheet, like this one below for Assemblyman David Weprin’s district, provide data on the number of children in the district, their racial identity as well as income levels.

All of this comes on a mega lobbying day at the Capitol for both UPKNYC as well as charter schools.

De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who are meeting this afternoon, differ on how to fund universal pre-K.

Cuomo wants to fund a statewide version out of existing budget dollars, while de Blasio is pushing for a tax hike in the city, but that must be approved by Albany.

District Profile AD24 by Nick Reisman