Bill de Blasio

Cuomo Insists He Isn’t Ignoring Byford

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today rejected a report that he is refusing to meet the man he hired to save NYC’s struggling subway system, Andy Byford, as “totally false,” insisting he has spoken to the downstate transit system head “a number of times.”

Cuomo was asked by reporters at an appearance earlier today in the Bronx to respond to a lengthy New Yorker profile of Byford, which reported that the new subway chief has been unable to get any meetings with either the governor or the mayor following his proposal of a multibillion-dollar plan to fix the system.

Cuomo has been lukewarm about the plan, dubbed “Fast Forward,” which has been estimated in the neighborhood of $37 billion. It would replace an antiquated signal system, redesign the way passengers pay fares, increase the number of subway cars, and install elevators at stations. It also calls for station repairs, an increased number of buses, and redesigned bus routes.

“We know what to do; we’ve known what to do for 50, 60, 70 years,” Cuomo said. “You have a 100-year-old system. You have 40-year-old cars. You have 80-year-old electric switches. You want to know the technical thing to do? Replace them. Repair them. That’s what you have to do. That’s what the emergency subway action plan was. That’s what the Byford plan is.”

But the governor stopped short of endorsing Byford’s proposal today, instead again trying to turn the conversation around by placing blame on NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for what Cuomo sees as a refusal by the city to pay its fair – and legally required – share of improving the system.

“The question is: how do you finance the plan,” the governor said. “And New York City has been unwilling to finance one penny. We had the subway emergency action plan. We had it done a year ago. I said, we’ll fund it 50-50, state and New York City, and the city refused and absolutely nothing happened until I had the state Legislature force the mayor to pay half.”

“…The capital repair is the legal responsibility of the city,” the governor continued. “If the city and the state don’t cooperate and pay, the only alternative is to raise fares, or to raise tolls. And that is not an option that I’m willing to take…I believe New York City is going to have to pay its fair share of the plan.”

Cuomo: State to Consider Providing ‘Independent’ Lead Tests for NYCHA Kids

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that the state will look into the “massive undertaking” of providing free, independent blood tests for children who live in NYCHA apartments following the de Blasio administration’s admission that as many as 820 kids younger than six years old were poisoned between 2012 and 2016.

Cuomo cast the state’s potential involvement as a response to requests from the NYC public advocate, Tish James, (who, for the record, Cuomo is backing for state attorney general); as well as NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, who is investigating the mayor’s office and the NYC departments of Health and of Housing Preservation and Development to determine who’s at fault for the situation.

The governor said he had asked state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to put together a group of experts who would figure out how to provide tests on a voluntary basis for what he estimated would be “potentially hundreds of thousands of children.”

He referenced his own three daughters, and said he understood that parent “anxiety” is very high, as his would be if he was told his children might have elevated blood levels of lead, which has been demonstrated to be toxic, even at very low levels.

“The logistics of this situation would be formidable, but it’s the right thing to do,” Cuomo told reporters during a Q-and-A session in the Bronx.

“We have to figure out how to do it…I think it is the right thing to do. I think the parent anxiety is very high. Lead poisoning is nothing to be trifled with. For peace of mind, so a parent knows, offer independent testing…(at)no cost to the family.”

Cuomo gave no timeline for when testing would be offered. But he said independent testing is necessary beyond the efforts already undertaken by the de Blasio administration because “because there have been a lot of different stories…so people are unsure what’s right, what’s wrong, who’s right, who’s wrong.”

“Just to give parents confidence, get the state to bring in an independent testing agency that has no reason, no political motivation, no reason not to be 100 percent accurate and honest,” the governor said.

“And if parents have concern, your child can be independently tested, and we can bring confidence to the parents, which is my concern. I’m thinking of the parents.”

:…I think this is what we would do frankly for any community,” the governor continued. “It’s the obvious solution, and I think especially with what the NYCHA tenants have endured, it’s the appropriate response.”

The de Blasio administration released the number of children who tested with elevated lead levels after months of controversy and a $1 billion-plus settlement with the federal government over the dangerous and decrepit living conditions at NYCHA.

Asked if he agreed with the mayor’s claim that sources of lead poisoning can occur both inside and outside the home, adding: “It could be paint; it could be something else.”

“I’m not a scientist,” Cuomo said. “Obviously, there are a number of sources of lead in society, but it’s also proven that for young children, exposure to lead in the home is the predominant cause for lead exposure.”

“Now we haven’t used lead paint since 1961,, and we’ve been doing lead paint abatement for 50 years. In many ways this was a problem that was of the past…but there’s no doubt that the home is a primary source for infants, young children if they are lead poisoned. But the mayor’s right, there are numerous sources of lead in society.”

Cuomo noted that the state has already declared a state of emergency at NYCHA and ordered an independent monitor be appointed to oversee and expedite repairs to the agency’s deteriorating buildings.

Last month, the city reached a $2 billion settlement with federal investigators to repair deplorable conditions NYCHA apartments. A federal monitor will be appointed to indefinitely oversee the housing authority as part of that settlement, and, as a result, the state monitor has been rescinded.

De Blasio’s Choice For Schools Chancellor Publicly Turns Down Job

In an embarrassing setback for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday, his choice lead the city’s school district publicly turned the job down on live television.

The drama unfolded at what was called an emergency meeting of the Miami school board, with parents and students pleading with Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to remain in the job and not move to New York City to replace Carmen Fariña as schools chancellor.

Carvalho responded with the soaring rhetoric perhaps more suited to a politician in a meeting that unfolded much like a major sports star deciding whether to stay in his hometown or leave for a more glamorous team.

In the end, Carvalho decided to keep his talents in South Beach — in a public display that unfolded for city dwellers and its political class on NY1.

“The decision that I have made, however, is a decision I can no longer sustain,” he said after taking a second recess to call the mayor’s office and inform him he was backing out of the job. “I am breaking an agreement between adults to honor an agreement and a pact I have with the children of Miami.”

The decision to remain in Miami appeared to have catch the mayor’s team off guard.

De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips at first on Twitter noted the soaring speech Carvalho was delivering as a good thing, but later told reporters to “give us a minute” in order to sort “through the weirdness” of Carvalho’s Hamlet-on-the-beach display.

Later, after Carvalho’s intentions were made clear, Phillips’s tweets took a turn.

“Who would ever hire this guy again?” he wrote. “Who would ever vote for him?”

Sanders To Rally With de Blasio

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will hold a rally next week with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, boosting his bid for re-election to a second term.

The rally will be held at Terminal Station next Monday.

Sanders and de Blasio in some respects are natural allies and have much of the same base.

De Blasio had sought during the 2016 presidential campaign to become a national voice for the progressive left, but that role was overshadowed by Sanders and his insurgent campaign against Hillary Clinton.

De Blasio initially withheld his endorsement in the race until ultimately backing Clinton’s bid.

“Bernie Sanders did something audacious in his presidential campaign: he spoke about real people’s lives,” de Blasio said in an email to supporters. “He spoke about what they were going through in a way that is too often ignored in our public discourse. And then he told people what could be done to actually make their lives better. Next Monday, I am proud to welcome Bernie Sanders back to New York City for a campaign rally a week before my re-election. I hope that you’ll join us.”

De Blasio is running against Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and independent candidate Bo Dietl.

Sanders has been involved with New York politicians before. He’s met several times with de Blasio’s fellow Democrat and rival, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, even appearing with the governor at a breakfast for the New York delegation amid a walk-out threat from Sanders supporters at the Democratic National Convention.

Sanders also rallied in 2016 with Democratic House candidate Zephyr Teachout, who unsuccessfully sought a Hudson Valley district against Republican John Faso.

DiNapoli: No Special Needed If Congress Reverses Health Care Cuts

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week raised the specter of a special session before the year ends to address the deficit caused by federal health care cuts – both already realized and potentially pending.

But state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, New York’s chief bean counter, said during a CapTon interview last night that he doesn’t believe state lawmakers will be forced to return to the Capitol prior to the January start of the 2018 session if Congress reaches a deal in the coming weeks on averting reductions to the Disproportionate Share Hospital payments and Children’s Health Insurance Plan.

“The DSH cuts have been on the table for a long period of time, they keep getting pushed off though,” DiNapoli said. “We’ve heard from some of our Senate leaders, and (Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer) is cautiously optimistic, that Washington they will in fact come to some agreement, if not all, to put off some of these cuts again. So, I think part of what we need to do is to wait and see what gets sorted out in Washington.”

Cuomo has been sounding the alarm about the damage that will be done to New York’s bottom line – a loss of several billion dollars over the next several years alone – if Congress does not reverse funding cuts to safety net hospitals, which took effect Oct. 1. The SHP cuts have been scheduled for some time as part of the Affordable Care Act, but Congress has repeatedly pushed them back.

Congress also failed to reauthorize the program that provides coverage for some 330,000 low-income kids across the state who aren’t eligible for Medicaid. That program, known as CHIP, technically ran its course at the end of September as a result of federal inaction, and New York stands to lose $1.1 billion if it is not reauthorized, the governor said.

And the situation will be even worse, the governor has warned, if the tax reform plan currently under negotiation on Capitol Hill eradicates New Yorkers’ long-standing ability to deduct their state and local taxes, helping to take the sting out of the fact that they live in the state with the nation’s highest property tax burden. (Thanks to pushback on both sides of the aisle, it now appears Republicans are backing down from an outright repeal, though some changes are still under consideration).

What’s more, New York also stands to lose a big chunk of its federal Medicaid funding if Congress ever manages to get a deal on repeal and replacement of Obamacare, with the most recent proposal – Cassidy-Graham – calling for block granting those funds, in a move that would hurt New York more than any other state, Cuomo said.

DiNapoli declined to pick sides in the latest fight between Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio over funding for NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation’s largest municipal public hospital system and New York’s largest provider of safety-net care.

“No one has a crystal ball, but I think we’ll see some, my hope is, we’ll see some federal action on this sooner or later, so some of what’s being discussed is a dire consequence, having a special session, some of the things we’re talking about, probably, hopefully will not come to pass,” DiNapoli said when asked if the mayor should, as the governor maintains, pick up the tab for H+H funding, or, as the mayor insists, the state should pony up the $380 million it is currently withholding from the system.

The comptroller did say that he believes the Republican members of New York’s congressional delegation need to “step up to the plate and say to their leadership: this is really going to hurt us.”

“We already know there’s going to be many competitive House races in the state,” DiNapoli said. If anything like what’s being proposed goes through, I think people are going to be outraged – as well they should be.”

“…It’s very important that New York push back. What the governor is saying, what the mayor is saying, all of that is accurate, because if we don’t win some of these battles in Washington, then we’re going to be back home fighting each other over a diminished pot.”

“That’s going to be very hard for the Legislature at the state level to then have to figure out how we’re going to keep all these local governments from going over the edge in terms of providing services versus raising taxes to keep providing the services that New Yorkers expect.”

Governor Says He’ll Support DeBlasio in NYC General Election

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio a lukewarm endorsement Monday during an appearance on the Brian Lehrer Show.

“The mayor won the democratic primary, I am a democrat, I support democrats and I will support Mayor de Blasio in the general,” Cuomo said.

The host prodded the governor, asking if he is only supporting DeBlasio because they’re in the same party.

“Nothing more enthusiastic than that?” Lehrer asked.

“No I think in this contest; life is options they say, right?” Cuomo responded. ” I think in this contest, he is the better person to serve the city of New York as mayor, period.”

DeBlasio faces Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis, current a state Assembly member, and Independent candidate Bo Dietl. He won the Democratic primary last week with nearly 75 percent of the vote.

Cuomo chose to stay out of the primary, telling reporters, as a Westchester resident, he wouldn’t vote in the election so he wasn’t offering an endorsement. The governor did, however, endorse several candidates in primaries for New York City Council.

The tenuous relationship between Cuomo and DeBlasio is long-running and well-documented. Most recently, the two have feuded over the city’s subway issues.

De Blasio Endorses Ayala For NYC Council

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday endorsed Diana Ayala for an open city Council seat that includes parts of the South Bronx and East Harlem.

The district is being vacated by outgoing Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is seeking a district leader post.

“I am truly humbled to have the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio. Now more than ever, strong progressive leaders must take a stand to defend the rights of all New Yorkers,” Ayala said.

“From starting universal Pre-K to making our city safer to building housing that is truly affordable for working families, we have been building a fairer and more just City with the Mayor’s progressive leadership. I am excited to continue delivering for my neighbors as the next Councilwoman for East Harlem and the South Bronx.”

In giving his endorsement, de Blasio pointed to Ayala’s resume on housing issues.

“Diana Ayala is the best candidate to carry on the legacy of Melissa Mark-Viverito and be a forceful advocate for NYCHA residents and increased affordable housing. Her personal story of overcoming adversity to provide for her family and community, and her proud roots in NYCHA and city public schools, have formed a true backbone to take on powerful interests and deliver for El Barrio and the South Bronx,” de Blasio said in a statement.

“We need progressive leaders like Diana who will be tireless champions for working families and vocal antagonists to Trump extremism which threatens our very core. I am proud to endorse her, and look forward to working with her on the City Council.”

Nurses Association Endorses NYC Incumbents

The New York State Nurses Association on Wednesday endorsed the three city-wide incumbents seeking re-election this fall: Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“These candidates have a proven history of fighting to protect NYC Health + Hospitals against the onslaught of budget cuts coming from Washington. That’s why NYSNA is officially making these endorsements today,” said Judith Cutchin, RN, President of the NYSNA NYC Health + Hospitals/Mayoral Agencies Executive Council and a registered nurse at Woodhull Medical Center.

“Every day, they stand up and fight for New York City residents, they fight to keep our public hospitals open and serving our most vulnerable patients and on behalf of the thousands of nurses in NYC and the thousands that serve within our public hospital system, we applaud and enthusiastically support these candidates who stand with our patients and communities.”

The group represents nearly 40,000 registered nurses in New York state.

The mayor and his Democratic primary opponent, Sal Albanese, face each other in a debate this evening.

“As Mayor, my administration has made improving the physical and mental health of all our residents a top priority, but in order to effectively do this, we must ensure that our medical infrastructure is properly staffed with high-quality health care professionals — especially nurses,” de Blasio said.

“NYSNA has been on the front lines of some of the biggest health challenges facing our great city. It’s a true honor to stand by their side and receive their endorsement here today. Together, I know we can continue to build a better, healthier future for all New Yorkers.”

De Blasio Campaign Compares Malliottakis To Trump, Again

The re-election campaign of Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday once again compared his GOP opponent, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, to President Trump.

At issue is Malliotakis’s response to the unrest in Virginia that led to the death of a counter protester and two State Police officers following a rally and demonstration by groups of white supremacists.

In the email, which urges supporters to add their names to a petition, the de Blasio campaign quotes Malliotakis’s response: “We shouldn’t be looking in any way to pit communities against each other, what we have to do is send the message that all lives matter.”

The email says Malliotakis’s echoed Trump’s “many sides” comment.

“This is not about pitting communities against each other. Only one community marched with Confederate and Nazi flags,” the email states. “Only one person drove a car into dozens of people. Assembly Member Malliotakis may be counting on the support, enthusiasm, and donations from those who propelled Trump to the presidency, but her refusal to simply condemn Trump’s “many sides” comment makes her unfit to lead the largest and most diverse city in America.”

This isn’t the first time de Blasio’s campaign has compared Malliotakis to Trump, who holds low approval ratings in Democratic heavy New York City.

The campaign earlier this summer released an email criticizing Malliotakis for meeting with Trump before he became president and a second one knocked her support from the Trump-supporting Mercer family.

De Blasio Campaign Emails For MTA Tax Plan

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s re-election campaign circulated an email petition on Wednesday urging supporters to push Albany to back his plan to tax upper income earners to bolster mass transit.

“Sign my petition calling on Albany to pass a millionaire’s tax to upgrade New York City’s subways, buses, and the Staten Island Railway, and to provide half priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers,” the email states.

De Blasio this week proposed a new tax to shore up the MTA and provide another revenue source for the struggling subway system. But the plan is considered a non-starter for Senate Republicans. The mayor had lunch on Tuesday with Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan, but his position remains unchanged.

“When the working people of this city get on subways and buses to get to their jobs, the people who own those companies do well,” de Blasio said. “When customers use public transportation to go to their stores and businesses, they do well.”

The first-term Democrat is expected to face Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.