de Blasio Discusses Wife’s Role

Mayor de Blasio was asked today about his wife’s role in his administration and why it’s appropriate for her to have City staff.  Since his election, de Blasio has frequently discussed the important role Chirlane McCray plays in his own decision making and, among other actions, named her as chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.  McCray’s chief of staff, Rachel Noerdlinger, announced Monday that she is taking an indefinite leave of absence in the wake of a number of widely-reported personal difficulties.

de Blasio spoke at a press conference/media roundtable focused on City efforts to address problems in the Corrections Department and the jails it operates on Rikers Island.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The DOC Edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a “media roundtable” today to discuss ongoing problems in the City Department of Correction and the jails it operates on Rikers Island.  Joined by Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte and First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris, de Blasio spoke at length about those problems and City plans to address them.

Off-Topic Q&A:

Questions in the off-topic portion of the Q&A included the role of Mayor de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, and her having City staff, Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos’ criticism of de Blasio’s involvement in recent senate elections, whether de Blasio supports a tax on grocery bags, an update on the recent change in NYPD practice on marijuana possession, why the average person should care about conditions on Rikers Island (an on-topic question, but posed during this off-topic portion of the press conference), whether de Blasio is troubled by Al Sharpton’s tax troubles, what the expected executive action President Obama on immigration will mean for the City, an update on the City’s municipal ID program, preparations for a rally being organized by Al Sharpton upon the completion of the Ferguson grand jury, a possible mail-in response for marijuana summonses and whether mayor supports regulating costumed characters in Times Square.

de Blasio Responds on Sharpton Tax Issues

Mayor Bill de Blasio responded today to longtime ally Al Sharpton’s tax troubles, distinguishing between Sharpton’s professional/public work and personal tax issues.  While not excusing Sharpton’s tax troubles, de Blasio did minimize their consequence on Sharpton’s public role.  de Blasio was asked about Sharpton at a press conference/media roundtable focused on City efforts to address problems in the Corrections Department and the jails it operates on Rikers Island.

de Blasio’s full off-topic Q&A is here.

Sharpton Comments re Noerdlinger

At a press conference addressing his tax troubles and the pending grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri and the Eric Garner case in Staten Island, the Rev. Al Sharpton was asked whether Rachel Noerdlinger, who worked for Sharpton before becoming chief of staff to Chirlane McCray, is welcome to return to working with Sharpton.  His reply included dismissively raising rumors that he is the father of Noerdlinger’s teenage son.  His response clearly treated those rumors as false, although Sharpton did not expressly deny it.

Sharpton on Ferguson & Staten Island

At a press conference which mostly focused on his tax troubles, the Rev. Al Sharpton also addressed the pending grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri and the Eric Garner case in Staten Island.

Sharpton criticized the length of time that each grand jury has been working without a decision and what he termed grand jury roles that “appear to be improperly expanded to where it is about trying to prove or disprove the accused rather than to see if there’s probable cause to go to trial”.  Sharpton stated that he has “pledged to the mother and father of Michael Brown that I will be there with them when the decision is announced.”   He also said that National Action Network has organized “vigils and nonviolent demonstrations” at “federal buildings” in 25 cities to call for the federal government to “begin formal criminal investigation on Officer Darren Wilson.”

In response to the sole press conference question on these cases (posed by Henry Goldman of Bloomberg), Sharpton described Ferguson as “very tense” and Staten Island as having “tension” but not “as high yet as Ferguson.”  He observed that a lack of indictment in Ferguson “could inflame Staten Island and incidents around the country.”

Here are his complete remarks on Ferguson and Staten Island:

Sharpton Press Conference (Updated)

The Rev. Al Sharpton dismissively derided as misleading and old news a New York Times story detailing the tax troubles of Sharpton and his National Action Network.  Speaking at a news conference at NAN’s House of Justice on 145th Street, Sharpton suggested that the focus on tax debts that are several years old was politically driven and related to his support for and from President Obama and Mayor de Blasio.

Conclusion:

Although Sharpton spent 30 minutes talking with reporters, he brought the press conference to an abrupt end.  The final question was whether he is still negotiating with the federal government over the amount of his tax debt.  Here’s how it ended:

Update – I Do Not Curl My Brain:

Rev. Sharpton gave a memorable quote when he dismissively suggested that the recent Times story and media focus on his tax debts is driven by Rachel Noerdlinger’s woes.

Update #2 – Statement on Back Taxes:

Here is Sharpton’s opening statement on his delinquent tax obligations.

His opening statement also addressed the pending grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown/Ferguson and Eric Garner/Staten Island cases – that portion of his opening statement is here.

Teachout & Cuomo: The Prequel



Zephyr Teachout’s attempt to say hello to Andrew Cuomo at the Labor Day Parade on Saturday September 6th, drew a great deal of negative attention for Governor Cuomo.  Cuomo later denied seeing Teachout or deliberately ignoring her, but in this newly published video Cuomo appears to notice Teachout and advise his chief aide of Teachout’s presence. Continue reading

Cuomo, Klein, Republicans

As the state senate Republican conference holds its first post-election meeting, incoming majority leader Dean Skelos announced that he anticipates another cooperative agreement with Jeff Klein and his Independent Democratic Conference.  Here’s a brief flashback to a long-ago (pre-primary) Klein campaign rally featuring Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Full coverage of that September 7th rally is here.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Melting ICE Edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed two laws which markedly reduce the City’s cooperation with the federal government’s efforts at deporting people unlawfully in the United States.  At a ceremony on the steps of Our Lady of Sorrows in Corona, the mayor signed bills which prohibit the presence of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency at Rikers Island and other City facilities and which provide that the City corrections and police departments “will no longer honor requests by ICE to detain an individual for up to 48 hours beyond their scheduled release unless (1) ICE provides a judicial warrant as to probable cause, and (2) the individual in question has been convicted of a violent or serious felony within the last five years, or is a possible match on the terrorist watch list.”

Press Q&A:

Following opening remarks and a signing ceremony, the mayor answered questions from the press.  On-topic questions included the timing of the effectiveness of the laws signed today and when ICE will close it’s office on Rikers Island, how many people currently on Rikers Island will be covered by these laws, details of Carlos Rodriguez (who was held on Rikers Island for eight months on an ICE detainer) path to this country and his thoughts during his eight month detention, what Mayor de Blasio would like to see the federal government do about immigration and what he will do absent such action, what he would tell Republicans who think his approach is a dangerous precedent, de Blasio and Melissa Mark-Viverito’s positions on municipal IDs and voting rights for non-citizens, the number of people arrested on misdemeanors and then subject to ICE detainers and whether persons arrested on felony charges must first go through the justice system before being subject to an ICE detainer.

Off-topic questions included efforts at combating sex trafficking on Roosevelt Avenue, reports of criminal charges against a defunct arm of the Working Families Party, whether the mayor will veto proposed bills criminalizing police use of chokeholds and requiring police to advise people of a right to refuse before asking to search them, whether the mayor plans to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they visit New York, whether his message is getting lost in critical news coverage and his view of the Astoria Cove development deal.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Veterans Day Parade Edition (Updated x 2)

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke with the press this afternoon, following his march up Fifth Avenue in the Veterans Day Parade.  After an opening statement on his own family’s experience in dealing with his father’s physical and emotional wounds from World War II combat and the broader shortfalls in government aid for veterans, de Blasio answered questions.  Question topics included why he agreed to a $41 million settlement in the Central Park 5 case, whether he would like the state legislature to have a special session in November or December, what he spoke about today with Ray Kelly, whether he would like to see state laws concerning marijuana possession changed, the release from quarantine of Ebola patient Dr. Craig Spencer and whether Governor Cuomo was invited to the press conference this morning as Dr. Spencer was released from Bellevue, whether he supports a proposed City Council bill which would ban cell phone use while biking and his recent conversation with and view of IDC leader Sen. Jeff Klein.

Update – Jeff Klein:

I asked the mayor about his recent conversation with IDC leader Sen. Jeff Klein.  de Blasio emphasized Klein’s interest in addressing a “very serious agenda” which includes a minimum wage increase, the Dream Act, campaign finance reform and the Women’s Equality Act.  When I asked whether he’s disappointed by Klein’s reported readiness to again align his Independent Democratic Conference with the senate Republican Conference, de Blasio responded “I don’t like to speak in terms of joy or disappointment or personalities … I care about the outcome.”

Update #2 – Central Park 5 Settlement:

Mayor de Blasio was asked about the Central Park 5 settlement and news reports that City lawyers objected to the $41 million settlement amount.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The 25 Grams Or Less Edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner today announced a significant change in the NYPD’s handling of people possessing small amounts of marijuana.  Possession of 25 grams or less will now be generally handled by the NYPD issuing a summons, rather than arresting the possessor.

Q&A:

de Blasio and Bratton had a lengthy Q&A, with it almost entirely focused on their announcement.  Here’s their full on-topic Q&A: