de Blasio Press Q&A: The Closeout Edition

Bill de Blasio’s mayoral transition drew to a close on New Year’s Eve, with a final press conference to announce five appointments: Gilbert Taylor as Commissioner of Homeless Services, Polly Trottenberg as Transportation Commissioner, Bob Linn as Director of Labor Relations, Stanley Brezenoff as a Special Advisor to the First Deputy Mayor and Kyle Kimball as President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Following statements from de Blasio and each of the appointees, de Blasio answered questions from the press.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Knockout Edition (Updated)

With 36 hours to being sworn in as mayor, Bill de Blasio announced his selection of Carmen Farina as schools chancellor.

Press Q&A:

Here is the full press Q&A.

The Battle of Brooklyn:

Following the press conference, de Blasio spent a few minutes talking with the students who had dutifully stood behind him.  He described the Battle of Brooklyn, an important Revolutionary War battle that occurred near the site of the press conference, and then took questions from the students.

Farina & de Blasio as Student Tumbles:

As Carmen Farina was speaking, one of those dutifully standing students tumbled off the riser.  The student was reported to be unhurt.  Here’s how Farina and de Blasio reacted.

Update – Horse Carriages:

de Blasio reaffirmed his pledge to eliminate horse carriages.  Although he’s slightly modified his campaign pledge to do so immediately upon taking office, he’s unequivocal in his pledge to do so promptly.  (Watch de Blasio and the other candidates discussing horse carriages at a mayoral forum in May.)  Here’s what he had to say on Monday.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Corp Counsel Edition

Today Bill de Blasio announced his selection of Zachary Carter as Corporation Counsel.  Although often not a focus of public attention, Corporation Counsel is the city’s chief legal officer and an integral part of managing city government.

Following his announcement, and a statement by Zachary Carter, de Blasio took questions from the press.  Topics included pending legal cases against the city on stop & frisk and the Central Park 5, Chiara de Blasio’s recent video describing her struggle with substance abuse and depression and how the transition process will proceed once de Blasio becomes mayor.

Speaker-to-be Discusses Speaker’s Race

This afternoon we spoke with Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito about the speaker’s race.  Mark-Viverito is the leading contender, and presumptive speaker, with the public support of 30 of her 50 colleagues.  Despite that public display of more than sufficient support, Queens Democratic Chairman Joe Crowley, who supports Dan Garodnick for Speaker, recently declared that the race “has a ways to go” and said that Mark-Viverito’s public display of support “reminds me a little bit of George Bush on the aircraft carrier.”

I began by asking Mark-Viverito whether she believes the race has concluded or whether Crowley or others are still actively seeking votes for any other candidates.  We spoke at the swearing-in ceremony of Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, held in his Washington Heights district office.

Republican Council Members Discuss Speaker Selection

On Wednesday evening Melissa Mark-Viverito released a statement listing 30 council members supporting her bid to be city council speaker.  Only one Republican appears in the group of 30, Eric Ulrich of Queens.

Ulrich’s declaration of support is notable for two reasons.  First, in November he reacted harshly to the prospect of Mark-Viverito becoming speaker.  Ulrich was reacting to news reports of Mark-Viverito’s “reluctance to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance.”  His criticism was broader, however, saying “I don’t believe that she can be an effective counterweight to the mayor” and characterizing a Mark-Viverito speakership as a “disaster.”  Second, in November Ulrich also said that he expected to vote as a bloc, albeit a small one, with the two other Republicans in the new council.  He now appears to be the only Republican supporting Mark-Viverito, however.

Eric Ulrich

Here’s full video of Ulrich’s discussion with reporters this evening, following the final city council meeting of the current session.

Steve Matteo

We also spoke with Steve Matteo, Council Member-elect from Staten Island, who said that he was “disappointed” by Ulrich’s decision to split from his fellow Republicans and support Mark-Viverito.  Matteo also suggested that Mark-Viverito’s selection is far from settled, characterizing the selection process as “in the third quarter of a football game.”

(In November, we spoke with Matteo and Council Member Vincent Ignizio, also from Staten Island and the third Republican in the new council, about the speaker’s race.  Those interviews are here.)

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Pre-K Campaign Edition

Today Bill de Blasio announced plans for an organized campaign to push for his pre-K/after-school program initiative.  The campaign includes a mix of business, entertainment and political leaders and about 25 advocacy groups.

Following statements by de Blasio and several others, de Blasio answered questions from the press.  Topics include what the groups involved in the campaign will do, Chirlane McCray’s role in the campaign, details around the pre-K program and the status of de Blasio’s search for a schools chancellor.  Here is the full press Q&A.

Crowley Discusses Speaker Race

Congressman and Queens County Democratic chair Joe Crowley answered reporters questions concerning the selection of the next speaker of the city council.  Crowley has reportedly worked in support of Dan Garodnick for speaker.

Crowley spoke following a press conference focused on drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants at City Hall on December 19, 2013.

Speaker’s Race, Continued

We spoke with Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez about the selection of the next council speaker.  Rodriguez is a member of the progressive bloc and a strong supporter of Melissa Mark-Viverito.  We spoke outside the National Action Network’s House of Justice, following a visit by Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and his police commissioner designee, Bill Bratton.

Be sure to watch our coverage of all seven speaker forums, held on Staten Island, in Manhattan at the Talking Transition Tent, Baruch College and New York Law School, as well as in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Jackson Heights. Our coverage includes conversations with many council members/member-elects about the selection process, including, in addition to Ydanis Rodriguez, Vincent Ignizio, Steve Matteo, Debi Rose, Corey Johnson, Karen Koslowitz, Andrew Cohen, Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, Ritchie Torrres and Helen Rosenthal.

Transition Update – Public Advocate-elect James (Updated)

We spoke with Public Advocate-elect Letitia James about her transition and plans for the office of Public Advocate.  James had just completed a town hall at York College.

Update – Wills & Friends:

As James’s arrival was delayed, Council Member Ruben Wills held the floor for about 20 minutes.  Among those he introduced were State Senator Malcolm Smith and State Assembly Member Vivian Cook.

Quinn on a Successor (Updated)

At a City Hall press conference this afternoon, Capital New York reporter Sally Goldenberg asked outgoing Council Speaker Christine Quinn for her thoughts on the prospect of the council selecting a speaker who does not support marriage equality.  Here is Speaker Quinn’s response.

Update – Williams:

Earlier, we asked Council Member and speaker contender Jumaane Williams about the weight that his fellow council members should give to his positions on marriage equality and abortion rights in selecting the next speaker.  Williams is alone among the announced speaker contenders in opposing both.