de Blasio Press Q&A: The SQF Edition

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a significant turn in the ongoing litigation over the NYPD’s stop & frisk practices.  The City has agreed with the plaintiffs in Floyd v. City of New York to changes including a three year period for a monitor to oversee the stop & frisk policy.  Once a full plan is agreed to and approved by the court, the City will withdraw its pending appeal.

Following his announcement, Mayor de Blasio, Police Commissioner Bratton and Corp Counsel Carter answered questions from the press.  Here is their full press Q&A.

Walrond Announces

Tonight the Rev. Michael Walrond formally announced his candidacy for congress, running in the 13th congressional district against Charles Rangel and, presumably, Adriano Espaillat.  The pastor of Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church and a part of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Walrond is a well-established member of the Harlem community but a first time candidate.

Following his well organized and energetic announcement, Walrond answered questions from the press.  Topics included his relationship with the current House member from the district, Charles Rangel, his electoral chances and the prospect that he could be a spoiler in a Rangel/Espaillat rematch, his top issues and whether he will invite Rangel and Espaillat to speak to his congregation.  Here is his full press Q&A.

Walrond Running?

Tonight the Rev. Michael Walrond, pastor of Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church and an active member of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, is expected to formally announce his candidacy for the congressional seat currently held by Charles Rangel.  At a December 7th National Action Network event featuring heavy press coverage of Mayor-elect de Blasio and his intended police commissioner Bill Bratton, Sharpton teasingly suggested that Walrond announce his candidacy on the spot.  Watch.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Vortex Edition

Today, as his city remained in the grip of a polar vortex, Mayor de Blasio was snared in a vortex of press skepticism, some deserved, some not.

On the deserved skepticism, reporters questioned de Blasio’s undisclosed appearance and speech at AIPAC last night.  (His attendance at this political event was only revealed through the intrepid reporting of Capital New York’s Azi Paybarah and Sally Goldenberg.)  de Blasio has promised to be “transparent” and, in stark contrast to Mayor Bloomberg, to reveal his “off duty” whereabouts even when not holding any public events.  He has held regular press briefings in the 23 days since inauguration, today’s being the 12th that I’ve attended and at least his 14th or 15th in total, easing reporters concerns arising from his much less frequent transition briefings.  Despite that positive trend, the mayor appearing unannounced at a closed press political event is a legitimate press and public concern, as de Blasio appeared to recognize at today’s briefing.  He pledged to disclose such appearances in advance, although expressly not promising press access when event organizers do not want to allow it.  For now, the public and press await proof that Mayor de Blasio will meet a higher standard than many elected officials, most notably Governor Andrew Cuomo, who go to great lengths to limit knowledge of their whereabouts and squelch press coverage of much of their public activity.

On the undeserved skepticism, the NY Post-driven hysteria over actual snow (snowsteria?) in my neighborhood continued.  “Plow my street immediately and continuously” appears to be the expectation of some of my fellow Upper Eastsiders, notwithstanding the combination of 11″ of snow, rush hour traffic which clogged streets and slowed plowing and the polar-vortexed low temperatures which precluded melting and markedly reduced the efficacy of road salt.  The reality that sometimes it snows and that clearing of said snowfall may not happen before we awake seems difficult for some to accept.  Could the City’s snow clearing be better than this round?  Sure.  Should my neighbors and I fear snow class warfare?  I think not.  How much better a job New Yorkers should expect is a fair question, and de Blasio both broadly promised to “do better” and to report in detail on the shortcomings of the city’s storm response.

The clearest message of all from today’s press conference is that, even as he continues to assemble his administration, de Blasio’s honeymoon is over.  He’s grappling with Governor Cuomo over his signature campaign issue as the legislative clock ticks, the press and public have focused on his current actions rather than dreaming of the future and, barely three weeks in, he “owns” the City’s successes and failures.


The primary purpose of today’s press conference was to announce the appointment of Stacey Cumberbatch as Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and of Jon Paul Lupo as Director of the Office of City Legislative Affairs.  Here is de Blasio’s full press Q&A.

Mark-Viverito Press Q&A: The First Stated Edition

Following the city council’s stated meeting this afternoon, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito answered questions from the press.  Among the topics: whether there was political retribution against some council members who did not support her speaker bid, rules reform and the “lulu” system of additional payments to council members and her view of Governor Cuomo’s recent pre-K proposal.

Update – Cuomo Pre-K Proposal:

I asked Speaker Mark-Viverito whether Governor Cuomo’s recent proposal for a state-wide pre-K program, seemingly intended to supplant Mayor de Blasio’s proposed program and especially it’s income tax surcharge, would be unacceptable.  Here’s how she responded.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Second Snow Edition (Updated x 2)

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio held a news conference on two separate topics: the significant snowstorm which had just begun and to announce the appointment of Maria Torres-Springer as Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services and of Dr. Ramanathan Raju as the Commissioner of Health and Hospitals Corporation.

Rockaway Ferry & Boardwalk:

During the Q&A portion of the press conference, Grace Rauh of NY1 asked the mayor about the interim extension of Rockaway ferry service, as separately announced by the mayor’s office this morning, and about the projected May 2017 projected completion date for rebuilding the Rockaway boardwalk.  Ferry service was instituted on an interim basis after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the only subway access to Rockaway and it has been very popular with Rockaway residents.  The post-Sandy rebuilding of the boardwalk, under Parks Department jurisdiction, is a sore point for many Rockaway residents who see the three year schedule as unreasonably slow.  Here’s how the mayor responded.

Update – Full Q&A:

Here is Mayor de Blasio’s full Q&A, featuring snow prep and the de Blasio family shoveling arrangements, the mayor’s pre-K/middle school program initiative and the governor’s competing proposal, Health & Hospitals Corporation challenges, the Rockaway ferry and boardwalk and more.

Update #2 – Pre-K/middle school initiative:

This excerpt contains a discussion of Mayor de Blasio’s proposed pre-K/middle school program and the associated income tax surcharge.  Governor Cuomo has recently sought to preempt de Blasio’s plan, proposing a less expansive plan statewide, and not supporting a dedicated income tax surcharge.  Reporters asked many probing questions but de Blasio, politely, refused to signal any assent to the Cuomo plan supplanting his own.  He noted that “other advances … are welcome”, but that “the people of the City have given me a mission … to achieve this [meaning de Blasio’s] plan.”

King Day at the House of Justice (Updated)

The Rev. Al Sharpton hosted a large number of elected officials for his annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration.  Held at the National Action Network’s House of Justice on 145th Street, the celebration featured appearances by almost all of New York’s statewide elected officials and all of New York City’s citywide elected officials.  Among those speaking were Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, NY State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Mayor de Blasio, Public Advocate Tish James and City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Update – Rachel Noerdlinger:

de Blasio:

Mayor de Blasio announced that long time Sharpton aide Rachel Noerdlinger will move to City Hall as chief of staff to de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray.  Here is de Blasio’s announcement:

Chirlane McCray:

Chirlane McCray, Noerdlinger’s soon-to-be boss, also spoke.  Here are McCray’s remarks.

Sharpton – Noerdlinger:

Here are the Rev. Al Sharpton’s remarks and Rachel Noerdlinger’s speech.

Mayor de Blasio Press Q&A:

Video of Mayor de Blasio’s press conference immediately following his appearance at the King Day celebration is here.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Myls Dobson Edition

Mayor de Blasio held a second press conference Friday afternoon.  At his second of the day he discussed the death of Myls Dobson, a four year boy who died in Manhattan on January 8th.  It’s alleged that Myls was brutally mistreated, and ultimately killed, by his father’s girlfriend.  The boy’s father was in jail and had left Myls with his girlfriend.

Joined by Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services Gladys Carrion, de Blasio announced findings and recommendations of a preliminary city investigation and then took on-topic questions.  Here is his full press Q&A.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Paid Sick Leave Edition

This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a substantial expansion of the 2013 paid sick leave law.  The proposed bill, agreed to by the mayor and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Vivertio but not yet introduced or passed in the council, will expand the size of businesses required to provide paid sick leave from 15 or more employees to 5 or more employees, accelerate it’s applicability so that all covered businesses must comply by April 1, 2014 (businesses with 15-20 employees have until April 1, 2015 under the existing law), remove exemptions for manufacturing businesses and remove economic measurements that could have caused a delayed implementation and expand the range of family members that employees can care for during such paid sick leave.

The benefits are clear; according to the mayor’s office 235,000 workers will receive paid sick leave for the first time, 95,000 will receive it a year earlier than presently required and 190,000 more will receive a legal guarantee of paid sick leave.  The costs, or at least who will bear them, are also clear.  It’s predominantly very small businesses, those with 5-14 employees.  Success or failure of the initiative is really about how those businesses are affected.  Will they ultimately benefit from having a healthier, and perhaps more satisfied, workforce?  Will they be able to pass along to their customers the added costs?  To the extent that the answers to those questions are negative, is the cost to those businesses the right result in order to raise the overall welfare of our workforce?

It’s a dramatic move by de Blasio.  He’s moving quickly to act on a point often discussed during the campaign, but one that he could easily have let wait for several months until the recently enacted law takes effect.  It’s also dramatic in that he appears to have quickly set the terms with the newly selected council speaker without much, or even any, engagement of the council rank and file.  While passage appears likely, he may face some vocal opposition around the terms and he, and his council speaker, may face future resentment from council members.

Following his announcement, Mayor de Blasio answered questions from the press.  Here is his full press Q&A.  (The press conference was held in front of Esmeralda’s Restaurant on Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick.  As you’ll see, the mayor paused periodically as the elevated M train loudly passed overhead.)

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Well-being Edition (Updated)

Today Mayor de Blasio announced his appointment of Dr. Mary Bassett as Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and of Rose Pierre-Louis as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

In this clip the mayor and Dr. Bassett addressed the City’s regulation of metzitzah B’peh.

Update – Full Press Q&A:

Mayor de Blasio answered questions from the press on a wide range of topics, including HIV prevention, the role of the Health Department and the “Nanny State”, the large-size soda ban, Metzizah B’peh, fines and penalties levied by the Health Department, the ethics complaint filed against Patrick Gaspard, the city’s fiscal outlook, stop & frisk and more.  Here is his full press Q&A.