de Blasio Press Q&A: The Cultural Affairs Edition

In his second press conference of the day, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his appointment of Tom Finkelpearl as Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner.  Finkelpearl has been executive director of the Queens Museum since 2002.

Full Press Q&A:

de Blasio and Finkelpearl answered on-topic questions only.  (Mayor de Blasio answered on-topic and off-topic questions at a separate press conference earlier in the afternoon, available here.)   Question topics included how the city budget will address cultural institution funding vis-a-vis driving tourism or other initiatives, the fate of institutions that have been “in limbo” such as the South Street Seaport Museum and the performing arts center at the World Trade Center, whether the mayor considers himself an artist, how the city budget will address the need to hire additional arts teachers, ideas for expediting the international exchange of art, whether any Queens institutions are “top of the list” for attention, plans for the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair, whether smaller non-Manhattan institutions have been neglected by the Department of Cultural Affairs, whether they will consider reallocating capital funds allocated by the Bloomberg administration, the administration’s position on the LG tower being built on the Palisades, whether Finkelpearl’s experience with the arts community in Rockaway provides any guidance for arts communities in other parts of the city and how the DCA will adapt to not having major philanthropy coming from the mayor.

Rockaway & The Arts:

Finkelpearl noted that he has been a part-time Rockaway resident for 9 or 10 years.  I asked him whether his experience with the growing Rockaway arts community provides him with any guidance or ideas on how to promote expansion of arts communities in other parts of the city.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Livonia Commons Edition (Updated x 2)

At the first of two press conferences today Mayor Bill de Blasio heralded the groundbreaking on Livonia Commons, an affordable housing development project in Brownsville.  The groundbreaking was on Phase I of the project, expected to produce 278 housing units, with the Mayor also announcing issuance of an RFP for Phase II.

Mayor de Blasio answered on and off topic questions during the Q&A portion of the press conference.


The mayor was twice asked about his administration’s response to reporters FOIL requests related to the Bishop Findlayter incident.  According to press reports, the administration replied to multiple requests late Friday, advising reporters that there were not any responsive documents.  Here is what Mayor de Blasio had to say today:

Update – Out of Office, But Not Out of the Picture:

Former Council Member Charles Barron was an uninvited participant in this press conference.  Barron’s wife, Council Member Inez Barron, succeeded him in the City Council.

Update #2 – Full Q&A:

The on-topic and off-topic questions in the Q&A portion of the press conference included: the project status when de Blasio took office and how his approach to affordable housing differs from Mayor Bloomberg, whether there are any differences in Phase I of the project as being initiated now versus as approved by the Bloomberg administration, what he sees as a realistic percentage of units being “affordable” in projects located closer to or in Manhattan, whether he counts this project towards his goal of 200,000 affordable units, the NYPD officer recently arrested in India, the status of speed camera approvals from Albany, the FOIL delays and responses which did not produce any emails or documents in the Findlayter case, the NYPD/FDNY hockey brawl, Queens Library President Thomas Galante and the newly elected leadership of NYSUT (the state teachers union).

The Greek Secret Weapon

Mayor de Blasio enjoyed a warm reception this evening from guests attending a Greek Independence Day celebration at Gracie Mansion.

During his remarks the Mayor introduced his most senior political aide, whose name does not suggest Greek heritage, as his “Greek secret weapon.”

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Silver Pre-K Edition (Updated x 2)

Mayor Bill de Blasio continued his rollout of expanded pre-K today, visiting P.S. 1 on the Lower East Side.  Joined by Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, who represents the district, de Blasio held a press conference and then visited a pre-K class.

Press Q&A:

Topics in the Q&A included the source of money for the City’s planned pre-K advertising campaign, the City’s target number of pre-K applicants, whether Speaker Silver thinks the proposed income tax surcharge should be pursued next year, how the pre-K selection process will work, how the City will cover the approximately $40 million annual gap between the estimated cost of pre-K and the amount provided in the state budget, when parents will learn whether their pre-K application has been accepted, how the City will collect data and measure success of the pre-K program, whether the existing pre-K application process will be changed, how the City will use money from the anticipated school bond issue, the mayor’s reaction to a 2nd Circuit ruling that City may bar religious groups from renting after-hours space in public schools, the status on a proposed restaurant in Union Square, a tax break included in the state budget that provides millions of dollars to a Bronx condominium project, the “shop & frisk” meeting today between the Rev. Al Sharpton and Police Commissioner Bratton and a pending HPD case against a Brooklyn landlord.

Update – Future Income Tax Surcharge?:

Andrew Siff, of WNBC-TV, asked Speaker Silver whether he believes the legislature should try again next year to pass the income tax surcharge proposed by the mayor.  Here’s how he responded:

Update #2 – Silver, Henry Street & Pre-K:

Although Speaker Silver was a key part of including pre-K funding in the state budget, his personal history was a bit off-message today.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Ridgewood Pre-K Edition (Updated)

Fresh off of securing pre-K funding in the state budget, Mayor Bill de Blasio pivoted to the next phase of his pre-K initiative with a visit to Ridgewood’s P.S. 239 aimed at encouraging parents to register for fall 2014 enrollment.  Among those joining de Blasio for a press conference following the mayor’s tour of the school; Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYS Senator Mike Gianaris, Council Member Danny Dromm and Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

Bratton & Police Morale:

During the Q&A portion of the press conference, Newsday’s Emily Ngo asked de Blasio about Police Commissioner Bratton’s recent statement on NYPD morale and his attribution of responsibility for it to former Commissioner Ray Kelly.  Here’s how de Blasio responded:

Update – Full Q&A:

On topic questions included the application process for admission to the pre-K program, whether the website and other enrollment tools have been sufficiently tested, how applicants will be chosen or assigned to specific pre-K spots, how the public schools hosting expanded pre-K will be chosen, how the space sharing arrangements between new pre-K classes and existing classes will be managed, the role of charter schools in providing new pre-K seats, whether pre-K students may also enroll in after school programs and whether parents applying for public school pre-K spots should refrain from also applying for community based organization pre-K spots.  Off topic questions included Commissioner Bratton’s statement regarding NYPD morale, whether the mayor agrees with parents opting out of Common Core testing and whether such opt outs may skew the test data, the process for parents wishing to opt out of Common Core testing, specialized high school entrance exams and the mayor’s actions concerning raising the minimum wage.

Here is the full press Q&A: