NYPD Unions Endorse Donovan in CD 11 Special Election

The NYPD’s Captains Endowment Association and Lieutenants Benevolent Association endorsed Republican Dan Donovan in the 11th Congressional District special election scheduled for May 5th.  Donovan, as the Staten Island District Attorney, is well known to both unions.

Roy Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association, cited Donovan’s personal integrity and a long-term reduction (which began before Donovan became DA) in crime on Staten Island.  Both Richter and Lieutenants Benevolent Association president Lou Turco cited September 11th, both with respect to funding for ongoing security and the continuing effort to pass  a reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.  Two main programs under the Zadroga Act expire in 2015.

Donovan’s remarks included a moment of silence commemorating the 12th anniversary of the murders of NYPD Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews (killed on Staten Island), the 22nd anniversary of the death of Detective Luis Lopez (killed during a buy-and-bust operation in Manhattan) and the 29th anniversary of the death of Donovan’s father.  He spoke harshly of the actions of “our government” in telling World Trade Center emergency responders that “it was safe to go there, that the air quality was ok” and now “telling them that we’re not going to fund the healthcare for those brave people,” pledging to push the Zadroga Act reauthorization.

Here are selected excerpts from their statements:

The Q&A included the following:

The two union leaders spoke well of Donovan’s opponent, Democratic Council Member Vincent Gentile, noting that they have endorsed him in his council races.

Donovan avoided any definitive statement on the controversial letter sent by U.S. Senate Republicans to the leaders of Iran.

Donovan Endorsers On Gentile

At a press conference today the Captains Endowment Association and the Lieutenants Benevolent Association endorsed Republican candidate, and Staten Island District Attorney, Dan Donovan over Democratic candidate Vincent Gentile in the 11th congressional district special election.  Both CEA and LBA had endorsed Gentile in his races for City Council.

Here’s how CEA President Roy Richter and LBA President Lou Turco responded when I asked for their view on Gentile.

Donovan On Senate Republicans Letter To Iran

Republican congressional candidate Dan Donovan today avoided taking a position on the letter sent by 47 U.S. Senate Republicans to the leadership of Iran.  The controversial letter, criticized by the Wall Street Journal, prompted the NY Daily News to label those 47 United States senators as “traitors.”

When I asked for his view on the letter Donovan replied with a suggestion of disagreement, saying “I think our government has to get on the same page” and “I think sometimes politics gets in the way of governing”, but did not offer any clear statement on the letter.  When I asked if his initial response meant that he “think[s] it was a bad idea to send that letter” Donovan replied “I just said what I said.”  Donovan spoke at a press conference where he received the endorsement of the NYPD’s Captains Endowment Association and the Lieutenants Benevolent Association.

Here’s what Donovan had to say:

Eid al-Fitr & Eid al-Adha Added To School Holiday Calendar

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the addition of two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, to the New York City school system’s calendar.  They are the first Muslim holidays included on the City school calendar.  It’s a change long-sought by New York’s Muslim community and reflects a Muslim population in the City and it’s schools growing in both number and political influence.

Here are highlights of the press conference:

The full press conference Q&A is available here.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Eid-al Fitr Edition

At a press conference this morning in Bay Ridge Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the addition of two Muslim holidays to the New York City public school calendar.  Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha will be added as school holidays for the 2015-16 school year.

On topic Q&A:

On topic question topics included how the school schedule will accommodate the two additional holidays, who will the City look to to determine the exact date of Eid al-Fitr each year, how many religious and cultural holidays are currently on the City school calendar and whether the mayor believes there should be a set limit on the number of such holidays, whether the mayor considered a possible backlash and why he concluded that now is an appropriate time to add these holidays, the status of adding Lunar New Year as a school holiday, whether this applies to private schools and the New York State Department of Education’s position on adding these holidays.

Off-topic Q&A:

Off topic question topics included the mayor’s favored candidate in the Chicago mayoral runoff election, how he’s going to try to convince the state legislature to block Governor Cuomo’s plans to increase reliance on student testing in teacher evaluations, his speech tomorrow to ABNY, Hillary Clinton’s use of private email for government business and his own use of private and government email, current numbers on the issuance of municipal IDs, Correction Commissioner Joe Ponte’s letter concerning a recent sexual assault on a correction officer on Rikers Island and the Corizon healthcare contract, de Blasio’s planned trip to Israel, the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at Gracie Mansion and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and City efforts at protecting residents from “growing islamophobia”.

de Blasio On Government Officials & Email Use

“I do my official business on official email” said Mayor Bill de Blasio today when asked whether he uses “private email for public business.”  He also offered strong praise for Hillary Clinton, but did not respond directly to part of the posed question: whether he thinks its “ever appropriate … for a senior government official to rely exclusively on private email.”

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito responded somewhat imprecisely, saying that “there are times when we, yes, when we rely on private email, but we do use our government email.”  Public Advocate Tish James and Council Member Danny Dromm did not respond to the question posed by Matthew Chayes of Newsday.  de Blasio spoke during a press conference announcing the addition of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as school holidays.

de Blasio On His Cuomo Relationship. Again.

In a somewhat contentious exchange Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to engage directly on a press question concerning the apparent frictions in his relationship with Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Asked about a Daily News report describing him as “at his ‘wits end'” over the “harsh treatment” administered by Governor Cuomo, de Blasio sought to dismiss any interest in “the personalities” as misguided.  de Blasio suggested that he’s not concerned with it.  He went to list a variety of issues that he’s agreed with the governor, as well as some substantial issues he’s disagreed with the governor on.  (In an unusual moment de Blasio praised former governor Eliot Spitzer’s school funding adjustments and lamented the current school aid calculations.)

Difficulties in the Cuomo/de Blasio relationship have been readily apparent since de Blasio took office.  The City’s existence as a political subdivision of the state possessing only those powers granted to it by the state ensures a tension between the state and city chief executives, but there’s a personal element involved as well.  Governor Cuomo is loath to yield political and decision-making power to anyone, including his former subordinate.

Last week de Blasio reacted to Cuomo’s prediction that their governor/mayor relationship will be the “best in modern political history” with a broad smile.

Here’s what de Blasio had to say today:

Would It Be Good To Have A Republican in 11th Congressional District?

Would it be logical for Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York’s Democratic members in the House of Representatives to accept or even welcome a Republican winning the upcoming special election in the 11th Congressional District?  That seat was held by Michael Grimm, the only Republican House member from New York City.  Republicans hold a 245 to 188 edge over Democrats in the House and a member of the majority may be more successful than the minority members in advancing New York City’s interests.  Mayor de Blasio, when asked that question by Anna Sanders of the Staten Island Advance, didn’t buy it.

NY Congressional Reps, de Blasio On Netanyahu Speech

Nine members of congress representing New York City discussed the upcoming speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress and whether they plan to attend.  Senator Chuck Schumer and Representatives Charles Rangel, Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Joe Crowley, Hakeem Jeffries, Grace Meng, Nydia Velazquez and Yvette Clarke joined Mayor Bill de Blasio this morning for a press conference at Gracie Mansion intended to focus on the House Republicans’ inability to fund DHS for longer than this week.

Senator Schumer and six of the eight house members said that they plan to attend.  Charles Rangel does not plan to attend and Yvette Clarke said that she has not yet decided.  Many of the representatives had harsh words for House Speaker John Boehner, with Velazquez denouncing his actions as “shameful.”  Mayor de Blasio harshly criticized Speaker Boehner for his invitation to Netanyahu, but since he is not a member of congress de Blasio does not have the option to attend.

Congressional Views:

Here’s what Senator Schumer and the House members had to say:

Mayor de Blasio:

Here’s what Mayor de Blasio had to say: