Heating Up In Harlem’s 13th CD (Updated x 2)

The three Democratic candidates in the 13th congressional district met Thursday evening for their first debate.  Hosted by Abyssinian Bapist Church, the debate featured polite, but at times intense, jousting among Congressman Charles B. Rangel, State Senator Adriano Espaillat and the Rev. Michael Walrond.

A core part of Congressman Rangel’s argument for reelection is his assertion that he alone among the three is capable of providing meaningful assistance to President Obama in the last two years of Obama’s term.  Rangel, a 44 year incumbent, has lost a significant amount of Washington clout due to his political and legal troubles in the last several years. Both of his opponents dismiss the notion of Rangel now having a meaningful relationship with the president.

To begin our coverage, here are our post-debate conversations with all three candidates.    You’ll also hear Capital New York’s Azi Paybarah on these clips (he’s the voice asking the good questions.)

Adriano Espaillat:

Charles Rangel:

Michael Walrond:

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de Blasio At National Action Network (Updated)

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke this morning at the opening of the National Action Network’s convention.

Police Officer Dennis Guerra:

Mayor de Blasio began with a statement on the death of Police Officer Dennis Guerra.  Guerra died this morning of injuries he sustained while responding to a building fire in Coney Island.

Mayor de Blasio Remarks: Continue reading

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Police Academy Edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton visited the Police Academy this afternoon, addressing police cadets and holding a press conference.  The condition of Officers Dennis Guerra and Rosa Rodriguez, gravely injured in a Coney Island fire, was a focus of both segments of their visit.

Remarks to Cadets:

Here are the remarks from the mayor and police commissioner to the class of approximately 200 police cadets:

Press Q&A:

Following a brief opening statement by the mayor, he and the police commissioner answered “on topic” questions only, although what constituted “on topic” was a bit vague.  Questions included NYPD procedures governing officers entering burning buildings, whether clergy have been called in for the two officers, what community/police “healing” Mayor de Blasio believes is occurring, whether there is a need for a larger headcount in the Department, why one of the injured officers was transferred to a different hospital, Bratton’s reaction to pictures of the accused arsonist smiling, whether a decision has been made on the future of the building that the Police Academy is currently located in, whether the escaped prisoner in the 78th Precinct has been recaptured and whether the officers involved will be disciplined and whether the Fire Department will be involved in creating a Police Department policy governing officers entering burning buildings.

Here is their full Q&A:

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:

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

Red Sox fan Bill de Blasio today threw out the first pitch at the New York Mets opening day.  de Blasio, still recovering from the 1986 Red Sox World Series loss to the Mets, sought to deflect attention from that loss with a press conference discussing the New York State budget and the many budget items affecting New York City.

Red Sox Fan Reflects on Bill Buckner:

After a lengthy discussion of budget and other governmental issues, de Blasio was asked about Game 6 of the 1986 series.  Displaying his true political skill, he minimized his lingering pain, defended Bill Buckner and sought to return the focus to city government and pre-K funding.

Update – Full Press Q&A:

Red Sox fan de Blasio was also asked non-baseball questions.  Among the  question topics were his reaction to the pre-K funding contained in the state budget agreement and the absence of his proposed income tax surcharge, what funding has been provided in the state budget for the middle school after school portion of his initiative, the outlook for his as yet unfulfilled request for state approval of additional red light cameras in the City and the lingering pain of Bill Buckner’s bobble in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.  Here is his full press Q&A.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Greek Independence Day Edition (Updated)

After marching in Manhattan’s Greek Independence Day Parade, Mayor Bill de Blasio briefly answered questions from the press.  Question topics, which were limited by the mayor’s press staff to “budget only”, included an MTA budget cut contained in the state budget, the charter school co-location/rent provisions in the state budget and mayoral control of the school system.

Update – Mayor de Blasiopolos:

During a mid-parade interview Fox reporter/meteorologist Nick Gregory renamed the Italian/German mayor.