Bob Rob & Bob



Former Congressman Bob Turner hosted Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and Republican comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci this afternoon for a press conference at Turner’s home in Breezy Point.  Astorino focused on a favored theme:  that Governor Andrew Cuomo has wrongfully used approximately $40 million of Hurricane Sandy relief funding for thinly disguised political ads promoting Cuomo.

Turner, elected to replace Anthony Weiner, was winding down his one term in Congress when Sandy struck.  More than 100 homes, including Turner’s, were destroyed by a fire that raged through Breezy Point as Sandy’s storm surge struck.  The homes behind Astorino, Antonacci and Turner are newly rebuilt, replacing some of the homes destroyed by that fire.

During the Q&A portion of the press conference (which begins at about 4:00) I asked Astorino questions about other Sandy-related topics, including his view of the overall response to Sandy by New York State government and whether he would do anything differently concerning the NYS Department of Financial Services and it’s regulation of insurance companies, which he would control as governor.  Astorino appeared unwilling, or unable, to move on to other Sandy-related topics, staying focused on Governor Cuomo’s use of federal relief money for TV advertising.  The Q&A began with my question of why Astorino’s fellow Republicans, in the state senate, have permitted Cuomo’s use of Sandy money as condemned by Astorino.

Note:  Astorino held a separate press conference this morning, with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, available here.

The Nemesis of My Nemesis …



In an unusual joint news conference today, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout denounced Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “corruption”.  Emphasizing their many political and policy differences, the two aspiring political opponents of Governor Cuomo attacked a variety of Cuomo’s actions and his opaque political methods.

The news conference also featured a group, presumably pro-Cuomo, holding signs and heckling both candidates.  As you’ll see, during the Q&A the group moved from behind the press, and facing the candidates, to just off to the side of the candidates.  They refused to answer when asked who they were and where they’re from.

Press Q&A:

Among the question topics were what more Governor Cuomo should have done before disbanding the Moreland Commission on public corruption, how Astorino feels about NJ Governor, and chair of the Republican Governors Association, Chris Christie “writing you off”, whether they believe Christie and Cuomo have an “arrangement” concerning Christie’s lack of support for Astorino, what “assurances” of support Christie gave to Astorino when they met, how this joint press conference came to be, how many debates they hope to have and Astorino’s take on Christie campaigning in New Hampshire but not New York.  Here is their joint press Q&A:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Building It Back Edition



Today Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference promoting his administration’s advances in the Build It Back program.  Created to assist homeowners in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Build It Back was immediately mired in bureaucratic quicksand, producing virtually no assistance to any homeowners by the close of the Bloomberg administration.  Although the program continued to drift in the early months of the de Blasio administration, it has markedly accelerated its efforts since the late March hiring of Amy Peterson as Director of the Office of Housing Recovery.

The mayor has set a Build It Back goal of 500 construction starts and issuing 500 reimbursement checks by Labor Day.  While modest compared to the estimated 20,000 or more homeowners who could be helped under the program, that’s a dramatic improvement from the program’s first year in which virtually no homeowners received such assistance.  In today’s press conference, the mayor announced that Build It Back has had 132 construction starts and issued 397 reimbursement checks.

Preparation for the Next Storm:

I asked Mayor de Blasio whether he has examined, and made any significant changes in,  the City’s emergency management system in anticipation of future storms:

Eric Ulrich:

Council Member Eric Ulrich, one of only three Republicans in the City Council and whose Sandy-impacted district includes part of Rockaway, Broad Channel and Howard Beach, spoke briefly:

Press Q&A:

On topic questions included funding for items in the City’s SIRR report and whether there is an alternative source for such items, whether the mayor is satisfied with the pace of City spending of federal money for Sandy relief, whether the mayor is confident of reaching his 500 construction starts and 500 reimbursement checks by Labor Day, Comptroller Scott Stringer’s report on a lack of oversight on spending by the Department of Homeless Services, whether the City has the “right formula” for Build It Back, the total number of homes damaged by Sandy and when all will reached through Build It Back, how many of the 132 construction starts to date are repairs and how many are rebuilds and whether the mayor has closely examined the City’s emergency management system in the context of preparing for a future coastal storm.

Off topic questions the Long Island Railroad and possible strike, the City’s contingency plans and role in the event of a strike, whether the petitions supporting continued operation of horse carriages, with 40,000 signatures recently delivered to City Hall affect his thinking on the topic, what the 66 donors to Campaign for One New York expect from the mayor, whether he plans to take any additional vacations this year, what initiatives Campaign for One New York will next focus on, the status of the review of the 911 system upgrade and, concerning his trip to Italy, whether he is packed, whether he’s packing his own bags and what food he is most looking forward to.

NY Electeds In Support of Israel



Numerous New York elected officials joined a press conference/rally today at City Hall to express support for Israel as it retaliates against Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.  Organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council, the press conference/rally featured five members of the House of Representatives, at least ten state legislators including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and at least six members of the City Council.  It also featured some uninvited guests; counter-demonstrators who showered the press conference with chants and shouts.

Astorino In Rockaway



Rob Astorino, Republican gubernatorial candidate, visited the Rockaway Republican Club Monday night.

Friendly Candidate, Frightening Message:

Astorino is a polished candidate with a friendly mien.  His message, however, is decidedly more dour than his person:

Sandy Recovery:

We asked Astorino about some post-Sandy recovery issues:

Full Presentation:

Here is Astorino’s full presentation, including audience Q&A:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The NYCHA Crime Fighting Edition (Updated)



Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a series of steps intended to reduce crime and increase public safety in New York City Housing Authority housing complexes.  The multi-part plan involves re-assignment of police officers, additional money for physical security and lighting improvements in NYCHA buildings and expanded hours and programs at community centers located in NYCHA buildings.

Carriage Horse Ban:

During the Q&A Mayor de Blasio was asked about his campaign promise to ban carriage horses immediately upon taking office:

Update – Full Q&A:

On topic questions included whether the NYPD has ever had a similar program to check in on residents, whether the announced plans will likely have an impact on citywide crime rates, the impact of reduced stop & frisk activity on gun violence and the legacy of stop & frisk, what is new in today’s announcement, whether there is a specific anti-gang component in the plans announced today, whether the City plans to open additional community centers in NYCHA buildings, whether the community centers will include additional private organizations and programs, how NYCHA will deal with residents breaking newly-installed lights, where the funding for these plans is coming from, whether the recent Grant Houses raid will lead to changes in large-scale takedown methods and what assurances the mayor can offer that the long term promises made today will be kept.

Off topic questions included the status of the mayor’s stated intention to ban carriage horses, the recent near-miss of two drones and an NYPD helicopter, whether Uber’s announced price reductions are unfair to yellow cabs, how the mayor will fulfill his stated promises concerning a living wage, why no NYCHA locations in East New York were selected for the plans announced today, the selection criteria for the NYCHA locations covered by the plans announced today and details about door/entry security in NYCHA buildings.

Rangel’s Last Stop (Updated)



Here are excerpts of Congressman Charles B. Rangel’s press Q&A at his last primary campaign stop, at Tracey Towers in the Bronx:

Rangel on the Press & Campaign Conclusion:

Rangel commented on the campaign press coverage and shared his thoughts on the campaign’s conclusion:

Dancing to Victory:

In this brief clip, Council Member Andy King and Public Advocate Tish James dance while standing on a Rangel sound truck:

Espaillat In The Heights



State Senator Adriano Espaillat held a press conference in Washington Heights this afternoon, accompanied by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.  Speaking just one block from where Congressman Charles Rangel was scheduled to appear shortly thereafter, Espaillat addressed the public polls indicating a significant advantage for Charles Rangel, Board of Elections issues including reported issues in providing spanish language translators and the timeliness and accuracy of Board of Elections operations and the accuracy of public polls.

Update – AP & Projections:

Espaillat voiced dissatisfaction with the AP’s 2012 projection of Rangel winning, saying that it was done far too early.  That projection was, of course, correct.  Espaillat concluded by saying to an AP reporter that “I hope that you can wait at least until 1:00 in the morning this time around.”

Rangel In The Heights (Updated x 3)



Congressman Charles B. Rangel held court this afternoon, hosting a press conference in Washington Heights.  Perhaps coincidentally, State Senator Adriano held a press conference 3 blocks away shortly before Rangel arrived.

Ydanis Rodriguez:

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, an enthusiastic supporter of Espaillat, held his own mini press conference just a few feet away from Rangel.  Here’s what happened when Rangel spotted Rodriguez:

(Update #3)  I asked Rodriguez about his confrontation with Rangel, at a campaign stop Monday evening at 116th Street/Lexington Avenue:

Update – The Prequel:

Shortly before Espaillat supporter Ydanis Rodriguez appeared, Espaillat’s campaign manager and a Rodriguez staffer listened to the press conference.  Here’s what happened when the campaign manager’s presence was pointed out to Rangel:

Update #2 – Charlie 360:

Rangel gave quite a performance to the press.  Surrounded by a large circle of his supporters and press, he spoke first to his supporters and then pivoted to face the press.  Cracking himself up repeatedly, Rangel dismissed questions about his opponent but introduced himself to Espaillat’s campaign manager, who was listening to the press conference.  Here’s the full press Q&A:

Rangel – The Harlem Shake Edition



Congressman Charles B. Rangel hosted a “flash mob” outside the Harlem Shake restaurant on Lenox Avenue Saturday afternoon.  Headed into the campaign’s final 72 hours, he was joined by George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU, Public Advocate Tish James, Council Member Inez Dickens, former rival and former assembly member Adam Clayton Powell IV.

George Gresham:

1199SEIU, with it’s president George Gresham, is a major political force.  Among it’s victories is it’s mayoral campaign-saving endorsement of Bill de Blasio, and it’s endorsed Charles Rangel in the 13th Congressional District primary.  We spoke with George Gresham at the Harlem Shake.  I began by asking him about 1199′s plans for primary day:

Rangel:

Here’s an excerpt from Rangel’s remarks.  He meanders for a bit, discussing El Barrio and his own experience and good fortune, but doesn’t mention his primary opponents: