All posts by John Kenny

Lhota Stays on the Attack

Today Joe Lhota held a press conference to express his support for charter schools.  It’s a clear distinction between himself and Bill de Blasio, who despite some recent tone changes, is decidedly unfriendly towards charter schools.

Lhota took press questions on a variety of topics, including charters, independent election expenditures and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling issued yesterday, Ray Kelly, P-Tech and the president’s visit, whether as mayor he would substantially change the way that DOE interacts with charter schools and whether he has any former schools chancellors or other school leaders whom he views as good models or examples of what he would like his schools chancellor to do.

Among his responses: condemning Bill de Blasio for “hypocrisy” in criticizing the court ruling allowing expanded independent expenditure funding but benefiting from such spending, including a reported $1 million ad buy by the United Federation of Teachers.  Lhota’s attacks included asking, concerning de Blasio and the UFT, “how far down does Bill sit in their pocket?”  Lhota also expressed a fear, should de Blasio win, of “watching the UFT pick his pocket” in contract negotiations.

Here is the full Q & A portion of the press conference.

Lhota In East Flatbush (Updated x 2)

As a former senior deputy to Rudy Giuliani, Joe Lhota has frequently been asked about Giuliani and Lhota’s time as his budget director and deputy mayor.  Lhota speaks highly of Giuliani and, as the de Blasio v. Lhota election has at times morphed into a rerun of Dinkins v. Giuliani, enthusiastically promoted the Giuliani legacy.  Giuliani was in many ways an extremely successful mayor, overseeing a dramatic improvement in public safety and more broadly restoring the sense that the City was governable.   Lhota rightly extolls those accomplishments, fairly claiming a degree of credit for them and arguing that he will govern in that mold.

Lhota seems largely unable to simultaneously deal with the negative aspect of Giuliani’s legacy, however, muddling the effectiveness of his pitch to voters from the Giuliani era.  Giuliani was a powerful personality who belittled and excoriated those who opposed him, often looking like a bully.  As his term drew to a close he was washed up as a political leader, the public exhausted by the endless operatic drama and glad to see him go.  Redeemed by his extraordinary response to the September 11th attacks, Giuliani’s negatives have been largely ignored since he left office.  They’re present in the 2013 mayoral discussion however, both overtly and beneath the surface, generating a visceral rejection in many voters.  Lhota appears unwilling or unable to deal with that negative reaction, but unless he can better separate the positive and negative strands of the Giuliani legacy Lhota seems unlikely to fully capitalize on the positive Giuliani legacy.

I asked Lhota about it today at a press conference in East Flatbush.

Update – Personality Glimpses:

Here are two very brief clips displaying a bit of Lhota’s personality. In the first, he brusquely dismisses a question asking how he would have managed his campaign differently (noting in fairness to Lhota, election day is still 12 days away).  In the second, a brief quip illustrates his dry humor.

Update #2 – Full Press Conference:

Here is video of the full press conference.

Schneiderman on the Moreland Commission

In July, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman joined with Governor Cuomo in appointing a “Commission to Investigate Public Corruption” under the Moreland Act and Executive Law section 63(8), with Attorney General Schneiderman deputizing each of the commission members as a deputy attorney general.   Doing so gave the commission a broader legal reach, as well adding the attorney general’s imprimatur to the governor’s effort.

In recent weeks, news reports have chronicled efforts by the governor’s staff to stop the issuance of subpoenas to entities viewed as friendly to the governor.  At a press conference yesterday I asked Attorney General Schneiderman when he became aware of such efforts by the governor’s staff and what his reaction was.  He largely avoided answering, describing his role as limited to deputizing the commissioners and “to provide whatever support the co-chairs ask for.”  Schneiderman noted that “I’m not involved in this on a day to day basis” and concluded by saying that “as far as I can tell they’re doing their job.”  (Schneiderman spoke at a press conference with New York City Public Advocate, and mayoral candidate, Bill de Blasio pushing for theft-deterring “kill switches” in smart phones.)

de Blasio, Crown Heights & 2013

On Thursday, both mayoral candidates addressed the Crown Heights riots through the prism of Bill de Blasio’s tenure as a junior city hall staffer.  By de Blasio’s description, he was working in City Hall on those days and received an unspecified number of phone calls from concerned community leaders.  He further says, however, that as a junior staff member he was not actively engaged in responding to the rioting.  Lhota has seized upon de Blasio’s receipt of phone calls without further engagement as evidence of de Blasio’s lack of readiness to govern the city.

There is much to unravel in the current discussion of this ugly 20 year old chapter in the City’s history, particularly the inverted resuscitation of the bitter Dinkins/Giuliani rivalry.  Giuliani, of course, redeemed his initial loss by besting Dinkins in their second and final mayoral election and is widely viewed as having rescued the City from the long-running street crime epidemic that continued into the Dinkins era.  In the 2013 inverted edition, however, it is the Dinkins junior staffer who is electorally crushing the once high-ranking Giuliani aide.  Forgotten by much of the City, the riots nonetheless remain a paradigmatic moment for the man elected in part on public revulsion of the City’s response to the riots and for his former deputy.  Whether that former Giuliani deputy can transform the failures of 1991 into 2013 electoral gain remains unanswered.

Lhota Talks

Joe Lhota spoke with the press today, following a visit to the Young at Heart Senior Center at Regina Pacis, on 65th Street in Dyker Heights.

Among the topics Lhota discussed were his fundraising, Bill de Blasio’s role in city government during the Crown Heights riots of 1991 and how Lhota may close the enormous gap between de Blasio’s and Lhota’s electoral chances as shown by recent public polls.

Lhota In Far Rockaway (Updated)

Joe Lhota visited several organizations in Far Rockaway on Thursday, including the Achiezer Community Resource Center on Beach 9th Street and the Torah Academy for Girls on Beach 6th Street.

We spoke with Lhota concerning some Sandy related topics at the Sh’or Yoshuv Rabbinical College on the Rockaway/Lawrence border.

Press Q&A:

After touring the Achiezer Community Resource Center, Lhota spoke with the press.  Among the topics: the need to restructure city government for the first time in 11 years, Lhota’s recent ad and his view of Bill de Blasio, Banksy, the number of police officers and his synagogue mini-kerfuffle.

Lhota & de Blasio Debate

Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio faced off in their first one-on-one debate Tuesday evening.  The full debate, hosted by WABC-TV 7, is available here.  Following the debate, both candidates spoke with the press, continuing their attacks.

Joe Lhota:

During and after the debate, de Blasio continued working to tie Lhota to the Tea Party and Republican Party dysfunction in Washington.  Lhota has fought back, asserting for weeks that he rejects both the Tea Party and the Republican tactics in Washington.  In his post-debate remarks, Joe Lhota continued pushing back, arguing that he is independent of those elements of his party.  He accused Bill de Blasio of “lying about me” and “continu[ing] to lie about who I am and what I am,” and calling de Blasio a “typical classic political hack.”

     A Uniter, Not a Divider:

I asked Lhota whether it’s instructive for voters to consider his service under Rudy Giuliani and de Blasio’s service under David Dinkins.  He responded by describing himself as a problem-solving unifier during the Giuliani administration, without reference to Dinkins or de Blasio’s time in the Dinkins administration.

Lhota Q&A:

Here is Joe Lhota’s full press Q&A.

Mayoral Race Shapes Up

Here is a look at the mayoral race, as sent to our subscribers this afternoon.  (You can join our subscriber list on the right side of this page.)

Mayoral Race Shapes Up

The race for mayor has shaped up, but it certainly has not heated up.  With election day exactly three weeks from today, the race has settled into a lopsided contest with Bill de Blasio leading Joe Lhota by 40 to 50 points in public opinion polls.  As de Blasio and Lhota meet tonight in their first televised debate, Lhota desperately needs to shake up the race.   

Although the consistently lopsided polls paint the race as finished and predictable, a close watching of what the candidates are saying reveals many unexpected moments.  For example – which candidate said this? 

“What we need to do to deal with income inequality, which we have in this city, is talking about what programs we’re going to have to be able to deal with the income inequality, how we’re going to make New York affordable, how we’re going to make affordable housing more plentiful in the City of New York.”  It was Republican Joe Lhota.   Continue reading Mayoral Race Shapes Up

Lhota Down at the Dump

On Friday Joe Lhota and Assembly Member Joe Borelli held a press conference calling on the City to allow Staten Island drivers to use roads inside the now-closed Fresh Kills landfill.  Fresh Kills was closed in 2001 and is presently being developed as an eco-park.

Opening roads for local drivers, who endure heavy traffic congestion, is an appealing issue for Lhota.  It highlights his deep deficit in the race, however, as he’s fighting on what should be his turf both geographically and topically, rather than on Bill de Blasio’s turf.

Here’s our look at Lhota’s battle.

Here is complete video of the press conference held by Joe Lhota and Assembly Member Joe Borelli.

de Bate, but no de Blasio (Updated)

Tonight Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and Independence Party mayoral  candidate Adolfo Carrion participated in a mayoral candidate debate hosted by NY1.  Bill de Blasio was invited, but declined to attend.

Topics that Lhota addressed following the debate include whether his idea of switching MTA Bridges & Tunnels to City control has any chance of state approval, his view of Mayor Bloomberg’s resiliency planning, charter schools and his reaction to a WSJ story describing Ken Langone, one of Lhota’s strongest supporters, as “convinced” that Lhota will lose.  Here is Joe Lhota’s full press availability following the debate.

Update – Carrion:

Following the debate, Adolfo Carrion spoke with the press concerning Bill de Blasio’s absence, terming his absence a message of “disrespect to the voters.”  Carrion also discussed voter interest and turnout.

Lhota, Free Riders, Mitt & George W.

In recent days, Joe Lhota has discussed the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, on several occasions.  His primary focus has been to denounce House Republicans for demanding defunding of Obamacare in exchange for ending the federal government shutdown.  While doing so, however, Lhota has repeatedly returned to a discredited notion: that health care, and health insurance, reform isn’t really necessary because all New Yorkers have access to health care via hospital emergency rooms.  It’s a point that many elected Republicans, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney among them, have tried to make.

In reality, the fact that many Americans have hospital emergency rooms as their only health care option is one of the big drivers of the need for broad changes in our health care system.  So-called “free riders” who use, but don’t pay for, the health care system, are an enormous financial burden to insureds and taxpayers.  The problem is exacerbated by the frequent situation that free riders tend to not have access to preventative care, and only seek health care in a hospital emergency room once they’ve developed a serious condition, resulting in higher costs.  Those higher costs are, of course, borne by others.

So yes, it’s true that we provide health care to all via our public hospitals.  But it’s not true that it’s free.  Paying for those unable to pay or obtain insurance themselves is part of the problem, not the solution.