All posts by John Kenny

de Blasio, Drivers Licenses & the Undocumented



Today New York City Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio proposed having New York State issue drivers licenses, and New York City issue municipal identification, to undocumented immigrants.

We spoke with de Blasio about his proposal, it’s prospects of enactment and the lessons of Eliot Spitzer’s failed 2007 proposal to issue such drivers licenses.

Comrades in the Struggle Against Surveillance (Updated)



AFP Photo/John Moore

Being surveilled is not a nice feeling.  New York State legislators know it, John Liu knows it, the New York City Muslim community knows it and now a broad swath of the Wall Street elite knows it.

In a curious twist, Bloomberg looms large in two* of these episodes:  Bloomberg the mayor in the police department’s surveillance of the Muslim community and Bloomberg the company in the surveillance of Goldman Sachs and other financial industry players.  Whether it’s a meaningful connection, or just coincidence remains to be seen.

In a startling story first reported by the New York Post, the New York Times has reported that “‘several hundred’ reporters” from

“Bloomberg News, the journalism arm of Bloomberg L.P., had for years used the company’s terminals to monitor when subscribers had logged onto the service and to find out what types of functions, like the news wire, corporate bond trades or an equities index, they had looked at.”

Continue reading Comrades in the Struggle Against Surveillance (Updated)

Mayoral Forum Vintage Video



Well, sort of.  This two week old video is from a forum held on April 25, 2013 by the Good Government Regular Democratic Club.  The Rockaway-based club hosted four Democratic mayoral candidates, Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, Bill Thompson and John Liu.  Each candidate appeared separately, giving a lengthy presentation and then engaging in Q&A with the audience

We’ve posted some extended video below for three of the four.  Sal Albanese video is still in process, and we’ll add it soon. Continue reading Mayoral Forum Vintage Video

Lunacy … or Democracy in Action?



This mayoral campaign’s most notable feature is the proliferation of candidate debates and forums.  Numbering well into the scores, perhaps even 100, so far, they occur daily and even multiple times a day.  It’s a worthwhile question whether this grueling schedule is sensible or an effective campaign structure.

In this report, we consider that question with two candidates and a former candidate.

Watch.

Be sure to watch our earlier report on this question, 9 Candidates, 7 Zillion Debates, with Brian Lehrer and Joe Lhota.

NYCLASS Animal Rights Mayoral Candidate Forum (Updated x 3)



Today NYCLASS hosted a mayoral candidate forum, with Tom Allon moderating, focused on animal rights.  It was a lively forum, with both the candidates and the audience engaged and energetic.

We’ll have lots of coverage, but we’ll start you with this brief snippet of Dean and Jerry Sal Albanese and John Catsimatidis.

Update #3 – Carriage Horses:

Here is the full discussion around carriage horses.  Only Bill de Blasio calls for a full immediate ban, while the others express concerns around the economic impact on the drivers.  All, however, were ready, willing and able to criticize Christine Quinn for her impeding council action on this issue.

Update #2 – The Cat Man in the Lion’s Den:

John Catsimatidis, the “Cat Man” as he has dubbed himself, was the sole Republican candidate to attend the NYCLASS forum.  Here are two clips of the Cat Man; his opening statement and his answer to a question on the fate of horse-drawn carriages in midtown Manhattan.  We’ve selected these for two reasons:  First, there are a number of funny moments, some intentional, some not.  (“My kids were raised in Central Park” (not allowed in the house?) and, without evident humor or irony stating that “there’s no free rides” for the horses, make me laugh aloud.)  Second, watching a first-time candidate make his way through unfamiliar policy issues and governmental processes while trying to connect with voters is worth watching, both in these brief moments and in the broader campaign.

Opening Statement:

Horse-drawn Carriages:


Update #1 – Quinn in absentia:

Christine Quinn, despite not attending the forum, received significant attention.  She has a fraught relationship with NYCLASS and the organized animal rights community, as shown in these excerpts.

80 Acres, Walking Distance to Beach



In this report we visit Arverne East, 80 empty oceanfront acres in the Arverne section of Rockaway.  Sitting in a flood zone adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean and vacant for nearly 40 years with little infrastructure, it has many challenges as well as remarkable potential.

As the clock winds down on the Bloomberg administration, the City is pushing forward with an innovative program to restart development there.  The Department of Housing Preservation and Development, together with the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the site developers, has opened a public design competition for the site.

We visit the site, talk with the City commissioner in charge of the effort and consider what it all will mean.

Watch.

Liu on Liu’s Fundraising



The trial of John Liu’s campaign treasurer and an outside fundraiser is concluding, with closing arguments expected to finish today.  As described by the New York Times, the government asserted in it’s closing argument that Liu must have been aware of the illegal “straw donor” arrangements that his campaign aides are accused of.  The government has not, however, offered direct evidence of any such knowledge by Liu nor has he been charged with any crime.  Liu has soldiered on since the first report of financing irregularities, his campaign surviving when many thought it would not.

As Liu marches on, he is infrequently asked about the charges in candidate forums and debates, but often brings it up on his own.  His general approach is to proclaim that he is “very proud” of his fundraising, lament the need for campaign fundraising, sometimes complain about the federal government’s actions and then move on.  He also, sometimes gingerly, complains about the New York Times’ role, once describing it as “in bed with the feds” and once asserting, presumably referring to the Times, that “newspapers which I think [Bloomberg] has a huge amount of influence over, they’ve come after me.”

Here are three recent examples of Liu addressing his fundraising, two of which have Liu raising the issue and in the third he responds to a question.

1)  April 25, 2013 – Good Government Regular Democratic Club Candidate Forum.

2)  April 15, 2013 – Staten Island Democratic Committee Candidate Forum.

(Here is our full report on Liu’s appearance at the Staten Island Democratic Committee forum.)

3)  April 9, 2013 – Asian American Federation Candidate Forum.

(Here is our full report on Liu’s appearance at the Asian American Federation forum.)

Republican Mayoral Candidates Discuss Sandy Recovery



At a mayoral candidate forum this morning, hosted by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and held at St. Francis College, three Republican candidates and one Independence candidate fielded questions from a number of borough Chambers of Commerce.  Jack Friedman of the Queens Chamber of Commerce posed a question concerning the ongoing Sandy recovery.

Continue reading Republican Mayoral Candidates Discuss Sandy Recovery

George McDonald … Republican Social Activist



George McDonald, a Republican candidate for mayor, has spent most of his professional life creating and running The Doe Fund, an innovative social program focused on helping “homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals … break the cycles of homelessness, addiction, and criminal recidivism.”  The Doe Fund is best known for it’s Ready, Willing  & Able program, which puts its “Men in Blue” to work cleaning and maintaining many neighborhoods and business improvement districts while also providing those workers with intensive counseling and development programs.

McDonald has an unorthodox perspective, shaped by nearly 30 years of creating and running a major social services provider on a “free enterprise model” and the premise that “a job is the best social program in America.”  We visited McDonald off the campaign trail, to discuss his experiences and his view of the role of government in providing social services.  Watch.