de Blasio Press Q&A: The NYCHA Funding Edition



Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senator Chuck Schumer announced $3 billion in federal funding for Sandy-related repairs and resiliency improvements for the New York City Housing Authority.  Speaking at an afternoon press conference in Red Hook, de Blasio and Schumer celebrated the massive block of federal funding intended for 33 separate NYCHA developments.

de Blasio and Schumer were joined by Reps. Gregory Meeks, Nydia Velazquez and Hakeem Jeffries, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye.

On Topic Q&A:

Here is the full on topic Q&A.

Off Topic Q&A:

Here is the full off topic Q&A.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The 2nd Avenue Investigation Edition



This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio and many of his senior staff provided an update on the Second Avenue buildings destroyed yesterday in an apparent gas explosion.  Joined by Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, OEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler and other officials, de Blasio described the known facts, but repeatedly emphasized that the cause is not yet known and that the investigation will take at least several days to complete.

Opening statements:

Here are the opening statements of Mayor de Blasio, Fire Commissioner Nigro and OEM Commissioner Esposito:

Q&A:

Here is the full Q&A:

de Blasio On Renewing Mayoral Control



The no-names battle between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo continues, with the current chapter focused on mayoral control of city schools.  At a press conference Wednesday Mayor de Blasio was asked whether Governor Cuomo’s characterization of mayoral control of schools as an “experiment” and his proposal that mayoral control be renewed for a shortened three year period “raises questions about whether or not he’s a true reformer on education.”  de Blasio gave a forceful argument in support of extending mayoral control, but did not directly address the question’s characterization of Governor Cuomo nor mention Governor Cuomo by name.

A Tale of Two Mayors



In an unusual moment of agreement Mayor Bill de Blasio and former mayor Rudy Giuliani recently wrote a joint letter to Governor Cuomo and the state legislature urging a continuation of mayoral control of the school system.  de Blasio and Giuliani have mostly had critical things to say about each other, with their joint letter a rare counterpoint to their more typical criticism.  I asked Mayor de Blasio whether the letter signaled a change in their relationship or whether de Blasio’s 15 months in office has affected his view of Giuliani’s mayoralty.

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 Velzquez 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:

Best Governor/Mayor Relationship?



Does Mayor Bill de Blasio share Governor Andrew Cuomo’s view that their relationship “will be the best relationship between a mayor and governor in modern political history when all is said and done?”

Cuomo and de Blasio do have a long relationship, with de Blasio having worked for Cuomo in the 1990’s at Department of Housing and Urban Development, and there have been moments when Cuomo has looked to de Blasio for assistance.  At many other times however, and as have virtually all New York governors and mayors, Cuomo and de Blasio have found themselves at odds.  They’ve mostly worked to keep their disagreements and differences out of public view, but those frictions clearly exist.

I asked Mayor de Blasio about Governor Cuomo’s comment today at an unrelated press conference.  Here’s how he reacted (hint – the real answer is in the smile):

de Blasio Press Q&A: The M/WBE Edition



Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference this afternoon following a closed-door “Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise Stakeholder Meeting.”

Questions during the off-topic portion of the press conference included his opinion of the expected Democratic candidate in the 11th Congressional District special election and whether he’ll campaign for Gentile, the prospect of Department of Homeland Security losing funding, religious organizations renting City school facilities for prayer/worship services and the related lawsuit, a NY Post report criticizing a newly-created NYPD training program, reported terror threats against shopping malls, the absence of a Lunar New Year message from the mayor and his non-attendance at the Lunar New Year parade, his reaction to Governor Cuomo’s comment that their relationship will be “the best relationship between a mayor and governor in modern political history,” his scheduled trip to Albany on Wednesday and delays in federal funding of Sandy rebuilding.